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Eugene J van Wyk MCSP

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Copyright 2017 Eugene J van Wyk MCSP

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Cover Design Copyright © Laura Shinn Designs


Optimist! is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without express written permission of the author.

Optimist! is a work of non-fiction. Though some of the cities and towns actually exist they are used in a fictitious manner for purposes of this work. All characters are works of fiction and any names or characteristics similar to any person past, present or future are coincidental.


Preface: These Are Cameos Of My Experience And Encounters, As A Sight-diminishing Or Even A Totally Blind Enthusiastic Professional Person

Chapter 1: Sunset, A Reflections On Blindness And Where It Often Doesn't Lead!

Chapter 2: Why Not Join Me In An Experiment With Being Blind And Deaf?

Chapter 3: A Blind Vision

Chapter 4: A Post Protruding

Chapter 5: The Ride In The Very, Very Dark, Dark with a Very Dark, Dark Man

Chapter 6: Enchantment In A Silk Dress

Chapter 7: Hammersmith, London, In The Shade

Chapter 8: It Is My Bus!

Chapter 9: London By Day And Night

Chapter 10: Shower Size On An Earphone Cord

Chapter 11: The Ghost Tradesman

Chapter 12: Thank God For Progressive Blindness; The Advantage Of The Disadvantage Of Progressive Blindness

Chapter 13: The Advantage Of Blindness, And Other Disadvantages

Chapter 14: The Sculptor Who Couldn't Stand; Lost Perspective

Chapter 15: The "You can't do it" People Of The World

Chapter 16: Underground Trip

Chapter 17: We Donna Speak Zee Englishee

Chapter 18: Wisdom And Lack Of Insight Prevails

Chapter 19: Reaching Out To Give A Healing Hand

Chapter 20: Visually Impaired Folks Are Subject To The Ever-present Matters That Irritate, Frustrate And Make Them Feel Dislocated From The Broader Society!

Chapter 21: Succinct Biography, Eugene J. van Wyk, MCSP (Chartered Physiotherapist, London, England)

Other Books By The Author

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These Are Cameos Of My Experience And Encounters,

As A Sight-diminishing Or Even A Totally

Blind Enthusiastic Professional Person

As these events have been stored in my mind, you will notice that they extend over a rather wide time frame of encounters, observations and experience-absorbing times and places!

With increased life expectancy, all of us, who have sight, may one day, face the prospect of the darker side of life, even diminished or lost sight.

These vignettes give a perspective on the Advantage Of The Disadvantage, of Gradual Sight Loss - AND harvesting The valuable lessons of Optimism. Sit back! Read! Use your vivid imagination, as a paintbrush, to fill in your background imagination details, based on your very personal experience and emotions, at the time of reading.

I almost never read anything, without using this remarkable "tool," to enhance the picture, conjure up by the fertile and splendid imagination of the Author concerned! I have yet to come across details given by any author, about the "background setting" when they sat down to put concepts to either paper or electronic format!

If, for no other reason than to act as a "memory," for myself, where available, I give a brief "settings" description before each Cameo. Like with our experiences, the Readers can be most helpful with their active feedback; giving authors stimulating and fertilising new and brilliant ideas.

As I have pointed out in one of my other books about Spinal Care, (My Precious Spine And I), I regard the person sitting next to me in the aircraft, as a wonderful Life Experience Library! They know, chances are that they will never meet me again; thus they open up and tell remarkable things, stories and stimulating episodes in their personal lives.

If you are a fortunate, positive minded person, you too, are welcome to please contact me!


As always, don't forget to have some fun! Also make some Health and some Mon!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Chapter 1:

Sunset, A Reflections On Blindness And Where It Often Doesn't Lead!

Often, when I read a book, I wonder what the author was doing, where they were doing it, what were the circumstances, the prevailing political and financial circumstances, the general ambiance, the surrounding noises and much more.

So, in keeping with my state of both brevity and curiosity, I have attached only a very limited amount of "Writing Background" to my writings.

Blindness is a very flexible and diverse set of possible conditions. These conditions, in turn, are housed in a similarly diverse group of folks! These people too, have a very wide potential scope of abilities and capabilities!

