The thing about being visually impaired is that you can’t see very well. I mean not see very well in the ‘usual’ sense. Most visually impaired and blind people I have met are often a lot more insightful, focused and aware then others with their full 180 degrees of vision. They have to be. With a visual impairment it becomes more important to be able to suss voice, intent, energy and potential action of people around you to avoid ..well …potential death lets say, as i don’t want to be too dramatic. (i.e. if you can hear someone screaming and a noise behind them that sounds like a trumpeting insane runaway elephant it pays to have that heightened awareness and a glimmering idea of where to run for safety. )
For me there are two annoying side effects of having no peripheral vision.
1. I have to stare intensely using my 10 degrees of central vision. Staring intently is not most people’s idea of blindness. I also seek and lock eye contact. This can be disturbing to people especially when I stomp over to them at railway stations, peering hard directly at them and then proclaim fearsomely ‘I need help. I can’t see the Signs.’.
2. Things disappear. Usually my bloody magnifiers and magnification specs. Which is ironic. Also cell phones, black marker pens, keys, glasses of gin and tonic, £10 notes and sense of humour. Strangely I can always put my hand on the biros that don’t work that I was sure I flung out last time. Always. I must have a breeding colony of defective biros.
Anyway – I am in Radstock. Here for the week to try and wring out some more words of this bottom heavy thriller. It’s going slowly but at least it’s going. A lovely catch up with a couple of MA friends yesterday assured me that I am not as off kilter as I had thought.
On Skype, Dad now has a fuzz of white hair and is looking a little less translucent. ‘I’m sure it’s grown since yesterday,’ I say reassuringly peering into the screen. His blood counts need to grow faster too though. Those are harder to see from here.
In the evening I wander woozily into my sister’s veggie patches with the watering cans. I stub my toe, drop the can, soak my dress, refill and do it all over again. She has a good load of salad courgettes, tomatoes, herbs and sweet peas, rhubarb, roses, maize and at least one triffid that keeps whacking me from behind the poly tunnel. I am rigorous and steadfast and although have to pluck several bits of twig from my hair and wash off the ants stuck to my cocoa buttered legs I am proud that I have saved the garden from a parched withering.
That night it rains.