Ros of Portage has always loved music. It’s no surprise that she was a member of her high school’s marching band. What was a surprise was when the band director asked why she kept moving in a different direction from the rest of the group when they were in formation. Little did she know that several years later, she would be diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, commonly called “RP”. She was already losing some of her peripheral vision while a teen.
Fast forward to age 24, the year Ros was married, and it was clear that she needed to address her growing vision challenges. A trip to her eye care provider confirmed that she had RP. “The thought of losing my independence was so daunting at first! I knew that eventually I would have to give up driving, too.”
Fortunately, Ros has a supportive husband and wonderful friends, and she was able to continue her job as pharmacy director at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage. She and her husband moved closer to work so she would have a short commute. Eight years later, to simplify her life and accommodate her vision loss, she found a pharmacy job at her local drugstore where she worked for 23 years. “I realized that if I had had a different eye condition, I wouldn’t have been able to work for as long as I did.”
When RP made it increasingly difficult to read, Ros decided that it was time to retire. “When I was working, I tried to minimize certain aspects of my blindness. Once I retired, I was determined to embrace my vision loss and learn how to live my best life. It does no one any good to sit around, mope and feel sorry for oneself.”
As a 25-year member of the community band in Portage, Ros has traveled to Europe for a five-country tour and performances. Her personal travels have included China, Thailand, Egypt, Kenya, New Zealand, Nepal, and the Baltic Countries. Music is a passion she didn’t want to give up, so she contacted our certified low vision specialist a few years ago to explore new ways to read music.
She also learned about adaptive products in the Council’s Sharper Vision Store and purchased mobility canes, raised dots to identify things in her home, lined paper, pens, and a reversible cutting board. Ros recently completed a series of orientation and mobility training sessions through the Council, and she is excited about the guide dog that she will receive in April through another organization.
Ros is amazed at how much technology has advanced for individuals with vision loss. She loves her e-reader, and she attended both of the Council’s webinars last year. “I loved the reference list the speaker provided during the program on best websites for people who are blind or visually impaired. I’ve shared it with lots of my friends…..Through this webinar, I also learned about classes through Hadley School for the Blind, and I’ve already completed a few of them.”
The low vision support group in Ros’s town meets monthly, and it has provided an additional source of help and sharing. “I love talking with others who live with low vision and learning about new products that can make everyday activities easier. Reaching out has been an important part of my response to RP.”
Ros wishes more health care professionals would tell their patients about the numerous resources available to individuals with vision loss. We do, too!