Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relearning Object Permanence

My right eye has been finking me for about a year and a half now, because of the Whole Brain Radiation. Even though I had a fraction of the usual dose, I developed one of the possible side effects. I have to say that I am endlessly grateful that, heretofore, I seem to have held on to my smarts, including my short-term memory—the loss or waning of which is another possible side effect. My eyes did not fare so well, unfortunately. My left eye is mostly fine, mostly just nearsighted and astigmatized as before. I do have a small bit of cataract in it as well, but I usually don't notice it, as it's not in the center of my vision. I have not been able to figure out why I do sometimes notice it . . . really, it's quite strange.

My right eye, however, maintained its nearsightedness and astigmatism and added both fluid under the cornea—near the center of my focal point so therefore visible all the time as a distortion of any line I look at—any thing I look at; and a slowly growing cataract that is also virtually in the center of my lens. Combined, these issues in the right eye frequently send me unexpected data about the world around me.

Because my left eye is corrected—ignoring the tiny cataract—to 20/20 vision, and my right eye is corrected—because of the fluid and cataract—to about 20/40 or 50 (keep in mind that this is tested reading an eye chart, which is not the same as using the eye in the real world, and that changing my glasses prescription at this point, while prescription drops are slowly changing things would be . . . pointless)—I can see remarkably competently for every task I've tried to undertake, from driving to reading to riding to cooking to threading a sewing machine needle. The left eye gives me clarity; the right eye rounds out the dimensions into the three we typically see.

Nevertheless, we see in stereo, and when I happen to catch a glimpse of something obliquely with only my right eye, I usually have a moment of shock—that the woman walking around the corner is missing an eye and part of her nose. Or the seaplane coming in to land on Lake Union is miraculously aloft on only one wing. Or the photo on my friend's wall is of her as a child next to a headless baby, presumably the remains of her brother. As you might imagine, it can be alarming.

My brain knows that, for the most part, people tend to have two eyes and a nose. Planes landing calmly and smoothly tend to have two wings. Babies in pictures tend to have heads. And so, after the initial nanosecond hiccup, I'm back on track and observing the world as I learned to as a toddler.

A tiny part of me continues to wonder, though, if maybe I'm somehow seeing something more real now. Who's to say that what we learned back then was the absolute truth?

1 comment:

Erik said...

my eyes are sympathetically watering as I read this.