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WOTM 23 Featuring Audrey Demmitt

Endless Possibilities

Audrey & Sophie (her guide dog)
Audrey & Sophie

I find it so exhilarating talking to people who are making a difference by sharing their stories of hope and inspiration. If you’ve lived long enough you know life is not only uncertain it’s sometimes challenging to endure some of the difficulties that come our way.

So it wasn’t surprising I would be captivated by the blog-Seeing Possibilities, Navigating through life with Vision Loss. The title reminded me that in life regardless of our circumstances, there are endless possibilities at our disposal. However, we have to take the first step by making the choice to overcome.

At age 25 Audrey Demmitt, the Support Group Advisor for the American Foundation for the Blind and a Peer Advisor for VisionAware.org, received her diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) though she lived with the disease years before the diagnosis was made. RP is a genetic condition that causes retinal degeneration and eventual vision loss.

The diagnosis of RP didn’t stop Audrey from graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in nursing. She went on to practice as a registered nurse with a visual impairment for 29 years before retiring last year.

“Though my retirement was premature due to my vision loss, I am enjoying it!” ~Audrey

A number of years ago due to her declining vision Audrey experienced a major impact on her life when she lost her driver’s license at age 30. As she steadily continued to lose vision Audrey realized the critical need to get help. It became increasingly difficult moving about safely, reading normal print, using the computer, doing activities of daily living, and coping emotionally.

It was through vision rehabilitation that Audrey learned about assistive technologies, orientation, and mobility skills, and adapted ways to cook, clean and do other household activities. She learned how to use a white cane to enable her to safely navigate and eventually got her first guide dog, Sophie in 2011.

“My visual acuity is about 20/300 and my field of view is 6-10 degrees now. Recently, I was diagnosed with cataracts. I have been legally blind since 1994.” ~Audrey

Audrey, her husband Kevin, and two dogs Lucy (a pug) and Sophie (a golden retriever guide dog) reside south of Atlanta, Georgia. The mother and father of 3 very successful adult children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law, when speaking of her children Audrey says: “they are, by far, my greatest accomplishment in life and my pride and joy!”

Raising a family while having a successful career, leading a support group for the visually impaired in her local community, speaking to groups on vision loss, living with a disability, and using a guide dog are just a few of the things Audrey has and still is achieving. Since retiring she is exploring lots of new interests and learning to adapt them to low vision. She is enjoying getting “healthier”, exercising, learning yoga, tandem bike riding with her husband etc. and she loves the freedom to go on trips and spending time with family and friends.

I am just another gal trying to figure out this “life with low vision thing! ~Audrey

A well-rounded person, Audrey loves to read, travel, cook and try new and exotic foods. She loves words, word games, writing and has even dabbled in professional and creative writing. Recently her latest crafty passion is making rag rugs. She enjoys the great outdoors and if you check out her blog at www.seeingpossibilities.com she talks about her latest hiking adventure in Pennsylvania.

Finally, Audrey likes sharing her story in the hopes of providing encouragement and empowering others who are experiencing the loss of vision. Her goal is to educate and build awareness around the issues the visually impaired face on a daily basis.

Thank you, Audrey, for allowing me the pleasure of writing about you. You are a dynamo and seeing everything you’ve done has been encouraging to me.

“I wish you all a rich and meaningful life…it is possible even with vision loss! Life is “in-session”…live it!” ~Audrey Demmitt

 

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WOTM 22 Featuring Charlotte Poetschner

A Kind Word

Makeup Mondays: About Face Early detection saves lives
*See below for copyright information

My main purpose in blogging about style for blind and vision impaired women is to share my love for, clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, hair and makeup. By imparting what I know it is my belief that anyone can be stylish.

Secondly, though dressing and presenting ourselves well is great there are many layers to each of us that I felt important to present to the world. Dispelling misconceptions on blindness and vision impairment is a goal that many of us are working hard to achieve. My contribution to this goal is writing about blind and vision impaired women who are intelligent, strong, independent, capable and beautiful.

While blogging can sometimes feel like a very solitary venture every once in a while we get confirmation that we are making a difference. Emails I receive from blind and vision impaired women are so uplifting and it occurred to me why not share some of them here.

Sunflower via Pinterest
Pinterest

Charlotte Poetschner sent the following email a few days ago and we were able to connect via Skype for a very good conversation. Charlotte has a wonderful sense of humor that came through so clearly I felt as if I were talking with her.

