Woman On The Move: Silvia Seyringer

Stanley & The Staircase To The Light

Silvia (white cane in hand) and her daughter (wearing Mickey Mouse ears) are posed standing in Disneyland.I am a survivor. I tell myself this every day, so it must be true! When I found out I was losing my sight, I was devastated, but although it was a harrowing and speedy process, it was not the worst thing that had happened in my life. Having gone through worse and survived, I knew I possessed the key to letting myself out of this dungeon and I knew the staircase to take to see the light again (pardon the pun!)

The first sign I was losing my eyesight was a rare cataract condition resulting from damage inflicted on my eyes as a child. After operations and exploration of the nerves, it was discovered that I had an additional, rarer condition: juvenile macular degeneration, rods and cones dystrophy. Instead of viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, I view the world through a blue lens, with black polka dot spots! (I still see through rose-colored glasses metaphorically, though.)

It was extremely hard for an independent person like me to adapt to the seeming lack of freedom when sight had deteriorated such that I was provided a white cane by Vision Australia. I absolutely detested asking for help. My daughter helped as much as her busy life allowed, guiding me on her arm whilst I used the cane (Stanley) to navigate uneven ground surfaces. Why Stanley? Because I couldn’t stand ‘him’ but essentially, he led me around, plus a reference to black and white era comedians, Laurel & Hardy (Stan being the extremely skinny one!) A very wise woman had recommended naming your cane. It makes it more personal and like a member of your family, whom you need to accept.

We had planned a trip to Disneyland because my daughter missed out on another trip, so this was to be our time together. Little did we know that by the time we left Sydney, I would not be able to see beyond 10cm from my face. Working our way through those throngs of bodies, everyone out to get to where they were going as fast as possible, is a story in itself. I was so grateful that I had a solid body to hold on to and that Stanley announced that I could not see ahead of me. It made it so much easier for others to accept that I had not walked into them deliberately or bumped them with intent. When people are rushing (especially in huge crowds), there sometimes isn’t even the time to apologise properly, so a glance at a cane alleviates this courtesy.

Needless to say, my favorite ride was Space Mountain (which is set entirely in the dark). I could really enjoy that one as I could relate! The non-vision impaired screamed in terror, I just screamed because the sensations of going through space without seeing what was ahead of me was so eerily familiar! And because I was strapped in, I felt safe and it was fun when compared to the unpredictability of day-to-day travel.

Having lost the use of my sense of sight to a large extent meant that I really had to use my brain. I am beyond thankful that my memory still functioned and I could work out where to go using logic when I couldn’t see. I learned to really listen for train station names and sounds after missing my (extremely well-known) stop so many times because I couldn’t recognise it anymore. Trying to ask for directions (or even just to find out where you were) was problematic in a city of 5 million people; no one has patience or time for you, however, at one glimpse of the cane, people were immediately more forgiving and accommodating.

I realised I had to stop working when I didn’t see clear glass and broke many beakers in my laboratory at work. There was a bit of an existential crisis when I realised I couldn’t work as a scientist – “Am I still a scientist?” I need to transition to theoretical science rather than conducting practical experiments. Or retrain altogether, in a different field.

Every day is a challenge but as time goes by, it becomes the norm as you get used your new way of being. And it is not so bad, as many unexpectedly good things have come from being differently-sighted. I now regard it as a blessing. I have gained so much more in terms of valuing life and experiences. At the conclusion of each day, I give thanks that I was privileged to experience it, no matter that the shape and look of these days is different to all those previous years.

Image: Silvia (white cane in hand) and her daughter (wearing Mickey Mouse ears) are posed standing in Disneyland.

I met Silvia on Instagram and was immediately captivated with her photography. Not only does she take breathtaking photos but her descriptions are sublime. You can connect with her via @silviasalzburg to enjoy her craft.

Women On The Move: Ashley Nemeth

Close up photo of Ashley looking fabulous.

I will not let my vision dictate what I can do in my life, and I certainly will not sit back and let life pass me by. I want to show the world what I am capable of despite my disability. ~Ashley Nemeth

Confidence, strength, independent and loving life. These are the traits that I had always wanted to have when I was younger. The problem was that I was not able to have these things when I was hiding the fact that I had vision loss. It is hard to be confident, strong and independent when you can not even admit to yourself that you can’t see the world around you, the way you should be able to.

Ashley and her guide dog, Rick are posed with her snowboard. There comes a point in your life when you just need to be happy and want to live your life to the fullest. For me, this came in the form of my worst nightmare. I lost the remaining sight that I had, very quickly. I was living in a sighted world and getting by as a sighted person even though the world was not clear through my eyes, but now that I had seen nothing except for light and dark there was no more hiding anything.

My world became dark and I really had to fight to get my life back. This was a hard journey, I had to really work to get to where I wanted to be. I am so happy in my life as it is right now, even in the dark. My life was turned upside down but it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I am now living the life I have always wanted.

I am confident, strong, and independent. I am able to live the life that I want because I took the time to work on me and make me a priority no matter what anyone else thought. Through that work I found that being an advocate was where I should be focusing my time, not trying to be sighted when we all know I never really passed because well…… I couldn’t damn well see haha! Acting is not my forte.

Now that I am able to live my life my way and love every minute I am able to help others to realize that, life as a blind person is not a death sentence. It does not mean that your life is over and will suck from that point on. The complete opposite, in fact, you can live a full amazing life…. you just have to want it.

Ashley has been featured on Bold Blind Beauty several times where I’ve shared some of her wisdom in the form of quotes. She is a fierce and tireless advocate who seizes life by knocking down barriers and spreading her message of equity like a champion fighter.

You can connect with Ashley on the following social media platforms:

A Few Words On Why Good Health Is Critical For Diabetics

Nicole is wearing her shield to protect the eye after the vitrectomy. Second pic is of her wearing the shield and paper glasses after she had one of many follow-ups with the surgeon and was dilated.
Nicole wore a protective shield after her vitrectomy.

“Going blind had always been one of my worst fears as I knew it was a possibility with having type one. I want you to know that you can have diabetes and not end up like me but you have to maintain your blood sugars.” ~Nicole

I recently featured Nicole on www.boldblindbeauty.com in recognition of National American Diabetes Association Alert Day to bring awareness to the issue of Type 2 Diabetes. Nicole, who has Type 1 Diabetes found out first hand just how devastating this disease can be on the body. Among other issues that she deals with on a daily basis over the past couple of years, she’s been fighting to save her eyesight.

Thankfully Nicole got a reprieve in the form of good news as her left eye is now stabilized. While this is an excellent report, her battle continues. If you or anyone you know has diabetes it is critical that you take good care of your body to hopefully avoid significant diabetes health related issues.

#typeone #diabetes #diabetic #t1d #omnipod #dexcom #retinopathy #eyedisease

Rockin’ Disability In Spite Of

“Our culture of reality TV and aggressiveness leads to some strange personal interactions. When you wield a white cane, you never know what you’re gonna get.” ~Susan Kennedy, Adventures In Low Vision

Sadly, there’s a lot of truth to Susan’s quote when using a white cane or any other type of mobility tool for that matter. Yet we press onward, in spite of. Never let anyone or anything prevent you from pursuing your best life!

Image: Susan is in the grocery store standing in front of her grocery cart with her white cane in her right hand.