Why I Love Being Blind.

Hello Everyone! That is right, you saw it from the title, in this post I will be explaining why I love being blind. I know, it is a very odd topic of conversation and I am sure that if you have ever met someone other than myself who is blind or visually impaired they did not say they loved being blind, right? Well the truth is that I actually love being blind. When I say this, I don’t mean that it is the most amazing thing everyday and I am never sad about it, but more to the degree of I have learned how to accept it and be happy with the skin I was born with.

First of all, everyone always makes a big deal out of it when they first find out. That can either be good or bad. They could be intrigued and positive about it as well or they could feel like you are now gross and never talk to you again. No matter which of these reactions I get, I always tend to be positive whether or not others think it is a negative thing. Not only do people my age constantly act like blindnes is horrible, but because of the lack of educating children on blindness, whenever a child sees me with my white cane I can overhear the conversation they have with their mom and it usually starts like this “mommy, what is wrong with that girl?” Because parents these days tend to not want their children to know what potentially could happen to them, they usually say “oh honey, some people are just different”. I then feel the need to pull myself away from whatever I might be doing and tell the child myself that believe it or not “I am blind which means I can’t see like you”. If only parents would just tell their children straight up what is problem with people who carry canes, they might not stare as much. Obviously it is very understandable if a parent does not know exactly what is wrong, then why doesn’t a parent lead their child over to ask me? I never want children to feel like they don’t deserve to know what is going on around them. With that said, I believe that if you ask someone what is wrong with them, the reserve the right to keep that personal, but it never hurts to ask!

I love to be blind because I love a reason to be here, like we all do. My reason is to educate those who know little about blindness about what it is, how it works and the different types and diseases that cause blindness. Although some days being blind is not exactly awesome, I know that the reason I am here is to educate and that is exactly what I am doing through this blog. Speaking of the blog, we hit 1,000 visitors the other day and I have to say, I am blown away! 1,000 of you have tuned in my posts. I know 1,000 doesn’t seem like a large number, but for someone who is nowhere near celebrity status, 1,000 is quite a lot. Words can’t describe how much this blog has changed my life and how much it means to all of you blows my mind!

Sorry for that slight change of subject, but now back to what I was saying. Being blind is hard, no one ever said it wasn’t, but it is the thing that makes me unique. Although I may not be like everyone else or see like everyone else, I see in my own way and see our world through a unique lens.

That is why I love being blind. I hope you guys enjoyed this post as usual and make sure to stop back on Sunday to see the next post! Remember to laugh everyday.

Why I Chose The Medical Field?

Hello Everyone! In today’s blog post I wanted to address a topic that I get frequent questions about and that is: Why I chose the medical field for my career path? People see me with my cane and using my vision equipment and they immediately think that I, as a disabled person could never hold an esteemed career such as a doctor. But, I am here to tell you that I am proving everyone who has ever told me that being a doctor wouldn’t work out. Anyone who ever said that jobs such as working at fast food restaurants, or as janitors were left for the disabled had never met someone as strong-willed as I.

As many of you know, next year I am attending John Carroll University as part of the class of 2023 and majoring in Biology in Anatomy to eventually go into a career in medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Lofty goal, I know,, but I feel that with hard work and determination I will able to not only succeed for myself, but surpass some others in my class and become a highly recognized physician.

One of the biggest reasons I decided upon the career path was so that I coul be a doctor who changed the face of medicine and someone that parents relied on to take the best care of their children. Up until about 2 years ago, I had my whole life plan laid out. I was going to be a successful trial lawyer, study at Kent State for my undergraduate and then eventually move to Washington D.C. in order to pursue a job at a prestigious law firm. After an experience my junior year of high school, my eyes were really opened to the average life of a lawyer, which in contrast was much different from what I had imagined. This is not to say that a lawyer’s work is boring or unimportant, but as someone who loves to conversate with people, I felt that taking the career path of doctor was much more conducive to my well-being.

I longed for a career path that would let me interact with my patients while being the most knowledgeable person to help them with their problem. The second reason that I felt called to participate in the field of medicine was a more personal reason. Throughout my life I have probably seen a doctor over 10 different specialists for reoccurring symptoms and none of them seem to be able to find the problem. In the next few weeks, on May 14, I go to see a well-known Internal Medicine/Infectious Disease specialist who hopefully will be able to solve my problem. I never want a child to go through the process of floating from doctor to doctor as I did. I want to be the person that could prevent that by looking deeper into their problem and ordering the tests that other doctors wouldn’t think of ordering. I want to be a better doctor than some of the doctors I had, so I can change the lives of others.

