Losing Your Sight Overnight (Part I)

Born with congenital glaucoma, Marie-Christine Ricignuolo became blind a few months after delivering her first child.

By Frédéric Lebeuf

I didn’t know how to handle this new reality,” she said. “How was I going to take care of my little Liam?”

She thought it unthinkable that they can’t cure glaucoma in the year 2020. For her, losing her sight was the end of the world. Marie-Christine thought she now wasn’t good enough for her son. “In six months I went from being able to drive my car to not being able to go outside on my own.”

She was confronted with her greatest fear. Unable to leave her bed, she cried herself dry of tears. She had some dark ideas, but those close to her supported her in her adversity. “I didn’t want to live this way,” she says.

Futile Happiness?

Before losing her sight, her ideas of happiness were related to her appearance and her drug and alcohol consumption. Two years later, Marie-Christine was separated, living with her parents, living on social assistance and raising a two-year-old.

“I would have considered finding myself in this situation as the highest form of failure,” she says.

Today, she realizes that she has a second chance on life. Despite the rocky road she’s traveled, she can now laugh with her friends. “It’s dreadful to think of success in terms of having a condo on the hill, or working in the financial sector.”

Big Wake-Up Call

When she realized she was slacking as a mother, she had to get back into the swim of things pretty quickly. To get along alone, she learned how to use a white cane. She regained her confidence by accomplishing everyday tasks. Today she lives with her son in an adapted apartment. “I consider myself very privileged to be living with Liam,” she says. “I’m trying to get the most out of life.”

She considers her greatest joy is having had the chance to see in the first place. “When someone describes to me a giraffe in a lovely landscape, I can imagine the scene,” she says, smiling.   

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