Your gift to Second Sense helps people with vision loss live independent and productive lives.
Father Jim, like many blind people, carried a white cane. The problem was he carried it in his bag. "I would rather get lost than be embarrassed," he explained. "Eventually, it became impossible for me travel. I was afraid to leave my own house.”
When he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, the doctor explained the progression of the disease:first night blindness, then tunnel vision that slowly narrows, and finally near total blindness.
This loss of control can be overwhelming and can affect every aspect of life. Without your support and programs like those at Second Sense, this depression can lead to isolation and a life spent locked inside the house, consumed with fear and shame.
It was a struggle, but Father Jim accepted his vision. Over the years, he changed positions and locations, always eager to meet the next challenge. He now serves as chaplain at
Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.
However, his vision continued to get worse and with it the challenges he faced. He traveled from his home in Hyde Park to the hospital in Evergreen Park three days each week. Potential hazards were around every corner. He walked the hospital hallways and navigated patients' rooms with machines and cords threatening to trip him. Father Jim realized he needed help. He had participated in orientation and mobility training years earlier–learning the proper way to use a white cane -- but he found that he relied too much on his vision – vision he no longer had.
“I was so fortunate to meet Polly at Second Sense. I mentioned how my vision was affecting my mobility and she asked if I wanted more training in using my cane. I didn’t need to be asked twice.”
“Polly matched me up with Peter, an orientation and mobility specialist. Peter was a blessing. We started in my house. Peter put a blindfold on me and asked me to move around.
It was amazing how I didn’t know my own house.
Father Jim knows he will eventually lose almost all of his remaining sight. Using a blindfold during training ensures he has the skills he will need now and in the future. And, since he has night blindness, he won't have to worry about getting home before the sun sets.
“What I have come to understand about myself was that I tried to fake being a sighted person. I was ashamed to appear helpless. When I lost my vision, I lost so much more than just my eyesight. I also lost my confidence and a sense of who I am. It is common sense, but it has taken me so long to admit that I was more worried about how I appeared to others than I was in keeping myself safe. I very much appreciate how the Second Sense staff works with each of us to help us accept our vision loss so we can be who we truly are."
In this seasons of counting blessings, please take a moment to help people like Father Jim remain independent, confident and productive. Thank you.