It is a day of celebration today – I am half-way through my year!!!! I can’t even believe it. I remember being at three months and thinking how long a year really is. And now I’m half way! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my crazy adventures so far.
Do my clothes match? I almost dropped a knife on my toe. Is my bum clean? How can I tell without seeing the toilet paper? Why did I turn on the bathroom light? I hope I took my multivitamin and not the drowsy extra-strength allergy medication I had left-over from my bug bite fiasco. I have a bruise developping on my thigh from walking into the table. I might have just shampooed with conditioner.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon blindfolded and tried to live my life as I would normally – but without the use of my sight. According to a 2006 survey by Statistics Canada, over 800,000 people in Canada identify with having a seeing disability (from visionhealth.ca).
Life without being able to see was very difficult for me. I take for granted how much I use my sight. I rely on my visual sense to get through my day – from big things like not walking into walls, to little things like where I placed my water glass on the table so I don’t knock it over. My other senses became heightened – touch was very important, as well as smell and sound. I used my visual memory to try and find things that I needed. It became more and more important that I put things back in the same place so I could find them again.
I was a little disoriented at times when I was walking around my apartment and out on to the balcony. I had to pay attention to remember where I was. Everything took longer (although it was surprising how quickly I began to adapt). I noticed more – the taste of bread as it entered my mouth, the sound of the traffic outside the window, the smell of different rooms. The number of things in a row became important – two cupboards over is where I find the plates, the fourth button down on the remote control turns on the television (discovered by trial and error).
Making a cheese sandwich in the toaster oven was an ordeal. I wore an oven mitt so I wouldn’t burn myself, but I know I was getting cheese all over it. Cutting the slices of cheese became a dangerous task – is the cheese mouldy, how do I cut thin slices when I can’t see them and don’t want my fingers getting in the way of the knife, so can’t feel it? Then I missed trying to put the sandwich on a plate and ended up with melted cheese on the countertop. Although it did taste great!
Communication was difficult – with no way to use my phone, e-mail, the internet, texting. Unless someone called me, I couldn’t get ahold of my friends or family. And I had no sense of time. At one point I just sat down on my bed, frustrated with the effort, not knowing what I could do (tv wasn’t great as I wanted to see what they were talking about, and everything I normally do involves sight – internet, writing, reading). Sometimes I couldn’t remember where I put things. Did I move that table behind the sofa or is it still there? Did I put the salt on the right or the left side of the cabinet?
I was happy when I got to take off my blindfold and use my sight again. Everything just seemed easier. I can only imagine the skills people who are seeing impaired have to maneuver our world. I didn’t even leave the house and I found it challenging.