Every great story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Well, I don't know if my story is all that great, but I'd like to share it anyway!
My story really begins when i was adopted about a month after I was born. I won't bore you with every detail of my life, but that piece is important for later. Let's skip ahead to the actual beginning that matters for this story…
In 2001, I was a energetic 18 year old who had just graduated high school and was set to go off to college in the fall. Little did I know that all of that would change that summer.
I noticed a large spot i the middle of my left eye blocking my vision. I really didn't know what it was or why it was there. Being the eternal optimist, I decided it was nothing and forgot about it. After all, my right eye was fine and I could see with no problem. (Insert foreshadowing here.) About two weeks later, I ended up going to the optometrist at the behest of my mother. Did I forget to mention that I hadn't told her about this yet? Yeah, that was a fun conversation…
The local optomitrist decided I needed to see an opthomologist. I came to find out that this just meant a lot more tests I would have to go through. He wasn't sure what was wrong, so we started down the path to figure it out. After having blood work, an MRI and IV steroids, they had ruled out a brain tumor, MS and a variety of other things. So, basically…we still didn't know why I was losing my sight.
In the meantime, I had started losing sight in my right eye. I finally got connected with a doctor that said he thought he knew what it was. After a blood test, he diagnosed me with something called Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, or LHON. I, like many I talked to, had never heard of this disease. Basically, it is a genetic disease that rips away your central vision and leaves you legally blind.
This all happened in about 6 weeks…
I spent the next years of my life learning how to be a visually impaired person. This was not an easy task, as I think I had only met 2 other blind people in my life. But, even though it was hard, I pressed on. I ended up having a guide dog for about 6 years, I got married, had two kids, worked in full time ministry and enjoyed many things that everyone enjoys. And, I did it all with very little sight.
There have been many hard days, however. Days when I think my life has ended. Days when I feel like a total burden on others. Days when I want to scream, yell and show things at the wall. And, days when I don't even want to get out of bed. But, those days have gotten fewer and fewer over the years. And, with lots of help and support, I sometimes even forget that I am visually impaired. Well, until I try to read the mail or drive the car…
The End…Sort Of…
Now, this is the part where I would wrap things up in a nice, neat bow. However, my life isn't over. In fact, in some ways, it's just getting started. But, there is an end of sorts because there is a new beginning. And, that's where YOU come in!
Does my story sound familiar? Are you or someone you know going through physical sight loss? Are you having to adjust to a life being legally blind? No matter how you are losing your sight, you are in the right place.
Hi. My name is Derek Daniel. And this is LIFE AFTER SIGHT LOSS! This is a website dedicated to helping all those individuals and families who are going through sight loss to discover life. It is more than just learning how to put toothpaste on a toothbrush. It is learning to deal with the emotions you are facing. It is experiencing moments on a journey that you didn't realize you would be a part of. It is finding answers to questions you may have. It is truly DISCOVERING LIFE…AFTER SIGHT LOSS.
I encourage you to look around and enjoy what you find. There are videos, blog posts, podcast episodes and more. I hope to offer services like online trainings, support groups and one on one coaching to those that are interested. I hope that you find encouragement, hope and a place to share your story with the world.
Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone. Whether you are the one losing your sight or you are a sighted supporter, there are many people out there going through what you are going through. And, the good news is that they are living their lives to the fullest. It might be scary at times, but it is totally worth it!
Thanks for visiting the site. I hope you find what you are looking for! And, feel free to visit the Contact page to get in touch with me personally!
My best to you!