I’m slowly becoming more confident in everything that I do

Hello everyone, I’m Kimberley and I’m one of the contributors to the Henshaws blog. I’ve been asked to share my experiences as a young person living with sight loss and I’ll be blogging regularly for Henshaws. This is my story…

ChildhoodI was born as a premature baby and suffered from congenital cataracts that were overlooked until I was 4 years old. After it was discovered by a Specialist that I had cataracts in both of my eyes and perforations in both ear drums, I was forwarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London who wanted to operate on me immediately to improve my quality of life. Great Ormond Street quickly became my second home. I spent weeks at a time there throughout my childhood having countless operations and appointments.

I had my natural eye Childhood3lenses removed and replaced with plastic ones to eliminate the cataracts, but unfortunately they kept growing back behind my implants in clusters of Elschnig’s pearls – so operations had to constantly be repeated. I had an Iridectomy to remove part of my iris to allow light to pass through and to further help with the removal of the cataracts. I now only have a small amount of useful vision in one eye. I also visited Great Ormond Street for my ears, as I was born with perforated ear drums and a high build-up of pressure inside both ears. I had regular appointments to monitor my hearing loss and pressure levels, and operations to insert grommets and to close my perforations with skin grafts.

In 2007 I was discharged from Great Ormond Street as I no longer fit into the age bracket. I began to visit Manchester Eye Hospital for various procedures involving the squint in my blind eye, I hadn’t really received any support other than medical support but in early 2013, my mum noticed a Henshaws side-room near to the main waiting area. This time last year I was housebound. I hadn’t gone out anywhere since I left High school, I’d never heard about Henshaws before, so I thought we’d pop in and see what support would be available, especially since I wasn’t really getting out apart from to my appointments.

The Patient Support Officer there was brilliant and referred me onto the Henshaws ‘Living With Sight Loss’ course. During the next 6 weeks I was able to meet and speak to other people suffering from sight loss and, through the course, we touched on a variety of different things, such as the various mobility aids that are available, accessible computer programs and equipment, information on public transport, a visit from a guide dogs user talking about her experiences, and so on. The course was fantastic as it gave me a that little bit of confidence to start talking with other visually impaired people and towards the end of the six weeks I was coming out of my shell a bit more and I felt like I was ready to do more with Henshaws.

I’ve now been using the Henshaws service in Manchester since August 2013. I try to get involved with as many of the Friendship Matters groups as possible and I’m currently part of the Braille group, the Arts and Crafts group and the Mindful Relaxation group.

Kimberly still image from film - reading brailleHenshaws has dramatically changed my life since I’ve started going. I’m slowly becoming more confident in everything that I do and I now have a very active social life, for the first time since leaving high school, which is full of wonderful people who can relate to my position and are understanding and supportive. I’m learning many new skills and feel like

I’m finally able to enjoy life with my visual impairment.

If you think the Living with Sight Loss course could benefit you or someone you know, find out more here or contact your local centre to book your free place – you’ll be glad you did!

Do you have something to share?

Please feel free to leave a comment below or on the Henshaws Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences too.

Kimberley Burrows
Kimberley Burrows
Kimberley is a Henshaws volunteer and service user of over two years. She is Co-Chair to the RNIB young person's campaigning network, Envision, a blogger, columnist, artist and an illustrator; previously the RNIB's Young Illustrator for 2014.
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