On Healing

A series of recent events have me thinking about how I feel about life with dual disabilities. Specifically, to what degree would I want to mitigate or perhaps eliminate at least the medical component of said disabilities, should that become more possible in the future.

I suppose because I wasn’t born with significant hearing loss, but have had to adjust to it over the lifespan, I would definitely opt into something that promised to correct my hearing. I’m pretty sure now though that I’ve had some loss in that area even before I had become aware of it.

Certainly the technology to enable one to hear, at least in an electronic way, has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years. Many see this in the existence of the Cochlear Implant. One thing that gives me pause in goingfor a CI though is that I’ve heard it can throw off sound localization, making it difficult for someone who is also blind to navigate safely around his or her environment. I think one could adjust to this, but I know not how long that might take.

I recently met an individual who is a mental health advocate, writer, and one who has assisted many people with disabilities in learning the social landscape. This person shared with me a video in which a woman hears sound for the first time via a cochlear implant.

I’d heard of this video before, and its attendant controversy. I guess people’s biggest concern had to do with the notion, right or wrong, that it would serve to enhance the public’s idea that perceived disability must always be a bad thing and should thus be dealt with. Some were also not sure how to take having such a private, emotionally jarring moment aired online. My position on that is it was her personal decision to do this, and should be seen as such.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that deafness doesn’t get quite the social taboo that blindness does. I mean I suppose most wouldn’t actively choose to be without hearing, but many individuals who are deaf only can get good jobs and do things where their competence is questioned a little less. Are they discriminated against in some ways? I’m sure of it, and especially when attempting to communicate with others who are not deaf and don’t know sign language, or take in programming that isn’t properly captioned.

But when many see an individual who is blind, they automatically assume that some sort of sin has stained their soul. Some of the braver folks figure that God has actually appointed them to lift that sin, as a person tried to do this morning.

I’m strolling along, enjoying the birdsong and wind that finish waking me up as I head toward the bus stop. I get to the street corner, and over the sound of a roaring machine of some sort, maybe a lawn mower? I don’t know, I hear someone calling, maybe my name?

Are you talking to me?” I ask, turning to face the voice.

“Yes,” she replies. “God says he wants me to touch your eyes.”

And before I can stop her, she has practically smacked me in the face! She pounds my eyes a couple of good times before I softly remove her hands and push them down.

“Um,” I say: “I’m just trying to cross the street, an now I’m distracted. Can you tell me when to go?”

“Yes, but you gotta feel what happened! You have to believe! God’s gonna open your eyes in a week!”

I just say ok, and thank you, and shuffle on down towards the stop.

Because I’ve never seen before, I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to suddenly have working eyes in a week. I guess it would be like that woman’s reaction times 100, as I’d be bombarded with stimuli that I couldn’t make sense of without the proper context and training. I wonder if people who hope for such things to happen to a totally blind stranger have even stopped to consider the ramifications of the situation?

Second, I think I’m made just the way I’m supposed to be. As with hearing, I don’t begrudge anyone who wishes to be able to see after having been totally blind whenever it becomes feasible to do so, but I definitely don’t. I guess in many respects, I would feel like I’m giving up my “self” as I currently know it.

These are certainly interesting and complicated issues, and I know many who are working to find their own answers as they deal with one, both, or some varying combination of them. I guess what it comes down to in the end, as I said when someone at a small church I went to thought of trying this same sort of intervention, is to respect the person’s humanity. Ask them questions about what they might want you to pray over, or if they’d just prefer to be left alone. Because what you think you see in someone else is not always what is.

9 Responses to On Healing

  1. I don’t think these self-styled healers understand or are concerned with the ramifications. Ramifications are probably god’s concern were you to ask them. My guess is they just want simple outcomes for whatever they perceive. If all they know about you is that you can’t see and they perceive blindness as a state of suffering, all they see is themselves being the conduit for healing from their higher power which is dependent on your belief. Their expectation is that you will see just like they do, therefore, suffering eliminated. They must think it works like a light switch or something. If you were to present the subject of any consequences, they would shrug it all away as god’s concern. They have no idea how your eye is affected or how the brain works in connection to that, all they want, to put it very bluntly, is a magic trick.

  2. Happens to me too John people come up to me all the time and try to heal me. It used to upset me. Now I just say I don’t wish to be healed by you thank you. No God did not put it in your heart to heal me because I am the way I was meant to be and that really shocks them and usually stops them in their tracks.

    As for the job think. Obviously since our issues are different but I have had to make my own niche as far as working. Because no one will hire me without my own transportation. So I feel into special needs daycare first and then dog training And as you may or may not know I recently returned to school to make my degree match my skills … its backwards but for me it feels right. Find your passion my friend and go for that!!

    • Thanks, that sounds like great advice. I know I enjoy writing, and am just gonna wait till I figure out a way to make that work for me. Good that you’ve gone back after what you seek. I don’t wanna re-enter school unless I feel pretty sure I know why and what I’m doing, but that’s really hard to pen down.

  3. I’ve come across this phenomenon too, though I haven’t yet had anyone assault me physically; mentally, more like.

    On one occasion, I was worried enough about the sheer aggression pumped out by one of these zealots that I changed direction, fearing for myself and my guide dog. The arrogance of these delusional types is beyond belief. I can accept the existence of a higher intelligence than us, and, looking at the news, I fervently hope that there is one. But I’d have thought that treating him, her, it, them, whatever, as a circus act would be a gross insult. Abracadabra, now I’ve fixed you? I think not. I had a long journey getting to where I am now with major sight loss, and if there is a way back at all, that could also be a long journey.

    If you read the accounts of people who have had their sight restored, you will have found that the results are very mixed. Making sense of the world with sight must take a long time. Some people have despaired of making sense of it and have committed suicide. Even with restored sight, it seems to me that you would need a thorough programme of rehabilitation, as you would after a broken leg or a major operation. Where those skills can be found I’ve no idea.

    Thanks, John, for a very provocative article.

    • Hi. As one who has had to adjust to hearing loss, I understand how daunting that process can be. Thanks for reading, and I hope something said there helps. Gaining sight definitely wouldn’t automatically fix everything, so the best any of us can really do is to make the best with what we have, and take advantage of any medical improvements if we desire to do so.

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