Friday, April 23, 2010

"We are--all of us--blind beggars, with genuine hurts and handicaps"

* Stringham high: Rain!
* Stringham low: Still no driving.
* Stringham super-high: Hope
Note: The title links to a theological article from which this title is a quote. Although I don't agree with all the conclusions the article makes, it is a good discussion, and one that is difficult, if not impossible, to find in any religion other than Christianity, though I think it is valid in any religion.

Well, today's post is a bit of an updater. We think we have resolved the debt-collection issue through a couple of fronts. The lovely Ms. L at my doctor's office (and the doctor) and Ms. C at my Medicaid company did their work, and they pulled through on the same day. We should hear no more about that big surgery least unless the surgery center wants to be reported to the state.

I went earlier this week to have a 30-2 threshold test on my eyes. Basically, that means my eyes were tested to see how large my visual fields are. I had also wanted to be given the test that determines if your overall periphery is large enough for driving in Indiana. The doctor there didn't do any of the tests, he just walked up to me after the 30-2 test and, not really looking at me, said I wouldn't be able to get a driver's license anyway so there was no point in doing the test. He said something about me hitting a kid before I'd even realize the kid was there, and then he walked off. I was disappointed, and a little peeved. And I've been more peeved since then, realizing he didn't even give me a chance to ask questions, he didn't give me the courtesy of speaking to me in an exam room (he stood in the hall to tell me this), and he assumed that my eyes don't dart everywhere when I drive and that I would be so irresponsible as to drive in busy places where things are really likely to jump/run out into the road. *sigh* But that's enough of that. I have done some research and found the requirements and process to request a license in Indiana if you are visually impaired, and the optic aids that the state allows, etc. I have it all tucked away for when I believe I am ready to drive again. (Although I hoped to be able to drive this time, I really wanted the test this time for a baseline measure of my overall periphery.)

Anyway, I got a copy of the 30-2 test results and, as soon as I got home, went on the Internet to find out how to read them. The graphical representation used for we laypeople makes it look as if my vision is getting better overall, though it's possible I've lost some field in my left eye but gained some in my right eye. But then as I researched, I learned that the grayscale image provided is really not all that representative of what the test actually finds. And I learned how to read what the test diagnosed but that it really takes a skilled clinician to compare the findings of multiple tests and come to any good conclusion about improvement, worsening, or staying the same. (For the record, my overall impression is that my vision has improved a little in my left eye and a little better in my right eye, with a very slight enlarging of my visual field in my right eye. But I'll have to wait until I see Dr. Lee to get a confirmation or denial of my possibly faulty understanding of the test results.)

Yesterday, the best news of all thus far showed up to cheer me along. I have made vague allusions to a "promise" or a "feeling" of getting my vision back. First, the background so you know what I've been referring to. Basically, when I was in the hospital (and a couple of times since), I heard a voice "in my head" telling me that my vision would be restored to me. Since then, I've tried reasoning that it was just my subconscious, me trying to comfort myself, but such explanations always seemed hollow. And every time I started to question such things, I was given dreams in which I had my vision back. Sure, I reasoned, but that's just the brain's way of acting out what I can't have in real life. But then I'd have a dream about someone and a need to speak to them, and I'd email them or call them up and tell them what had happened in the dream, and it was always perfect timing--they needed the message I had from the dream or just to hear from me, something in particular I had to say that day. So, here was whoever was watching over me telling me to quit being so thick, and yes, the communication lines are working properly, and I have been hearing a communication and not just the noise in my brain. This has happened numerous times over the past few months, this "testing," any time I've started to truly doubt that the message I received in the hospital and in my prayers and meditations was really true. This doubt arises generally when I read the literature or speak with the doctors about the extent of my vision loss--this kind of damage is irreparable, the retina cannot repair itself, much like the conventional wisdom about the brain cells. I always try to chase such doubt away by reminding myself that more of my vision returned than my surgeon ever expected and that it has continued to do so, that I, in fact, have already had a small miracle. But surely I'm not worthy of miracles, I reason, so the doubt resurfaces, and then I remember tales of people who have been blind and who have had their sight miraculously restored. Those "miracles" could probably be explained away with today's medicine and science, but that's not the point...they would be no less miraculous to the people who experienced them simply because science had an explanation.

But back to the point, the provider of this message, whenever I really begin to doubt, always sends me another message (or two, or three, as I'm so damn stubborn) that essentially says, "Hey, you numb skull, stop doubting and trust me, will ya?" I say "provider of this message" because although I believe the ultimate authority of it comes from God/Allah/the Divine/Yahweh/Wakan Tanka, I think the message likely comes through a mediator, call it what you like--spirit guide, angel, dead loved one, whatever. It's a messenger who takes the form that the person can most easily accept a message from at the time...that's my theory.

So, now that we are all on the same page and some of you are surprised that I have gone utterly Looney Toons and others have just had it confirmed, I can tell you this good news that I learned yesterday. In one of my support groups for IIH (PTC), I saw a message from a woman who said she was completely blind for an entire month in the summer of 2005 before she was diagnosed, and now she has 90% of her vision in one eye and 50% in the other. It has come back very slowly, but it has come back.

Let's stop and really think about this. She was completely blind for a month; I was mostly blind for two to three weeks. It has taken four and a half years, but a great portion of her vision has come back. I know to those of you who think about these numbers, 90% and 50% still seem very low, but for someone like me who currently has partial vision in about 38% of her good eye, 90% and 50% are tremendous numbers. So, how does this give me hope, and what does it have to do with that promise of restored vision?

In every way, and everything. It gives me hope because it lets me know that there IS a precedent out there, even though the literature may not mention it, even though it may be an outlier. It reminds me that although we like to envision miracles as happening suddenly, miracles are everywhere. We like to overuse the phrase sometimes, and often we use it so much that we don't realize how much it really means--like the miracle of pregnancy and the miracle of birth. They are tremendous miracles--just ask anyone who works in reproductive health. It's a miracle that the human race is able to propagate, honestly. And the promise I have been made is reinforced--my faith in it is reinforced again--as I am reminded that although I was made a promise, that promise is on God's time, not my time. And because this promise is confirmed, I know that the other promises that have been made will also be kept--yes, they will require effort on my part, but what better way to truly appreciate a gift than to work toward it and on it and know how hard it is to attain on your own? Whether the miracles are for ourselves or others, shouldn't we all be instruments in the miracles that are worked in the world?

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