by Jewel Dell
A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other thing. - Laura Wilder -
If there is a book that mirrors the above quote then it is this one.
The author, for whom there is no biography included for background knowledge, shows she certainly has a way with words and an incredible sense of humour. The story follows her journey into losing her sight with glaucoma and its insidious progress over the months.
It starts with her awareness of her changing sight and progresses through to the treatments she endures – the endless appointments, the medication, intraocular injections, surgery, the eye drops – and throughout it all always finding the ridiculous side of a very serious condition.
As the author comes to terms with her condition she describes for the reader’s benefit how she deals with problems living alone with just her cat, Muff, as an ally, but not a very effective one. She describes how she tries to teach him to stem a leak in a plastic pipe carrying the water supply to the house, though without much success despite Muff being bright enough to open doors, spoon up gravy using his paw, turn over the electric water jug and carry a mouse in his teeth. Even trying to teach him to drop a tea bag into a big mug failed as the task eluded this feline companion.
On a more serious side, the author describes how other senses compensate for the loss of sight, and gives a great account of how the link between her brain and eye causes difficult manifestations of sight - but not as we see it. It is the Charles Bonnet Syndrome and really quite difficult to understand. It wasn’t described in my Medical Dictionary but Dr Google was a great help.
Throughout the book there are hints on how she manages with every day chores. For example, cooking and cutting up vegetables without doing any damage to her fingers or contaminating the food with blood; but the one that I really enjoyed was how she learnt to drive the 4-wheeler Kawasaki mule around the paddocks and keeping track of her “Bovine Biddies”. Probably of not much use to urban drivers but you never know, her hints could be very handy for a rural driver on some back paddock if they were having sight problems.
There must be frustrations, grief and angst as sight deteriorates for anyone, but Jewel Dell has turned her affliction into a positive story of hope and courage with her brand of very quirky humour. It was a book I took inspiration from.
At the end are a couple of recipes and they sound quite delicious. One day I will give them a try.
Author: Jewel Dell
Publisher: Enhanced Education Fund
ISBN: 978-0-473-37697-0 Softcover
RRP: NZ$35.00 print
Available: Softcover from the Publisher by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org; Wheelers Bookshop
Amazon as EPub, Kindle
Audio version copyrighted by NZ Blind Foundation for client members