Monday, June 4, 2012


So many of us are lucky to see colour. My son asked me tonight, "Mum what was it like in the olden days. Did it all look black and white?" Interesting!
Given my age I grew up with black and white tv and can still remember the excitement of our first colour tv. Unfortunately that coincided with me doing Year 12 which was really hard because the blue of, 'Gidget's' eyes (remember Sally Field) was so intense and Charlie's Angels so glamorous. I can occasionally still have a moment of 'Wow' with colour tv, remembering the gift that it was when I watch a movie with my kids.

Denial can be so powerful when suddenly you are given the thing that you lacked. Last year I had laser treatment on my eyes. I went in a week from reaching for my glasses on the bedside table in the mornings, to jumping out of bed pulling on my clothes and going for a walk with the dog. Ok, so that didn't last but the absolute amazement of sight still floors me and I remember to take a moment and be grateful.  I got my first pair of glasses in Year 6. We were at the War Memorial in Adelaide and my class were reading all the names on the big panels. That's when I realized that I couldn't see what others were seeing. Until then it hadn't occurred to me. When I first wore the glasses to school it was a real 'eye opener!' because I hadn't seen the freckles and lines on people's faces before and now there they all were.  Over the years I have been lost at the beach when I couldn't find my step-sister and had to go up to some blurry faces and ask, 'Can you point me in the direction of the voice calling my name? ' We laughed and laughed about it afterwards. But there is a fear that goes with being incredibly short sighted as I was (legally blind without the aides). What if you can't find your glasses or what if you are out swimming and you don't find your way back. The same step-sister and I were on a bus from Kathmandu to Calcutta. She had Delhi Belly and kept having to stop the bus for quick runners (so to speak). At one stop at about 2am  my partner nudged me from my lethargy and sent me searching for her. So there was I stumbling about in the dark at some dismal truck stop in the middle of nowhere, again calling her name. We came together and stumbled back to the bus, except as we took the steps up to the seating, my sister exclaimed, 'this isn't our bus!' We were left stranded me, with no sight and no passport and her with no passport and Delhi Belly. We still quote my now famous line, " Cally, one day we'll laugh about this." As the men zeroed in on us offering us rooms to stay and advising us conspiratorially, we became more concerned. Luckily the bus returned for us after delivering people to different towns and we went on our way. I couldn't see a thing except the faces coming up close to me and it was frightening and surreal.

My Mum paid for me to do a 'Natural Vision' course run by a lady called Janet Goodrich who claimed she had restored her sight with eye exercises and the daring act of getting rid of her glasses. Part of the homework was to remove your glasses or lenses and do something out in the world without them. I decided to visit the deli across the road. But when I managed to cross the busy road outside of our house I couldn't tell whether the people were looking at me and after making my way to the counter, didn't know whether to talk or not. We rely alot on visuals when we have sight and the absence of the visuals is very disorienting. Again the anxiety levels rose and the whole experience was like a nightmare. I felt so glad when I could close the front door of my home behind me and retreat to the glasses which I so relied upon. In the exact place where I knew they would be, because when you are that vision impaired, no matter how messy you are, you alway know where you put your glasses.

So now the world is a clearer place for me. I can't believe I am driving around without anything and getting straight up in the morning and walking around my house. We don't all know the extent of each other's differentness and it often amuses me that many people who can see ok choose to wear the glasses all day while the ones who are severely eye challenged often appear normal because they are wearing contact lenses. Nothing is as it seems. Which brings me back to 'colours'. Was the world black and white my son? In some ways it was and for me I liked to remove my glasses occasionally and then it would all be a big blur and I would try to experience the other senses in the comfort of my own backyard and I enjoyed this. No, life was pretty colourful full of family get togethers and green lawns with roses in the front yard much like you have it now. Sleep well precious boy.  

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