Carol's story

Carol lost her sight suddenly on a night out following a mini-stroke, here she tells her story about how we supported her to deal with this devastating, life-changing evnet:

“I went out for a curry and came home blind. It was the most shocking thing that has ever happened to me and I don’t want to be dramatic, because that’s not my style, but My Sight Notts quite literally saved my life when I didn’t know where else to turn.

Fairly normal life

“Until that night I was leading a fairly normal, if slightly hectic life. I ran my own book keeping business and cared for my daughter who has cerebral palsy. I didn’t get much time for hobbies but in my limited free time I loved reading, walking in the countryside and I also used to drive to meetings of my local Clandestine Cake Club.
“On this particular night I’d been out for a curry with friends and was driving home when I noticed the vision in my right eye was a bit funny. I thought I was coming down with a migraine so I took a tablet and went to bed, hoping it would be gone by the morning.

I was frightened as I didn’t understand what was happening

“But when I woke the next day it was worse, in fact overnight I’d completely lost all the sight in my right eye! As you can imagine I was really frightened as I didn’t understand what was happening , so my brother drove me to hospital.

I’d had problems with my left eye since childhood caused by a lazy eye, but it didn’t really impact on my day-to-day life very much because my right eye compensated. Now, with no vision at all in my good eye I was struggling to see more than blurred shapes and colours.

The doctor said there was nothing he could do

“I was at the hospital for nine hours and after a lot of waiting around was diagnosed with a retinal artery occlusion, or in non-medical jargon, a blood clot behind the eye caused by a mini-stroke. The doctor said there was nothing he could do for me, I’d had a stroke and should go home and take some Aspirin. My brain refused to compute what was happening, I couldn’t believe the brutality of what was said; I was given no information, no advice, and not much explanation – nothing!

“After thinking about it over the weekend, I went to see my GP who was lovely. She rang the hospital immediately and insisted I be given an urgent appointment at the TIA clinic, a specialist clinic for people who have had a stroke. Staff at the TIA clinic were great; I had a scan, saw a specialist stroke consultant and an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist, or eye doctor, explained that the stroke had caused a blood clot, which had created pressure on my optic nerve and so unfortunately there was nothing she could do to save my sight and so she discharged me.”

Sent home with no advice information or support

“I couldn’t believe I was being sent home to spend the rest of my life like this with no advice, information or support - in fact I still can’t quite believe it now. Thank goodness for my friends and family who refused to take it lying down! My daughter, who works as a dementia information officer began to research support services for people with sight loss and a family friend who is visually impaired said I needed to go on the visual impairment register as this would open up support for me.

My life changed overnight

“I couldn’t believe how my life had changed overnight.  I couldn’t see to carry on my business so I had no job, no transport because I had to forfeit my licence; I couldn’t read and was frightened to go out in case I fell or got knocked down by a car.”

I didn’t want to live a restricted life

“Fortunately I’m quite a resilient person and I soon realised I couldn’t and didn’t want to live a restricted life behind closed doors. I went back to the hospital and was assessed and placed on the visual impairment register as Severely Sight Impaired/ blind. This triggered a visit from ADVIS, my local social services team who were fantastic. They helped me apply for things like benefits and Blue Badge parking permits and importantly they provided mobility training with a white cane and felt able to go out.

"At my daughter’s suggestion I made contact with My Sight Notts who really opened up my world.

At the Peer support group I learned from other visually impaired people

“I was invited to join a peer to peer support group and over six sessions with a trained counsellor I talked about my experience and learned practical ways of coping from other visually impaired people who had been through it before and could pass on their experiences. It was reassuring to know I wasn’t alone and to learn ways of coping.

I invested in equipment – it’s been getting stuck into a book again

“With advice from My Sight Notts, I’ve got some bits and bobs of equipment, like my free radio from the British Wireless for the Blind scheme and a USB player, which means I can listen to audio books, it’s been brilliant getting stuck into a good book again!

I absolutely love My Sight Newark’s social group

“I was also invited to join the My Sight Newark social group, which is brilliant, fantastic, I absolutely love it! We’ve done all sorts of things - it’s really opened up my world again. The most important thing has been meeting people in the same boat as me but I’ve also enjoyed the activities too. I’ve joined a walking group for visually impaired people and am getting out in the countryside again. I’ve also joined the arts classes and am painting a canvas!  I’ve never painted anything before and now I’ve gone blind I’m painting a canvas – it’s absolutely magic! So not only am I going out and making friends, I’m also getting back to the things I loved like books and walking and even trying completely new things like painting.

Thanks to My Sight Notts I’ve learnt I can still enjoy life

“I know I won’t get my sight back but thanks to My Sight Notts I’ve learned that there are ways around things and I can still enjoy life. I may have to learn to do things a little differently but that doesn’t mean I can’t do them. My Sight Notts has saved me by providing opportunities and information that I never would have found on my own. If you can’t see you can’t read poster displays or fill in forms so it’s hard to find out about support that is out there.

My Sight Notts opened up opportunities for me

“Without My Sight Notts opening up opportunities for me, I imagine I might have become reclusive and depressed - afraid to go out. I can’t thank you enough, your staff and the other visually impaired people I’ve met encouraged me to get on with my life. Life’s too short and it’s there to be lived to the full - with or without a visual impairment - and that’s exactly what I intend to do, starting with an indoor sky dive later this year!”

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