My first low vision therapy appointment is almost here. Up to now, I had one conversation with a low vision therapist, and it was in a moment of panic. That conversation left me pleasantly surprised at how quickly a low vision therapist could resolve my immediate problem. I wasn’t sure what this meeting would bring, but I was hopeful it would be beneficial.
The appointment was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. My wife was with me. Sort of a no brainer since she has become my chauffeur. We were both a little anxious and I was nervous as well. I think it was the unknown that was leading to this anxiety.
Within minutes of meeting Marshall in person, I was at ease. We chatted about the call of mine he took a couple weeks back, with Marshall inquisitive on how that was working out. The questions didn’t stop there. For several minutes, Marshall sought an understanding about all I do for my job, how I get around the house and where I was struggling with my vision.
Then came solutions. Marshall begins displaying multiple solutions. Magnifiers, from the kind I used as a child to magnify the sun’s rays and burn paper, to high tech digital devices that could change the colors from black on white to white on black or yellow on blue. These handheld devices were followed up with screen reading devices that display images on a computer screen.
Suddenly, being visually impaired wasn’t as scary. Tools were available to help, all we needed to do was select what worked best for me. Right then, in his office, we began trying the devices. Within minutes I determined which devices worked best for me. Then came another suggestion. Marshall said, “Take them home and to work.” Marshall suggested I try the devices where I would use them, ensuring a good decision was made prior to purchasing anything.
I was happy and ready to leave with this new found knowledge! Marshall had other thoughts. It seems we’d only talked about a small portion of information Marshall wanted to share. I didn’t know it, but I had a lot to learn. And this is where our meeting was about to change.
My exuberance was about to vanish. Why? Well, the short answer is because I had only started to accept what was happening to my vision. Marshall was about to dig deeper, and that quickly turned uncomfortable.
“You’re not driving, are you?” Marshall asked. The answer was no, I’d stopped driving. I thought I was fine with it. I was kind of like a VIP, I had a driver. This was the first time admitting it to someone outside of my inner circle.
“No, I’m not driving,” I said, and the tears started. Uh-oh. I had remained strong all this time. If I had shed a tear, it was in private. I had yet to show my wife this was bothering me. Strong men don’t show emotions, right? I pulled it together, for now.
Next subject was a white cane. Marshall felt this was something I should consider. Corrected vision poorer than 20/100 is when low vision therapists start talking about mobility and teaching others how to use a white cane. Both of my eyes are outside of 20/100.
The idea horrified me. A thin piece of material. A stick. White in color. Am I going blind? That moment it hit me. I’M GOING BLIND!
There wasn’t any holding back the tears. I balled like a baby that lost his pacifier. Through the process of a low vision evaluation, I’d learned that assistive devices existed to help a visually impaired person. I was there because I was a visually impaired person and I needed help. I knew that, but it took until today for everything to sink in. I, Mike Morris, am losing my vision.
This is the fourth story in Mike Morris’ journey through the first months of dealing with his vision loss. To read Mike’s previous three stories, click on the links below.
“Welcome to the Club,” published February 25, 2016: http://tinyurl.com/jn7gbq7.
“No Thanks – Not Interested in Joining at This Time,” published on April 7, 2016: http://tinyurl.com/jah4r5h.
“Still Feeling Lucky About Losing My Vision,” published on May 4, 2016: http://tinyurl.com/gts6662.