Although this career path is one that has many obstacles, I am determined to show that even people who have major setbacks, whether they be physical or mental are strong. We are capable and no one can ever put us down. Those reasons listed above are the reasons that I decided to be a doctor. I wanted to make a change in people’s live and through medicine that is possible. There is always a future and new things that can be invented to help those who need it. I am determined to change the face of disability and destroy the stigma about what people who might have a setback can accomplish.

Thank you guys so much for keeping up with my journey, I hope you are enjoying these posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

My posting schedule is: Tuesday’s, Thursdays, and Sundays. Remember to laugh everyday.

Loss.

Hello Everyone! I wanted to put a trigger warning at the beginning of this post. If you are at all triggered or angered by the topic of death, please click off this post as it will be discussing the topic at length. Before I get into the post, I just want to say that the woman I am about to talk about was one whom brought a light to so many people’s lives. She was not only a happy and beautiful soul who saw light even in the darkest of times, but also someone who never lost her appreciation for what she had no matter her circumstances. Although it might be incredibly sad for me to write this post, I know it is something that needs to be said. this is important for the world to know what and how a chronic illness affects someone and the impact those people can have on the world.

On April 29, 2019, our community lost a friend, a warrior and wife and a service dog handler, Jaquie. You might know her as Chronically Jaquie on YouTube and if you have not had the pleasure of watching her yet, I highly recommend that you do so when you have the chance. Like many others in our world, Jaquie battled multiple invisible illnesses such as Mitochondrial Disease, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, POTS, Gastroparesis, Mast Cell Activation Disorder and a few others. She was constantly battling these illnesses, but with the incredible help of her husband, and her service dog, friends and family she was able to live a very successful life and one full of accomplishments.

To many people in the service dog community, Jaquie is the person that introduced them to the idea and made them aware of the benefits they too could receive from a service dog. Not only that, but she constantly advocated for her medical illnesses and showed the world that just because you are chronically ill does not mean you spend every moment in the hospital.

She was a friend to many, including myself. Although she was taken much too soon from this world, I know that God has just called yet another angel to join him in his kingdom. Jaquie may not be on this earth physically, but her spirit will continue to live on throughout the lives of the many people she has touched with her kindness and inspiration. It is not my place to be telling exactly how she passed away, but I know that no matter when she was taken, she was taken into the most peaceful place a person can go.

Loosing someone important in your life, but although I cried for hours yesterday, today I understand that instead of crying, Jaquie would want all of us to advocate for ourselves. She would ask us to carry on her legacy even if she didn’t have the chance to, so today I pledge to do exactly that. She may not be on this earth any longer, but if as a community keep the advocacy for chronic illness going, she will never be forgotten and always be remembered.

I ask that all of you understand that each family needs space and time. Please do not try and comment questions on her personal life or how she died on this post. It is not my business to be sharing information about her death, but know that she was someone who inspired so many people to be chronic illness warriors and to “keep moving forward”. We love you Jaquie and we hope that you finally are free of pain and suffering. Loss is difficult, but what makes it better is that fact that although a person is not with us any longer, they are no longer suffering.

Today is a Special Day!

Hello Everyone and welcome to today’s blog post! Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted anything, but life just got ahead of me.

If you were not aware then I would like to wish all of you a very happy International Guide Dog Day! Yes, today April 24, 2019 is International GD Day! We dedicate this day to all those Guide Dogs who have given people their independence and remember all those Guide Dogs who have completed their time and now lay in the hands of Jesus.

If you are new and reading my blog for the very first time, let me give you a little background so you are not too confused. My name is Zoe and I was born with a congenital eye condition called Bilateral Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. In short, my optic nerves are underdeveloped and therefore do not transfer signals between the eyes and the brain to let in enough light. I also recently applied to the Guide Dog Foundation in New York and was accepted 2 months ago. I am currently awaiting my perfect and so I thought what better way to honor my future pup by posting about this special day.

So many people do not understand the job of a Guide Dog and how they are considered service dogs for the blind. Basically, as many of you might infer, a Guide Dog is a dog that helps lead its visually impaired handler through obstacles, help find doors or entrances or even retrieve dropped and unseen items.

Many people do not realize it, but unlike other service dogs, Guide Dogs have to be spatially aware of their surroundings and therefore require the most amount of training. They legitimately are responsible for their handlers life.

This post is to honor all those Guide Dogs, deceased or currently working and congratulate them on their work. They have given so many who struggle their independence back including myself come July. They are the reason that many people get out of bed and make a life for themselves. Because, when you have a Guide Dog, it is not just about you anymore, but about you and your companion. From what I have heard, Guide Dogs are not just your eyes, but are your heart. What I mean by that is that yes, they help you be more independent, but they also are your built in best friend. Guide Dogs not only give independence but give confidence to their handler.

