The Wall is Off
I was walking down the hallway with my mom towards my eye doctor’s office. I had walked down this hallway many times over the years. This was a familiar hallway to me. But something about it was different on that day. The white wall leading us down the hallway, which looked like all of the other white walls in public buildings, seemed closer to me than I was used to. I felt like if I was not careful, I would run into it.
“I think my depth perception is off,” I said to my mom.
I never said the words depth perception in my life before that moment. I never needed to. I always had a pretty good understanding of where I was in a space, how my body fit amongst other objects in a room. How fast someone was walking so I would not run into them.
My symptoms of thyroid eye disease
We were going to the eye doctor because I had woken up with double vision. The double vision was the most urgent concern. I mentioned the depth perception issue to my eye doctor but it was not the main reason why I was there so it wasn’t discussed. The double vision is what I noticed first and that took first priority along with figuring out why my left eye couldn’t move up.
I had a whole list of issues to deal with my thyroid eye disease. Double vision, dry eye, migraines, eye swelling, light sensitivity, retracted upper eyelids. Depth perception issues were just another symptom that pointed to something being wrong with my eyes. In retrospect, maybe I should have been more vocal about it because it’s the only symptom that’s been consistent over the three years I’ve had this disease.
My double vision has since gone away, my light sensitivity has improved, my eye swelling has changed a lot, my dry eye comes and goes, and my eyelids are slowly coming down. My depth perception issues are what has remained. I know this because I run into everything and I have bruises all over my shins to prove it.
Coffee tables, cabinets, and doorways
If I’m in an unfamiliar space, I will run into things. Couches, coffee tables, regular tables, counters, doorways. It’s the weirdest thing ever. My eyes will see an object but my body doesn’t register where it is, so I will ram into it full speed ahead. It takes me a while to familiarize myself with a room before I can know not to run into the corners of couches or tables.
Cabinets and car trunks are other things I bump into pretty regularly. My eyes don’t see them so somehow my body doesn’t know they exist until I accidentally ram my head into them. I’ve done this so many times. Logically, I know there’s an object above me. But logic does not factor into what cannot be seen.
Doorways are the absolute worst. I run into them all the time. No matter how familiar I am with a doorway, I will run into one side or the other. The worst is when I’m not paying attention so I don’t slow down when I’m walking into another room. One time I ran into a doorway so hard that I ended up with a bruise on my shoulder for a week. It looked like I had been hit with a baseball.
When driving, I cannot tell how fast a car is going. I will wait longer to turn on a street to let a car pass because I’m unsure of how fast it is going. Some streets look narrower than they actually are based on the angle I am looking at them from.
I get through these trying moments by laughing. Laughing at the situation, and laughing at myself. I am very familiar now with the feeling of being out of place in a space. I have learned it is best to accept the fact that I will run into things and I try to shrug it off as quickly as I can. A bruise is just a bruise. Waiting a little longer to turn is a minor thing as long as I get home safely. I can still see, that is what matters most.
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