In the "normal" society, you find the following categories!

Of course, among disabled or blind folks, these groups are also present.

Some can do, some can do more, others can do even more! Some want to, others are not too keen! Some want to be on life's stage; some don't want to be on any stage!

Don't forget that there are also the disabled and blind folks, as depicted by no blindness experienced, sighted fellows!

Although these "experts" may have the necessary academic qualifications, they still lack in depth, practical, day to day, ever-changing and on-going first hand blindness in-the-field experience!

Here, the problem, is that it is totally impossible for a non-blind person, for example, who has never eaten an apple, to give an accurate description of what an apple tastes like!

Put another way: it is all very well to write your experience, based on your investigations and reading, about what it is like to kiss a girl! Only if you have actually kissed a girl, will anyone be prepared to take your account as really meaningful and accurate!

Whatever expert you are, you can't print experience or prosperity!

Nevertheless, we are grateful for the folks who take a keen and quality-of-life enhancing interest in the affairs of their fellow disabled and blind citizens!

Thanks to all of you, we appreciate and reap the benefits of your dedication and enthusiastic outreaching hands!

If you, as a disabled or blind person, have a clear, investigating, unprejudiced and enthusiastic mind, the sky is the limit! What you can reach for, is really your personal limit! Just go for it, and you'll be rewarded beyond your expectations!

So, be the enthusiastic driving motor of your progress! Change your thinking; open the doors; it's up to you!

What is good for the ear, surely also must be good for the soul. Someone's negative, or uninformed opinion of you, does not have to become your life directing reality.

I'm very fortunate, because I did not have to live within the context of what another person's view of me was.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Chapter 2:

Why Not Join Me In An Experiment With Being Blind And Deaf?

(Sitting down to have the traditional Sunday morning breakfast of scones, tea - for my wife Tineke - and coffee for myself. A slightly overcast, but very dry, Sunday 9 February 2014 8.45 Port Elizabeth South Africa.)

The venue for this little experiment can be either your lounge, garden or even a nearby beautiful park!

Sit back with a sound-eliminating device over your ears and a blindfold of some fashion over your eyes. Relax and let some of that very precious time gradually slide by!

Now, faithfully record in your mind, what you experience; the missing items as well as any new observations or hearings! Store this away in your favourite memory file - and often refer to it, when you meet someone with a disability, including folks with either sight or hearing loss!

Now, don't be afraid to extend a hand or a voice to such fellow earth-dwellers! You may very well be surprised by what your outreach may have unlocked!

This is a good learning curve to experience, first-hand, or should it rather be, first-ear, what sight and hearing loss really means!

Are you really blind? Yes! However, I have always had the good fortune of successfully harvesting the advantage of the disadvantage of being blind!

Now I'm waiting with some mixed degree of optimism and scepticism for the advent of Bionic Vision! It may come rather like: "All of a sudden I could see a little flash of light. It was amazing."

Although I very firmly believe that "Sight" for many folks, is really on the nearby horizon!

I very firmly believe that all people are entitled to come to the Health And Wealth, light, irrespective of their gender, race or age!! Therefore, believing that knowledge is not knowledge, unless it is passed along, I very firmly believe in Self-Empowering my fellows -- particularly the young people about both their Health and Wealth!

Always focus on health-orientated thinking and eating patterns.

Of course, there are always the folks who say: "Why build a dream, if it cannot be obtained!"

The optimist in me, often looks back at unobtainable vistas of the past!

Example: "You will never fly;"

"See someone in another house!" Television!

"Speak to someone in another country!"

What about the telephone?

"They will never be able to treat that!"

Have a very close and reflective look at the advance of medicine, quality-of-life technology and the scope of human ingenuity!

I still believe, that the best possibility, is rectifying, or replacing, the retina, thus using the already in-place information transmission facility.

With many of the proposed technologies, there is always the built-in factors of both the unforeseen consequences, and the time-related obsolescence and the always present risk of "Hospital-acquired Infections!"

