Alongside all of the medical people we have to see at the hospital, Eleanor also receives support at home and nursery from visual impairment specialists, one of which is a mobility teacher who will assist her in learning to move around independently.

Eleanor has been given two white canes. One is called a ‘Long cane’ and is primarily used for mobility purposes by detecting objects in her path. The other is a ‘Symbol cane’ and is exactly what it suggests it is, a symbol. A symbol which alerts others of her visual impairment.

Due to her age the long cane isn’t entirely necessary yet as she always holds our hands when out walking, she would also not be out walking alone, yet! It is, however, important for her to get used to holding it and using it so when the time comes she will be confident enough to start the process of becoming more independent.

I have mixed feelings about the symbol cane. In a way I feel at her age it is completely unnecessary. Eleanor is always with us and she never leaves our sight. However, people now move out of her way when walking towards her. Mothers move their prams instead of almost running her over. My job guiding her around people is made so much easier when she has that cane. People move on buses and trains, they actually get up and let us sit. That would never happen without it. People are more patient when we are walking up and down steps. Instead of rushing past, they stop and wait.

Despite all of those benefits, I still want to snap the bloody thing in half. It’s like a massive neon sign shouting to the world that Eleanor is blind. People rarely need to know she cannot see. I hate the fact that people now look at me with sympathy, or even worse, look at her with sympathy.

Eleanor & Dan

People who would normally just walk past her and ignore the little girl skipping along with her Mum and Dad. I had my reservations as soon as it was mentioned she would be getting one, but I understand why she needs it and how useful it will be to her. Unfortunately, one of the first times I took her out with it my reservations were validated.

Tim was away working in Paris for the weekend and Eleanor’s Nana & Gaga (my Mum & my Step Dad) had come to visit. We had been out for dinner and decided to have a little walk. Eleanor was skipping ahead hand in hand with her Gaga, holding her cane and my Mum and I were trailing behind when a lady walked past, stopped, tapped her husband on the shoulder, pointed at Eleanor and said in a loud voice “Oh, look at that poor little girl, she’s blind”

I felt the tears sting my eyes and it took every ounce of strength in my body to keep walking and not scream at her. I was devastated. It made me feel sick with anger and pain. Her words still echo in my head every single time I see that cane. I wish I could have found the words to explain to her how that comment made me feel at the time. I wonder how she would have felt if I had walked past her, pointed and said “Oh, look at that poor lady, she is very overweight”

Would that have been any more acceptable!?

I am sure she meant no harm with what she said. She was simply pointing out the obvious in her mind. I am also sure that she would have been extremely embarrassed had she known how hurtful her words were to me, that poor little girls mother.

People now look at Eleanor, not because she is a pretty little girl with a beaming smile (yeah, yeah, I am totally biased, I know!) but because of that neon sign in her hand. I walk around with my gaze slightly down, partly because I am now Eleanor’s eyes. I have to watch out for obstacles she might need to avoid or be made aware of; broken paving slabs which she could trip on or kerbs to step up or down, but partly so I don’t have to see the faces of others as they battle with whether they should smile or pretend they haven’t noticed.

It will certainly take some getting used to. I still can’t quite believe that any of this is actually happening full stop, but one day I know I will be able to walk with my head up, talk to people if they say something which hurts my feelings or catch the eye of the odd stranger and smile, giving them the confidence to smile back and see my daughter for the wonderfully happy and confident little girl she is, instead of ‘that poor little blind girl’.

  1. Avatar
    Nicola Kelly 19th July 2015 at 19:40 - Reply

    Kelly you are probably sooo tired of hearing people say how strong you are and you can get through this (which you bloody are) and I am certain that the comments made by others really do hurt your heart.

    Humans are funny things – some more so than others but I am sure this won’t be something you will have to do or have to feel with everyone you come across. I’m sure these people would feel horrendous if they knew the root cause of her losing her sight!!

    I’m certainly not defending the ignorance of others but with your head high and your smile wide – they will be the ones looking like the fools they really are!

    Spread the awareness in whatever challenges you face as her mummy and Daddy – use these comments and looks to your advantage! (I am sure this isn’t easy – I really have no clue!)

    Love you so much! xxxxxxxx

  2. Avatar
    Tessa 19th July 2015 at 19:43 - Reply

    Wow That was so emotional to read let alone comprehend how you feel ,from knowing you all I can say is you have so many people who still think of Eleanor as Eleanor and as she touches other people’s lives they will feel the same . Hopefully as you say you are letting Eleanor live a normal life and with her every step of the way I hope you meet a few less people like that lady x
    Love to Princess Eleanor and to you both ❤️❤️❤️

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    Sheila 19th July 2015 at 19:54 - Reply

    Kelly you are doing an amazing job, I feel your pain from comments that you have heard, it’s so raw for you and must feel like you are in the middle of a bad dream. As you say this person had no idea how hurtful it was for you to hear that remark. Thoughtless of her.
    Keep strong, Eleanor is a real beauty and with a lovely family and caring friends you will be able to lift your eyes.
    Sx

  4. Avatar
    Cathy Sylvester 19th July 2015 at 20:07 - Reply

    You all appear to be doing fantastically well Gherkin but know that you must be crumbled to bits inside. You really need to block peoples ignorance out but at times you just wont be able too. Obviously I do not have the love like you do but I have the attachment in my job supporting adults with autism when you get stared at, tutted at, smiled at, looks of terror, disgrace, sympathy, lots of ignorance, patronising looks and a whole lot more. Most days I ignore it and other days I just can’t. Acceptance is what everyone wants, nothing more or less. Love to you all Gherkin.xxx

    • Kelly Gurney
      Kelly Gurney 27th July 2015 at 20:50 - Reply

      Your words are so true Cathy and you more than most have to deal with the ignorance of others regularly in your job. I am sure you have become more used to it over the years but I bet it still gets to you more often than not. YOU are doing a fantastic job. Love you loads x

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    Aitch 19th July 2015 at 23:44 - Reply

    This is the bit I kept coming back to “Eleanor was skipping ahead hand in hand with her Gaga”. This is who she is and how she will remain – happy, smiling, skipping, coping, growing and immersed in love. It must hurt to hear comments but people don’t understand much really that’s not to do with them. Their views of the world are limited. Eleanor is lucky. Even without conventional sight she will see and understand more than most , as she has you and your friends and family to guide her. Xxx

  6. Avatar
    Rosie Kelly 22nd July 2015 at 08:55 - Reply

    Every day that remark comes back to me. The look on your face broke my heart. Later on you think of all the things you could have or should have said but at the time it takes you so by surprise you are in a state of shock. I know it’s going to happen again and hopefully I’ll be able to ignore it and just put it down to their lack of thought. Love you MY baby girl. Xxxxxxx