If you have read any of my past blogs, or know me, you may know that I was blind for 2 years of my life between 18 and 21, and since I have lost eye sight about 20 times for days/weeks at a time. You may also know I am a dedicated volunteer for the RSB (Royal Society for the Blind).
What I want to talk to you about is that disabilities do not mean Less Ability in a person. It can just mean that this Person has heightened abilities in some areas, but not in others. I believe I am such a case.
Turning Blind at 18 was a big life directional change. I expected to be a violinist or violin teacher, going blind certainly changed this life direction and the end result is that I am now in IT.
Since going blind, I have face constant challenges to keep my vision. For those of you that understand eye issues, I have now new lenses in my eyes; these replace the cataract ones I had, so I see really well – but with monocular vision (my choice – I hate glasses). My pupils are fixed, so I am photophobic – this was due to medication. I have also had right angular glaucoma, detached retina and regularly look through “floaters” or leaking blood. I am sure I am not finished with giving extra care to my eyes to make sure I see for as long as possible.
I am really, really lucky, that I got my eye sight back. But due to the loss and subsequent losses, I have a few “funny” ways. For example, I do not look in cupboards as I go to get items. I actually expect the items to be where they should be, and just reach in and grab. This means I get very frustrated if people don’t return items to where they should be.
I have also found that I am very black and white with information in general. Probably because I have had to face facts and learn to live with these facts. When I was regularly losing eye sight (about 6 times in a 2 year period about 16 years ago, and I was a single mum raising a 4 year old boy), I employed my brother. When I lost my eye sight he would stop his main job and assist me with mine, with driving, shopping etc. I did this so no one would be aware of what I was living with, at least no clients that would consider blindness and inability to work.
2 years ago, I could see but was legally blind, and I really, really struggled to drive the car. So without discussing this with anyone, I basically stopped driving. Only when I went for a check up to my eye surgeon did I find out how bad it was, and that it could have been easily fixed (which it was within 48 hours). I got a bit of a telling off, for leaving it so long.
The fact is, I have and do live with a disability as many of us do. However I do not consider that I am less able I just have strengths and weaknesses like everyone. Some of my strengths are really great and some of my weaknesses quite weak. However, by facing facts and being prepared to adjust my life I have a great and full life.
So if you have any issue that you consider may be a disability treat it as a problem to be solved or as a salesperson would say an opportunity. Look at the worst case scenario, then the best case scenario. Aim for the Best, and put in prevention action to limit the damage of the worst. Then just get on with life.
There is a book that was recently released called For All to See. In this book the author has documented some people who have lived with blindness and their stories are moving. It is well worth reading.
Don’t limit yourself.
Remember, God gave you one gift without any strings that is the gift of life. What you do with this gift is up to you. I hope that you can say you made the most of it, and can really be happy with your life’s achievements.
Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.