Things are Looking Up!

Myke was driving home from work and about a mile away from his home, after a busy day working as a certified public accountant (CPA) at his office. Suddenly, a small tornado ripped a tree limb about eight inches in diameter and hurled it through the windshield of his car.

The limb struck him right in the face, breaking bones, and destroying his right eye. “I was in such bad shape, the first responders didn’t believe I would survive,” Myke said.

Despite their best efforts to reduce the swelling from his traumatic brain injury (TBI), doctors were unable to save the sight in Myke’s left eye. In the hospital, he was heavily sedated for a long time. Once he regained consciousness, he realized he could touch, hear, and move. But he was now totally blind. He would have to start from scratch, learning how to pick up a cup, walk, eat, and care for himself — this time, without sight.

At first, Myke was grieving and angry. He felt a deep sense of hopelessness and abandonment when he thought about his future.

VisionCorps reached out while Myke was recovering in the hospital. He couldn’t walk when Chris, an orientation and mobility specialist, first met him. Myke began training with a white cane and learned how to walk again, first with assistance, and then, independently.

Myke was thankful that as soon as he started rehab, VisionCorps was by his side – and has stayed with him through his recovery.

“I had to learn to do everything all over again. It was hard and frustrating, yet they were understanding and patient with me,” he said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know there are people like you (VisionCorps) in my community who support people like me,” said Myke.

VisionCorps stayed with Myke after he was released to his home. Over time, he transitioned to different living environments and VisionCorps through each transition.

Katarina Eller, a certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS) with VisionCorps, worked with him. She taught him how to walk around his neighborhood and oriented him to his backyard so he could get to a swing set with his granddaughter. When Myke moved to an assisted living location, Katarina was there to help train facility staff and anyone who worked with him on human guide and white cane etiquette.

When Myke moved to his current apartment, Katarina helped out by orienting him on how to take his trash to the dumpster and how to pick up mail from his mailbox, which was located in a group mailbox setting.

She discussed how to use shared rides. Katarina said Myke also worked on his own to explore and learn how to use mass transit.

“I don’t want to sit here for the rest of my life. I want to do things. Before the accident, I was active,” said Myke.

“Myke is very motivated,” said Katarina. “He has goals he wants to reach, and we practice skills so he can reach them.”

One example is Myke choosing a rappel adventure. After talking with his VisionCorps social worker, Myke decided to participate in VisionCorps’ annual Eye Drop event, in which participants rappel down 10 stories of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Lancaster to raise awareness of and funds to support VisionCorps’ rehabilitation services.

Rappelling was an exhilarating experience, said Myke. He was one of the top fundraisers for last year’s event – and he signed up to do it again this year.

“I’ve really enjoyed finding people to sponsor me,” Myke said. “It gave me an excuse to reach out to a lot of my former clients who I haven’t talked to in a while. It was nice to catch up with them.

It has been a long and difficult road to recovery, but Myke has a good sense of humor and a strong faith to carry him through. He said he is grateful for the help he’s received from VisionCorps and is ready for the next step in his journey.

“I can’t tell you how much better I feel knowing that VisionCorps will be there to guide me every step of the way.”