Newly disabled – Are you still you?

By Yvonne Garris

When I was first losing my sight all I wanted to do was to get back to work because that is who I thought I was. I spent a month on the sofa in pain, had 5 surgeries in 4 months and still my sight didn’t come back. All I did was lie on the sofa and “watch” TV, I found a couple of channels that didn’t have infomercials on at 3 or 4a.m. this was important since I always stayed up late. You see I stayed up as late as I possibly could so I didn’t have to go to bed, because if I went to bed that would mean I would have to face another day of the same thing and I really didn’t want to do that. But, I did over and over again each day hoping my eyes would get better and not worse, I didn’t want to be blind or worse yet disabled! My journey started March 1, 2004 and by Labor Day of that year I finally gave in and decided that I was not going back to work.

So now that I started the process of accepting that I am legally blind I became a client of the local blind association. I must confess that was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I cried that whole weekend. I then got hooked up with a social worker and a rehab teacher and the process of relearning the basics started. I was then sent to a rehab facility where I learned the computer, I joke and say I went to learn how to be blind. All of this was fine and good but, I was newly disabled and, what was I supposed to do? I still couldn’t go back to work, trust me I tried to figure it out, and for some people they can, just not me.

Why do people think it is amazing that I can still tie my shoes or cook for myself? I lost my sight not my mind! Recently I was talking with other people that happen to be disabled. Someone said something very true; people don’t seem to want people that are disabled to have lives. It was not that long ago that the disabled were institutionalized, and it takes a long time to change people’s perceptions.
Many times when something like this happens people may think you are going to curl up in a ball and just fade away or that you are now less of a person. I am here to tell you that you are no less of a person now than you were before. My sight loss is due to illness and only 6% of people lose their sight permanently from this illness. Now 9 years later I say I am in the lucky 6%, yes I said lucky. I would not be typing this blog or starting my business if I still had my old life. I have always wanted to help people, but never really sure how, and now I know. So, yes I consider myself lucky, I am not only helping people that are going through things similar to me, I am trying to make the world a more accepting place, and I think that is pretty cool.

So please know one thing. Just because you may be going through a lot of changes right now, and you are now disabled that does not make you less of a person. Who knows you may even be able to reinvent your life like I did by starting my own business. And I can help show you how. Becoming disabled does not mean the end of your life; I look at it as the beginning!