Phyllis Slater's Story: Part One 1995 - 2000

By Phyllis Slater

1995 - 2000

At a yearly check-up with my ophthalmologist (M.D. specializing in eye care), I told him the story about how I twice took the side passenger mirror off our car while pulling into the garage.  Considering how my husband cares about cars, he was surprisingly calm about my little “mishaps”. Another time I almost walked into a waitress who was walking towards me.  At the last moment I saw her and move to the right. Oh yes, what about the time I walked into a yellow cone warning me the floor was wet.  Darn those fighting cones.  Ha. Ha.

A visit to the Retinal Specialist gave me a diagnosis for my vision problem.  It was Retinitis Pigmentosa.  A quick web search on the
Internet told me RP, as they call it, is an hereditary disease for which there is no cure.  In my particular case there is no family history of RP. My grandparents came from Eastern Europe early in the 20th century, so my early family history is lost.  I called the Retinal Specialist back and he explained the genes thought to cause RP could lie dormant for generations  Further, the doctor explained the progress of the disease is unpredictable:  No one can predict whether my field of vision will narrow and then stabilize, stop at some point, reduce to only shadows, or leave me totally blind.  What’s in store for me?

 As an administrative assistant and organizer for twenty-five years, I
set  down on paper how I felt and what could I do further.  The Retinal Specialist said studies show high levels of Vitamin A Palmitate and low doses of Vitamin E are recommended.

 Realizing this bit of misfortune was not my fault, in the future I must be gentle with myself. I’ll try to keep things simple: Make sure furniture isn’t moved from accustomed locations; move breakable items to safer places; be extra careful about spilling liquid and other items than could make the floor slippery.

 When I was at the deli counter recently, I could see the food in the
 glass display.  Even the price tags weren’t problem to read.  However, when the  counter person handed me my purchase  - I could not see it. She was holding the package in my blind spot. I thanked her for the help and mentioned I was developing a blind  spot.  She smiled her understanding.  That was my first experience with  admitting my new challenge to others.  It was not as hard as I expected... Accepting the idea that  I must change the way I do things,  the next few years will be spent learning from others.

 In the meantime, life will continue, and a new “normal” will develop.

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