Overcome Adversity to Live Better
by Karen L Hughes
Life is our World Stage. We never know the hand we are dealt nor what we will do with our deck. Even when we try to shuffle it, we sometimes draw a spade, a diamond, and even the Joker. It depends on what we do when we are faced with a situation.
I was born in 1964 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. I was premature, weighing only 3 pounds. My Mother had contracted Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infectious disease. It was transmitted in utero. I had a brain injury and was congenitally blind. My Parents were unaware I had Toxoplasmosis until I was 9 months old.
Soon after, we moved to new Jersey. It was then that they heard about the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia. Glen Domen and the other doctors there focus on improving the lives of brain-injured children. I have two sisters and our parents always have had the same expectations for each of us. At the institutes, I had patterning. I overcame most of the issues I had in early childhood. By age eight, I was like most kids. I swam, rode a bike, and took ballet. I was a Girl Scout, played basketball, and was mainstreamed in school. My sight continued to get better.
In my youth my family moved a few times. Since I was the New Kid with a disability, I was frequently bullied. I struggled socially and had trouble making friends. After High School I attended Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. I majored in Special Education. During college, I was involved in the USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes). I won medals in Track & Field for the State of New Jersey.
A year later, I lost my high Partial Sight. The Toxoplasmosis that was dormant suddenly became active, gnawing and tearing at my retina. I had 3 episodes in 7 years. I became totally blind 3 separate times in my life.
It was a tough time. Despite having significant vision loss and depression, I graduated with a BA in Psychology from Bradford College in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It was not all bad though, had good times too. I participated in Ski for Light and even did a 24-hour Dance-a-thon for MDA. I also received my first Dog Guide Topper from the Seeing Eye while in college. I had adapted to not seeing. Although I had the degree and adjusted to being totally blind, I did not have all the blindness skills to be fully independent. So, I attended the Colorado Center for the Blind in Denver. There I learned: braille, adaptive technology, cane travel, and daily living. They also had confidence-building activities, downhill skiing, and rock climbing. While there, I worked as the Center’s receptionist. I also met my future husband at the center.
While living in Denver, I had an accident that severely injured my right arm. I had eighteen months of physical and occupational therapy. It was a difficult road and a long recovery. I gained most of my range of motion but do have permanent damage. In 1999, I moved to Arizona. Life was good! I had adjusted to blindness, was happily married, and was working for Hyatt Corporation. I was one of the Housekeeping Office Coordinators. Unfortunately, our marriage failed and in 2014 we divorced. Although my world was turned upside down, in time I had stability and self-confidence.
Then, 2 years later, I once again felt like the ground underneath me was crumbling. There were major changes in the workplace. The new software was inaccessible, and I had different managers. It was quite stressful and not an environment where I could thrive. My physical and mental health was affected, my quality of life poor. In 2018, after 18 years, I resigned from my job and with the support from family and close friends, I gained my elasticity of spirit. Author Irma Bombeck said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter from pain, comedy from tragedy, and humor from hurt.”
Since I have learned more life lessons, I’m retired and enjoying life. I have focused on me, managing my health and discovering what brings me joy. I volunteer for the American Council of the Blind (ACB), love dance, music, reading, and visiting with friends. I’m also working toward becoming an author. Life is like a box of chocolates. We never know what we will get. My tenacity has enabled me to overcome all these obstacles and they have been huge growth experiences.
If you would like to know more about me, or have any comments, questions or feedback, please reach out to me. It would be wonderful to hear from my readers so please feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Karen has enjoyed writing since she was a child and is working toward becoming a published author. Although her Degree is in Psychology, she was employed in the hospitality industry for many years. Karen is originally from New Jersey, though Phoenix is now home. She has been a dog guide user for many years and is retired. She enjoys reading, listening to music, dancing, singing, and visiting with family and friends.
Related: Standing Up, Holding On