Suzie Simons talks to Mojomums about being registered blind, coping with 2 young children and how she is now empowering newly diagnosed people.
It was a typical morning when Suzie Simons was awoken by her 8 months old son, and in the usual state of tiredness she turned round to her clock to see what the time was. It was then that Suzie realised that she was unable to see properly. Everything was shrouded in a grey fog, unclear as if she was looking through frosted glass. At 27 Suzie was at her happiest. She was happily married, worked as a nanny and had a beautiful baby boy. From this morning everything changed for Suzie.
She fumbled on through the day assuming it was an eye infection that would soon clear up. She went to the doctor and unfortunately after several months of her sight improving and then deteriorating again along with her hopes, it was confirmed that her sight would not be restored. In Susie’s case it was an infection that affected her immune system and the damage was irreparable. In 2005 she was registered blind and in 2006 her second child was born. She constantly had to make educated guesses and relied on memories to help work out the world around her in order to raise her 2 young children.
Simple things that we as mothers take for granted such as helping your child read became an impossible task. Fortunately someone comes to the house to help with their homework and reading and now at 7 and 9, her children read to her each night. She used to use a buggy to help guide her when she was out, but now has a white cane and generally the general public are very helpful, well 8/10 times anyway! She is able to use public transport and takes her children out to museums and on boat trips and relies on friends to take the children to their activities.
Suzie uses screen reader on her computer which is a speaking function so she can comprehend text. She can also maximise the font size 30 times but is only able to see one letter at a time. She can see muted colours and shapes, but no detail and suffers from eye strain and headaches if she looks at something for too long.
9 years on and Suzie is empowering and educating other people living with sight loss at Action’s Resource Centre which involves helping newly diagnosed and vulnerable people. Suzie has had to learn to do everything again from scratch. It took her a long time but she is now comfortable asking for assistance, delegating and accepting that she needs help. She has a very close family and network of friends who have supported her.
She gets enormous satisfaction from helping others in similar situations and commented that one of the hardest things has been having to deal with other people’s reaction to her situation. She is continuously faced with ignorant and stupid comments.
Suzie has an amazing approach to life. Her advice is to congratulate yourself regularly and not to dwell on any mistakes. She is confident, assertive and a real inspiration.
Suzie Simons is a regular columnist for NB magazine, a bimonthly magazine from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) aimed at health professionals.
RNIB is the leading charity working in the UK offering practical support, advice and information for anyone with sight difficulties. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk
Links to Suzie’s speech:
http://bit.ly/1kwzDOs NB Live 2014: NB Columnist Suzie Simons on losing her sight – full
http://bit.ly/1hF34Il NB Live 2014: NB Columnist Suzie Simons on losing her sight – highlights .