“ABVI raises peoples’ expectations of themselves”

December 17, 2014 was Ted’s last day of work. There was no retirement party with his co-workers. He didn’t even clean out his desk. It was just like every other day coming home to his wife, Michele, to enjoy his evening with her, his grandchildren and the family pets.

On December 18, 2014 Michele woke up and noticed that her husband, Ted wasn’t breathing. She called 911 and followed their instructions while waiting for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Ted had gone into cardiac arrest. He was placed into an induced coma. Fluids were pumped into his body and oxygen kept his heart beating. On December 23 his doctor told Michele that Ted had a 1% chance of surviving. He suggested that the family gather at his bedside. Their family Priest also visited his room.

On Christmas Day, while his family was out for lunch, Ted woke up. The first thing he remembered was a faint glimpse of his doctor pumping his fists into the air with excitement. His doctor checked his cognitive functionality, asking Ted to look out his window and tell him what color the sky was. While Ted “knew” the sky was blue, he noticed a severe change in his vision. In fact, Ted had suffered Optic Neuropathy as a result of his heart attack. Blood flow had been blocked and the trauma created optic nerve damage. Ted is legally blind in his right eye, where only one-half of the normal field of vision is visible. His left eye has only peripheral vision and very bad acuity.

Given the severe trauma he experienced, Ted was finally able to leave the hospital 30 days after checking-in. He then spent 11 days in physical rehabilitation. Depression began to settle in, but Ted quickly gained a better perspective on his issues, while watching another patient struggle to feed themselves.

Ted saw an area Ophthalmologist for an exam. The prognosis was “cut and dry”. There was nothing medically possible to help his vision problems.   He told Ted it was a “non-correctable event”.

Ted has a good friend who belongs to the Grand Rapids Lions club. At a meeting he also met a local doctor. Both suggested that he would benefit by coming to the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Before learning about ABVI, Ted tried a number of different options in his home… he loves to read and hoped to find magnifiers or glasses to aid his restricted vision. Nothing helped. When he came to ABVI’s Low Vision clinic the single, most important message he heard was “don’t give up, Ted”, from our doctor. Ted wasn’t told “what he couldn’t do”…but he was shown “what he could do”.

 He tried various devices, such as powerful magnifiers, bright lighting devices and a electronic equipment to enhance reading materials. Our Vision Rehabilitation Therapist visited Ted’s home and helped with education on how to increase font size on his computer. She also helped them mark their kitchen appliances with bright colored “buttons”, so the controls would be easier to locate. Ted also learned about digital Audio Books. He loves to read…especially on their frequent camping trips.

Ted wasn’t able to return to work. His corrected vision still doesn’t enable him to read blueprints…a key part of his job. And he can’t drive anymore…also required. But Ted isn’t letting those limitations hinder his activities.   He enjoys walking in his neighborhood and around the yard. His biggest challenge is navigating a nearby, busy intersection. His reduced depth perception is a challenge to assessing speed of oncoming traffic.

Most importantly, Ted is very happy having 3 granddaughters living nearby. When one recently asked him “how do you like my dress, grandpa?”, he’s very happy to still see most of her smiling face.

Working with ABVI is valuable for other individuals who have lost or are losing their vision. Said Ted, “My experience was both mentally and emotionally uplifting…the process was inspiring.”