I hope you guys are as excited for a documentation of this journey as I am. I absolutely can not wait to be able to share this upcoming experience with all of you and tell you the ups and downs of having a Guide Dog. And although sometimes Guide Dogs and service dogs in general are a lot of work, the work you put in for them is given back to you by their life-saving guidance.

Thank you guys so much for reading todays post. I will be trying my very hardest to be getting back on track with boh my YouTube and my Blog. Remember to laugh everyday!

Blog Posting Schedule: Wednesdays, and Sundays.

YouTube Posting Schedule: Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.

I Was Unplanned…

Hello Everyone! Before getting into this blog post, I wanted to apologize for my recent absence from posting. Life just got away from me, and I didn’t have time to write up and thoughtfully think of a topic worth posting. So, I hope you guys can find it in your heart to forgive me for being terrible at keeping up with my schedule.

Also, I want to first add a disclaimer to this post. For some, this post may bring up difficult emotions or past experiences. I am not writing this to start any type of disagreements, in fact I am writing it for the opposite reason. Before starting, I also wanted to mention that in this post there will be details of the movie exposed, so if you are planning on seeing the film and don’t want it ruined, close your tab now.

The Story of Unplanned

As some of you might know, Unplanned, a movie about a woman’s journey from pro-choice to pro-life hit theatres this weekend. If you are unfamiliar with this film or what it is about, let me just start by giving you a little background.

Abby Johnson was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, a town outside of Houston. In college she was walking around a career fair when the bright pink signs and merchandise of Planned Parenthood caught her eye. She proceeded to walk over when the woman at the stand told her that “the goal of Planned Parenthood is to reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies by providing women with sex education classes and affordable birth control.” Basically she said “we are helping women in crisis.” Somewhat naive, Abby thought that helping women in crisis was something she was interested in pursuing, so she started as a volunteer escort, assisting clients who arrived inside and take their minds off the protesters outside of the clinic. Next, she became the head counselor of PP, a position where she used her degree in psychology to reassure women that what they were doing was not wrong and the baby felt no pain. After a few more years, Abby was promoted to Director of her clinic where she would monitor and track everything from abortions, to birth control distribution.

One day, after being invited to hold the probe for an ultrasound guided abortion, she decided she would never go back…..ever. This movie is the story of a woman who at Planned Parenthood over the course of 8 years, counseled women to have more than 22,000 babies terminated. Throughout the rest of this post, I will merely be explaining how this story relates to my own.

My Story

A while back, when my mom was just a young adult trying to find what she wanted to do with her life, one little “plus” sign changed her life. She was pregnant. Later, she would find out it was a little girl and two months after this girl was born, she and my dad learned that their little girl was blind. This girl is me, and this is my story.

For a woman like my mother, she was not expecting to be pregnant before she had her life plan figured out. She was young, and in college, and (per her) had no idea how she was going to make it work. Some people suggested abortion. “You’re not financially stable”, “You’re too young”, “you can’t provide a decent life for a baby”.  These are just some reasons people say that abortion is the right answer. The truth is, my parents were financially unstable, they were too young, and they did not know at all if they could provide a decent life for a baby. Is anyone ever really financially stable enough to raise a baby? My parents said they were not.

My mother believed that I was a real human being inside her, even early in her pregnancy, so she found the courage to tell her parents about me, and decide what to do next with their support, whether to put me up for adoption or start a family earlier than she expected. While my mom never did consider abortion, she did consider adoption in order to give me the best possible chance at a awesome future. My mom does not believe that people should raise children they do not feel they can raise.

My mother (and dad) decided to keep me and 17 years later I can assure you she is not regretting her decision.

Don’t get me wrong, it was no easy road these past 17 years. We were never really “financially well off” and it was hard for her to be a mother to a disabled child, but I think my story proves to people that raising a baby that was unplanned when you are financially unstable and young is not impossible, even if it is a little (or very) difficult.

Although some have tried hard to hurt this movie’s chances by banning the Twitter page for the movie, refusing to air the trailers on their station, and possibly blacklisting most of the actors, Unplanned hit theatres on March 29, 2019 and so far it has brought in more than double its estimates. Opening weekend, Unplanned earned 6 million dollars making it the second highest box office Christian film to hit the theatres.

Do not think that this film is not controversial, it definitely is, but it is a film that I recommend everyone to see because it is one of the few that really takes a look into the reality of abortion and its effects on the mind and body. This woman, Abby Johnson has inspired thousands already and with the release of this film, there will be thousands more to come. All those children who did not get a chance to speak, a chance to laugh or a chance to play because it would be inconvenient for someone else are up there in heaven looking down on us, forever loving.

