Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Bit About Me

Well, It's been awhile since I posted. Amy and Echo will be shocked,along with the rest of you,LOL!

Awhile ago,Amy asked me what caused my vision and hearing loss. She suggested that I write about it here as she found it interesting.

A number of years ago(Ha,ha!), I was born with cataracts and sensioneural hearing loss in both ears. What that basically means is the auditory nerve endings were underdeveloped. This was all due to my Mom's exposure to German Measles(Rubella) during pregnancy. At the time,doctors didn't even know that exposure to this disease would harm an unborn fetus. She never contracted the disease itself.

I was diagnosed with cataracts at age 2 and was the first child in Ontario to have them removed with a series of surgeries starting at age 4(Most children back then went to schools for the blind and had them removed at age 16.) Yep,I'm in the medical journals! I was fortunate enough to pass Grade 1 in a regular public school so I was able to continue my education in the regular school system without having to attend a school for the blind.

When I was 14,I received my first set of hearing aids. What a difference they made! I had no idea how much I was missing and my grades shot up about 30%. I would have never made it through high school and college without them. I still wear bilateral (two) hearing aids and with advances in technology,they are computer programmed with a remote control for them as well as my fm listening system,which is a huge help as it cuts out all the "garbage" background noise that makes it so difficult to hear in many environments.

In late 1991,my right and worse eye developed a great deal of pain. It was treated as an infection for about 2 1/2 months until I saw my eye specicalist and he diagnosed me with Acute Closed Angle Glaucoma. Since I had had no useful vision in that eye for about 15 years at that point,I was told the best thing I could do was sacrifice the eye. It was surgically removed on February 14,1992. After recuperating from this surgery,I was fitted with my first ocular prosthetic (Artificial Eye). They haven't been made of glass for years now, they are made of acrylic plastic,so the term"glass eye " is no longer accurate.

I didn't realize for a long time that I was then legally blind. Since the eye that was removed was totally blind anyway,I didn't realize my left eye became sympathetic to the loss of the right one. I was falling off curbs and buses,banging my head on door frames and I wondered what was wrong. I found out 6 months later that my field of vision had narrowed significantly and my height and depth perception had worsened considerably. After getting a medical form filled out by my eye doctor for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind,I was found to be within their specifications for legal blindness and received photo identification and my first white cane in September 1992.

I immediately began looking into and applying for a dog guide for the blind. I have been a dog lover all my life and having a dog guide was certainly more appealing then using a cane to get around.

I found out that my vision was stable enough not to require a dog guide for the blind at that time and it was felt a dog could help me more with my hearing loss. I graduated from the Lion Foundation Dog Guides Canada's Hearing Dog program with Nelson, a 2 year old Standard Poodle cross,on May 9,1996. Now over 10 years later,my boy is quite grey now rather than black and is still with me to this day. With his gentle soul and loving heart,he is my canine soulmate and best friend. There are no words to describe the depth of our love and loyalty to each other. Getting a dog guide was the best decision I ever made.

Since 2001,the vision in my left eye has got considerably worse,due to a tree branch injury and emergency surgery in December 2004 for detached retina. My distance and night vision have worsened considerably and even with new glasses,I still need to use magnification instruments to read anyhting smaller than large print. Through all this,I consider myself very fortunate and I am very grateful for the vision and hearing I have left. They are precious gifts and I never take then for granted. My independence is extremely important to me. With Nelson's willing help and unconditional love,I am still able to live on my own.

I am hoping to be accepted into the Canine Vision program for my next dog guide. Dog Guides Canada is now doing more dual training and if accepted,I will be the first receipient of a dually trained Canine Vsion/Hearing Ear Dog. I am not giving up Nelson. He is with me until he goes to the Rainbow Bridge. I cannot feasibly look after two dogs at the present time. Dog Guides Canada knows this and as a favour to me,they are putting off my home interview for awhile. Nelson is very special to me. You will learn more why in subsequent posts.

9 Comments:

Blogger Natalie said...

Awww good post Crystal. That was interesting to get the insight to see how you came to receive Nelson.

We're glad you have made your way through everything that has come your way, and made it with grace and a great sense of humour too!

Hugs,
Nat and Petey

3:12 PM  
Blogger Nelliesmama said...

Thanks Nat. My beloved Mom was such an inspiriation to me. Besides,she wouldn't accept anyhting less. She often said I gave her courage. I believe that went both ways.:)

3:24 PM  
Blogger Patience said...

Thank you for sharing all that Crystal.

Sam and Patience

4:50 PM  
Blogger Amy and Zoom said...

Your welcome for the ideas =P he he j/k...Thanks for the VERY interseting insight into your life. I agree with Nat "We're glad you have made your way through everything that has come your way, and made it with grace and a great sense of humour too!" It's almost a peom =) lol, anyways nice post and I'll ttyl <3

5:48 PM  
Blogger gwiz said...

Thanks for the insightful post Crystal. I wondered what your 'story' was but never felt comfortable asking. Nelson is a fantastic dog and you two make a great team.
Fingers are crossed another perfect match can be made for you when the time is right.

6:43 AM  
Blogger L^2 said...

Hello Crystal and Nelson,

I recognized your name from comments on some of the other dog blogs I read. I'm glad you have started a blog of your own too. And thank you for sharing your story. I found it very interesting.

The school I attended (Leader Dogs for the Blind in Michigan, U.S.A.) is one of a very few dog guide schools around the world that has an additional program to train dogs for the deaf-blind. I'm glad to read that Lions Foundation of Canada is doing more dual training now too.

Take care,
Laura, Leader Dog Willow, and Stella

P.S. I added a link to your blog on ours - hope that's okay. :-)

11:55 PM  
Blogger Nelliesmama said...

Hi Lisa and Laura,

Sure,I have no problem with you adding me to your blogs. I haven't figured out the HTML thing as I want to add yours to mine as well. Can someome tell me how to make the links? I'd really appreciate it.

Lisa,I understand how you felt but I would have told you my story,just it's kind of long and maybe it was easier to read here. You've met Nelson and I,so you've seen what a wonderful dog he is for me. Like you,I hope I luck out with the second dog as well as I did with Nelson. It helps that people understand I want him with me as long as he is here. Thanks so much to all of you for your comments and support:)

Crystal & Nelson

12:50 AM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Hi Nellie's Mama! I followed the link from the entry you left at our blog. I hope you continue blogging, as I found your story so interesting. Learning to live with physical limitations is certainly challenging.Thank goodness, for our canine friends- not only for their physical help but also for the love they give us, and the way they uplift our spirits.
Peace-
Linda (Isabella's Human)

1:10 AM  
Blogger Nelliesmama said...

Hi Linda,
Glad to have you here. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Hugs to you and Isabella,

Crystal & Nelson

1:31 AM  

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