By Mike Morris
Some may find it hard to believe that someone who has just been told they were losing vision in both eyes could feel lucky, but I was. And, I still wasn’t part of the club. Through my own efforts, luck of helpful people around me and denial, I was firmly rooted in the foundation of not being a member of the vision impaired club.
I was the only one that saw it that way. An increasing number of people were reaching out to offer help and guidance. My wife was the strongest proponent of finding someone to talk with about vision loss. Deep down inside, I knew I should. But I couldn’t act on her words. I was in denial.
It had been about two weeks since my emergency visit to the retina specialist for the right eye. The injection the doctors gave wasn’t a miracle drug. My vision continued to deteriorate. The morning I feared had arrived.
It was a Tuesday morning. I went to work, arriving shortly before 7. I sat behind my desk, looked at the computer monitor and couldn’t read the text on it. Over the past two weeks, I had increased font size and moved closer to the desk so I could read. On that Tuesday, those tricks weren’t working. I was scared.
Most of us have a few days in our life that are either so amazing or so traumatic that the details of the day are never forgotten. That day was a day I remember like yesterday, and it was far from amazing.
As I sat at my desk, negative thoughts entered my mind. This was the first time I’d allowed negativity to stick around. I spend my days working at a computer, and on this day I couldn’t do my job. Two thoughts I vividly remember.
Have I just worked the last day of my life?
How am I going to support my family?
I was scared. I sat at my desk. I stared at the monitor. What do I do?
At that moment, I remembered my wife talking about calling the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. Seems like I had put this off long enough. I made the call.
A nice young lady answered the phone. I explained to her that I was diagnosed with macular degeneration in both eyes. I was at work and couldn’t read my computer screen. I asked for help.
“Just a moment, I’ll get the gardener,” she said. I sat on the line wondering what the gardener was going to do. A few moments later, a gentleman was on the phone.
Marshall Flax and I spoke for a few minutes. He asked questions and I did my best to answer. It didn’t take long for Marshall to suggest a solution. With my nose nearly pressed against the monitor, Marshall navigated me to a web page with demo software to download. In a matter of seconds, software was installed and like a miracle, my problems were solved. I was back to work!
Before hanging up, Marshall suggested we meet. Marshall, a certified low vision therapist, said he could help. Based on the events of the day, I agreed and told Marshall I would call back to schedule a time when both my wife and I were available.
This was a giant step for me. I am a member of the club, and yes, still feeling lucky.
A side note: the young lady that answered the phone did not tell me she was getting the gardener. She did say the person that could help me was in the garden, doing some gardening. This is what she said, but I stand by what I “heard” her say. I later learned that it was Marshall’s morning off. He was spending his morning in the garden. I’m thankful he made the decision to give his time that morning. That morning, it made all the difference in my life.
“A Note from the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired: Marshall Flax retired from the Council in 2014. Should you be seeking services, please consider contacting our new Low Vision Therapist Amy Wurf at 608-237-8107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”