‘I don’t mind not being able to see; I mind needing help’
‘Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to not to be able to do your own tan and nails?’
I have spoken about what it is like to be treated differently because of my disability and how there is a need for people to open their eyes and look past the canes and wheelchairs, but I haven’t spoken about the independence versus pride issue so many people with disabilities and illnesses face every day.
My name is Bobbie Hickey, I am 19 years old. I study communications at DCU and I live by myself on campus with a few other students.
In my spare time, I ride horses, drive speed boats, write articles and take part in typical teenager activities such as mixing wine and cocktails in the one night (not a good idea). That all sounds great on paper, and it is great – I love my life.
Only there is a slight issue that likes to show its face every now and then – my eyes – or should I say, my lack of eyes. I have 5 per cent sight in the one eye that I have and the other eye can just about make out shapes in front of lights.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I will most likely always be relying on people in my life for small tasks
I do not mind not being able to see. I am used to it. I mind being 19 and still having to rely on my parents, boyfriend or my girlfriends to help me do simple tasks like drop me places, help me in the shops or even do my own make-up and fake tan. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to not to be able to do your own tan and nails whenever you want? That may seem like a very small and materialistic issue, but, trust me, once the luxury is taken away from you, your blood will boil. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I will most likely always be relying on people in my life for small tasks, and it didn’t happen easily.
On the morning of my Junior Cert exam, I was walking into school. I did this walk at least once a day so I knew it really well. I was across the road from my school and was about to meet my friend. I, in a world of my own, sauntered across the road.
Before I knew it, I was on my knees with no shoes on, on the side of a very busy main road in the middle of Donnybrook. The cyclist, who had knocked me down, was in shock. He had just realised that I couldn’t see when I looked up at him in amazement. We both got up, apologised to each other and parted ways.
I was in pain, and a lot of it.
Not physical pain, no, much worse – mental pain. I couldn’t even walk in to school without having to advertise my disability. I was told over and over again by my parents to start using my cane, but me, being the stubborn person that I am, refused.
Can you blame me? I was 15, the last thing I wanted to do was carry around a stick. Now, I use my stick every day; she even has a name, Diana. After the fall, it was time to accept my disability and try to embrace it.
The fact that I couldn’t walk any more without being reminded of my disability hurt more than the fact that my eyes don’t work. The fact that I still, to this day, can’t go to the shop alone after it gets dark hurts more than my eyes not working. The fact that I need help getting the bus down to see my horse hurts more than my eyes not working. You get the picture; I don’t care about the eyes, I care about the fact that no matter what age I am, what my job title is, or even whether I am a mother to 12 kids, I will still always have to swallow my pride and ask for help with simple tasks.
The purpose of this article is not to give advice or motivate. It is just to remind you all, and I include myself in this, that we are all so lucky. So lucky to have no problem doing daily tasks.
Even for me, things that I find easy are near impossible for others.
Don’t take anything for granted, even if it’s as simple as holding a coffee cup; you never know, someone might find that impossible.
Platform Series: Bobbie Hickey
1) Making a sandwich when you're blind
2) Not getting the points I wanted
3) The benefits to being visually impaired
4) I’m not blind. I’m Bobbie Hickey
5) College with no friends . . . and no eyes
6) People freeze up when I approach them