Ghosts and Shamans

Tanvir Naomi Bush Visual Impairment, Writing 1 Comment

Its funny but no one can say the word ‘innovative’ when they are excited. Just something I noticed today.

I do apologise for the rather long gap in posts. I was finishing up the short story for the national BBC short story competition. I finally finished it today and ran out of ink (of course) printing it off so had mad dash to internet café and post office. want to know what it’s about…erm…well…’s about a dead cat… yeah well I’m not really selling it am I. Let me try again..… its about a cat that comes back as a ghost, grows to the size of a hippo, wrecks a house and disappears again. All in 4500 words. It mostly wrote itself. I got very excited about what was going to happen next myself and yesterday sat for nine hours watching this stuff splurge from my brain and onto the computer… all apart from the last paragraph which ended up being hopelessly weak. I just couldn’t figure out how to end the bloody thing. Anywayhohow, its in and that’s the last you’ll hear about it until May or June. Promise.

I got the idea not just because I still look for my recently deceased cat out of habit when I come in the door and worry about her when I put on the hoover but also because for the last few months when I sat watching TV I would se a small creature, I thought at first a cat, nipping past the glass door to my right. At first I would even get up and go and look thinking that a cat out at night might need some succour but after a while I realised there was no cat. Nope, I have developed a glitch (yeah another one) on the right eye. Probably something on the retina…its such a mess in there anyway. I only see it at a certain angle and it doesn’t bother me apart from giving me an off habit of glancing up for invisible animals.

Many people with visual impairment see things that aren’t there.. The brain and the optic nerve conspire to fill in the blanks in the visual field and as they are doing it at an incredible speed they sometimes get things a little muddled. I’ve seen polar bears in the aisles of supermarkets, people peering at me out of empty, parked cars. I once did an extra 1000 metres on a rowing machine because I was showing off to a handsome man watching me from the leg extender…he wasn’t there either. For those with macular degeneration there is actually a syndrome.. I have borrowed this from the RNIB website:

‘Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a term used to describe the situation when people with sight problems start to see things that they know aren’t real. Sometimes called “visual hallucinations”, the things people see can take all kinds of forms, from simple patterns of straight lines to detailed pictures of people or buildings.
A Swiss philosopher named Charles Bonnet first described this condition in 1760 when he noticed that his grandfather, who was almost blind, saw patterns, figures, birds and buildings that were not there. Although the condition was described almost 250 years ago, it is still largely unknown by ordinary doctors and nurses. This is partly because of a lack of knowledge about the syndrome and partly because people experiencing it don’t talk about their problems from fear of being thought of as mentally ill.’ RNIB

One of the things the website doesn’t mention is that apparently many of the hallucinations with macular degeneration are of Victorian children? Go figure…and extremely spooky. (Another story bubbling methinks)

I also, as do all people with RP, get flashes of light swirling and dashing across the retina. My Mum once gave me an art book about the eye. There was a page about the Yanomani shamans shooting that crazy drug ebeni up their noses and then seeing visions and interpreting the world, past present, future. . As the chemicals affected the brain they would see bursts of light and image on the retina. I saw the simple drawings some had made after their ‘trips’ and recognised them! Now if I could just find a Yanomani shaman I could possibly make more money then Paul McKenna. As it is right now they are all just shapes of light to me…

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