No Man’s Land

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.

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2 thoughts on “No Man’s Land

  1. Your experience is common to many partially sighted persons. I often don’t respond to the subtleties of expression or gesture. My best vision is 20/200, yet I can “pass” for fully sighted for hours in some cases. Your remark about eldercare is also shared.

    A few years ago, I was traveling with my family, and left the waiting area at an airport to go to the bathroom. I felt confident and strode off. A small child ran into my path (from my totally blind side) and got knocked head-over-heels. The child was OK, thank God, and so was his mother. I was shaken. Today I always carry a white cane, mostly for display, to avoid misunderstandings.

    I know that this is a significant step to take psychologically and emotionally. As you have said, you are not “Blind” or even severely impaired, “Legally Blind”. Only you can figure out what is right for you. When I lost my vision, I also lost my job and the ability to drive. It was such a shock that I spent a year at home in my recliner.

    I hope that yur vision stabilizes, and then improves.
    If not, please know that everyone that you meet on these web groups devoted to blindness issues has had much the same experiences.

    • Thanks, Drew. I know that I am blessed to have this relatively slow progression into low vision. It is easier, for me, to accept the decrease in vision because it is happening gradually. I seem to be able to get used to each stage before the next one hits. I fear knocking over a child like the one in your story. So far, it is only my dogs that have gotten the worst of my low vision. They have learned the hard way to stay out from under foot!

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