Thursday, March 12, 2009

Legally Blind

Next week, I'm going to get into bull-riding, I promise. But I need to get a little more figured out before then, so this week, we're going to revisit the Land of the Legally Blind.

You know. The land I live in with my hubby.

As you may recall from this blog, my husband is legally blind.

I really don't mind living in the Land of the Legally Blind. I happen to love the guy unconditionally, so it matters not to me that he's not quite normal. (After all, I'm so far from normal . . .)

In the beginning, I did wonder. He could read (even Japanese!) he could watch movies, he could look at me. His eyes moved weird, a jerky side-to-side movement, but the only other sign was that he didn't drive. That was it.

Everyone wanted to know how blind he was, but seriously, it only took a few dates for me to stop caring. That's right. I didn't care.

But I was the only person. Even after several months of dating, I was still getting The Questions: How blind is he? What's wrong with him?

So I finally broke down and asked him one day. "I don't care, but everyone wants to know how blind you are."

He laughed at me and explained that his eyes are fine, but the muscles that are supposed to hold the eyeballs still don't work. He can't focus on things. That's it. He was born that way, and that's all he's ever known. It's got a fancy name I can't pronounce. Nystagmus.

"Okay," I said. I think I smooched him after that.

Well, this ended the conversation for most people. I was happy; and if I was happy with a kind of blind guy, then that was good enough for just about everyone.

Everyone but my Gram. God love the woman, she decided she did not like him because of the chances that our children would be genetically defective were so much higher. It was funny, in that irritating as all get out kind of way. So he made sure to send her a lovely Christmas card, a Valentine's card, and I think even wrote her another letter, trying to make nice.

Can you see why I married him?

It did work. By the time they finally met after five months of dating, he'd won her over. She's one of his biggest fans these days.

So this blindness has impacted our lives in a variety of ways, some of them quite good, some of them less so. There are some major areas where being married to the blind impacts my daily life.

We have one car. One driver on the insurance. One tank to fill with gas. No doubt this will change in about 13 years when the kid hits 16, but right now, we save a ton of money on automobiles. This does occasionally provide moments of frustrating humor, like when we went to buy our Prius two years ago. My hubby used to sell appliances at Sears for a time, and he loves a good battle, er - I mean, negotiation. He knows all the tricks, all the mind games, and really enjoys beating salespeople at their own game. We are a good team in this respect, because he plays all sympathetic to the sales people's plights of managerial woe or whatever, and I make an excellent bad cop. The salespeople usually ignore me because I'm a woman, brushing off the statements of fact Jason makes, such as, "This is her car," until we get all vicious on them. I mean, we bought a Prius with gas at $2.97 - we weren't in the best negotiating position to begin with, and we still got a ton of free accessories (valued at about $500, actual production price, $45.97) and some free oil changes. We made the finance guy so mad he actually slammed the door as he stomped out of the room. We giggled and got our rate anyway. And no matter how many times he says, "It's her car," they still get all confused when he WON'T take it for a test drive, and even more confused when he WON'T list himself as a driver. It's fun!

So it's cheaper to be married to a blind guy. But the downside is, it's my car. And I am always the driver. I am solely responsible for getting our kid to and from daycare, and about 93% of the time getting Jason to and from work. Now, I do not mind this most of the time. We live in a small enough town that I never spend more than about 45 minutes total in the car, even though daycare and his work are on complete opposite parts of town. The commute is gentle and easy. Minimal horn honking, almost non-existent road rage. Nice.

But there are a few situations where I really, really wish I wasn't the responsible driver.

A nice dinner out with my hubby. I would love to be able to have a glass of wine with a good meal and not have to worry about driving drunk. But I can't. One glass makes me plenty tipsy, so I drink water with my steak.

Road trips. After about an hour and a half, I get bored driving. Sometimes this is good, because I think up novels. But sometimes, my butt falls asleep and I'm tired and I just want to take a nap, like the guy snoring in the seat next to me. Not going to happen.

When I get sick. Lawsy, it sucks enough to have a violent flu, but to have a violent flu and STILL have to go get the kid from daycare sucks more than you might think. Luckily, Jason gets along with his coworkers enough that he has been able to get rides home, but still. Getting to daycare has nearly killed me on more than one occasion.

And finally, job interviews. I have interviewed for jobs where the office stays open until six. Daycare closes at 5:30. I have had to pass on well-paying jobs that I might have liked because I am the driver. I am always the driver.

This spills over into other parts. People who don't know us well are always a little suspicious of why I HAVE to go pick him up. After we got the Prius, we had one guy we talk to maybe once a year say, "Well, what's he gonna drive? He won't like being behind the wheel of a car like that. How about a Mustang? Now THAT'S a manly car!"

So we have to suffer the fools a little more than others might.

When I was pregnant, the medical establishment did worry about our baby being genetically defective. We got specialized test and expensive ultrasounds. My baby had more flashlights shined into his eyes than I could count in my sleep-deprived state. We kept a close eye (HAR!) on him as he grew. He's had his eyes checked more than most three year olds. And you know what? He's fine.

When it comes to entertainment, let me tell you, if you are married to a legally blind guy, you will never get to pick where you sit in the movie theater. You will almost always be eight rows off the front, right in the center. I've gotten stiff necks that way, but it's okay. He rubs them for me.

He also uses this blind thing as a justification for purchasing Large Electronics. As in, Big-Ass TVs. And our living room is organized around making sure he has the best view, about five feet from the screen. So I sit off to the side, watching at a kind of sharp angle. That's okay, though. I'm usually writing or playing Freecell anyway.

But that's about it. He wears glasses because he's nearsighted, just like I am. I can't remember the last time I noticed his eyes moving funny. It's a non-event to me.

I'm actually glad he's blind. Before we met, he hadn't exactly been successful in the dating department, and I'm sure that his eyes put off a lot of women, just like they did my Gram. By all rights, a guy as handsome, nice, funny, and successful as he is should have been snapped up before he hit 24, but because of the blind thing, all the other women he ever knew passed.

Their loss.


ray cruickshanks said...

Thanks for that post......I'm on a current sharp downward spike in auity, tradrd my MBZ in for an electric bike, have taken full petmanent disabity.......and now know (having filed for divorce from someone who can't reconcile reality) that I might find someone to shaere the last half of my life with me.....good karma is truly coming your way!!

P.A. Wholock said...

Thank you for this post! I was wondering/nervous about many similar things as I am currently interested in a guy a few years older than me who is, similar to your husband, one of the nicest, smartest, and most talented people I've ever met. He is also legally blind - it only ever came up because we were both talking about how various disabilities stopped us from pursuing military related careers. I wonder if he has a similar issues as your husband? He also can definitely read music and see things well- he commented on my Halloween costume yesterday, -and he has that same rapid movement, not really focused thing.
Your article reassured me about some of the things I'd been wondering (and made me realize that they aren't important to me!). Things like how blind is he? How does he get around? And also most importantly, how is he not already in a relationship!? He's a few years older than me and decently popular so he shouldn't have a problem finding someone! Perhaps he's in a similar boat as your hubby.
Regardless, this was a very reassuring article for me! Thank you for sharing! :-)