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Linda Armijo – When I had a stroke back in January 2013, I didn’t think to go to the hospital right away. I assumed I had a bad flu. But I was very wrong. It was a stroke that resulted in homonymous hemianopsia, a condition I developed after my brain hemorrhaged.

Basically, nerves to my brain stopped processing some information from my eyes. Now I can’t see anything on the left-hand side. Imagine what that’s like: cover one of your eyes and try looking to the side without turning your head. There’s a big missing field of vision, like driving a car with a blind spot. It’s hard to believe that almost three years have passed since I met the staff of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. I remember how devastated I was when doctors told me that my sight would never return to normal. Meeting Kathie Turner and Glenn Gunn, both specialists from the Association, was the most valuable and encouraging experience of my life.

Kathie and Glenn came to my door and gave me hope when I couldn’t even see five feet in front of me. They offered me the tools I needed to live with my vision loss. They taught me how to use my white cane and low vision aids to fill in for my missing sight. More importantly, they brought themselves: their compassion, patience, positive attitudes, and respect. With their guidance it didn’t take long for me to trust them — and begin to trust myself.

Kathie brought me a talking clock, marked my microwave with tactile buttons, and put special tags on my music. Glenn was my hero, because he showed me how to travel around safely. I no longer had to be scared of the monsters that seemed to be waiting for me when I walked out the door. I learned to conquer my daily tasks, and I saw another way to live!

Recently, I stopped by the New Hampshire Association for the Blind’s facility in Concord to get a new white cane. My white cane is my best friend. I know that the Association will continue to be a lifeline for me, especially since I have early signs of cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. I’m using their resources to embrace my remaining sight.

I believe that my vision loss was actually a blessing in disguise. Without it, I wouldn’t have taken the time for what I love most in life. Instead, I’d be working three jobs again to support myself, and I’d be unable to enjoy what’s important: my children, my grandchildren, and sharing my many talents.

Kathie and Glenn encouraged my independent spirit so I could regain my confidence. They told me that it doesn’t matter how well or how quickly I used to do something. The important thing is that I can still do it. Over the last three years, I realized that vision loss is not a handicap: it’s an inconvenience.

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