A Bit Of History

It was the summer of 2008 and the wind felt great in my face as I rode my brand new Harley on the back roads of Kentucky.  I was very satisfied with my life.  My business was doing well, everyone in my family was healthy, and the future looked very promising.  In a nutshell I knew I was a blessed man.  We were in the middle of building cabinets for my chiropractors 6,000 sq. ft. house in a nearby town.  I was really enjoying building custom pieces for just about every room in the house and we were getting towards the end of the project.  Countertops were now in process in the shop and with my low back giving me a liitle pain, I decided it was a good day for a motorcyle ride and an adjustment.   About two miles down the road, a truck pulled in front of me and sent me flying sans helmet 30 feet after hitting a mail box with my leg.  I miraculously walked away (hobbled away) from this experience and little did I know that totalling a brand new Harley would not be the most drastic thing to happen to me in the next few months.

In the months after the motorcycle accident,  life seemed to get back to normal.  The economy was starting to affect my business but we were able to keep projects in the shop.  It was around this time that I noticed my eyesight was not what it had been in past years.  I was having trouble reading and even driving.  I told myself that, at 39, this was supposed to happen and I even welcomed the thought of wearing glasses that might make me look more sophisticated and intelligent.  It was March of 2009, one week after my fortieth birthday, that I made my way to the eye doctor thinking I was going to get glasses and go back to normal life.  After going through all the tests and hearing small comments from the doctor that made me nervous, he informed me that I was legally blind, glasses would not help me, there was no treatment,  it was only going to get worse, and that I should seek another profession.  I left in shock and unsure of my future.  The explanation from the doctor was that I have a rare condition called rod-cone degeneration which causes me to have very bad night vision and now blurry vision.  I really can’t see faces any more, I don’t know what my kids look like now, reading printed text is out of the question, and the sun has become my enemy.

The following weeks were spent on a roller coaster of fear and uncertainty and peace that God would not leave me alone and in the dark.  The love and graciousness of friends and family allowed for a time to adjust to the idea of being legally blind and think about what life would look like with this new reality.  After a second doctors opinion, which concurred with the first in all regards except finding a new profession, I was encouraged to continue to do what I loved until I couldn’t possibly do it any more.  I returned to the shop convinced that although I could not do every aspect of my profession, I could do many tasks that I love to do.   It was about this time I contacted the Kentucky Office for the Blind and was provided with some tools that changed my life.  I now am able to read my mail and any other printed material using a CCTV.    I am able to measure again in the shop using a talking tape measure.  Special software allows me to do everything on the computer that I used to do plus a cabinet design program allows me to design and print realistic pictures of potential projects for customers.   All in all, I found that I can still do most things in the shop.  I have to rely on others now to do my finish work, driving and other tasks that require good vision, but designing, building and overall running the company is still within my abilities.    It might take me a bit longer and some help, but the end product ends up being very beautiful.