Accessing support to rediscover adventure

Meet the lovely Nicolette!

Nicolette has the eye condition Keratoconus, which causes the cornea of the eye to protrude out into a cone shape. Nicolette was initially in denial, and didn’t accept her condition, as it could be corrected by lenses. However, after the cornea on her left eye collapsed, it left scarring, and the vision in that eye could no longer be corrected by lenses. She accessed support from Henshaws after having the cornea transplant in her left eye, and realising that she needed to learn to live with reduced vision, as opposed to using lenses to correct her vision that were making her uncomfortable and reducing her quality of life.

Nicolette smiling at the camera. She is wearing sunglasses, and a stripy scarf.

Nicolette accessing support through Henshaws.

Nicolette initially came to Henshaws through contact with Gail, one of our dedicated Patient Support Officers, after contacting the Deafblind Society who then referred her to PALS, who then referred her to Gail.

Gail referred Nicolette to a range of services, including our Digital Enablement service, and Counselling service, as well as external services including her local sensory team and the low vision clinic.

Before accessing support, Nicolette felt the most vulnerable she had felt in a very long time, but the support from Henshaws and other services has enabled her to regain her quality of life, and reset, plan and grow in a different way.

Support from our digital enablement team has enabled her to use technology in a different way, rather than fearing it as she had been doing when she was living with reduced vision.

Receiving counselling from her compassionate counsellor Joanna helped her navigate through how she felt about people and things while she was going through coming to terms with sight loss.

She also completed one of our Living Well With Sight Loss courses: this made her realise how much she had isolated herself and not talked about her eye condition with others for many years.

Nicolette’s recent achievements

Since receiving support from Henshaws and other services, Nicolette has completed lots of wonderful activities.

She went abroad on her own: Nicolette enjoyed solo travel prior to living with reduced vision, and thanks to mobility cane training from the sensory team, she achieved this goal, describing it as a challenge but an adventure challenge. It helped her to realise she can do anything she puts her mind to.

Nicolette works in IT, and she organised and delivered a conference in Birmingham and received positive feedback.

The conference enabled her to realise that she doesn’t need to see everything clearly to be good at her job – she couldn’t see the screen clearly due to the glare of the sunlight, and couldn’t see everybody’s faces because she was in a large conference room, but the show went on.

Prior to the conference, she arranged video calls with hotel staff so they could show her virtually where things were, so that when she arrived, she could navigate around more confidently, describing this as “using technology much more smarter and savvier to make sure that I can achieve my goal.”

This year Nicolette has joined a choir, and started Spanish Salsa classes.

She has now regained full vision in her left eye, and once she has had surgery on her right eye and that gets better, she will have the confidence to do even more.

Nicolette has learned to embrace each day – one of her hurdles to overcome was not taking herself so seriously, but now she has learned to learn and laugh.

Nicolette is very grateful to her children and her friends who made her laugh even during the worst times.

Nicolette’s advice to others

Nicolette’s advice to others is to not forget who you are, and the things that you did and loved before sight loss, because they are things that are  going to energise you, make you smile, and make you feel complete while on your sight loss journey.

Be the best version of you that you can be through it because if we put our mind to anything, we can achieve it.

Quote from Nicolette

I can laugh at myself a lot more. Throughout my journey, I’m re-learning about myself and engaging more with people that can help, and learning different techniques. I found a love for adventure again.

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