My husband lived in Chicago for about twenty-five years, before I met him in ’84. He was already blind. He lost his sight as a complication of diabetes when he was thirty. I met him when he was thirty-five.
The condition is called retinopathy. Diabetics suffer from cardiovascular issues. In order to feed the body, I am not sure exactly what, but diabetics build more capillaries. Capillaries are blood vessels that carry nutrients to the outlying area of the body. Anyway, these capillaries are very fragile, and so when there are changes in blood pressure, they can burst and internal bleeding occurs. It happened in his eyes. There was bleeding, and the retinas detached. This is how he lost his sight. John had a famous eye doctor in Chicago, the same one that treated a famous boxer for an almost detached retina. The doctor tried to save John’s vision but failed. After that, John said, the doctor never charged him for another visit, and John used to visit every year and send a poinsetta at Christmas.
John’s strokes have resulted for similar reasons, and there isn’t much that can be done, except control his blood pressure and maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
While going blind was very difficult, being blind was an easy adjustment. John sold his beloved corvette, but having a love for cars, bought a Mercedes station wagon in its place. He used to spend every weekend in the summer washing and hand waxing all the cars we had. When Harry was little he would help. As a toddler, Harry would not answer when called, or speak when spoken to, so we would tie bells into his tennis shoe laces so John would know where he was. This is one of my favorite photos of the two of them and I miss John and his energetic, “I can do anything” spirit. He is still a fighter, and is hanging on and will never give up. Neither will I.