Imagine coming out of surgery and finding out that your partner had suddenly, without warning, lost their vision.
This was exactly Pat Wright's experience 12 months ago when her husband of 45 years, Martin, suffered a stroke to the blood vessel in his eye and lost his remaining vision.
“I was physically incapacitated, being one day after shoulder surgery. Neither of us could drive, we had lots of appointments and I was groggy from pain relief,” Pat said. “Martin was plunged into a carers role when he really needed caring for.”
Several months prior Martin had suffered a stroke to his other eye, but Pat says they were not expecting him to lose his vision further.
Realising they were struggling with basic tasks, Pat and Martin contacted Vision Australia.
"They came to our house within a fortnight, and they opened a door for him that was really powerful,” Pat said. “They introduced him to the white cane, and walked with him back and forth from the shops a few times.”
Martin also connected with the Vision Australia Library Service.
“The most life changing thing was his talking books and Daisy players, it's given him access to a world of listening and reading,” Pat said.
Pat also thinks her recovery period helped Martin find an early confidence.
“My inability probably assisted him in his rehabilitation,” Pat said. “Although he was stumbling around in a cloud of fog, he had to take over lots of household activities.”
In the year since Martin lost his vision, Pat said their continued involvement in their church and community has supported them.
“We're part of a church within the community in Doreen. We run community groups and craft groups, we go out and actually work in people’s backyards.”
“We were on the receiving end this weekend when our church group did a huge backyard blitz replacing the pebble surface that was unstable under Martin’s feet.”
Martin has also become an active bowler and works in the church office.
“It would have been really easy to close the door and say, we can’t do this, but fortunately that’s not us.” Pat said.
Pat also said she had gained the greatest help from her friends, and from seeing a psychologist at the Austin hospital.
“The psychologist there was amazing, she spent time with me and it was very helpful.”
Pat also wanted to emphasise that, although they were moving on with things, Martin's vision loss had been a huge adjustment.
“I don’t want to underestimate for anyone how difficult it is, for everyone, down to the grandchildren. It’s frightening,” she said.
“There were times that were very very hard, and they would have been hard for Martin too.”
“We need to embrace life and enjoy it, because we don’t know what life will bring tomorrow."
Pat and Martin have also been the subject of an Interesting Place to Be, a podcast series that explores their experiences after Martin's vision loss. Download or stream an Interesting Place to Be here.
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