LIVING WITH STARGARDTS
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Richie from Texas

Richie’s Story

My name is Richie and I am 32. I live in Texas. I was a 17-year-old junior in high school when I noticed the chalkboard and overhead getting harder to see, and I was having a hard time to see traffic lights. I was diagnosed with Stargardts. My vison went from 20/20 to about 20/200 in a period of about six months. I finished out the year ignoring the situation and took half day my senior year with easy classes.

I went to college and got by without reading anything and just listening to take notes. I had times that I got really frustrated that I just broke down and cried. I graduated somehow with a degree in Advertising. After college I found out what a CCTV was and got one from the Commission for the blind. I also got a copy of ZoomText to enlarge the computer screen. I took some temporary jobs in which I really didn’t do anything but play on the computer. I really got into computers after that.

I married my sweetheart from college and now have three kids under five years old. I stayed home with the first two and took some computer classes. I now have a great job as a computer help desk technician with the local school district.

I can ride a bicycle and I ride the city bus. Seeing the bus numbers is sometimes a pain, but I walk up real close to the bus.

I’ve noticed that my vision has gotten a little worse in the past six or seven years. I rode a motorcycle illegally back in college, but could not ride one now without crashing. I find it hard to distinguish between some colors now, too.

I hate going to a restaurant and not being able to read the menu. I hate when someone is waving at me and I don’t know it. I hate when someone sees my enlarged computer screen and says “What, are you blind?”

But I have support from my wife. And my kids understand that I can’t read to them or play baseball with them. Overall it really sucks and I have many emotional frustrating times, but I learn to live with it. It is good to know others are out there too.

Richie
E-mail: jerryrsanders@yahoo.com