Some days I feel unsettled, like I am walking in a no man’s land. I am not disabled, but neither am I fully-abled. I am not blind, but I can’t really see. I work but it is difficult to continue doing many tasks at my job. Low-vision support groups all seem to meet in eldercare locations, which is not my demographic. I don’t quite fit. How do I make my way through this no man’s land, especially when I am going into a world I don’t even want to enter?
As I walk around, I smile at people. They don’t know that I can’t get their faces to come into focus, that I don’t have any idea who they are. When my husband is with me, he clues me in. “The Shannons are here,” he whipered at church yesterday, gesturing in the direction of some friends. I smile toward the place he points and give a little wave, but I have to take his word that they are there. I greatly appreciate his help with identifying people.
When I am at work, I am on my own. Do I offend people because I walk past them without stopping to chat? The vast majority of people do not know that I have a problem with my vision. They probably just think I am rude, self-involved, conceited. I don’t want to be thought of in these ways, so I am careful to smile as I walk past the blurs that might be people I should greet. I make eye contact, although I can’t see the eyes I am contacting. I try to make my eyes say, “It’s good to see you” as I walk by. I am ready to respond if anyone should say hello. The good news is, I am actually forcing myself to look and smile at strangers more now than I ever have before. I would rather err on the side of friendliness than coldness, so I smile at everyone as if I know them. Sometimes, the blurs turn out to be people I know and we stop and chat.
In this no man’s land of low vision, I need all the friends I can get.