Blogger Spotlight; Michelle’s Guest Post

Posted on 18 February, 2015 by Faye - 12 Comments

MichelleSpotlight2

I’m really pleased to introduce Michelle onto the blog today. She’s written a very personal post for you all that I think truly shows her strength and just how wonderful she really is. But, in case you don’t believe me… read on for her words.


I thought long and hard about my guest post for Faye for the blogger spotlight of the month and I thought I would share quite a personal to me post….

Sight. Eyes. Seeing. Reading. Something that maybe without thinking we take for granted? Picking up a book up and reading is second nature to some of us, but what would happen if our sight was taken away from us?

Towards the end of 2013 I suddenly, without warning, lost my sight in my right eye. To begin with I was in a lot of pain and could not focus at all on things, especially books, and my left eye struggled to properly gain focus. I was worried. My family were worried. What if my sight didn’t come back? What if the same happened to my left eye? I would never actually be able to see my son or family again and I will never be able to read or write again.

Fortunately, so far my left eye has not been affected, but my right eye sight did not return and will never return. The doctors have found no rhyme or reason as to why this happened which in itself is scary as there is a niggle in the back of my mind about what if’s. All they really know is that the optic nerve is dead and therefore meaning no operation can fix it and it will never return.

After struggling initially I swore to not let the loss of my sight affect my life as life is too short and have ploughed on through. At first, once the left eye had started to focus and compensate and my body adjusted to the sensation of just having one eye, it was a little strange (try covering your one eye over for a few hours – it throws your balance and co-ordination off). I struggled to watch TV without feeling sick and to pick up a book I could only read one page without feeling tired. With the help of my Mom I gained the confidence to get back into my car and drive although it felt a little surreal (You can still drive with one eye as long as it is above a certain level). It took me a long time to even start to wear any form of makeup again due to worrying about what I put near my eyes. There are still a few things I struggle with because of my sight like stairs (they look like a giant helter skelter that I can slide down….weeeeeeeeeeee) and I find driving at night time very stressful and tiring.

Now those of you who have met me have probably never been able to tell I am half blind and it’s not something I talk about a lot as I like to feel that I do not let it stop me from doing anything so therefore I do not highlight the fact. And to look at me you would never be able to tell due to the nerves around my eye still functioning. In a way I feel I am lucky. But if I do ever bump into you or you stand to my right side and I completely ignore you (this has happened before lol) then you know why.

I am also lucky that as time has passed I have gradually got used to having one eye. I can still see. Therefore I am lucky. I can still drive. Therefore I am lucky. I can now read more than one page a day. Therefore I am lucky. I can read to and enjoy watching my son grow up. I am lucky. I get to see my family or go out and see spectacular views. Lucky. But what if all of this was taken away from us? How would we cope? How would we read?

My love for YA came very much after I lost my sight with the first book I fully read being Hollow Pike by James Dawson. This book got me out of a very severe reading slump and head space and in a way brought me back to life in terms of reading. Last year I was touched by a strong female blind character in She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick which I thoroughly enjoyed as Laureth, the main character, never let anything hold her back. My favourite character in the Fault In Our Stars was Issac (severely underused in the film though), he had to cope with going blind and would have loved to have read more about him. I would love to read more books, especially YA books, with characters who are blind or losing their sight. Any suggestions?

In terms of thinking about reading and with the rise in audio books the blind have great books readily available, however nothing is the same as holding a book in your hands and this made me think what is available out there for partially sighted or blind people in terms of reading? I have done some research on the internet and found some brilliant websites and information and support.

The RNIB offers several reading choices, giving you access to books, newspapers and magazines in a variety of different formats. Like:

RNIB Reading Libraries (formerly National Library Service) – offering fiction and non-fiction books in Braille and Giant print for adults and children.

RNIB Talking Books – the first of our Listening Libraries, offering the UK’s largest collection of unabridged audio books for people with sight loss on DAISY CD or USB.

RNIB Overdrive – our second Listening Library is a digital download service for Talking Books, Talking Magazines and podcasts, which can be downloaded and listened to on a variety of devices including computers, smartphones and tablets.

• Buy books from RNIB – audio, braille and large print books to suit every taste available in our online shop.

The RNIB are a great support and have found a lot of stories and information on their website so useful and encouraging. They are such a fantastic organisation who fully support any one who needs help however little or large.

My family and friends were a mountain of support for me at the time of losing my sight and for that I shall be ever thankful – Thank you.

Reading back this blog post to myself I hope that maybe someone will read this and find a little strength and encouragement from my journey and ramblings no matter what is sent to test you in your life and remember that you are you everyone is different and unique in their own ways..

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”

- Roald Dahl

For help, information and support with loss of sight or losing your sight please visit http://www.rnib.org.uk/.


You can follow Michelle on her blog and on her twitter.

Don’t miss her interview with me in this post.

faye1

12 Comments

  • Rosie says:

    Wow Michelle, I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been through and it’s scary that it just happened without warning or reason. Sight is something that so many of us take for granted and you don’t even think about what it would be like to lose your sight until you read a post like this.

    You’re so strong and courageous for overcoming this. Go Michelle!

  • emma carroll says:

    Hi Michelle
    What a brilliant, brave post! An awful situation for you to go through and one which must’ve been incredibly frightening. I’m so glad you’ve found a way to still appreciate all the many positive things in your life. Events like this really are a bit of a wake up call, aren’t they?
    I wanted to also share with you that my current WIP has a blind female lead- you’re the very first person I’ve told! I hope I can do her experience justice.
    Emmax

  • E.J. Stevens says:

    Macular degeneration runs in my family, so this is a very real fear for me as both a writer and a reader. Thankfully, with new technology and the prevalence of audiobooks, there are more options out there than ever before.

    Thank you for being brave and talking about such a difficult subject.

    • Michelle Toy says:

      Thank you E J …. Yes a lot of options out there nowadays and really I am lucky as i still have one good eye and there’s people far worse out there who cannot see. It’s best not to worry and deal with things as they come (easier said than done I know) but time goes so quick and we need to enjoy every moment xx

  • Michelle,
    Thank you for sharing such a personal and difficult challenge in your life.
    Eyes and sight is something that I have been thinking about a lot over the last few weeks. My daughter has recently been diagnosed with a condition called third cranial nerve palsy, thankfully the diagnosis has been quick and all of the appropriate referrals have been made. She will have to have surgery within her first year and plenty of follow up care in order to preserve her sight and allow her vision to develop normally. When she is much older we can explore procedures to improve the cosmetic aspects of her condition.
    Although my daughter is unlikely to have any permanent impediment to her vision the experience has hi lighted to me the importance of diversity. While I doubt that she will ever come across a character in a book with her exact condition I believe that it is important that she has the opportunity to identify with characters who don’t have perfect vision or perfect bodies/faces.
    Thankfully I have quiet a few years before this will become and issue and the movement for more diversity in our books is already much more prominent .

    • Michelle Toy says:

      Hi Caroline. Thank you so so much for sharing this very personal aspect of your life with me. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter but glad that it has been diagnosed in time for her sight to be preserved. It must have been really hard for you all and I know how scary it is. Diversity is so so important for us and our children to show that everyone is different and unique in there own ways and normal if that makes sense. Also to know your not alone or see people overcoming things that as a person you feel is only happening to you or make you feel stronger are musts in this day and age. Please add me on Twitter if not already and pop me an email and let me know how your daughter is getting on. People like yourself and your daughter give people the strength to carry on and be yourself x

  • What a wonderful post, Michelle. So very brave of you to share your experiences with us. Really makes me more determined for books to be more inclusive!

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