“First of all, thank you for the blog. It’s been fun, and motivating, and helpful to wander around among your posts.

Just so you have some clue about me, I’m a fifty something, non-geeky, woman who has been totally blind since 1986. You might think I would have figured out how to do “it” by now (“It” being the blind thing.)

I had a professional career as a Presbyterian minister serving small churches for twenty plus years. I’m now taking stock trying to sort out what God wants me to do next and part of that, I think, will be a make-over.

The reason I stopped working…or rather paused from working…was that I somehow managed to lose ground on the adaptive techy stuff. I wasn’t getting much help from rehab people and I didn’t even know there were little gadgets that could tell me the basic color of things. On clothing, I’d gone the simple route with couple of pairs of shoes and one black bag, truly boring, safe, clothes. Okay, it wasn’t quite that austere, but you get the idea.

The other thing that has changed in my life is that my personal fashion consultant (i.e. my mother) can’t travel to where I live now that my dad has died. That was five years ago. And, yep, it’s pretty lame that a woman of my age needs her mom to help with the closet.

Now, to be fair, my mom is extraordinary. She grew up without a dime, but, together with her sisters, learned to eyeball clothes in the store windows and then sew them for herself. She designed her own wedding dress and when she was in her thirties she worked with an Italian dressmaker learning more about design.

Colorful bouquet of Autumn flowers in a clear vase. shades of yellow, orange, green, brown, red and a little purple.
Pinterest via
www.examiner.com

She modeled clothing for different events well into her early seventies. Every time she goes out the door, she is gorgeously put together by every comment I’ve ever heard from many, many people over the years. And still doing it at 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 125 lbs. (Drat her, she works out at least three times a week!)

Meanwhile her daughter, that would be me, the girl between my two brothers, was a total tomboy who could barely sew a pillow case and I hated standing on a chair while mom pinned up the hem on some dress or other. I love my mom dearly…deeply…but I sort of have an inferiority complex about fashion. Yet…still wish I could turn myself out in style.

Large grouping of fall flowers in orange/yellow, burnt orange, burgundy and green
Pinterest via
livedan330.com

Like you, I am losing weight. That, by the way, is a tip I figured out by accident. Put the weight loss language in the positive. “I am losing weight” rather than “I’m trying to lose weight.”

I mentioned to a friend that I was describing my weight loss in this way. Then she told me that when she worked as a bariatric counselor—I hadn’t known she’d been one—that getting the mind to think in this positive way helped people achieve their goals. She also mentioned mental imaging of your current weight, then counting backwards slowly as you are working out.

As I was figuring all of this out, my brother sent me some link to a piece on how the mind/brain connection has been researched in terms of dealing with addiction, especially food related habits. Seems bumping the brain chemistry into its higher functioning (instead of the dopamine level where we reach for the carbs or the candy) helps keep people from grabbing the Twinkies. My brother had no clue at the time that I had just started my trek toward losing weight by exercising and changing some of my eating habits.

Phew…this was long. Mostly sent all of this background stuff because I wanted you to have a clear idea about how your blog is proving to be so encouraging to another woman on the journey. Your honesty, your compassion, your humor, your descriptions of items and ensembles—it’s helpful and fun and…oh, here comes a word I have a love-hate relationship with—inspiring.

Soon…if my version of JAWS lets me…I’ll post a comment. Your blog is definitely one that I hope will live long and prosper. Prayers for you this night…just lifting you up to God and asking for you to be bathed in a deep, deep sense of God’s cherishing love.”

Peace- Charlotte Poetschner

Charlotte, thank you for your words of encouragement, it’s a pleasure getting to know you and we must keep in touch.

Have a wonderful weekend!

“Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.” ~Jim Carrey

*Image was obtained from Breast Cancer Info Blog. No copyright infringement is intended. If you believe that the use of this content is violating your copyrights, please contact me directly to be credited or have the item removed.

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Staff of Independence

White Cane Safety Day

WhiteImage of black background with white text & symbol of a person using the white cane. White Cane Safety Day 10-15-14. The white cane in its simplest terms represents a tool by blind and vision impaired people can lead independent lives.

October has been a busy month yet a good one in terms of bringing awareness to noble causes. Today marks another important day for blind and vision impaired people – White Cane Safety Day. Here in the US since 2001, today also represents Blind Americans Equality Day.

Imagine what it’s like to receive a life-altering diagnosis. Similar to the stages of grief the initial shock can only be described as traumatic while the brain tries to come to grips with what has been said. As a fully functioning adult losing independence is not an easy thing to endure.

