The Story of My Life

20 Dec

by Christy Goodwine

I was born November 10, 1970, three months premature.  I weighed one pound, twelve ounces.  My lungs were not fully developed, so I was placed in an incubator.  The extra oxygen helped my lungs, but too much oxygen caused me to go blind.

At first, my mom had a hard time accepting that I was blind.  After a while she accepted me and treated me like a normal child, even though she stayed very protective.

I started preschool when I was three.  Because I was blind, I was put into classes with students who were severely disabled or mentally retarded.  I didn’t really learn much in preschool.

When I was six, I started going to the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville.  I went to school there for thirteen years.  I learned Braille and I use that to read and write.  I learned a lot of things that helped me do for myself as much as I can.

There were times when I felt sorry for myself because I am blind, especially when I couldn’t visit my friends’ houses like my sister and my brothers could.  When I did go out, I was told I was being stared at.  That upset me.  I wanted people to talk to me if they were curious about being blind.  I could speak for myself.  That’s what I told my mom.  She told me, “Christy, not only are people staring at you because you are blind, but they’re staring at you because you are pretty, because you are well-groomed and because your clothes match.”  I still try to dress nice and look presentable wherever I go.

My mom died when I was thirteen.  She was only thirty-two.  My siblings and I were raised by my aunt and uncle.  I call them my mom and dad now.  My cousins are like my brothers and sisters, so I’m lucky to have close family like them.

I was making plans to go out and live on my own when I had a stroke a year and a half ago.  My right side was paralyzed.  I felt sorry for myself then, for being blind and having had a stroke.  I felt I didn’t have the will power to learn how to do things for myself all over again.  But then something changed.  I worked hard at rehab and with my therapies for over a year, in hospitals and rehab places and nursing homes.  I got better.  I went from being bedridden to using a wheelchair to using a walker to walking with a support cane to walking with my white cane.  I got to go places like church, out to eat and shopping, even while I was still in the nursing home.  I even went to Dairy Queen one time and got ice cream.

I still have a little weakness on my right side and my right leg still shakes sometimes and my foot loses feeling.  But I’m able to play piano again, and that’s important to me.  I play piano and sing to church groups and senior citizens and school children.

Now I live at Friedman Place on the North Side of Chicago.  I’m very independent.  The staff has helped me to get into school.  I attend the Illinois Center for Rehabilitative Education.  I’m studying keyboarding, Advanced Braille, mobility, activities of daily livingand physical fitness.I will begin GED prep classes in January, 2012.  I hope to use my training to work or volunteer teaching Braille to visually impaired children.  I am engaged to be married to a fellow Friedman Place resident.  Our wedding is planned for May 5, and that’s how we plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. 

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One Response to “The Story of My Life”

  1. Mani G. Iyer December 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM #

    Bravo, Christy! It is stories like yours that spread hope among the blind community. Wish you the best for your GED. You can do it, Christy.

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