Being In Denial

Photo of David Daniels

Accepting My Destiny

David Daniels noticed he had an eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa since he was ten years old he did not like going out in the dark because he could not see very well.

David said se could see ok in normal day light but as soon as it got dark that is where he had problems, and if he was out playing with his friends he would have to go home and leave his friends playing.

In fact David’s mother has the same eye condition therefore she knew exactly what the problem was with David, even though David went to a main stream school, with his eye sight problems it did have an impact on his education.

Back in the 1970’s Retinitis Pigmentosa was not completely understood and David could not see the black board very well and sat at the back of the class as he was at that time too shy to be moved closer to the front so he could see the board a little better, this made David a bit disruptive because he got board very quickly and distracted the class.

David said that if RP was understood more when he was growing up his education and learning would be so much different as he has admitted he could not read or write properly, thinking back now it was all down to his eye sight, when David had his eyes tested at school they just thought he was just short sighted and did not know about RP.

In other aspects at school like sports or anything that was away from the class room David was just like any other kid at until the winter sets in and the days got shorter which meant the light diminished along with is sight.

David did not go on to college when he finished school but got a job in an antiques shop which gave him an interest so much that he ended up having his own successful antiques business until the age of forty three.

Up until the age of forty David said he loved his job, in fact too him it was not a job it was a hobby a passion he loved going into work.

From the age of forty and up to the age of forty three David said, going to work was like going into the unknown he refused to acknowledge he had a sight problem and would not carry a white cane which meant he would walk into lamp posts and fall off curds alongside the road and tumble over garden walls, which led to having numerous cuts and bruises on his face arms and legs.

As David explains that the general public thought he was the local drunk or in his own words a nutter because if he wanted to get anywhere quickly he would just walk in the middle of the road to avoid lamp post  and any other obstacles.

On bright sunny days David would lose his way because of his sight loss and walk into the public who would also get annoyed with him, this continued for a while where and David could not cope with it  anymore and he had a breakdown.

At 43 the breakdown was the last straw and that is where Sally David’s wife said enough was enough and he had to finish work for his his own safety.

Thinking back David remembers he could have been killed at any time when he was walking in the road and he recalls being run over by a cyclist after a long meaningful talk with his wife he realised he had to give up his job and antiques business and his football coaching for the local kids which he ran successfully for the past 10 years, and the most important thing David remembers giving up was his independence because he could not go t out of the house alone anymore, and still he would not have a white cane because he did not want to be one of those people walking around tapping a white cane everywhere and looking like a blind person or admitting he was a blind person, in fact if  David met someone he did not want them to know he was blind, he just wanted to be normal like them.

Because of his refusal to have a white cane David became a prisoner in his own home for 3 months and he was in need of some counselling which he started over the phone with RNIB, David said the gentleman who used to phone him every Wednesday was fantastic as it was explained that, refusing a white cane and not admitting you have a sight loss problem is very common.

David had broken through the first barrier of acceptance having had counselling he was now thinking of applying for a guide dog, to him he said he would be more comfortable with a dog than a white cane.

Without any persuasion from anyone David phoned the Guide Dogs and they came out and evaluated his needs for a guide dog then moved quickly to achieve this and straight away this made him feel better and more confident in himself, even his counsellor was noticing a difference in him.

David said you can only feel sorry for yourself for so long and other people have their own lives to live and you have to get on with yours.

By getting the guide dog changed David’s life, he did not think he could mix with other people who where blind, but whilst he was doing his guide dog training he met a new friend called Ian Morris who is known as Tiny, who is around the same age as David and has RP as well, they both got talking to their trainer who had lost his sight at the same age as they were then and said that having a guide dog will change their lives.

Tiny introduced David to blind cricket but at first he thought i can’t play cricket i’m blind, but Tiny said if i can play you can play, so he gave it a go and he loves it and has been playing for a few years now and have released blind people are normal and David also took up Ten Pin Bowling and has his own team in a league as well as making new friends so David’s confidence was growing and his life was changing by beginning other blind people.

 

New Life and New Challenges

Six years on and David said he is a different person than he was and if you told him ten years ago he was going to have counselling to deal with his sight loss, he would not have believed you as David said he is a very open minded person, but at times you just don’t know when you need help and asking for it was the most hardest thing to do.

When David was going through his turmoil and trying to deal with his sight loss as a husband and a father, he still dealt with it on his own because he in his own mind thought that he was the only one going through it let alone how the rest of his family and friends were going through it.

Until his counsellor mentioned it to him he did not think of how other people felt about him going through his sight loss or how they themselves are reacting towards it, he was asked if he thought  how his wife dealing with the change, he said he had not thought about it because she is not going through it, but he was told that his wife was probably going through it more that he was, David said he could not understand that as she was not the one going blind he was.

It was pointed out to David that Sally was watching the man she loves so much going through a change in his life and she wants to help you but you are not allowing her to do so, and by doing that it was suggested David was being a bit selfish, when it was put to him in that way David never thought of it in that way, in many ways psychology David was not dealing with his sight loss alone but protecting his family in the only way he knew how.

David sat down with Sally and he was devastated not knowing how the woman who he cherishes and loves was going through the same turmoil as he was, with every cut and every bruise David got on his body Sally was feeling the pain, the pain in her heart knowing what her husband was going through but was unable to help him because he was not allowing her into this part of his life.

Now knowing how Sally was feeling and all the pain in her heart David had a tear trickle down his cheek remembering what they both went through during those early years of his sight loss, David felt guilty and ashamed of what he had let happen to the woman he loved so much.

Fighting back the tears David wanted to carry on with his story because if other visually impaired and blind people read this, it will show that they are not alone.

David said looking back now his wife was fantastic and was is backbone in the way she helped and guided him to stop work and move on to the next stage in his life, but throughout David always shielded his two boys and in a way they knew what was going on and still being young they just took it in their stride.

With the support from Sally and the RNIB David needed help with benefits because with his sight loss and struggling with school his chances of getting a job was very limiting, it was a struggle and one of the hardest things he had to do, not realising he was the one who had to fill in the forms with a little help but it was his responsibility  David had to practically beg to get the benefits he  now has, he had to go too so many medicals and tribunals and at one point he wanted to give up but it was Sally who kept him focused and he eventually succeeded but it took over two years.

David said it felt awful being judged by people he was sitting in front of who were deciding what he was entitled to and neither of them had any sight loss so how can they know what i have gone through or what i will have to go through in the future, looking at a blind person you may think they are normal but if you are in a wheelchair  people can see you look disabled so in the world of benefits if you are blind you seem to be normal even if you are registered disabled.

David said with the use of his guide dog he  would not have achieved as much as he has, by meeting new people it has given him confidence and encouragement to do more with his life, by having new doors opening to him, like volunteering for Losing My Sight Magazine and being on the committee board of the magazine’s charity and being their liaison secretary.

Before David was looking up to others for advice but now people look to him and that goes to show how much David has moved on with his life and acceptance of his sight loss.

David is no longer embarrassed in being blind anymore and not ashamed in having to use his white cane when he needs too and that is a testament to RNIB and more to Sally and the rest of his family, David is now looking forward to his Fit Club and going metal detecting which Losing My Sight Magazine has arranged thanks to funding from the National Big Lottery Awards For All.

One last word from David is. Never give up and you’re never alone.