Thursday February 14, 2013
Wheel Power By Anthony Thanasayan
Blind homemaker sees no barrier to living – and thriving.
LAST week I shared with you an incredible story about the Thongs, who experienced much hardship when a member of the family suddenly suffered a major stroke. Despite this, they did all they could to work through the disease – even to the point of calling it a “blessing from God”.
Not all disabilities, however, occur overnight. Some are so subtle that it may take several years before you realise you have it.
Madam Lim, 55, who hails from Klang, Selangor, knows perfectly what that feels like. A legally blind mother of two grown-up children and a devoted wife and homemaker, Lim faced two major problems with the onset of her disability.
The first was realising that she was going blind; the second was what to do from then on.
Although born with perfect vision, Lim now has a condition called Retinitis pigmentosa or RP, an inherited eye disease that gets worse over time. There is no cure for the condition.
“The problem started manifesting itself only when I was about 17 years old. And the funny part is two of my siblings also have it, but none of us knew about it until later,” said Lim with a laugh.
“I started to kick over things like footstools and smaller objects frequently and send them flying across the room. I thought that I was only being clumsy and even got told off by my parents about it,” Lim explained.
“I had trouble seeing things below my feet and especially at night. So much so I had to pin my focus on each object that I wanted to avoid knocking over.
“I had serious trouble making out things on the classroom blackboard. I had to go near the board or ask other classmates to tell me what they were in order to write them down.”
Thinking that it was only a problem with short-sightedness Lim visited an optician and got herself a pair of eyeglasses.
Lim did suffer from short-sightedness but the eyeglass specialist didn’t see the bigger and more worrisome problem in her eye.
Despite her new spectacles, Lim still kept on having episodes of night blindness, walking into puddles and holes in the road and tripping down stairs.
It wasn’t until one of her brothers with a similar eye problem had gone to see an eye specialist that Lim and her family realised that there was, pardon the pun, more to their problem than what met the eye.
Even upon visiting a specialist and after diagnosing her condition, Lim said the doctors she consulted could have been more helpful in helping her cope with her illness.
“Instead of just saying that he ‘hopes that my condition would stabilise one day’ and to ‘take care’ of myself’, he offered no useful health advice on how to deal with it physically and emotionally,” Lim recalled.
Fortunately, Lim eventually met other blind friends who helped her along.
One of her first lessons was on how to hold a white cane.
“It had to be about three steps in front and away from me in order to ‘detect’ objects like stones, lamp posts and even uneven ground that I could trip over or bump into,” explained Lim who is able to make out some shades of light and objects.
Rearranging the furniture in her home and keeping it barrier-free is vital for the blind.
“We have to know exactly where they are so that we don’t knock into them and have a nasty accident,” Lim pointed out.
Lim said she is proud that her entire family got involved in her rehabilitation process – from her children right up to her hubby whose support has been invaluable.
Even though Lim lives in a split-level home, her blindness does not stop her from being the perfect homemaker – she does the cooking and cleaning herself.
“You would be surprised by the things the blind can do even if they can’t see. I still cook my family’s favourite meals – I am most proud of my chicken rice,” Lim laughed.
“And cleaning is easy once you grab and feel the furniture around you especially when you are armed with a vacuum cleaner!”
Lim said her blind friends are her best motivation.
“I am not worried about the future as I once was before. What is more important now is the love, understanding and support. There is no shortage of support in my family, I’m glad to say.
“I do occasionally miss the ability to see beautiful scenery and photos of past holidays, but when I think of my family, they are irreplaceable!”
Last week, Lim and her family took turns to do all the necessary spring cleaning to usher in the Year of the Snake.
And guess who did the cooking? It was Lim’s turn to take a break and leave everything to her husband!
Gong Xi Fa Cai to all!
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