The early morning light leaks through the vertical metal hanging blinds across the sliding back door. I know if I am quiet enough I can grab the keys to the car, unlock the door, and slip out without waking anyone.
The red rock, the blue sky, and the fresh morning air, all of it is calling me. I drive south as far as I can go until I hit a dirt hill that rides along the side of the mountain. It’s a perfectly groomed biking trail above a community of homes fit for a queen. I start with a grateful prayer and rattle off my daily affirmations as I walk. The sun is reaching its peak and I can’t wait to say hello when it shows its face.
The seclusion makes it easy for me to drop into a place of mindfulness that brings everything to a balance. I pass house after house looking curiously into their back yards. I contemplate living in each one, waking up to a view such as this. I picture myself sitting on the deck every morning, drinking my coffee, and watching my kids run about. I smile at the thought as I pass each one.
My daydreaming has left me on the trail longer than I had planned. I look back to see where I am, adjacent to my car, and I realize I have quite a hike back. The flat deep red dirt below me is a perfect texture to slip my shoes off and walk the rest of the way back, barefoot. The warmth of the sun has yet to hit the ground and my toes curl as I place them on the chilled dirt. I am tempted to slip my shoes back on, but the connection with the Earth is worth a minute of un-comfort. The trail is slightly elevated from the brush below. Five steps down and I’d be on the flat ground that leads to the mountainside.
I keep my sight forward but still catch glimpses of my wishful homes as I pass each one. I feel dizzy and light headed. I shake my head, blink my eyes, and keep going until I catch something out of my peripheral vision and stop.
“Wait, did I just see that?” I say to myself.
I was facing my car; the mountain was to my right, the houses to my left.
“I can see that rock!” I said out loud.
The rock was 100 yards to my right and I could see it while facing my car. Over 365 days, I had gone without little to any peripheral vision.
Two months after I had been diagnosed with PCS (post-concussion syndrome), I laid in our master bedroom, snuggled up to my husband. The light above us was turned off, but the blinds were cracked enough for the dawn light to seep in. The light and shadow created a striped pattern that ran up the wall and onto the ceiling. I closed my eyes and held onto the warmth of his body next to me. These moments were fleeting, considering he was now doing all of the household duties, including taking care of our three children, while I lay in this bed day after day.
He asked me how I was feeling, as he did every evening, and when I opened my eyes to respond, I caught a glimpse of the striped pattern connecting to the crown molding in our quaint bedroom. This would normally feel insignificant, but after lying in that bed for 60 days straight, it dawned on me that I hadn’t been able to see the ceiling in our bedroom. I never answered his question; I leaned my head back deeper into my pillow and scanned the entire room. Then I started to cry.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“Yes, I am ok. I can see it all babe.” I finally responded.
“You can see what?” he curiously asked.
“The ceiling of our bedroom, the crown molding and the top of the television,” I replied.
“Could you not see those things before?” he asked.
“No, and I didn’t even realize it until just now,” I said astonished.
I had been restrained to seeing everything out of a tight rectangle shape that hooded the top of my eyes and took away my peripheral vision. None of these, however, did I notice were gone until I started to get them back, as it did on the trail that day. The dizziness and being lightheaded, while I hiked, was my bodies response to the new heightened vision I had just acquired.
I sat down on the trail and started naming everything I could see without moving my head. I laughed as I listed each one. Then I looked at the face of the sun and said, “Thank you.”
On our way to St. George UT, two days prior to getting my peripheral vision back, I remember seeing the ground and cars pass through the side view mirror with such speed as I drove to our rental house. It made me slightly dizzy and I tried to distract myself from looking at it. It never resonated with me that I could see out of my peripheral vision now.
My concussion had taken so much away from me and every time I received something back, it felt like it was nicely wrapped and placed in my hands like a gift. My increasing gratitude made each gift feel that much sweeter and this moment was no different. I slipped my shoes over my chilled toes, laced them up tight, and ran as fast as I could back to my car. I raced into the rental home, where my family was, and beaming with excitement I announced, “I have my peripheral vision back.”