Monday, May 04, 2009

The Tunnel

The average person has a 180 degree field of vision that they can access to perceive the world. When I contracted the thievish Glaucoma, my field of vision was the first dimension of my sight to be draped by the black cloth of blindness. The walls began to close in as my peripheral vision departed. If I wanted to see something that was on the side of my face, I would have to turn my head to see it. So, If there was something that I needed to see, but didn’t know it was there, I wouldn’t see it at all.

The loss of my peripheral vision proved to be significant when it was time to play with my neighborhood buddies. Being the average, American, ten-year-old girl, I loved to play outside with my friends. We would play kickball, freeze-tag, dodgeball, and would even have a daily foot or bike race down the middle of our young, suburban street.

When my eye sight began to fade, my play time started losing its zeal and carefree participation. I started avoiding the frequent games of dodgeball that was starting to leave my once quick legs splattered with red and purple splashes of pain. I started getting kicked out of kickball because of my inability to follow the flying blue and red ball when a skilled kicker would catapult it into the sky above our heads. I was always getting tagged in our games of freeze-tag, just because I wouldn’t always be able to detect when the “it” person was running on the side of me.

Although most of my play activities had been impacted by my narrowing vision, there was still one activity I could do well. I could still run or spin the pedals in a good race! When it was time to race, the only thing that mattered to the kid that was racing was the finish line. And the finish line was always in front. Not to the side… But straight ahead… This was not a problem for a girl with tunnel vision. So, when it was time to run or ride in a race, I would quickly volunteer to participate.

One day, the kids and I had agreed to race two bike riders down to the green house, which was about eight houses down from the starting spot. Once we got down to the green house, we were to turn around and head back to the finish line, the original starting spot.

I was ready! I jumped on my 10-speed bike and locked my eyes on the green house. The kids screamed go, and my legs started rapidly drawing invisible circles all the way to the green house.

I could hear the kids screaming behind me as I reached the green house. I was the first to make it. I quickly turned my bike around and started heading back to the finish line.

All of the sudden a car turned on our street and was headed right for me. Being the responsible bike rider that I was always trained to be, I quickly shifted my handle bars to drive my speeding bicycle out of the path of the slow driving car. I thought I was in the safety zone until I realized that my speed machine was about to careen into a large industrial van that was parked on the side of the road.

I abruptly squeezed the metal brakes on my shiny handlebar. But it was too late. As the slow driving vehicle passed me, my bike smashed into the back of the van that sat quietly and invisibly on the side of the road.

My small body was knocked off the saddle of the bike; and the wind was knocked out of my body. I lied on the warm cement, staring at the bright red blood that spilled from my right elbow, the dirty van, my damaged bike, and the approaching band of laughing children. By the time the kids made it to me, I was barely breathing. None of them asked if I was okay. “You lost!”, they screamed.

I knew then that life, more specifically, my life had changed. I suddenly realized that this tunnel vision that I heard the doctor say dozens of times really was as dangerous as they described it to be.

I lifted my limp body from the ground, grabbed my bike, and silently walked my bike and unveiled reality back to my sanctuary. I said nothing to the teasing children. I said nothing to myself. I just looked up at the clear sky, and back down to the clean gray street, that now had drippings of my fresh blood.

I left my bike, as well as my visual confidence on the porch and went inside of my house, declaring that would be my last time on my bike. It was…

Angela L. Braden
**Narrative of a Blinding Girl**

1 comment:

Becky Andrews said...

As a person with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I can relate to much of what your experience has been! I took up tandem biking and love it.