It may come as a slight comfort to know that bacteria can themselves get sick. They too, are sometimes infected by bacteriophages, (or simply phages] a type of virus. A virus is a strange and unlovely entity - "A piece of nucleic acid surrounded by bad news" in the memorable phrase of the Nobel Laureate Peter Medawar. Smaller and simpler than bacteria, viruses aren't themselves alive. In isolation they are inert and harmless. But introduce them into a suitable host and they burst into business - into life.

About five thousand types of virus are known, and between them they affect us with many hundreds of diseases, ranging from the flu and common cold to those that are most invidious to human well-being: smallpox, rabies, yellow fever, ebola, polio and aids.

Our lifestyles invite epidemics.

The enquiring public no longer is left in the dark. they question the interpretations and, in particular, of the expert's interpretations.

Yet another very important facet to consider, is how a person, who has never been able to see, will perceive the new vision and the information that it will send, to their visual part of the brain?

Surely, the person who has experienced progressive sight loss, will still have retained their vision experience, in terms of what the "Sight World," really looks like!

Imagine the following scenario:

"Well George, the procedure has been a success! At least, judging by the numerous tests and evaluations we have done!"

"However," George replies, "Although I have been prepared for the outcome of this venture, I'm still rather confused, lacking insight, understanding, converting my tactile experience map into a new, sight-driven map!"

"I appreciate your concern," the highly experienced surgeon-engineer says.

"You know," George continued, "My past getting about was based on my learned tactile map in my brain! I heard people talk about smiles, glitter, shining, derelict looking, dishevelled looking, untidy, bland, looking exhausted, moonshine, starlight, clouds, dust storm, colours, mountains, flowers, horizons, depth, heights, animals of various types, flames, beauty, ugliness, valleys, hills, and so many more concepts! I even recall, some folks saying they saw stars in someone's eyes! But, as you may anticipate, to me, all these were just vague and far-off ideas! Really meaning nothing to me!

"True, George," Edridge said. "But you will have to be rehabilitated! Learn what the old-time words now mean, to you as a newly sight-gained person! I can only imagine the very, very wide field of experience you must now catch up with and master!"

George got out of the chair, still somewhat uneasy about his balance. He cautiously strolled over to the window! Turned his head several time, now cautiously "looking" outside.

"Fortunately," he said, "I was so very lucky, my parents showed me trees by taking me to a gardening facility with bonsai trees; I was really impressed! I also had the good fortune to use miniature toys, such as cars, buildings, ships, trains and many more as examples of the things I could not see!"

George was quiet for a few seconds. "There's something up there! It is!"

Edridge looked. "It's the sun!"

"You mean," George replied, "That thing that I only experienced as that heat on my skin?"

"Quite so! However, never, never ever look directly at it! It will damage your ability to see!"

Now George realised that there was a steep, maybe even a prolonged learning curve ahead for him and his family.

He returned to the chair. Felt for the chair-side little table with magazines and books on it. He took the top book, felt the texture of the front cover. Smiled when he looked down at it. There it was, a distortion of impressions, suspecting them to be colours, maybe, even a picture of something!

Of course, George was well prepared for the possible learning events that would now be available as a sight-gained person.

It is two years later!

George had adapted, well, had been very, very positively rehabilitated following the sight-gained procedure. In fact, one of his new hobbies is picture painting!

At the Sight Rehabilitation Centre, it soon struck him that it was much, much more easy for folks who previously could see, but had lost their sight. They were quicker to retrieve their previous sight value system!

In life in general, are you, as a blind, disabled or sighted person, either a giver or taker?

OR, are you fortunate in being a well balanced person?

Never squander a top quality negative opinion - harvest it for all it is worth!

When last did you invite a sighted person for a meal, coffee or tea? If you did, I sincerely hope that you too, were a giver - undertook to pay for the goodies and service!

Similarly, when did you, as a sighted person, last invite a blind person for a social event? Did you use the "shame" word? Were you really embarrassed or ashamed to use the "see" word? For example, "did you see that good TV program last evening?"

