The sun seemed to hide behind a dark wall as I listened to my ophthalmologist:
"You are legally blind, your work as a nurse is over. No more driving, no more using the mower, saw or garden tiller ... ."
And the list of what I couldn't do continued.
I felt a great wall begin to rise around me; I was being forced to give up almost every activity I enjoyed and the wall grew higher and thicker. I thought I was now of little value. I raged out against what had been dealt me and felt the wall encircling me.
One day as I stormed up the lonely gravel road outside my home, a walk where not another person could see or hear me, I poured out my anger and worry.
What good am I now? I cried. I rushed on, glad nobody could hear me. I needed to vent and I shouted out my frustration.
Finally, I paused in my mad rush to catch my breath and sat down on a large rock that lay just off the edge of the desolate road. Closing my eyes I leaned back against the trunk of a large pine tree and willed my body to relax as my breathing slowed.
Then came the thought: "Who built that wall? Might you find relief if you stop banging your head into the wall that YOU made?"
Only after becoming physically tired was I able to really think. I knew I had to fight to show others -- and yes, even me -- that being blind would not rob me of life.
Block by block I began to tear the wall down, and stone by stone I found there was still a lot of joy in life. My self-made Berlin Wall came down rapidly once I decided to prove to myself that blindness was not the end of a good life.
If you find a dark wall being constructed around you, get up and fight for life, then accept the good the world still has to offer. Help will flow to you when you decide to prove that blindness -- or other "disabilities," for that matter -- doesn't make you any different than anyone else. Stop holding that dark wall up; let it come crashing down and then breathe in the freedom that comes when the wall is gone.
We may pass through a time of frustration and anger when we learn our eyesight is failing. We cry out, "Not me, I can't take it," and in feeling sorry for ourselves we start building a great wall.
Consider what is important to you and what you can still find to bring you happiness. The world on the whole thinks that blindness will make you unable to enjoy life. Are you going to give in to pity or will you prove that being blind will not put a wall around you.
Get mobility training with the white cane and find many opportunities that will open up to you. Maybe you will want to get a guide dog, a great companion. Mobility training with cane or dog will give you independence as you find you can once again shop, take strolls or even travel alone.
Take advantage of software programs that allow a blind people to use computers. This will also give you an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends.
Don't allow yourself or anyone else to build a wall around you. Blindness is not the end of life; it's just a new beginning, one that can still be full of joy.
No one asks to lose their eyesight, yet if you don't allow a wall to grow your life will still be abundantly full. If there is a dark wall around you, start tearing it down; it only feeds depression and anger.
When my wall came down a whole new world was revealed to me. Life was still wonderful, and though changes had to be made my blindness became just a little nuisance.
Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.