Doubt and guilt

A couple of days after having what I thought was a small stroke, I woke in the early morning worrying.

I was now partially sighted. But suppose when I got up next morning my peripheral vision had miraculously returned? I felt really anxious: how would I explain to people? After frightening and worrying them, and all the trouble I’d put them to, would I have to tell them give it had all been nothing?

I switched the light on and tested myself.

Close one eye and focus on an object in the middle distance. Keep looking in exactly the same direction. Stretch my right arm out to the side and then slowly this bring my finger round, being careful to continue focusing on the same direction, and note when the finger appears in view.

What I see is the tip of my finger suddenly appearing as if from behind an invisible curtain and then gradually the rest my finger in my hand come into view. is

Repeat from the left side. Now I can see the finger coming all the way, it doesn’t suddenly pop into view.

This convinced me for a while that my condition really hadn’t improved but for several days I found myself obsessively checking over and over again that the peripheral sight really had been lost and I wasn’t a fraud.

I also felt guilty about the white stick. I don’t need this to help me get about and there’s no need for it when I’m walking about in the quiet streets of the village where I live. But in a crowded street I would need it, just as a signal to others that my vision is not good. I took the white stick out with me one day to try and become familiar with it but I felt oddly embarrassed and shy. I suppose it’s because I have this feeling that I’m not really entitled.

Perhaps this sense of somehow not being ‘properly’ disabled is quite common, I don’t know.


About partialinsight

One evening I had a stroke. Half my sight vanished overnight. Adapting made me grasp how amazing the visual system and brain are. It also taught me to understand disability completely differently and I'm grateful for the lesson.
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5 Responses to Doubt and guilt

  1. justme75 says:

    I think guilt, embarrassment, or a feeling of not being truly ‘entitled’ is common, especially among those who don’t have immediately obvious disabilities, or those who have had it thrust upon them suddenly. I know my grandad took a long time getting to the point where he was comfortable using his white stick, even though he needed it. There are several disabled people I’ve come across who aren’t comfortable using disabled parking spaces, facilities etc because of the fear of appearing to be fraudulent to those around them. And I often second guess myself, as you do, as to what will happen if I one day wake up and am well again (it does happen for short periods as I have a fluctuating condition, which in many respects makes it harder for me and others to accept it).
    All I can say is, if you need it, use it .. be it the stick, medical care, support groups … anything which will make your life nearer the ‘normal’ you knew before. You’re doing what appears to be an amazing job so far … keep going.

  2. Thanks, it’s good to know these feelings are common. I’ve learned such a lot I never knew about disability.

  3. Basia says:

    Many thanks for sharing this. I’ve learnt a lot, too.

    • I certainly shared your feelings to start with. I also encountered people who couldn’t accept my sight loss and consequently made me doubt it myself. I am getting better at ignoring this but still have a residual feeling that if I were to try a bit harder I would be able to focus. Intellectually I know this is nonsense but… Only this week I went to Waterstones to buy Christmas presents. I asked an assistant to help me choose books for children and explained that I cannot read print because I cannot focus. Brusquely he said that he was blind in one eye and could see perfectly well. With a sharp intake of breath I managed to carry on and eventually he became very helpful. Tricky moment but sadly not one of a kind and in a way useful in making me accept my VI. As for the white stick, I don’t find it very helpful in crowds and don’t use it very often. I can see my way around without it and do feel
      uncomfortable and somewhat guilty using it. not sure why. I’m glad you shared your feelings about this and that I’m not the only one.

      • The story about the bookshop assistant is interesting.

        When it comes to eyes arithmetic is different. A half plus a half is not the same as one whole, at least as far as the DVLA is concerned. Several people have said to me “But people with only one eye can drive”, and it’s quite hard to explain that with one complete eye I would have a wider field of vision.

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