You’d think knowing from early childhood that something is going to happen one day would prepare you for something when it actually happens.
I have Congenital Glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye condition that – if caught early enough – can often be kept under control. However, when you’re born with it the damage is often too severe for anything to be done other than attempt to slow its progress, which I guess we were successful with, since I was told I wouldn’t make it to adulthood with sight, and yet I was in my early 20s when I lost the last of my sight.
As I said though, being prepared all my life for the eventuality of such an event didn’t actually prepare me.
Yeah, I know that sounds like a sort of mixed up comment, but it’s true.
Physically, I was about as prepared as I could be: I learned skills like reading Braille and using a cane, for example. Plus, my sight had never been great, so it’s not like struggling to see things was a new concept for me. But emotionally was another matter.
How do you mentally prepare for something like that? The simple fact is, you can’t. Not really. You can try, but the reality will hit you like a slap in the face, and there’s no escaping it.
Each stage of sight loss came with its own challenges – both physically and emotionally. But that final transition in to complete nothingness was the hardest. It changed my world in a way I never imagined, even though I’d been preparing for it my entire life, and have a brother who has been blind since the age of two to set an example for me of how things really are for a completely blind person. Eben at the time I was aware I was lucky to have him as an example, and for advice when I needed to know how to deal with a situation. Plenty of people who lose their sight don’t have that kind of thing available to them.
There are professionals – they call them “rehabilitation officers” these days – on hand to handle the physical aspects of sight loss, of course. But those people who are supposed to be there to offer support don’t understand the emotional aspects. I myself was informed I was being childish when my fear of imaginary monsters out in the great unknown made me too afraid to venture out alone, even though my mobility training was far enough along that I knew the route well enough to do so. Despite the fact that fear of what we can’t see out there in the darkness is a common human fear, and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the person that I had such a fear.
I encountered several other situations that caused me frustration or upset because of a lack of understanding. As I said, I had my brother to fall back on. But what about those who didn’t have anyone there to tell them they weren’t being childish? They had nobody to turn to, and none of the material available for those losing their sight discussed any of these things. Sure, there’s plenty of material available on the medical details of conditions that could cause sight loss. There’s also plenty of stuff out there about learning Braille, etc. But everything seemed to focus on the physical aspects of sight loss.
I’ve always loved to write, so when I noticed the attitudes of those who were supposed to be helping people to adjust, and the lack of materials available for those wanting to truely understand, I decided to put my writing skills to the test.
It was hard at first. I was too close to the subject matter, and it was difficult to write to an audience about something I was half afraid of admitting due to the attitudes I encountered from most people when I did. But a combination of admitting some of it on my blog and the advice of a friend – who suggested I try distancing myself a little by turning it in to a semi-fictional story, rather than a non-fiction article – I created the “Toby’s Tales” series.
The Toby’s Tales series is a five book series that follows a little boy named Toby’s efforts to adjust after sight loss, with the second book focussing on those imaginary monsters. I published the first book as an eBook in 2012, with the other four following quickly on its heals, and later made a paperback version of each book available. Now – with the help of the talented Joseph A. Batzel – I’ve also made them available as audiobooks.
Regardless of the format you’d prefer, if you’d like to grab copies so you can learn about the fears and frustrations Toby struggles with, here are the main places where you can buy the books:
Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
You can also find the books on Goodreads.
About the author
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors. When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time. To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.
Find and follow Victoria
About the narrator:
Joseph Batzel has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University in Film and Theater. He is also a professional actor for stage and film for over thirty years. Joseph has over 150 voice- over credits including radio, TV, audiobooks, and animation. He has traveled extensively throughout the US teaching voice over workshops. Joseph is a dialectician and can perform most American regional dialects and most foreign accents.
Mr. Batzel has just joined Deyan audio one of the world’s largest Independent producer of Audiobooks as one of their narrators. He is married to his wife Alice of forty-four years, she is a published playwright and working on her first novel. They have two sons and five grandchildren. He presently lives in Brigham City, Utah where he currently works as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking.