In Her Mind’s Eye….. She Can See
Gabby’s family was devastated when she lost her sight due to glaucoma (high pressure inside the eyes that takes vision and causes discomfort). They blamed themselves and felt that they should have noticed her declining vision sooner. They came to the hospital so worried that she was suffering that they asked whether she should be put to sleep. We asked them to wait, to give her a chance, and told them that they would be surprised at how she would adjust. “You are mourning, she is not. Watch her run around the run with her tail in the air. She is happy to just be with you.”
Gabby had a chemical cycloablation, an injection to reduce the pressure from glaucoma once vision has been lost. When successful, this allows patients to retain their eyes comfortably even though they can no longer see. Fast Forward one year: Her family will concede that she is blind, but will quickly follow with a statement that she is “not blind”. “She has developed the Third Eye to guide herself.” She runs from one end of the house to the other, adroitly avoiding a chair here, a table there, to make a bee line to the bathroom. Why? Most often because she wants to jump into the shower with the next unsuspecting person. And Gabby is quick and clever, often making it into the water before anyone can close a shower door.
She knows exactly where the treats are located, she goes to the door to ask to go outside, and she prances at the door of the laundry room, demanding her toys that are hidden on top of the dryer. If her sister, Gertie, is in another room, she seeks her out when someone give her the prompt, “Where’s Sissy?” Her family reports that Gabby’s favorite pastime is stalking BB the cat for fun.
Gabby still feels most secure when she is with her family. But ask them about lifestyle adjustments following blindness and they will cite two, and only two, accommodations. 1. They try not to move the furniture around because she has her environment memorized; and 2. they speak her name quietly before they touch her so that they don’t startle her. That’s it. Easy.
Gabby’s family members are thrilled that they gave her a chance. She misses nothing in her environment, somehow “seeing” every bird in her yard. When she listens to someone speaking, she makes eye-contact that is so precise it is almost impossible to believe that vision is not her guiding force.