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Blurred Vision not Caused by Stroke, but a Very Bumpy Run

Mom on the Run


It’s morning. Early. Not quite 6 a.m. I’m out, walking my dogs in the dark. There’s a faint pink tracing of sunrise on the horizon, but the streetlights are on, and all the cars going by are in full headlight mode.

This morning, my dog Janie has chosen the swimming pool route. It’s her favorite walk, the path she selects most often. There must be something particularly attractive about this walk.

021113-freedom-mom-tagWe’ve left our neighborhood, followed the winding sidewalk, passed the pool, and have just crossed the major intersection. At this time of day the traffic isn’t heavy, but it is steady. We all wait while I watch the lights and the cars, Janie sitting at the very edge of the sidewalk, so eager to move on.

Today, a car has kindly stayed back, waiting for us. The driver leans forward and motions me and my two dogs across. “Let’s go, girls!” I call, and my dogs and I take a quick jog through the dark intersection. “Thank you!” I call, lifting a tethered hand in return greeting, as I run across the street. My two dogs are galloping before me, excited by the brief run, eager to continue our walk.

But when we get across … I stop, as I always do, to rein the dogs in and collect the leashes … and when I look up, oh! Oh my gosh! What’s going on?

My eyes – I can’t see! It’s not right, it’s … wrong, terribly wrong. I look left, right, up, down, trying to make sense of what I’m seeing. Or not seeing. My vision is blurry, and not blurry, it’s changing as I move my head, I can’t focus! It’s scary, and I’m getting upset, my heart and brain are racing, trying to figure out what’s happening. I force myself to calm down. I close my eyes, get a grip, try to reset.

But when I open my eyes, there’s no difference, I can’t see! I turn and face the light, maybe I’m having difficulties with depth perception, looking into the dark? But no, it’s the same there, too, in focus and out of focus, sliding and moving. Oh my gosh, am I having a stroke? Could it be? Something else? I realize I am holding my breath, trying to make everything stand still.

Calm down, Lianne, the rational part of my brain commands. Stop. Think. What did you do? What just happened? OK, we just crossed the street. We ran. But it was a really short jog. A little bumpy, with the dogs and leashes and my walking boots, and trying to wave, but nothing at all strenuous.

Oh! Bumpy! I have a desperate thought, and I reach up with my left hand, dragging an already confused dog closer to me. I reach up, check my glasses … good heavens. The left lens is gone. It must have fallen out, on our short bumpy run. I feel the other side: the right lens is there. They’re progressive, many different prescriptions in one lens, and … that explains it. My eyes. Oh, my gosh.

OK, my lens is missing. I breathe. A long exhale. I’m all right. I fumble on the end of my lanyard, where I have a tiny little flashlight (thank you, Walgreens!), usually used for picking up dog poop. I grip both leashes in my left hand – “Come here, girls,” – and squeeze the flashlight in my right. I scan it back and forth, back and forth across the black pathway. No lens.

I move toward the road, wait for a car to pass, step out, aim the flashlight … and there, on the street, my lens. I look up and around for cars, pull the dogs with me, bend over, pick up the lens, hold it up for inspection. In this pre-dawn darkness I can’t tell its condition.

But the lens is whole, anyway, and it’s in my hand, and after we get back onto the sidewalk I slide it into my pocket and take my glasses off my face, hook them over the collar of my sweatshirt. The dogs pull, looking back at me, questioningly. Janie whines softly. They want to go. But I stand for a minute and breathe. Just breathe.

I peer down the path, into the dark. Now I can’t see at all. But at least I can’t see consistently, right side and left side and up and down. Oh, my gosh. I let out a nervous little laugh. I didn’t have a stroke! Oh, my gosh. And we continue on our walk, a little wobbly, half-blind, but oh so relieved.

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