This I Believe

Jennifer - Saint Louis, Missouri
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in welcoming a helping hand.

At the beginning of this summer, I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, a hereditary eye condition that gradually causes the degradation of one’s central vision. After countless appointments and tests, I was faced with the fact that there is nothing I can do to prevent or slow the degenerating process. Some people manage to live normal lives, while others become completely blind in a couple years.

After seventeen years of little to no medical concerns, I was definitely caught off-guard. It seemed arbitrary and unfair, that suddenly, this disease would simply appear.

I can’t read anything further than half a foot from my face. I often request large-print tests, must enlarge my music in band, and have trouble recognizing my closest friends. As an incredibly stubborn, independent person though, I initially refused to acknowledge these signs. Potentially dangerously, I continued driving at night, read price tags, etc

Recently, it became impossible. I could not read math problems. At the art museum, I couldn’t decipher the names of any of the artists. I couldn’t see street signs. I officially needed people to help me.

I want to believe that my life is the same as it was a year ago, but that’s not the case. I’m relieved and encouraged by the support from my family and friends. I finally understand what it means to need someone’s help, and because of them, I know how to accept it.

I know I will always be dependent on other people to see for me. And though I am still afraid of the future, I’m not terrified. Wherever I end up, I know there will be considerate, genuine, caring people who are generous enough to lend a helping hand. We are all interconnected, and can empathize with one another. This enables us to help each other. I believe in the security that there will always be someone to help us find our way.