Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Life is Good. Allyson's Inspired Spirit.

How do you get from traveling across the country for surgery in a town you've never seen by a doctor you've never met to saying “Life is good?” And at the time I was only in elementary school. It took a lot of steps, small and large, to be able to say it out loud and many leaps of faith along the way.

My story starts out with first being diagnosed in California where I grew up. The reports were in from three different doctors. Each one saying that there were no more options, there was no other way. A highly specialized eye surgery was recommended and it was to be performed by one of the top surgeons in the country in Philadelphia, PA.

As a young girl, I didn't understand that this was the start of the path I'd be going down my whole life. The fear on my parents’ faces was palpable. Diagnosed with Glaucoma, Chronic Uveitis, Cataracts and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was a unique case. At the age of five I had to put my trust in those around me.

My parents and I traveled together to a strange land called The City of Brotherly Love, more commonly known as Philadelphia. There we were not only a part of a ground breaking delicate surgery - we challenged the social mores of the times. It was 1971 with racial tensions running high. The African American young lady I roomed with was having a similar surgery by the same doctor. We fought the same fight. We spoke the same language. We wanted the same outcome - a complete and successful recovery. The color of our skin was forgotten but we knew the color of each other's eyes - and heart. Our then unlikely friendship was featured in a local newspaper - not so much about the surgery, but more about the shared experience between patients and parents. We were in this together. While the outcome and experience was positive it began the surgical cycle of my life.

I have no recollection of having vision in my right eye. I failed the eye test in kindergarten and again in the first grade. I started learning to read Braille by the third grade. I've had 18 eye surgeries in my lifetime and I'm only 52. In 1989 I had my right eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic eye. The doctor took exquisite care to match the color exactly to that of my healthy eye. I have the video of the procedure to prove it. This video truly shows the process for the patient on creating a prosthetic eye. Please note this video contains some graphic content.
And still I say life is good. How could   I possibly?
How  do I cope? What drives me to have a n exemplary quality of life after all I've been through? My  support system is all encompassing. My husband of 25 years is my rock, my two children aged 22 and 23 are my safety net. I love to garden. I have great girlfriends that are available for adventures - wine tastings, kayaking and walks on the beach or out in nature. 

I very well could be completely blind someday. There are no guarantees in life. I think you have to be thankful for what you've been given, to reinvent and recreate with each challenge that's been thrown at you. I'm not saying it's been easy.

The last five years have been more difficult than any time since that trip to Philadelphia. I won't use a white cane although I'm legally blind. I'm a rebel - my canes are hot pink, canary yellow and Royal blue. I have many different types of assistive technology. Four years ago I had to give up driving. And I'm on my way now to meet my new guide dog.

And yet, I know that when you reach out to help others you help yourself. So I'm reaching out to tell you of my journey and hope it some way impacts you. Anyone can have glaucoma. Or any other disease of the eye. Glaucoma can strike anyone at any stage of life. There is no cure. Vision that is lost cannot be regained. Get the facts.

Schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam. High-risk groups include African-Americans, Hispanics, people over the age of 60 or a the family history of glaucoma. Save your sight. It's up to you.

Please go to the Glaucoma Research Foundations web site for more information. 

To learn more about Allyson's Go See Foundation who's mission is to encourage, inspire and empower those with vision loss to remain active annd engage in their world please visit her web site at

You  also find more information about glaucoma at

This blog was written with Allyson's permission. If you'd like to tell your story please contact me at