I’m sitting here at my desk, looking out my window. Today it is bright and sunny. Those are the best days for me. Give me sunshine and I am a happy girl. Light means a lot to me! From June 2001 to November 2015, I lost most of my vision to a condition called Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. The cause is known; but the reason for the cause is unknown. Cause: Blood flow was restricted to both of my optic nerves, at separate times–first in June 2001 and then in November 2015. This caused the optic nerve(s) to swell. This swelling produced irreparable damage to the transmitters that go from the eye to the brain. Reason: The reason for the restricted blood flow is unknown. For the most part, I am not totally in the dark. I have some some decent, if blurry, upper vision in my right eye.
I tried to explain the craziness that is my vision to a middle school student yesterday. I asked if he’d ever seen a cartoon where there was a person walking around completely surrounded by dark, stormy clouds while everyone else was in the sunshine. That is kind of a picture of my vision. My field vision, which is most lower and side vision and plays a large part in balance, was affected. That, along with most of the central vision in my right eye are impaired. The left eye is almost completely compromised. I have a small spot of blurry peripheral vision with some color in the upper right part of the eye. That little patch of vision is actually more irritating than helpful at times. When I try to focus on something that is there, I glance toward it and it goes away. It moves to the right where I have to try and focus on it again! (Crazy!) When I am standing looking out, the area below me and right around me is blurred into gray tones. If I look straight out I can see what is out in front of me. I laugh and tell my preacher that what I see from my seat on the back row is the top of his bald head! When walking, I am constantly looking down and then up, then down and then up to gauge first where I am going and second my footing. I had a misstep in January and am currently dealing with bursitis in my hip from that incident. In the dark, I am blind. I really don’t like the dark! I am a bright light and sunshine kind of girl! My vision craves light.
Over the years, I have run from specialist to specialist, with not a lot of encouragement. I did find a doctor in 2016 that gave me a little ray of hope for some visual recovery. I tried some experimental therapy that did not work. My neuro ophthalmogist is stubbornly adamant that there is no treatment or cure for this condition and chasing after experimental treatments is a waste of time and money. “Don’t do it!” he says. Plus there is the fact that experimental treatments are NOT covered by insurance! I am staying positive and am exploring each day what this new road holds and where God is leading. Those closest to me, my family and friends, know that the road is not always easy; and I don’t always have a firm footing on it so I am not always easy.
A number of folks have suggested that I document this journey as a blog. Pre-2015, I would probably have thought the same thing myself. I was on the computer for many hours a day. Now days though, I am not on the computer as much as I would love to be because it is very confusing for my brain (seriously). I have to limit my time to 30 or so minute segments, because I get very disoriented and tend to get cluster headaches when I over stress my eyes. As a boon to get this writing gig started, I was gifted with a new computer AND voice recognition software. This does allow me to stay on a little longer because I am not typing and looking at the screen as much. I am talking into the microphone, which in itself is hilarious! The screen is bright, sometimes too bright; but the contrast of black on white is what I see the best. It is sort of like looking at the sun for me. I just have to look away quite often.
So here we go….let’s all pray! Who knows where this will go?
I had to work at not being discouraged at first. Essentially within a one week period everything in my life changed. I went from being a very busy, productive (independent) person with a job that I loved, to disabled person looking at a dark, bleak future. Another reason I decided to go ahead and start this blog is because I don’t want to glorify that bleak future. I don’t want the dark to win. Light wins. Light will always win! I want to be the person that puts out the good vibe, a happy thought, a positive message. I am grumpy at times and my poor momma has to deal with the worst of it. She and I are both on a different road going forward, but the possibilities are endless! I can’t do the same things that I used to do, but God has a plan and a purpose for my life that is most likely better than the road I had planned for myself anyhow. I have found in the past two years that I can do more than I ever dreamed possible, even with limited vision. The future is a little dark, but I have a faith and a hope of infinite light.
I was talking to a lady this morning and she told me that she was having a discouraging day. She said she had started taking her Bible to work and was reading it during her break times, and was enjoying it so much. Then today came along and it was a hard, discouraging, sad day. I can definitely relate to those days and it made me think about the different path I was forced to take. Although, instead of being angry at God and questioning my circumstances, I have attempted to get closer to Him. I find that those times when I am desperate to seek His face through His Word are the times when the evil one kicks at me the hardest. When I earnestly get into studying and reading my Bible, I am essentially picking a fight. He does NOT want me growing by seeing the truth and applying it to my daily life. He does not want me to strengthen my spiritual walk. I have found that shielding myself with God’s promises, and pulling His light into me is the best way to keep my spirit strong and keep the darkness at bay. It is my heart’s desire to keep seeking the light of His face.
