Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Two questions always asked when I am speaking to people about my limitations are: “When you have lost so much vision, how hard is it for you to cope?”  The other: “Since you have lost most of your visual memory and ability to recognize faces, do you still have dreams?”

Now, I am fully aware what is being asked, “Does it bother you, you can’t see as well as you used to” and “what fills your mind at night”.  I know these are their questions, but I hope the real meaning is never misunderstood by people I am trying to educate and inspire.  My answers in short: Yes I would like to see more.  Yes, I still have thoughts that fill my sleep but not images.

The longer answers: In the recent post A View of My World, I showed a picture of the way I see the world with left homonymous hemianopia.  I do have a lot of sight missing, but vision is not always a definition of what you see in front of you.  I have goals for my future.  I have a plan designed to guide me towards achieving great things.  I am not lacking vision.

Dreams are not always the images and pictures your imagination creates.  Sometimes a dream is what you hope for in the future.  I do have hope.  Regarding the night dreams people are referring to when asking this question, my imagination still fills my sleep with stories at night.  With prosopagnosia, these dreams are limited but still very realistic.  I no longer see pictures of people running.  I no longer see the cliff I am stepping off, but I still wake with a falling sensation.  Yet, I still have dreams that leave me uneasy in the morning or can cause tears to come in the night.  Like my waking hours no images fill my mind.  With closed eyes, I experience only darkness.  My dreams are remembered in a mind that no longer sees pictures.

Have you ever read a really good book?  This book was so good you could not turn the pages fast enough.  This book had you full of anticipation, and you refused to put it down until you finished the last page.  Have you ever read a book that caused tears to stream down your face?  This book may have left you stressed and saddened for the rest of the day.  These are similar to my dreams at night.  I do not see images, but I understand the occurrence through words I think and sounds I hear.

How does someone without much visual memory and prosopagnosia dream vividly at night?  Here is an example of a nightmare that haunted me: I remember singing with my two children in the car.  (I could hear the wind blowing fast and felt movement.  My daughters were asking if we were going to be there soon.)  I screamed as the shattering glass sliced my skin open. (I could hear the screeching of brakes quickly followed by the sounds of metal scratching.  I knew there was pain.  The song my children sang was replaced by haunting screams and sounds of horror and pain.)  The ambulance came and first took away my children leaving me behind. (I heard the sirens.  Someone was telling me to stay calm.  My girls’ voices were becoming fainter as they cried out “Mommy” and said they did not want to have to go without me.)  I woke after that.  I had no memory of seeing anything.  Regardless, I did not need images to get me out of bed and go check on my children.  I did not need pictures to feel the pain and fear that lingered throughout the day.  As an avid reader, I have always known the words can be just as powerful if not more as watching pictures pass across a screen.

I do not need sight to have a vision.  I have enough words, memories and hope to always have dreams.  Yes, prosopagnosia and hemianopia have certainly altered the way I see and feel, but I always believe I have gained more and understand more now.  This outweighs all I have ever lost.  I love the vision and dreams that promise an exciting future.

Comments on: "Prosopagnosia and Sight Loss: Visions and Dreams" (8)

  1. I do not need sight to have a vision.

  2. Precisely my thought! 🙂 It is wonderful to have you stop by today. I hope you are doing well.


  3. It turns out that there are people who “see” books as they are reading them —
    It turns out that there are very many people who do this.
    I have “normal” sight (within a broad range of normal) — but I’ve never done this. I’ve always been an avid reader and loved books, but now I discover that books exist for me as thoughts and ideas in my head, not as pictures. Who knew? I only found this out reading some blog on the internet.
    Dreams — with rare exceptions — are the same for me, compounded of, hmmm, maybe an inner “vision”? Really compounded of feelings.

    I don’t know if this is exactly the same, Tara. Nothing is really EXACTLY the same ever. But similar — The storehouse is of, as you say, words, memories, and hope. I would only add emotions — because hope is only one possible emotion, and my inner vision is darker than yours, I think. Your inner vision is brilliant sunlight and makes you radiant — not 100%, I’m sure (that was an awful nightmare you describe) — but enough of the time to radiate your character.

    You are a woman of vision.

    • Amazing insight Judith. You are absolutely correct about adding the word “emotions”. Emotions last so long. They last even beyond some memories…. This is off track, but it just came to my mind. There was recently a research study published about that very thing noted while studying Alzheimer patients and their emotions/memories. I found it fascinating. Here is the NPR story on it if you are ever interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125869707

      I used to “see” books. I know exactly what you are saying. Some I would vividly see once again as I closed the book and tried to fall asleep. Now, now I am left feeling the books similar to you. I noticed as I became more aware of this transition how much stronger and quicker my emotions were to respond. Perhaps it was because I was not able to have the distraction of images. Words now are quick and independent to offer all reactions. I thought of my use of words and how much quicker I am at reading them and taking them for what they are worth – more than just the letters put in a sometimes unfit order. I actually was smiling about this when I was reading your recent post on the spelling challenged. I would recommend it to everyone that has a moment free: http://touch2touch.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/aiding-the-spelling-challenged/

      I look forward to seeing your comments on here each week. It truly does mean a lot to me. Thank you, Judith, for offering me your wisdom. I cherish it.


  4. Hello Tara…

    I read your “about me” and watched the interview before reading any of your work, and I’m really glad I did. You are so lovely and vibrant that I was able to resist the urge to feel the overwhelming sympathy that you urge your readers not to. Instead, I would say, “you go girl!”

    You touch on so many areas in your writing (current post and the two piano stories) that I can relate to, even with my vision fully intact. Your tears as you sat at the keyboard to play The Entertainer hit me so hard. It was always one of my favorite pieces to play, too… and yet my piano sits in the living room collecting dust.

    Should it take a connection with someone more engaged and grateful than me to find a new spark of gratitude in myself? Of course not, but your story certainly inspires me…

    I was just about to finish a piece about a dream so similar to yours, you’ll freak out when you see it. Same thing about separation from someone precious to me, reaching out, calling, calling, that fear, and the joy or being reunited in real life. That’s enough for another burst of gratitude, ASAP…

    Of course, I can’t even imagine what living with your condition is like for you, but I look forward to following your story and learning more.

    I have two wonderful regular readers… one, a physician, the other the wife of a partially blind man. I would like to recommend your blog at mine because I think people would gain so much by learning from you.

    Thank you so much for commenting at my blog and inviting me into your unique world… although it seems that in some ways, we are more alike that different. : )

    Hugs to you…

    • Linda,

      It is a gift to me that you have found your way to my blog! Thanks for stopping by and an even deeper thank you for your extremely kind words.

      Yes, I would say I do think we often need a nudge from others to rediscover that spark of gratitude. This was one of the many gifts I received when I lost so much. In losing as much as I had, I was truly able to understand the enormous number of gifts life had offered to me.

      I will enjoy having your readers stop by. Regarding the wife of the partially blind man, I hope she finds this post interesting: enjoys this post: http://wp.me/p14va3-v It is always intriguing to hear other people’s thoughts and reactions. One thing I received from my experiences is the opportunity to offer hope and optimism to anyone that will listen. Thanks for taking the time to stop over and “listen”.

      Now it is time for me to go off and check on my two sleeping beauties. I enjoyed your terrific poem about the dark glasses. I will be back over soon to read about your dream. I can’t wait!


  5. […] reading my post A View of My World , the editor of Stroke Connection Magazine, Jon Caswell, wrote me the following message: “I read […]

  6. […] to understand why I reintroduce myself over and over and over again. My tremors are worse and my eyesight is no […]

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