Don’t Fall Apart

The narrator’s wife has a stroke. The experience (of being the partner of someone who has had a stroke) is described simply and straightforwardly but self finds it so moving:

Her sight has deteriorated. At the same time, her sight has improved. I don’t know how else to say this. For instance: she no longer needs reading glasses, but when she looks at me she sees dark hollows on my face. To start with, immediately after the stroke, she couldn’t see anything on the right side of her field of vision, she kept touching the edge of her eye, as though something there was preventing her from seeing and she was trying to remove it with her hand. One evening her eye was irritating her so much that I bathed it in sterilized water. So, the dark patches that appear on the edge of her field of vision are particularly irritating. The experts say that the brain is a flexible and formative machine. Sometimes she’d say: “That’s strange, on my right I’m now seeing geometric shapes and the faces of people who aren’t in the room.” So what’s actually going on? Her mind is drawing images from her memory and building them into the dark patches of her vision so as to accustom her to seeing a whole, in fact convincingly deceiving her that there are no patches, no empty spaces; her gaze is filled up with images from the past, or objects from her imagination. For a week now she has not complained of darkness on her right side and maintains that she can see.

My Heart, p. 162

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