Future Reflections         Summer 2010

(back) (contents) (next)

FRIENDS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

by David Thomas

David Thomas stands in front of a house, holding a long white caneFrom the Editor: David Thomas is thirteen and entering eighth grade. During the past year he lost his remaining vision and became totally blind. In this article he explains what helped him through that transition.

I used to have some vision, but I never had enough for reading large print. I could see certain things, but it was kind of tricky to figure out what I was really looking at. Sometimes I thought I saw something and it would turn out to be only a shadow. It's a retina thing. It can be pretty confusing.

When I was in kindergarten my friend, Sophie, and her family introduced us to the NFB. That year we went to the national convention and I got to see a lot of new things. I liked the convention because I met new blind people, including my friend, Vejas.

At the NFB convention of 2008 I met another new friend, Zach. I keep up with him and my other blind friends through Skype and phone calls.

I have spent two summers in the Buddy Program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I had the chance to work under sleepshades, and I learned how to do all kinds of things without trying to rely on my sight. I got much better at using touch and hearing to help me get things done.

In August of 2009 I had a cornea transplant, and the doctors tried some procedures to fix my retina. After a while I started to have a lot of eye pain. Then I had a surgery where they gave me a steroid shot to see if they could get the choroid body in my eye to make more fluid. It didn't work. They then tried to fill my eye with oil. After a couple of weeks the oil started leaking out and leaving a substance on my eyelids.

Last Thanksgiving my friend Zach told me he had had the same experience I was going through. He suggested I should think about having my eye removed. That was the only thing that helped him in the long run. The medical term for it is enucleation.

A few weeks later I lost the last bit of vision I had. I was still in a lot of pain because of all the problems with my eye. The doctor said that removing the eye was the best solution. I went home and talked it over with my family. Then I asked Zach about the process so that I wouldn't get nervous. After that I had the eye removed, and the pain was at an end.

I got an artificial eye, called a prosthesis, to replace the eye that was removed. Some people ask me if it was hard becoming totally blind. I don't think it was hard for me at all, especially because being free of pain was such a relief! My experience in the Buddy Program showed me that it's okay to be blind, and having friends like Zach made a huge difference. It really helps to talk to someone who's been through it and is doing fine.

(back) (contents) (next)