No matter who you are or what your circumstances are, you are an overcomer and there are so many other good options out there in the world and, while you do have the option to make the choice, I urge you to consider my story and make the right one. I’m so thankful my mother did.

It Has Been a Year.

One year ago, March 20th was probably the biggest day of my life. Before I get into the details, I want to start by saying that even though this is super emotional to talk about, it is worth me talking about it.

A year ago today, my eyes were opened. Well, I guess in my case you could say my eye, but same difference, right? Thinking back to dark Zoe is a hard thing. It is hard for me to think about and talk about, but the truth is, it needs to be talked about. Before starting this blog I went through a time that no one should go through and one day, I just decided to stop. Stop being the person that constantly looking down on themselves. Stop being the person that only felt bad for themselves and pitied themselves and start being the person that has a smile on their face and who encourages and inspires. Although I always tried to look happy, until March 20, 2018, I felt dead. Saying that is hard. It takes everything I have to say that.

But I am here to tell all of you that the Zoe that most people know now is who I love being. I am happy, and healthy. I couldn’t be happier about my life and it is all thanks to Jesus and prayer. Because of the encouragement from those in my life, I was able to pick myself up from the floor and rise above. Rise above my problems, my fears and my sadness. To say this was easy would be a complete and utter lie. It might have been the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it was the most worth it thing I ever did. Yes, the truth is that I still have bad days. Days where I doubt myself, my abilities, my worth, and my life. But, for the most part I am 1,000 times happier than I was a year ago.

The darkness, the hate and ugliness have disappeared. I am now happier than I have ever been and even though vision disabilities suck, living your entire life being pissed at something you can’t control just isn’t worth it. That goes for every disability. Sometimes, even in the darkest hour, there is a tiny speck of light. This is not to say you shouldn’t struggle, in fact struggling is a part of life, but to always be sad about something that is temporary is not a way to live. Earth is temporary, pain is temporary and in heaven our sins, pain and hardships are gone. What seems so far in the future, is just a step away. Through God and those we love we are able to take that step.

I want to thank everyone who have helped me reach my full potential and those who encouraged me to write this blog. I am eternally grateful. Your life is precious, you are precious. Never, ever forget that. I went through 16 years of self-doubt, self-hate and pity and now I live freely. I am here to tell you it can be done. No matter your disability, you are so worth it and I am here to encourage you always!

Remember to laugh everyday!

Always Remember…

Recently, on a Saturday, I went to go see a movie as one does. A movie, that would eventually change the way I acted, thought and spoke. Maybe if I had known the impact this film would have on my life, I would have been more prepared. Five Feet Apart hit the theatre on Friday, March 15 2019. Something that not many people realize is that the movie was inspired by the life and actions of a young girl named Claire Wineland. From the time she was born, Claire struggled with a disease called Cystic Fibrosis. For those of you who may not know what that is, it is a lung disease that causes unusually thick mucus build-up in the lungs making it extremely hard for those who have it to breathe.

With both her actions and words, Claire inspired so many and although she faced death everyday, she always had a smile on her face. If I had the chance to meet Claire personally before her death, I would have.

Like many Hollywood films, Five Feet Apart was a love story. One between two people, both with life threatening illnesses but unlike most films with a mushy love story, this film displayed the harsh truth of CF and in a recent article, the director said he was hoping this move would stay “grounded”. Only having seen the trailer and readd a few plot lines online, I went to see the movie. From watching the trailers, I had assumed this movie would be a tearjerker, but little did I know that it would change my heart and mind forever.

I am not going to go into detail because I believe that everyone should go and see it for themselves, but I do want to explain why I am writing about this when it has not the slightest bit about vision… or so I thought.

Although this movie has nothing to do with literal vision and/or vision disabilities, it touched on our mental vision and the way at which we look at and interpret the world. Both the main actors proved that with the right outlook, one can make a bad situation seem like one with hope. That is how they incorporated Claire into their story, because Claire had such zest for life and such happiness in her actions.

So, it was not the movie itself that changed my life, it the was the concept and the message of the movie that impacted me so much as to write about it. When you have something that is life-threatening or life-limiting, it is hard to see the good in the situation, but just like Will and Stella in Five Feet Apart, making good out of a bad situation is possible through hard work. This movie showed the reality: good and bad about CF and that is what made it something worth watching. It wasn’t about mushy love, but instead about true, tangible love. Although Claire is no longer with us, this movie and all she did is a reminder that those with disability can do the impossible.

If you have not yet seen the movie, I totally recommend you see it. I am no movie guru or critic, but the connection between the actors was beyond inspiring and the message within brought something new to Hollywood. For a movie that is relatively similar to The Fault in Our Stars, it is much more realistic and grounded than that movie (I am sorry if you are a FIOS lover).