I have been doing a lot of thinking these past couple of months, weeks and days. Slowly coming to terms with loosing a large proportion of my vision. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and self doubt.
However, one thing has had a huge impact on me being able to cope. That one thing is Support. I have been and still am, overwhelmed by the amount of support available to people with sight loss. The support comes in all forms. The medical professionals, the support agencies, such as RNIB, Bradford Council, Friends and Family.
Each has played a very important role in my wellbeing. The medical professionals have been amazing, they have been truthful in their approach to me about my sight loss and the fact that it isn’t going to get better, but at the same time, supportive and re-assuring that they will continue to try treatments in an attempt to stop it from getting worse. They tell me not to expect miracles and be to remain realistic, but also a reassurance that they won’t simply give up on me.
The RNIB has been a sanctuary for me. Their community support pages (RNIB Connect) allowed me to vent ands reach out to others in similar circumstances to myself. To engage with them and to hear their stories. To listen o their daily struggles, but also of their will to carry on and the way in which they adapt to situations. Their words of comfort and reassurance has been a real life line to me. The information the RNIB have on their website is simply amazing. They also provide telephone support and guidance, helping you along the way – whatever my difficulty or crisis, they are there, able and willing to help in a ny way they can.
Bradford Council, who I have never particularly held in high regard have been awesome. The rehabilitation guy, Asad and his support assistant Anna have been incredible. Not only do they talk me through situations on the telephone, but they see me, face to face. Covering all aspects of sight loss. Comprehensively working through day to day living, the obstacles, problems and solutions. They have a wealth of information at their fingertips, and they are happy to share. They truly are a life line, and have made a HUGE difference to me, and I know that they are there whenever I need them. They have gone above and beyond their job roles and I think of them now as good friends as well as support workers. They listen to my fears, and also my good thoughts. they empathise and support me through my tears, or which there have been many. I simply could not ask for more.
Friends and family – wow, what can I say? Except, they have been with me every step of the journey. Encouraging me, and reassuring me. Showing me real love and care. many friends and family members have astounded me by their compassion and understanding. Others of course have not, and have surprised me with there reactions, all this has done, is make those few individuals stand out as the minority, and the people that I don’t actually need, or want in my life anymore.
So, I have made some decisions as a result of my failing vision. I was going to say that some decisions have been more difficult than others, but this wouldn’t be correct. Each and everyone has been extremely difficult and upsetting. So far, the most significant decisions I have made are:
- I am not going to simply give up. I am going to fight, and make every day count. I am going to relish and take advantage of the things I still can do and push myself to enjoy life to the full. To become a recluse and hide myself from society isn’t an option anymore.
- Rather than continue for the rest of my life to mourn what I have lost, I’m going to try and celebrate all that I have. I cant recover what I have lost and cannot change the past. HOWEVER, I can change the future.
- I am accepting all the help and support that is offered to me. For those who know me well, this is something I have always had difficulty with in there past, thinking I can manage, I can cope, I can do this alone, as I’m a strong man and don’t need anyones help. What a load of tosh that is. Of course I need the help and support. I have also realised that in the majority of cases, those that offer help do so genuinely, not just because it seems the right thing to do or say. They do really care and want to help in any way they can.
- Whilst it would be a lie to stay that I really don’t care what people think or say, I am going with the thought that, I do actually care, BUT, not enough to stop me from moving forward and doing whatever I need to do to have a great life, surrounded by the people who are important to me. If people make comments about the aids I need to use, or any other aspect of my sight loss, then so what. And in truth, I have found that these people are in the minority.
- Work – A huge one for me, because I am passionate about the work I do. I love it, and was very good at it, at the top of my game. However, now that I have very poor vision, I cannot see the detail that I need to be able to see to allow me to provide a top notch service. So, I have made the decision ( and this was discussed with a client this evening, and he endorsed this, and made me think critically about it )that I will not continue to put myself under undue stress. My main job role is my self employment Massage and Male grooming business (TJBodyRocks). I provide many treatments to my clients, however, I would rather stop at a good point in my career, as opposed to doing a mediocre job. hence, I will be removing a lot of treatments from my list. The major one is male waxing. This requires a lot of concentration and attention to detail. I simply cannot see sufficiently to continue providing a top notch service. I get extremely stressed before waxing clients come, and during their treatment, as well as when they have gone, knowing that I haven’t done as good a job as I could have or should have done. So, whilst I wills till offer this service to existing clients, I will not accept new clients. I Will explain to clients the situation, and then it is their choice if they would like me to continue waxing them or not. The client his evening made me realise that it is time to concentrate on myself now, take a bit of a back seat, and make the most of the vision I have left. To put my own wellbeing first. So, of the 28 treatments I currently offer, this will be reduced to around 6. This will be a HUGE drop in income – but my sanity and wellbeing will build and flourish as a result.
- I will be able to concentrate more on my Pet Food Business ( Deano’s Pet Food ) and my online fragrance and lifestyle business ( TJReiki )
- I am going to spend more time with family and friends, and appreciate what they mean to me
- I have applied for a volunteer job with the RNIB, so that I can give back a tiny amount of the support that they have shown me
- Take my NHS early retirement – As a result of when I joined the NHS, I can take my retirement lump sum and pension at the age of 55 ( of which I am in May 2019 ). Although it means loosing 20%, I have decided that in order to help me continue and actually cut back on hours working and making things easier in general, I am going to go for it.
So, those are my thoughts at present. Lots of decisions and reflections. As a result, there will be some sadness, but, hopefully , in the fullness of time this will be replaced by happiness.
I’m sure there are still hundreds of decisions to be made along the way, but this is a good start
A HUGE thank you too all – without you, none of this would be possible