In the years since I stopped working, I have made a point of avoiding the navigation of urban life as much as possible. I hide away. Frustration and fear are my constant companions. My vibrance has been sand papered away and I blame RP, folding myself secretly into the web of it’s darkening arms. I put on a brave face and pretend that having RP is no big deal, just an annoyance. And, then I have another collision which leads me to more thoughts about the white cane. I think it is mostly for other people because I don’t really need a cane. I am not that blind. Am I?
After my most recent collision in which I sustained injury, I decided, with the support of my amazing husband, that it was time to actually take the step and inquire about mobility training. I contacted my low vision specialist who told me that I had to have a current visual field test in order to qualify for cane training; I made the appointment.
My last visual field was at least 4 years ago and at the time, I had between 20 and 25 degrees of vision; it has to be 20 or less to qualify for the training. I had the test and waited for the results, knowing that I was facing a double edged sword. If my visual field results were the same as 4 years ago, I wouldn’t qualify for the training, and if I do qualify for the training, it means that my vision has deteriorated. Today I got the results. I qualify.
The news wasn’t surprising, but I was surprisingly upset. I suspected what the results would be, but I also secretly hoped they would be the same as 4 years ago. I had worked it all out in my head, the practical reasons for getting a cane, but I hadn’t really thought about how it would make me feel. I stared at the subject line of the message, terrified to read the email. I sat at my desk, my breath knocked out of me, as panic escaped from my chest uncontrollably. When I finally got the courage and read the results, tears ran desperately down my cheeks. How can I be blind enough to need a white cane?