When Kay lost her sight in her right eye in 2012, she was told she had Retinitis Pigmentosa. She struggled to accept how it was going to affect her independence, not knowing how to get on with life as normal.
In late 2014 Kay reached out to the Blind Foundation and she started receiving regular white cane lessons in her Carterton home. “I was hesitant at first. I felt like I didn’t want or need a white cane, but the Blind Foundation staff encouraged me to use one regardless.”
Kay began looking into how canes help others by watching videos of others learning to use them. “When I watched them, especially the young people, I thought, “I could do that too”.”
Working with Blind Foundation Rehabilitation Instructor, David Lewis, they started out with simple tasks like how to hold the cane.
“We then started to take walks in my area and progressed to crossing the road.”
In 2015 Kay began working with Blind Foundation Rehabilitation Instructor, Anna Bishop. Her cane lessons progressed to catching the bus to Masterton and taking walks around the town centre.
“At first Anna caught the bus with me and helped me find the best place to sit. Now I catch the bus and meet her there.”
For Kay, the biggest challenge has been accepting her cane as a positive addition to her life.
“At first it was difficult meeting people and explaining it to them. The white cane draws attention, especially when you see friends and other people you know, who knew you before sight loss.”
To help her come to terms with the major changes in her life Gary Veenstra, Blind Foundation Child and Social Worker/Counsellor, encouraged her to begin writing a journal. Her writing soon developed into poems.
“Writing has been therapeutic for me, it has helped me accept my cane as a friend, rather than an enemy,” says Kay.
Anna says she is also proud of Kay’s progress and different attitude towards her cane.
“Kay is so positive about her cane now and has worked hard on her mobility. It has been a pleasure to watch her get more and more confident with her cane,” says Anna.
I have a new “friend.” She is rather thin and very white, with a touch of black and red highlight.
Some days she is very shy, and likes to stay inside and hide.
On good days I take my “friend” on walks, the only problem is she never talks.
My “friend” helps me cross the road, but cannot help with the heavy load.
There are days when I go out on my own, and my new friend stays at home alone.
She hasn’t met all my family yet, but I am sure they will treat her with respect.
I hope my new “friend” will stay awhile, and maybe one day we will walk down the street.
Together with a smile!