When in conversation with a blind person, just be your normal and courteous self! Freely use "see," as you would, in conversation, with any other person! You will feel much easier at ease, and, of course, there will be no embarrassing pauses in the conversation!

Why not rethink and review your attitude including the use of your word attitude, towards blind and disabled folks?

Similarly, Why not rethink and review your attitude including the use of your word attitude, towards sighted folks?

What about concepts such as: light, dark, dawn, sunset, sunrise, pale, colours,

What about "I saw her point of view?" Or, "Now I see matters in a different light!"

What really is seeing? What is sight?

Words are like paint brushes. You can use a single word, a combination of word brush strokes to give a different meaning, shade or colour.

"I see your point of view!" Has that point of view got a colour, mass, taste, shape Can I touch it? If I accidently drop it, will it break? Will it hurt my toes, if it falls on them? Has anyone ever stolen your point of view? Did you retrieve it? Or is it lost!

Has anybody actually tampered with your point of view?

As you may already have observed, certain aspects are not necessarily always visible from a single point of view.

Similarly, the concept of "I think," opens up yet another challenging source of explaining!

The more one thinks, the more one begins to think and the more examples of these types of words come to mind.

Just look at the previous sentence!

Yes, I really do "see" TV programs. My wife interjects the necessary descriptive or explanatory words here and there.

The language of "see" really has a very wide spectrum of applications! Some good, some vague, yet others shameful and embarrassing!

Well, in practical day to day terms, it means much more than the conventional to perceive with the normal eyes. Don't forget to catch sight of!

You consult with your health care person, and he or she responds by saying: "I can't see any other way to treat it"

"He’s seeing another specialist now."

"I must go and see what Verelese is up to"

"I see trouble ahead"

When you really think about it, have that perceived trouble got a colour, shape, smell or any similar tactile attributes?

"They see each other from time to time." Once more, this also applies to two blind persons!

"I can't see how this helps us"

"I'll go along to the club, and see if Jim is there."

By now, you too, will appreciate the variety of connotations linked to words. So, always use them selectively and with great caution!

Again, think of the possible far-reaching, impact-making effect, these new, nebulous and alien concepts will have on a person now being able to see for the very first time!

Are you really prepared to be able to venture into the new world of "Now I can see?"

If the time comes, the successful technologies are in place, good fortune whatever your decision!

These concepts surely must be very alien to a person who now can see, but, previously cannot see!

Now it is your turn! The very important question is: If opportunity presents itself, would you be ready or available to embrace the health risk-assessed quality-of-life possibility of "seeing?

Before answering that important question, keep in mind that changing from not being able to see, to being able to see, will also have its social and economic advantages and disadvantages!

For some folks, the status quo will be the much easier choice. Others will select the choice the new technology brings to their assistance!

Whatever your views or choice, good fortune for the road ahead!

In terms of the latter aspect, I was extremely fortunate, in that at a very early age, "Lightening Struck!" This is when it occurred to me, that my sight is really only on a loan basis! I had no idea, at what rate it would or could deteriorate!

"Bugger Blindness," then became my Quality-Of-Life guiding factor!

I then decided to do all I could that my present sight allowed - and even much more!

Of course, there is a variety of techniques and technologies, that offer rather good looking prospects!

I have tried in vain, to get feedback on quite a number of folks, who have had "Bionic Sight" procedures done! Sadly, no comeback!

I firmly believe in being very proactive, both as far as my health and wealth are concerned!

Therefore, I always take advantage of contacting professional folks, who are at the leading edge of whatever interests me!

You too, are invited to move into the driver's seat of your particular disability, and to always keep on contacting the "experts" about present progress in the field of your particular disability!

In the following email, I deliberately changed the name of the person in question!

Attention: Professor. Subject: Grandpa, Will You Still Be Blind? Sunday 9 September 2012

Dear Professor,

I sat watching and captivated - rather, listening - to a video at 3:40 on the afternoon of Friday 7 September 2012.

Off the internet, "Bionic Eye" Restores Vision in Blind Woman."

The lady suffers from degenerative Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary disease that caused her to lose nearly all of her vision.

