Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

June 25, 2003 I woke up having had a stroke.  I lost my eyesight.  A very kind hospital volunteer sat on my bed early on during my recovery.  She described in great detailed the picture hanging on the wall.  She taught me a life changing lessons: You do not have to see images to realize the beauty which fills the world around us.  She also allowed me to understand there is a large difference between having eyesight and having vision.  Images can be discovered in different ways and vision has more to do with the hope for our future rather than what our eyes see in briefly passing moments.

Getting back the eyesight I now have was a long, gradual process.  Half my world is still completely black.  I have hemianopia and can no longer see anything using my left peripheral  from both eyes.  Click here to see a picture I showed on a previous post which demonstrates how a street looks now when I walk out of a building.

Though I did regain fifty percent of what I can see, my visual memory never returned.  The stroke permanently destroyed that piece of my brain.  When I close my eyes and try to remember what something looks like, I can no longer create pictures within my mind.  Whether I am trying to remember what a sunset looks like, trying to picture a glass of water or trying to imagine what a tree looks like, I cannot create any image or color within my mind.  The visual memory loss took away my ability to see anything when I have my eyes closed.

 

Picture I see when I close my eyes

Picture I see when I close my eyes

 

 

Yet, as I said, I did regain half my eyesight.  At first, I could not see anything with my eyes open, and I was unable to see anything when I tried to remember what I had seen previously.  For too long, my world was too dark.  The world seen through my mind was always completely black.

Yet, through this experience, I have been able to learn an important lesson.  I hope you can take something away from this, too.  What is in front of you right now?  What you see when you look out into the world today, treasure it.  Don’t take that streak of lightning, the smile from a stranger or images you may see every day for granted.  One day this image may be erased from your memory forever.  Regardless of how long or how often I am given to experience any sight, I try to treasure it. 

 

Agave in the sunset

Agave in the sunset

 

 

I try to notice all the images and colors which fill my world. 

 

Succulent garden with a sunset

Succulent garden with a sunset

 

 

I try noticing minute details such as how a ripple of water can dance with the fading light.

 

Sunset over the pond

Sunset over the pond

 

 

These are images I see nightly from my backyard.  For three years, I have enjoyed watching the beautiful night sky where I live.  I realize at times I am fortunate to still have so much eyesight missing from each eye.  You see, every second of every day I have this reminder to never take for granted the beautiful world in which I live.  I always remember that early lesson I was taught – just because I can’t see something or memories do not remain does not mean the pictures surrounding me are not filled with beauty.  I celebrate and treasure what I see, even if it is only for a fleeting moment.

 

The view from our backyard

The view from our backyard

 

 

“Here ends another day, during which I have had eyes, ears, hands and the great world around me. Tomorrow begins another day. Why am I allowed two?”   G.K. Chesterton

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Comments on: "When No Pictures Remain" (8)

  1. Homonymous Hemianopsia…..that was a term in PT school that stuck out because it was long and because of the alliteration. I felt all cool for knowing what it was being able to describe it(describe it meaning the way that a medical professional describes something they’ve never had to deal with). I’m sure you don’t think it’s cool. But you’ve made some amazing adjustments to deal with it!

    • I consider myself fortunate my eyesight came back as gradually as it did. Now I am thankful for what I have. If I had woke having this, I don’t think I would find nearly as much gratitude. I bet you can still pronounce it better than I can Amy. 🙂

      Tara

  2. An incredible entry. Two physical results —
    First, a lump in my throat.
    Second, opening my eyes wider and looking harder.
    Next must come the gratitude —

  3. Beautiful post, thank you!

  4. Ditto what Elizabeth said. Thank you.

  5. […] was asked a terrific question during a recent classroom visit.  I spoke about a volunteer who described a picture which was hanging on my hospital wall during the time when I had no eyesight.  I told everyone how beautiful this picture was.  This […]

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