Tuesday January 14, 2020

A couple of years ago, we installed a self-issue machine in the library – it allows our readers to return their own books – and it made me think of something...

In 2010, I lost the sight in my left eye.
In 2013, I lost my sight almost completely.

I am one of the lucky ones; because I have relapsing-remitting MS, my sight came back, or at least to what is described as 'near-normal'.

For every relapse there is nerve damage that will never recover. It may be minor damage and functions may return to 'near-normal' but when I'm fatigued or the weather is hot or humid my vision can fog. My eyes take longer to adjust to different levels of light, and brightness is particularly painful. They also do an amazing dance when I try to track anything that moves to the left.

Reading takes more time than it used to, and I find it more difficult to take in information through my eyes; bad photographs on small phone screens, disentangling all the sights in a busy place, or being in a room with more than a couple of faces at a time, for example.

When I lost my sight, I also lost the use of my right side.

As a reader, a walker/cyclist and a very independent introvert, I didn't know what to do with myself – I couldn't entertain myself with books, I couldn't escape the house, I needed other people to help me with tasks as basic as cleaning my teeth.

I had to ask for help and let other people in, I had to be patient, I had to spend time with myself, to sit and face myself without distraction and confront my own inner world.

It was terrifying.

But I noticed something important.

When I slowed down, I became calmer and more sanguine, more accepting and more able to respond rationally and reasonably to what happened around me.

As I recovered and returned to a not-so-near-normal life, everything became busier again and the rushing came back. And so did the inner critic, the irrational responses, and the inability to sit still and allow the thoughts to settle. Meditation helps, but it's the slowing down of life that made the difference.

Today, I have forgotten to bring my phone to work so I won't be able to listen to Radio 3 during my breaks or a meditation or text friends. I will have to sit with myself.

Very timely, given how active my inner critic has been lately.

The Librarian
A Moodscope member.

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