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

So, why am I not blind?

I can recall that day 32 years ago almost as if it were yesterday. I remember the consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital uttering words like incurable, disease and blind as he told me of my diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). He made no bones about it, there was every likelihood I would lose all 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 poor and has indeed degenerated over the years, but I still have a fairly significant amount of useful vision remaining. I can still go about my day to day life relatively unimpeded – with some mishaps thrown in for sure!

So, why have I not gone blind with RP? Many, many have and at ages much younger than me – I’m now edging into my late 50’s.

We’re all different 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 an ‘RP-er’ of my age.

On the one hand I have in the past dabbled with a number of alternative/complementary therapies and interventions – including a trip to Cuba for an operation and oxygen therapy. I have no way of categorically knowing whether all this  helped, but perhaps they did contribute to slowing of the degeneration.

Another aspect may be diet. Whilst I admit to an unhealthy love affair with sugar, my diet is otherwise pretty sound and balanced. I have the good fortune of having a partner who is committed to 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.

Perhaps the most 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 (even, dare I say almost suicidal) yet never would I project my thinking forward to that ultimate state of blindness.

I wonder therefore whether that may be the reason, or part of the reason I still see as much as I do? By the way, I’m not referring here to positive thinking per se, more the idea of being blind simply not crossing my mind. Conversely, it doesn’t feel like some kind of denial either.

This notion only came to me a couple of years 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 and irresponsible 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 a bleak, imagined future of being blind. I am convinced our thoughts have an effect on our physical well-being and why should that not apply to our eyes?

I acknowledge that it would be far-fetched to think my RP away all together, but maybe just maybe my attitude has made this difference to the unusually slow degeneration I have “enjoyed” .

None of what I say above 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!




3 Responses to “So, why am I not blind?”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on something so personal. You have such a clear vision of life, how can you ever go blind! You dear friend have penetrating insights. Keep seeing and showing us the way. Anita x

  2. I want to echo Anita’s comment. Your weekly offering via this blog has given such insights into your life and my own – I await its arrival and the message it brings.

    Chris, one day I hope to have a “vision” like yours, but doubt I’ll ever achieve the necessary amount of wisdom.

    Sending you birthday wishes (mine not yours) as I chase you into the upper 50s.


    • Thank you for the feedback Anita and Michael. I’m glad you notice that I “see” in other ways, although I must admit I’d still love to be able to see in such a way that I could jump in the car & go for a spin – especially on such a beautiful evening!

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