BY WENDY HUGHES

First photo taken after my mother went blind December 1958

Anyone suffering from a long term medical condition will know just how precarious life can be. With the best plans in the world, your week can be disrupted at the toss of a coin. This week was one of those weeks for me. Towards the end of last week I was feeling better, so made plans to meet up with friends I haven’t seen for ages, visit an exhibition in Worthing and maybe a spot of shopping as well as keeping one my many hospital appointments, that become part of the fabric of coping with a condition.

My first plan went well.  It was a rare glorious sunny day and my husband drove me to Bognor to have a long natter and a fish and chip lunch with a friend, followed by a walk along the promenade, then sitting to chat, and putting the world to rights. I had a super day and felt well enough to take the bus back to my village for my husband to pick me up at the bus stop.

Glorious Bognor

The following day I had an appointment at the hospital, which ended up with me having another appointment and a procedure, resulting in turning the rest of my week on its head and having to cancel appointments and I was so looking forward to. Such is the nature of any chronic condition.

However there were two positives that came out of the week.  The first I was able to attend my hydrotherapy session and the second, having many hours to wait around and always with a notebook at hand I was able to make some notes on my new novel, which I began a couple of weeks ago. It is a book that I have thought long about writing. It is a fictionalised story of my mother, who lost my father when I was five and went totally blind when I was seven.  We now know it was due to the genetic condition that I inherited, but in those days 1956, the condition had not even been defined and very little was known about the science of genetics.

When my mother returned home from hospital totally blind, the authorities of the day, decided I would be fostered and later adopted by a family.  As for my mother she would go into a institution for the blind.  We can all imagine how she must have felt, first losing her husband, then her sight and now facing the prospect of losing her only child and her home, everything she held dear to her.

fish and chips

Devastated, she pleaded for us to stay together, but at first they were adamant, no blind person could look after themselves, and a child, but eventually after much discussion and arguing they granted her wish. We could stay together for a month, then she would have a deputation from the board of health and a decision would be made about out future. I was only seven, but I can recall now she struggled to do things around the house.  I was kept home from school that day and was quizzed about how we were managing, but my mother finally won them over when she made tea, unaided, and brought out a tray of homemade scones, and a delicious fruit cake, both made on an old fashioned kitchen range that morning.

Thankfully visually impaired people are treated far better today and I would like to think that my mother tenacity went a long way to pave the way for better treatment with problems.  Next week I shall tell you a little more about her remarkable story.