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Find a Cure for my Dad
Posted on April 28 2015
Dad walks from his house to his office, by himself, every single morning. He follows the street lights and uses his hearing to listen for cars. Every morning I get to the office at about 8:30 AM. The front door is locked even though he has probably been there since 5:30. I would lock the door too if I could not see who was walking into my office while I was sitting at my desk alone. To help with this, Dad has a little motion sensor that makes a beeping noise when anyone walks through his office suite door. This allows him to not be startled when a person walks through the door.
I sit down at my desk, and am usually greeted by a few emails from Dad explaining some things he wants me to do. First, I look through all his mail from the previous day. Since he can’t read text, I go through all his mail and let him know what has arrived. As we all know, as mail comes, bills come. We pay bills twice a month and I sit across from his desk as he pays all of his bills on his computer. Since he can’t see the screen or the keys, his computer “talks” to him. When he types, the computer says every letter. As he scrolls through the programs on his desktop, the computer reads each icon to him. He has learned, through much practice, different key strokes, as he cannot use his mouse. I tell him who to write the bills to, and he prints them out on his printer. After the checks have printed, he slides them under a huge computer looking magnifying glass. This allows him to magnify the tiny little signature line on the checks, so that he can sign his name. This is getting more and more difficult for him as his eye sight gets worse. We have discussed getting him a signature stamp to help, but he has been able to manage signing himself, for now.
Although his computer can read word documents to him very well, PDF’s are a different story. This is another way I use my eyes to help my dad. He comes out to my desk and I read him anything that his computer can’t handle. This could be anything from a credit card statement to an estimate for work to be done at his house.
I drive him every where he needs to go as well, since he has not driven a car since I was about 8 years old. This includes driving him to court for work, driving him to get his hair cut, and going to get groceries.
After work, he goes home, and I go home to Andrew. Since he doesn’t usually have me around at night, we have set up little “tricks” for him to do the things that I do easily on my own with perfect eye sight. For example, we put raised dots on his microwave. This allows him to use the microwave on his own through touch. Same goes for his washing machine—we put dots on the outside of the knobs so he knows how far to turn to do a regular wash cycle. Even though I still help him match his socks, this allows him to do laundry on his own without my help. Unfortunately, not issue can be fixed with dots. For example, nowadays lots of things are “touch screen”, like his dish washer. This means the dots don’t work so well. Also, no dot is going to help him read the chemical testing strip for the hot tub/pool and no dot is going to tell him which gallon is the orange juice and which is milk.
My dad loves to be active. He played just about every sport growing up. He even played baseball and football in college. Now that he does not have enough vision to do those things, he came up with a really fun way to exercise. He bought a tandem recumbent bicycle. To create a visual, there are two bikes, connected directly in front of each other. We both sit on our bottoms with our feet out in front of us, in more like a chair-like position. My bike has two wheels in the back and one wheel in the front. My petals are connected to my front wheel and my steering is right next to the back two wheels. My dad’s bike only has two back wheels because the front of his bike connects to the back of mine. This allows him to pedal and get exercise while I steer the whole contraption. We have flashing lights on the back and big flags so that cars and other travelers can easily spot us. We constantly get honks and waves as we ride down the street. It is a fun and unique way for us to have fun and exercise together.
Recently, I traveled with my dad to Baltimore for work. This was the first time him and I had traveled together, just us. Airports are stressful enough for a sighted person like me, but I never realized how stressful it could be for someone like him. We got to O’Hare and had to park VERY far away and take the tram to the terminal. This included getting on and off shuttles, up and down escalators...which could be very scary for someone who can’t see the stairs moving in front of them. I think what hit me most about the airport experience was when we both had to use the restroom. Since I am a woman, I couldn’t go into the restroom with him and help him find the stall and sink. I can’t imagine going into a loud, crowded and unfamiliar bathroom with my eyes closed and try to figure it out. I started getting very stressed. I poked my head in and said that it looked like the stalls where through the door to the left, and that the sinks were on the right...but honestly. I didn’t know for sure. I felt horrible. I just wanted to help him. He stumbled through the door while busy and rushed people passed right by him. Thankfully, this wonderfully nice man came up to me and said, “Mam, does your dad need some help?” I felt incredibly relieved. My dad grabbed his elbow and he helped him.
Everyone has issues in life, and we all have things we go through that are stressful. I am just glad that I don’t have to add regular day to day tasks onto my stressor list like my dad does. I take things like driving my car, doing my laundry, washing my dishes, using public restrooms and reading documents for granted. I don’t have to struggle to do any of those things....he does. I never have, and never will find my dad to be a burden. I love to help him. I know he has and would do anything to help me, and I will always do the same for him. With that being said, I know he would love to not have to rely on me for help. He would love to jump in his car and go for a ride or sit down, relax, and read a book. This is where you and I come in. There is no longer a question of if, but WHEN treatments and cures for my dad’s eye disease will be available. His skin cells are already growing in a lab in hopes of producing healthy genes and cells to restore his sight. But let’s face it, this all costs money. Please...reach into your heart and into your pockets and donate to this cause that is so near and dear to my heart. Curing blindness WILL happen, and I would love for all of you to be able to feel like you were a part of the cure. Donate to me today, and cure sight for my dad and many others in the future. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.