A DIFFERENT VIEW - Blind pet teaches lessons

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This is not my normal column and I hope this is okay as I am stepping out just a little to share with you a couple letters I received recently.

They may explain more regarding blindness and whether to help or not to help a blind person.

"One thing I've noticed is the sudden change in attitude of many sighted folk towards me once they discover I can't see well. Some folks automatically assume I'm helpless and they will try to take over my activities.

Others think I'm lying or malingering because I don't 'sound or look blind' and I seem to get around so well. I've actually had hostile reactions when I've shown that I need a magnifying glass to read.

What the public needs to be reminded of is that we're people and we have minds of our own. If we need help, we'll ask for it. We don't want to be treated as if we're mentally deficient, nor do we need assistance with everything; blindness is a nuisance, not the end of our world.

I hope we all will politely but firmly explain to well-meaning sighted folk that we're just like them except that we can't see like they can."

Here is another message to me.

"I enjoyed reading your recent article on 'Choosing to Live a Full Life.'

It amazes me to realize the difficulties you must overcome to live a full life and yet you manage to keep a positive attitude.

Over the past several months I have had a situation I never thought I would encounter. Last April my 15 year old cat became blind very suddenly and was bumping into everything.

In a panic mode I took him to WSU for evaluation and to see if anything could be done. It was devastating for me and veryfrustrating for Sherman, the cat.

My first impulse was to end his misery and have him put to sleep; after all, what kind of life would he have if he couldn't see?

Fortunately, Sherman was evaluated and treated by a wonderful vet at WSU.

Unbeknownst to me, the cat had high blood pressure along with hyperactive thyroid. These two conditions caused pressure in his eyes and blew both retinas, causing his irreversible blindness.

My question to the vet was whether she thought I was being selfish to keep him alive when he couldn't see. She wisely reassured me that Sherman's life was not over and that I would be surprised at how well he would do once we got the blood pressure under control.

Sure enough, it is almost a year later and he has developed a routine. He still goes outside but stays close to the house. He has figured out just how many steps to take before he reaches the edge of the porch.

He seems to find his way around the house with no problem and I believe he has memorized the various scatter rugs and other furnishings to keep his bearings.

He has no problem finding the food, water and litter box. He does like his own private, secure areas to sleep and relax so I make sure this is provided.

This whole experience has been an eye-opener to me and has shown me that there is definitely life with blindness. In some ways Sherman seems more perceptive than he was prior to his disorder.

Although there is no comparison regarding the magnitude of Sherman's situation with yours, it got me thinking about others who may have animals that are blind and who may be considering euthanasia to put them out of their misery.

It might be a worthwhile article for you to touch on sometime to let owners know it isn't the end of the world just because their animal is blind.

Those animals are smart and have their own mechanisms for survival. They just need someone who cares for them and gives them a safe environment.

Thank you for your many delightful articles and for keeping us all conscious of the issues you deal with on a daily basis."

These were just two replies I got and I thought you might be interested in them. I hope they will help you to realize being blind is not the end but just the beginning of a different life, a life that can still be wonderful. Have a great day.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse, retired early due to vision loss. Contact him at theolcrow@charter.net or 529-9252.

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