Last week I had the great honor of welcoming some terrific guests into my home. The Today show is a morning news broadcast here in America. As a regular viewer, I was awed and amazed when I heard they requested an interview with me regarding the struggles and compensation techniques that I utilize to overcome my challenges.
And so, last Friday the NBC chief medical editor, a producer, a camera man and a great research grad student from University of Iowa all came to visit and discuss my story. I did not know what to expect when they arrived. I have had struggles in my past but nothing that ranks newsworthy in my eyes. They came though, and we talked about many subjects. We touched on having seizures in junior high. Being twenty-seven and having part of my brain removed only to wake and discover I had experienced a stroke. We discussed what it is like to wake up with missing eyesight and the complications that linger when some of the sight never returns. I answered questions about prosopagnosia causing heartache when I cannot recognize my family and the fear that comes when I do not know my children upon sight. All of these questions were asked with tender care. The answers were absorbed with respectful responses.
There was only one question, upon replaying this interview in my mind, I would have expanded the answer further. That question was, “With everything you have gone through, how you find the strength within yourself to keep going?”
Here would be my answer: “I make sure I do not maintain sadness nor grieving for all that I have lost or have been forced to leave behind. I know I will never run alongside my children again, yet I celebrate that I can walk with them every day and help guide their path as we go toward the future. I may have significant sight loss and no longer be able to maintain any visual image in my mind; however, I am able to enjoy what I am currently seeing. The snow-capped mountains, the beautiful sunsets and amazing smiles my daughters offer are mine to hold on to even if just for the moment. I have a firm understanding that sight loss does not define the vision you are left to create. I have lost some of the ability to hold some basic skills we know from early in life, maybe even a lot of these skills, but I have gained more knowledge than I could have ever expected. The key for me is to not mourn the past but absorb the joys of the present and recognize great things are waiting for me in the future. I wake up every morning, work hard for the day and remember to never take treasures like walking, seeing and being alive, for granted. I have the strength within me because I never forgot what I had in the past. I hold no resentment for what I lost. I am grateful for every exciting thing I know is yet to come.”
University of Iowa Graduate College does work that makes a difference in so many lives. They are opening doors for me I never could have imagined possible. Through their hard-working, brilliant staff, I have been able to share my message with so many people while gaining immense knowledge about my own conditions. NBC brought out staff that was kind, helpful and extremely caring. I will keep you posted as to when this interview may air. Until then, thank you for stopping by to read my words, offer your thoughts and provide support. It is through the hope others, such as you, offer that I am certain many exciting things are yet to come!
UPDATE 05/04/2011: Here is the segment that aired today on NBC http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/42894691#42894691