See­ing is be­liev­ing

When I went blind, my girls were de­ter­mined to help me see again...

Chat - - Contents - By Diane Sam­ple, 34, from Chilton, County Durham

Open­ing my lap­top, a pic­ture of my daugh­ters flashed up.

It was Fe­bru­ary 2011, my girls Re­becca and Rachel were 8 and 6.

I loved their smiles, their long, blonde hair…

Then I no­ticed a grey spot in my left eye.

Think­ing it was dust, I blinked.

But it didn’t go away, not even rins­ing with water helped.

‘It’s so an­noy­ing,’ I com­plained to hubby Lee, then 33.

Days later, I was tak­ing Rachel to pick up glasses from the op­ti­cian.

On a whim, I men­tioned my ‘floater’ to the re­cep­tion­ist.

Luck­ily, there was an on-call op­ti­cian there who ran some tests.

Bet­ter safe than sorry.

He took pic­tures of the back of my eye.

‘There’s some­thing there,’ he said.

He sus­pected some­thing called a vit­re­ous haem­or­rhage. A blood leak be­tween my lens and retina.

Ba­si­cally, my eye­ball was fill­ing with blood.

‘You need to go to hospi­tal im­me­di­ately,’ the op­ti­cian added, warn­ing me not to drive there.

Wor­ried, I took Rachel home, left her with Lee.

My mum June, then 60, drove me to Sun­der­land Eye In­fir­mary.

There, tests con­firmed I had a haem­or­rhage.

It was likely brought on by my type 1 di­a­betes, which I’ve had since I was 9.

What did it mean?

They couldn’t say. But they told me I needed laser surgery to burn it out pretty ur­gently.

‘Or you might lose your sight,’ they said.

My girls raced through my mind.

I couldn’t let that hap­pen.

Weeks later, I had laser eye surgery.

It burned away some of the dam­age but the prob­lem soon got worse.

Over the fol­low­ing weeks, the blood pres­sure build­ing be­hind my left eye built up, caus­ing my retina to de­tach.

I had to go un­der the knife that De­cem­ber to see if doc­tors could reat­tach it. It was ter­ri­fy­ing, my sight was on the line…

Wak­ing up af­ter the three- hour op­er­a­tion, I couldn’t see out of my left eye.

Must be the bandages,

I thought.

My fam­ily was there to see me wake up.

Soon, doc­tors took me into a room. Peeled off the bandages…

‘We’re sorry, you’re blind in one eye,’ they said.


My heart sank. What if I lost the sight in my right eye too?

I’d never see ei­ther of my girls’ proms, their wed­dings...

Wouldn’t see my hus­band smile.

I was right to worry.

Just months later, my right retina de­tached. The blood pres­sure built up be­hind that eye too. More surgery was hopeless, and by early 2012 I was com­pletely blind. There was noth­ing more that doc­tors could do. Dev­as­tated, I was in a dark place. I knew my way round the house – but the shops..?

Out of the ques­tion.

I couldn’t shower or use the loo with­out Lee or my mum there. In my mind, I could still pic­ture my fam­ily. But as they grew older, my im­age of them re­mained frozen in time. I missed so much, in­clud­ing both my girls’ first days at high school. Ev­ery day, I woke up to dark­ness. Couldn’t see the man I love. Or spend a night in

I’d never see ei­ther of my girls’ proms, their wed­dings...

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