My Blindness was diagnosed in February 2016 at the eye clinic; I sensed something like this would be happening, considering it runs in the family. My heart sunk, my life was already going through the mill, I have already a disability that I was born with - congenital deafness, but I managed to live a considerably normal life.
Life changed from that day in February. Although I was coping with my deafness before, I had my eyes to lip read and now that was taken away too. It felt like I had been kicked in the teeth again, what else was going to be taken from me to live a normal life?
I couldn't cope with the diagnosis, I kept having anxiety attacks when I was out, and I couldn't tell if I was safe or not. By then my certificate of blindness hadn't turned up through the post, so people didn't believe me. The arrogant people were saying ‘partially blind’, I wanted to scream, and say no, but I was still acting like I was ok on the outside, but inside I wanted to cry.
I couldn't cope any longer at this point. My independence had been stripped from me, I could no longer look after myself, I felt hopeless and just wanted to hide from the world.
I was contacted by Action for Blind People, who were asking questions about my condition, who apparently get involved before social workers to find out how I was feeling and what help I needed. I told the truth, I needed help with everything - getting out and about, daily living, and just feeling low. My life as I knew it had taken a knock. The gentleman recommended that I apply for the personal independence payment... well, we all know about claiming for PIP and the stigma surrounding it.
Within two weeks I met my vision support worker (who is also deaf, so she understood how I felt regarding being deaf and now blind), as I was to be cane trained too. The training started soon after the canes arrived, a long cane, that's the long one, and the simple cane, that's the short one. With the canes, if it doesn’t go by your feet, you haven't got the long one. The long cane is for when you want to go out independently (which I have done), it's scary on your own, not only do you have to concentrate on what you are doing with your cane, I.e. obstacles in your way, you have to judge if and when it's safe to cross the road. It's absolutely scary but once you have done it a few times, it's worthwhile.
When I use the bus, my anger can come to a boiling point... some people can offer their seat, and some passengers... well, they should move from the disability seats, but won't. They would rather see me struggle over helping. Its heart wrenching sometimes and on occasion, they come across as arrogant.
Since being blind, I can't hear people properly, I miss words in conversations because before I could lip read, now I can't. People assume when you are blind that you are slow too, they speak very slow and also shout... examples such as - “ do you need help with that?”, “do you know what... is?”, or “how many fingers am I holding up” very loud and slowly.
Other things people say are, “it's over there” or “can you see that, did you see that?” It is as if they are trying to catch you out, or simply be annoying.
Over the weeks after the diagnosis, I realised I was not coping at all, I was getting worse with anxiety and depression. However, now I have decided that it's other people who have the problems, they need to learn more about visual impairment, instead of me being the one ashamed.
That's all for now, but I wish all new diagnosed visually impaired patients the best in the future.
Have you had similar experiences to Deanne? Are you also deafblind? How did you cope with this? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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