“I LOVE THE LIFE I HAVE RIGHT NOW”
When I was only fifteen, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. At the time, I didn’t know what diabetes was all about or how dangerous it really was. The doctors talked to me about it but I was just a teenager and wasn’t listening. I didn’t want to hear what the doctors were saying. Looking back, I guess I was in denial.
I went off to college not being aware of the dangers of diabetes, especially combined with lifestyle, poor diet and lack of sleep. I didn’t take care of myself.
Burnt out, I moved back home wanting desperately to get my diabetes under control.
In my efforts to control the disease I started to experience vision loss, a major complication of diabetes.
Over the next several years I learned to manage my diabetes. My regular doctor even complimented me and said I was doing really well. My ophthalmologist said my eyes looked great, in fact, the best ever!
Then all of a sudden, I started to have problems with my sight. My vision would come and go and the “floaters” in the back of my eyes would make my vision really spotty. One night I woke up with this intense headache and my sight was gone!!! I couldn’t see out of my right eye at all and my left eye was seeing double. I was so scared! My eye doctor said I had neovascular glaucoma. He made a hole in my right eye to allow the pressure to regulate itself. I couldn’t see a thing for months afterward.
My sister was pregnant at the time and I feared that I would never see her child, my first nephew. After several months, my vision, or what was left of my eyesight, returned. But I knew, deep down, that this was just the beginning. My eyesight would never return to where it once was.
It was months later when I found out about the New Hampshire Association for the Blind by attending its showing of the movie “Going Blind, Going Forward” at the Portsmouth Library. It was there that I realized, “I was not alone”. There was support out there for people just like me.
Emilie, a social worker came out to see me and together we figured out what I needed. Denise, a low vision therapist, did a low vision evaluation and made some recommendations, and Kathie, an orientation and mobility specialist, taught me how to travel safely using a white cane.
A program that has really helped me is the Peer Support Group in Portsmouth. I’ve met so many inspiring people and I find myself always saying, “If she can do it, so can I.”
Today, I’m 33, and married to a wonderful man, Dan. I have lots to look forward to. I have to say that despite my many health challenges “I love the life I have right now”! I have no idea what will happen in my future. I know that the longer I live the more at risk I am to losing more of my vision. But I want all of you to know what diabetes is and what it does!!
When we’re young, we all feel that “the world is at our fingertips”. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have taken my diabetes more seriously. I would have taken better care of myself.
I’m so very grateful for the support I’ve received from the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. The Association is more than an agency, it’s a circle of support for me, and others, who want to remain independent.