Saturday, February 5, 2011

When Glasses Don't Help

My grandmother's brother Clarence was known to one and all as Shorty, partly because the immediate family contained two other Clarences and partly because he was, well, short. His wife was a highly intelligent woman who had been a schoolteacher before their marriage. This is their wedding picture:

(Wasn't he a hunk?  And doesn't she look like someone who would have whacked rowdy students across the knuckles - or some place more sensitive - with a heavy wood ruler?)

Aunt Amelia is something of a legend in our family because she lived to be over 100 years old and stayed mentally sharp until the very end.  Unfortunately, her bright mind was trapped in a progressively failing body.  Once a voracious reader and a passionate fan of the soaps on TV, she lost first her vision and then her hearing.  She could still speak but had no way for others to communicate with her.  Her death was the proverbial "blessed release."

Aunt Amelia has been on my mind today because yesterday was Barry's annual eye exam, and not only are his cataracts worsening, but he also may be developing glaucoma.  He needs further glaucoma testing at the central VA hospital in Phoenix, but if the results are positive, the corrective surgery for his cataracts will be indefinitely delayed.

Barry already has damaged hearing; when he was in the Army, a grenade simulator tossed too close to him literally blew him off his feet and permanently affected his ability to hear high-pitched sounds such as bird chirps, appliance beeps, and many women's voices.  He relies on facial expressions, body language, and some limited lip-reading to get through conversations and we almost always have the captions on when we watch TV or a DVD.  I'm worried that his worsening vision is shrinking his world even farther.  He's already stopped driving at night; what will he have to give up next?

As I said, I keep thinking of Aunt Amelia.  Barry's still a long way from her condition, and I really hope the ophthalmologists at the VA can keep him that way.

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." ~George Orwell  

No comments:

Post a Comment