My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Roles Reversed

I wanted to share an experience I had in a session a few days ago. A wonderful client had asked me in a previous session to share my story of loss of vision and how I worked through going to the ophthalmologist when reality is each time it is going to be difficult news and I feel anxiety prior to going for that appointment. I hoped that perhaps she would forget this request and we could continue on with her journey. She came in and before I could start she said -- "okay, tell me your story - how do you do it." After a couple attempts to change the subject -- I ask the questions and explore someone else's life, not mine right. She shared with me that she was at a place where my story would be helpful in her own journey so when worded that way ... what could I do?

I began to describe what it was like to be 18 and a college freshman and to learn that I was going blind. At the time, I did not know anyone who was blind (that sounds pretty crazy now as I have so many wonderful friends who happen to be blind) so I didn't even know if I could enjoy life. While Steve and I were dating, one of our hot dates was going to UCLA Medical Center and having the diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa confirmed! At the time the doctor indicated that I would most likely lose all my vision by the time I was 30. That seemed so far away, I wasn't too worried. (Denial is a wonderful thing, right)

My client heard the journey of 25 years of continual visits to the ophthalmologist and confirmation of additional vision loss. There were years of the visits to the opthalmologist being very depressing until I found a doctor who began to get to know the person behind the eyes. He asked me how I was doing, he asked me if I had support, he wanted to know what it was like to go blind, he cried with me and I knew he would do anything if he could to save my eyesight. He also asked me one time what I did after my visit with him. At first I was a little confused and then he reminded me of the concept of self-care and it must be an emotionally draining day. I realized he was right and began to create a healing routine for the time that I saw him. I gave myself permission to grieve the loss of vision -- it was very freeing. So, in the past 10 years my visits to the opthalmologist include the day off ... going out to lunch with someone that I love and will make me laugh ... and whatever my heart needs that day ... something fun to look forward to after the visit.

Within each of us is the capacity to heal, and in any given moment we do the best that we can.

I have a new appreciation for sitting in the other chair in my office.


Lacey said...

So very well said. Thank you for sharing that. I really like your making you eye appointment days a nice day for you! Such a great idea!

Shari/"Whiger" said...

Hi, came across your blog looking for RP writers. I have Usher syndrome which is RP with congential hearing loss.

Going to the eye doc is very hard when you know they can't do anything to Fix it. I go home feeling depressed for a day or so, then I kind of move on.

Thanks for sharing. Cricket is such a cute, hard-working dog. :)

Becky said...

Lacey & Shari - I know you guys can relate... sometimes its a roller coaster.

Hope to meet you sometime, Shari!

April said...

I also came across your post while searching for RP writers. My 9 year old son was just diagnosed with RP. I am familiar with this as it is hereditary in my family and I grew up around it. Thank you for this post. This is one side of it I was sheltered from, the appointments and the bad news. All of the members in my family with it were blind already when I was born. Thank you, the healing day plan is a good idea.