Temporarily Blind

1/31/20

So, I spent half of today blind. It reminded me of being a part of the “disabled for a day” program back in highschool. Back then I spent a full 24 hours blindfolded. Today, I spent 7 hours with my eyes closed after going to the optometrist because my eyes were so sensitive from the dilating eye drops that my vision was a nearly uniform blur of pain.

Yes it was temporary, but it was also terrifying in a way I don’t really know how to describe. When I was blindfolded there was a physical object keeping me from being able to see. There was nothing physically wrong with me. But today, I didn’t have a blindfold. In fact I went and put on a blindfold to protect them from the light which was causing me so much pain.

It was just me with broken eyes.

I love being able to see. I love paintings and statues, sunsets and flowers, I even like mimes and patterns written in dust by idle fingers. I love reading. Audio books are cool, but they’re not the same. I love being able to see the words on the page and the sighted process of reading.

The smallest glimmer of possibly losing that frightened me to the core. Intellectually I knew my vision would come back as soon as the eye drops wore off, but emotionally I could not convince myself.

Thankfully I had a group of people who sat with me, walked me to and from dinner, and kept me from panicking. This gave me a new perspective on interdependence. I’m used to getting help with things which require a high degree of dexterity when I’m having a bad hand day or I just don’t have the ability to do it in the first place. Shuffling cards, sewing, zipping my jacket, small things which make all the difference.

However, relying on someone else to keep me from walking into anyone in the lunch line, that’s a whole new level. Walking into the wrong person in prison, even a soft prison like TRU, can result in an immediate fight. It’s a little scary. One of the few upsides of prison is all the furniture is nailed down and, having lived here for four months, my feet already know where everything is. My cell has been organized the same way for months, so I know where everything is by touch. This made making myself lunch, using the restroom, and settling in for a nap much easier than it would have been in an unfamiliar space.

Today renewed my commitment to (dis)ability and accessibility issues. While I do not believe my temporary loss of sight is comparable to the experience of anyone who is permanently blind. It gave me enough of a taste to be grateful for my vision and all the other ways I enjoy the privilege of being (mostly) able bodied and not having a visible (dis)ability.

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