…and delayed. After a long, long week in front of my computer, I took a much needed day off. So here’s my D post a day late.
I’m visually impaired. Most people don’t realize this about me because there’s really no visible sign of my disability (unless you look super closely in my eyes and then you start to notice that things are a little strange in there). What people usually notice is that I hold things very close to my face when reading. I sit very close to my monitor (ergonomics with a visual impairment can be a really pain!). Otherwise, you might never know unless I told you.
I was diagnosed with uveitis resulting from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was seven. One day, I couldn’t see the math problems on the blackboard and I failed a test. That was the beginning of my life with a visual impairment. Over the following years, I had surgeries, underwent treatmentd (often painful) and was equipped with all sorts of visual aids including large print text books that were so huge they wouldn’t fit in a backpack. Some people made fun of me but most people just sort of accepted me the way I was.
Now, as an adult, my vision is much better and I lead a relatively normal life minus one sort of huge thing…I can’t drive. Not being able to drive poses daily challenges to my life. When I lived in Seattle, I had access to wonderful public transportation and for the first time in my life, I was able to be more or less completely independent. When I moved to my hometown in southern New Mexico…not so much. So for those of you who might not be able to picture why this is such an issue, let me pose a few questions. Imagine you want to go grocery shopping. How do you do it? Do you walk? Can you haul all the groceries back home? Do you have to ask for someone’s help every single time you need to buy food for your family? What if your child got sick and you needed to run out in the middle of the night for medicine? Could you do it? If you ran a business, how would you get to client meetings?
When I became a mother, I wondered how my visual impairment would affect my ability to parent. I can’t ever be the carpool mom or the soccer mom…at least not without a lot of help. Even reading to my children at night looks a little different than it might for a normal sighted person. Then, when my marriage broke up, I really wasn’t sure how I could pull it all off. Imagine being a single mom with two small kids, a full-time job and no reliable transportation. Can you picture it? Sometimes even I’m amazed that I managed (and I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my parents, friends and family – they are my angels).
Ok, so I don’t want you to think that I’m writing this post to complain. Actually, I attribute my disability to two of my best qualities: my compassion and my empathy. I’ve learned never to judge on face value…there’s always more to the story. I’ve learned to be kind and to take care of the people around me as best I can. I’ve learned that though I may face challenges in the day-to-day stuff in my life, I have endless capacity for love, enthusiasm and support.
Not seeing the world the same way you do gives me my own unique perspective. And I try to use that perspective to help other people, to improve my community and to make a great life for me and my children. My little boy tells me he looks forward to driving so he can take me places. How could I not love every part of my life, even my disability, when I am surrounded by so much joy? I have never let my disability stop me from doing the things I want to do…I just have to think creatively sometimes about how to accomplish my goals.
The truth: I wouldn’t trade it. It’s part of what makes me who I am.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.