Monday, September 15, 2014

My Grandmother's "Visions"

I was talking to my paternal grandmother last night. She is 99 years old. 99. Wow. I think her longevity is due to her heritage--she is one-half Italian.

About fifteen years ago, she began suffering from macular degeneration. She was very upset because she'd always been such an avid reader. Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to reverse this condition. She's been able to keep it at bay, but she's had to adjust her life. She now listens to the radio and depends on phone calls to keep her updated. When I visit her, she can see me, but only if the light is just right and she's close enough to me.

Some weeks back, after she went to bed, she thought she saw people in her room. Naturally, it scared her, but she couldn't prove anyone had been in her room. Her next thought was that she was going crazy, so she didn't want to tell anyone about it. After several experiences, she finally told someone.

Turns out, no one was visiting her room after hours and she isn't crazy. There's actually a condition called the Charles Bonnet Syndrome in which people who are visually impaired experience complex visual hallucinations. It's a real thing.

Isn't that fascinating? You can learn more here about the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, if you are interested. It usually occurs in the elderly and they are reluctant to talk about it because they think it means they are going insane.

People who lose a limb often experience phantom pain and sensations where the limb once was and perhaps this is what happens to those who've lost their vision.

The good news is my grandmother was checked out by a neurosurgeon and she's fine. She's not crazy. But discovering this syndrome has certainly given me some food for thought for a future novel.

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