This jumped at my interest in this subject rather like a very powerful magnet.

I compliment you and your dedicated team on your insight, determination, vision and steadfast belief in your objective to help people! Not, of course, forgetting your patients!!!

I take a keen interest in technological developments - particularly nano technology and compressing of electronics storage facilities. I note that there is an American company that is at the leading edge of compressing storage space to yet another shattering degree.

I am curious whether you anticipate, in view of the possibility of much enlarged pixel capacity, that almost normal sight might be in the pipeline?

(Judging from your press release, I take this in fact to be the case.)

At present, I am almost retired from active private Physiotherapy practice.

Both my wife and myself take a very keen interest in what's going on in the international investment arenas - including many of the modern-day technologies and techniques that will soon become the "Next Big POSSIBLE QUALITY of life Enriching thing" to invest in. Nevertheless, as I always say: "The more I know, the easier and better I live." I append a little writing reflecting my experience as a RP person.

You will notice my reference to the possibility of artificial sight and what your Bionics Institute is doing, a considerable time ago.

My attitude is quite simply, that almost nothing is impossible provided one is both motivated and has the determination to use and improve on the present day expertise and technology.

O, with reference to Subject: Grandpa Will You Still Be Blind?

We visited our children and grand children living in New South Wales, Australia, in March 2012: Little 5-year-old Jesse asked: Grandpa, Will You Still Be Blind?

Well, immediately it sprang to mind that it's only a matter of time before I, like many other folks, will possibly have the modern-day aids of sophisticated electronics resolve some of our dysfunctions.

I am versed with the work already been done in Australia with reference to hearing loss! My particular interest lies in the field of "eyes." I also have a condition Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Some years ago, - in fact in 1969 - I suggested at a local interest group meeting, that: "I envisage ultimately that the retina will be bypassed with electronic optical stimulus transferred from the necessary external receptors to the brain. This to be in the form of direct contact with the optic nerve."

Well, the enthusiasm and determination of your individual workers, motivated by your organisation's future vision, is certainly compacting the time horizon to the advantage of a wide and varied keenly awaiting spectrum of international patients - not, of course, forgetting their family and associates.

I will be keeping a very keen ear on future developments. Particularly, on interviews with your present patient.

Reflecting her personal observations - if that's the correct word - on the world around her!

Wishing all of you good fortune with keeping a focused eye - or eyes - on the Ultimate goal.

Landing on the moon was a major technological achievement. Giving sight to millions!!! Well, Need I say any more?


Eugene van Wyk, MCSP

Chartered Physiotherapist, London, England

Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Motivated by the rather disquieting figures about declining sight and possible ultimate blindness, I wrote a few short articles - maybe reflecting stories - under the title of Splendid Sunset - And Brightening Hope And Experience! These are cameos of my experience and encounters, as a sight-diminishing or even a totally blind enthusiastic professional person. Sit back! Read! Become involved!

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Chapter 3:

A Blind Vision

(Friday 17 February 2012)

Cold. Deprived. Bleak future. Hellishly Scared.

It was deep in the heart of winter. The house was large, inviting and certainly warm and snug.

The trader's entrance - yes, there still is one, is long, with a canopy of trees and tree branches. This, in turn, deprived the passageway of light during the night-time.

It is a time of mounting political instability; diminishing job opportunities; rising expectations for those without a regular source to provide either food or accommodation.

Early morning I cautiously stepped through the two doors leading via a courtyard to the "trader's entrance." It was extremely cold, dark and very quiet. However, the sliding latches of the two timber doors made a disquieting noise when I moved them. I lingered. Opened the final door and slowly reached with my right hand.

"What on earth is this?" I almost shouted. Something warm and soft. No movement.

I pressed down harder; suddenly reaction came.

Scared, but alert, I requested the half-sleeping character to get moving; sooner rather than later!!!

On reflection, the risk of being physically attacked; even worse, being the victim of a knife attack dawned on me.

It's ten years later. Little has changed for the deprived. Well, little other than in the minds of the self-enriched elite.

It is for many still Cold. Bleak future. Hellishly Scared.

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