COVID InSights: Nina’s story

In this blog we hear from Nina, who is both a Henshaws volunteer and service user, about her experiences as a visually impaired person living through the COVID-19 pandemic in Greater Manchester.
Nina, who is also a mother, shares her concerns about moving forward as lockdown eases and discusses the challenges of regaining her independence in a world that has changed so much.

Introduction

Hi, my name is Nina and I am a 38 year old blind woman, a wife and mother to two amazing young boys.

As you probably already know, the last five months have been a very strange and unexpected time. I follow The Blind Poet (Dave Steele), and there was a line in one of his recent poems – “I’m lost within these COVID days, I’m drowning in the doubt.”  This line jumped out at me because it does at times feel like I am drowning; not just drowning in the pandemic crisis, but drowning back within my sight loss.

This has definitely been brought on by the lockdown and the restrictions to my independence.  I was coming to the part in my journey where I felt my feet were grounded, and I was starting to accept and become friends with my disability. I was starting to think that people were looking at me like I was able again. Then, without notice, the world changed and it felt like we were left behind and not given the correct program for the show.

Nina

The fight for independence

As for many people, the change in circumstances has been challenging. We were fighting for our independence before lockdown and now we are fighting for it again. But it feels like there is more judgment on us, as we don’t keep socially distant or wear a mask.

I have felt very uncomfortable on several occasions being out in the public. When I am in shops there are the plastic barriers at the tills; well I want to know where they are so I don’t bump into them so I feel for them, as I tend to see with my hands.  That has had some reactions!

I go out more now with family, so not really alone, so social distancing is not an issue really. However, I do fear the day I am out alone and I get stuck. I am afraid to ask for help because of the uncertainty of the response I may get.

The challenge of home-schooling

Another life-changing situation was my son being at home full-time and home-schooling! This I know has been a challenge for most parents, but in my case I can’t read the exercise books, or my screen reader was not compatible with the website the school chose. I had to come up with more inventive ways to teach him, such as baking and weighing out ingredients. Using our imaginations to create stories then act them out. Creating tactile art rather than drawing; for biology, planting vegetables and flowers, and learning science with melting chocolate into shapes. Enjoying my son reading to me, and introducing him to audio books.

Two things I have learnt from home-schooling is that the teachers are amazing, and that I don’t need to put too much pressure on me or my son. He will learn what he needs to and we are all in the same situation.

Facing change is our super power.

Nina, 38

Nina

Although yes there have been fears, opinions and challenges throughout, and most likely are many more to come, I have chosen to take the positives from this experience. It has given me quality time with my son and family, and it has allowed me to take part in some online courses and seminars which I wouldn’t have been able to attend under normal circumstances.

I have built a network of people throughout the world that I wouldn’t have necessarily done before. My mobility training and hope for a guide dog has been put back, but I am still moving forward with this when it is allowed.

Things are going to be different but that is something that I and many others with sight loss are used to. Facing change is our super power.

Take care and stay safe.

Further support:

For more information about how we are supporting blind and visually impaired people during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our dedicated Knowledge Village area.

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Sarah
Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.