Coming to terms with a major life change is difficult but not impossible. Learning new ways of doing what was once so familiar takes time and determination. Then one day you are given the gift of independence through a simple mobility device.

The long thin white cane is more than just a widely recognized tool for blind and vision impaired users – it is the means by which we can take our lives back. In its simplest terms, the white cane allows us to get back to the business of living our lives in the best way possible.

For more information on White Cane Safety Day, you can visit VisionAware.org to view their illuminating article.

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“Expect. Employ. Empower.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Makeup Mondays: About Face Early detection saves lives
*See below for copyright information

At 12.3% did you know that the number of unemployed American people with disabilities is almost double the amount of people without disabilities? At the beginning of October I mentioned that this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but I would be remiss if I did not recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Expect. Employ. Empower.” is the theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The purpose of this national awareness campaign is to provide enlightenment on disability employment issues and to honor the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. For more information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month you can visit the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website by clicking HERE.

Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Equal Opportunities istock.com

In last Wednesday’s Health Evolution post I provided some legitimate resources for obtaining reasonably priced prescriptions. This week I promised to follow-up with some additional information that could make life just a tad easier.

Rx Savings for AARP Members

  • Drug Savings Tool – This 3-step AARP Tool can help you get the most value for your prescriptions and learn more about the medications you take. The first step is to insert the medication you want to check in the “Start Here” box then click the “Find Drug” button. Next step is reviewing the drug’s price range & effectiveness and compare it to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
  • Free Rx Discount Card for AARP member and family helps you save up to 38% on FDA approved prescriptions not covered by insurance. Prescription discounts are for you/spouse children, grandchildren up to age 27 and your caregiver. As a Rx Discount Card holder you have access to AARPpharmacy.com to compare Rx costs across pharmacies.
Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Ableware Auto Drop Eye Drop Guide
Walgreens

Baby Boomer and Proud

As I typed “baby boomer” in my Google Chrome browser one of the first results was “Baby Boomers Suck” and like a child who is told “don’t touch that” I had to click it. Here I was thinking all along that my generation was the greatest thing since sliced toast, and to my surprise, other generations disagree – tsk, tsk. Oh well it’s of no consequence because according to CNN’s Baby Boomer Generation Fast Facts, we “are the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history.”

Being among the largest generation, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) there are a number of reasons why those of us who fall into this category should be concerned. Actually we could be concerned about many things but for today I’m only going to focus on one area, which is one of the reasons why I started this blog, and that is low vision.

Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Medicine Bottle Magnifier
Walgreens

A couple of years ago I did some fundraising for Foundation Fighting Blindness and at that time I came across some staggering statistics. Back in 2010 there were approximately 10 million people impacted by a range of blinding retinal eye diseases. Do to the sheer number of the baby boomer generation that number is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years, partly due to age-related eye issues i.e., cataracts, glaucoma, etc.

Take it from someone who was blind-sided (pun intended) with a quirky eye disease. It’s easy to take vision for granted but it’s vitally important to properly manage your eye health. Many of us over 50 have already experienced changes in our vision because of our age. So I wanted to share just a couple of things I found as my vision declined:

  • Auto Drop Eye Drop Guide – If you’ve ever taken eye drops and find that the drop ends up on your cheek, chin, or anywhere else aside from your eye, then this little gadget is for you. Basically it works like you might think in that you insert the medicine bottle in the device, place the device over your eye and voilà the drop goes directly into the eye. No muss, no fuss. I found this unit at Walgreens for $4.99.
  • My friend Lori, who is always on the lookout for items that could help me out, found a Medicine Bottle Magnifier at Walgreens that attaches directly to the bottle. To use just attach it to the bottle then extend magnifier to read dosage information, and collapse when finished for easy storage.

Thanks to today’s technology many blind and vision impaired people have access to handheld video magnifiers, accessibility software for our computers, special high-powered glasses and a vast amount of products to assist us with day-to-day living. It occurred to me a little while back that it could be helpful to accumulate and post some of these resources so that others can benefit from them. Over the next several weeks I will be updating the blog with additional materials to help in this regard.

I’d love to hear any tips that you might have. Please leave remarks in the comment box below or you can email me directly at boldblindbeauty@gmail.com.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ~Nora Ephron

*Image was obtained from Breast Cancer Info Blog. No copyright infringement is intended. If you believe that the use of this content is violating your copyrights, please contact me directly to be credited or have the item removed.