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Science and Fiction


Sleeper Cell Conspiracy?


If anyone asks, I say I have tunnel vision in my right eye and light perception in my left. For my ESL and literacy students, I put a hand over my left eye and hold two fingers in a circle around my right to demonstrate. Apparently, I see the world through a five degree sliver and what I see is two dimensional. I say apparently because this is what I’ve been told, what tests have proved.

Legally blind since birth, this is my normal. Consensus says I should root for a cure.

Waiting for the train one day, I was approached by Assisted Death advocates urging me to end my suffering. Another time, two religious zealots pissed me off when I missed my bus as they chanted, excuse me prayed for the restoration of my sight. I heard the bus belch from the terminal just as they jubilantly uncovered my eyes and announced I was healed. God have mercy if we ever meet again.

And now, drum roll please, science promises to make the blind see again.

According to Dr. Alexandre Gregoire, stem cells injected into the flacid floss of an inactive optic nerve will return the damaged mass to the pink ribbon banner necessary for 20/20 vision. Save the date and start the crowd funding campaign – cures don’t come cheap – but I’ve been lectured to definitely be the first in line.

But let’s just pause for a minute.

Being visually-impaired doesn’t suck for me. I don’t know any different. Sure, when it’s pouring rain or slick with ice I wish I could drive. And, yes, I hope the trend of using symbols instead of words dies a horrible death. But I’d rather face the challenges of disability with the familiar rather than the uncharted.

Stem cells are touted as the be-all and cure-all fairies of our generation. However, I won’t risk my sliver of sight on a sweat shop of microbes that may or may not balk at the amount of renovation my brain fibres require. Suppose they get tired mid-project and splat? Suppose one of those organic minions slays its buddies and calls for a system shutdown?

No thanks. Maybe ask me again in twenty years.


 (c) Kristy Kassie, 2016


Science And Fiction


In this piece is used a bit of science (stem cell research) and imagined a cure for blindness caused by optic nerve damage. The doctor's name is fictional as is the theory of implanting stem cells to regenerate nerves.

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