Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are


This week has me schlepping down to the City Road in Central London to see a Mr Webster, who is my consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital.  I catch up with him every year and, each time I come away reminded of how much I can see as well as how much I can’t.

I can recall that day 31 years ago almost as if it were yesterday – the eye doctor declaring I had a condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and uttering words like “incurable”, “disease” and “blind”. He made no bones about it, there was every likelihood I would lose my sight in the coming years.

Over three decades later I’m not blind. Do I feel let down? Of course not. I feel relieved, grateful and pretty damn lucky.

My sight is none too brilliant and has indeed degenerated over the decades, but I still have a fairly significant amount of useful vision remaining.

So, why have I not gone blind with RP? Many, many have and at ages much younger than me. Just four weeks ago, a woman arrived for a course I was running. She had RP and will have been a good twenty years younger than me. She could see only light and shadow and, in fact had a helper with her to support her through the day.

We all differ of course and every case of RP is different. There are no hard and fast rules. Nevertheless, I do wonder whether some things I’ve done or not done over the years have contributed to my sight being relatively OK for someone of my age.

On the one hand I have in the past dabbled with a number of alternative/complementary therapies and interventions. I have no way of categorically knowing whether they helped, but perhaps they did contribute to slowing of the degeneration. I also went to Havana ten years ago for treatment. Whilst, I didn’t think it helped at the time, perhaps it did contribute after all.

Another aspect may be diet. Whilst I have an unhealthy love affair with sugar, my diet is otherwise pretty good and balanced. I have the good fortune of having a partner who is committed to our preparing and cooking fresh, unprocessed food for the family, including many of the things that are supposed to help with eye health. I rarely eat junk food or stuff out of packets or tins.

However, perhaps a particularly significant contributor has been my own thinking. Ever since I was diagnosed, I never once thought about what I would do when I go blind. Yes, I would get angry and depressed, yet never would I project my thinking forward to that state of actually being blind. I wonder therefore whether that may be the reason, or part of the reason, I still see as much as I do?

This notion came to me only about a year ago and, excuse the pun, hit me between the eyes. I can’t prove it, but my strong sense is that my thinking did contribute. In practical terms, it can be seen as a foolish attitude as I “should” be preparing for the worst, but perhaps the attitude has actually served me. I’ve remained in the now, as opposed to imagined future of being blind. I am certain our thoughts have an effect on our physical well-being and why should that not apply to our eyes?

I believe it would be far fetched to think my RP away all together, but maybe just maybe my attitude has made this difference to the disease’s progression.

None of what I say is based on any kind of hard evidence but, for me, feels kind of right.

Alternatively, it could simply be that I happen to be bloody lucky! Lucky that I could see the dog running about early this morning whilst sat on my favourite log, lucky that I can see my childrens’ faces, lucky that I can get out and about and ply my trade along with hundreds of other things to feel grateful for.

Anyway, having said that it ain’t perfect by any means,  and if you’ll excuse me I have doorframes to walk into, chairs to fall over and cats to (inadvertently) kick, so I’ll say ta ta for now.




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