I try to make my first task of the day one to seek God through prayer and meditation. I am strengthened when I pray and lay myself out before Him. Oh yes, there is a lot of “me” praying there; but it is amazing how much strength you gain from praying for others. If you think about the proximity of God, anytime you are coming to His throne, to His presence (whether in prayer for yourself & others, Bible study, praise, or just talking to the Father), you are in His presence and in contact with His power and His light. This can only strengthen you. That has become one of my main missions in life now. I pray for others. I pray for my family and friends each day and I tell them that, each day. My little ministry of praying for my family each day and letting them know it, has grown to include numerous friends and circumstances of others that come into my life. The more I pray and intercede for others, the more I am strengthened, the more I feel surrounded by light.
When God strengthens us it grows us and blesses us, and in turn, He wants us to pour those blessings out on others. Serving others gives a satisfaction that many people in today’s “self-centered” society miss out on. They think that giving to others subtracts from them. But actually, when you pour your cup out to serve others in His name, He fills your cup back up to overflowing so you CAN keep serving others. Even before my vision loss, I loved serving others. I have more time now to do this. Sometimes the logistics are more difficult, since I am dependent on others for transportation; but I have found that is when I have to ASK for help and allow someone else to be a blessing and be blessed. Life is not always pretty or easy or fun. It does get ugly and hard and scary. (and did I mention that I get cranky?) Those are the times when God will use someone else to send a little ray of sunlight my way.
God is real and He is BIG and He is just waiting for us to fully participate in the crazy, awesome relationship that He has waiting for us. He pumps the light into us so that we can let it shine out to others. I have experienced that first hand!! My life is a little darker than it used to be. It is a little scarier than it used to be, but the amazing truth is that I see a lot clearer now in a lot of ways than when I had full sight! I want to share that with others. I am a bit off the wall sometimes, and my writing style is just me, telling a story. I hope you will go along with me and see where this leads.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1:5
8 thoughts on “Restricted Vision, Unburdened Sight”
My sweet beautiful friend…! How can I put into words how much you Bless my soul. I am in awe of you strength and light of Jesus that you send out….. I want to grow up and be like you ! ❤️❤️❤️
What a beautiful, awe-inspiring post, Elaine! As if I didn’t love you a ton already, observing your determination, your grace and candor as you go through this only serves to make me love you more. I am SO excited to follow this journey and so thankful you have finally “jumped in” to begin writing. I am anxious (& a little nervous) to hear what you think of my attempt and am SO thrilled to have you to bounce my thoughts off now. You just can’t realize what a blessing you’ve been already!
I also struggle with my Bible reading but have learned it is a very common struggle for precisely the reason you have! Our enemy hates it when we fortify ourselves like that. He knows it makes his junk much less effective!
Let’s keep it that way, even if we fail at times…no negative mind-talk from him will keep us from going right back to it!
Oh, my dear beautiful cousin! You are so brave. You remind me of Mom! With all she endured, her faith, wit and beautiful personality never wavered! Your faith is inspiring! I wish we lived close but it has just never meant to be. I love you dearly!
I love to hear your story and your testimony Elaine. I’m so thankful to have met you this past weekend and for the friendship God has given us. God knew that I would need you and the other ladies in my life at this time. Can’t wait to read more of your blogs!
Kim, Thank you so much! Since I have pretty much been sick since I got home, I have not had a lot of opportunity to step out of the confusion that I laid down over the weekend, but am aiming outward! Love you my friend.
Elaine, You have definitely been given the gift of teaching. Actually, from Ephesians 4, you have been blessed with more spiritual gifts; an apostle when you follow Jesus Christ, an evangelist when you speak His truth and honor the Lord, and a teacher when you blog to others how to keep persevering on this Earth. Our Emmaus Community has always been blessed by your organizational skills, and how you share your fruits of the spirit.
I miss getting together. Keep up with this blog, it will help so many people. You’ve got it, girl.
Mary Ann, thank you so much for your encouragement.