Donna Gallagher: A Caregiver's Story: Hope and Sadness

January 1, 2012

After more than 40 years with the disorder, Donna Gallagher's mom has adjusted to life with glaucoma, which over the years has dimmed much of her vision. However the loss of sight still causes great sadness for her mom and requires sacrifice for Ms. Gallagher and her family.


Donna Gallagher:

Mom was diagnosed in her early forties, which is pretty young.

She began experiencing some vision issues and she went for a check-up and her pressure was very high. So she had further testing and was officially diagnosed with glaucoma. At that time they began treating her in the traditional method of pressure-reducing drops and regular check-ups to monitor the pressure. Her life has effectively degenerated over the years because of her lack of vision.

I did step down from a full-time corporate career job to work part-time because of the flexibility. That's really been the only way that I could do this-to have flexible hours where I can take time off when I need to to take her to her many appointments, take her out one day a week to get her hair done, go to the bank, do her errands, have lunch, that type of thing.

There's really not a lot that she can do on her own right now. She can't cook anymore. She can't drive. She can't go to the movies. She's always loved Bingo and she can occasionally play if she has a good eye day, if she really, really strains. But for the most part, she often can't go. She's lost the ability to enjoy that activity. 

Growing up in Massachusetts she has followed the Red Sox for years. At almost 80 years old, she can tell you the stats and the names of the players and who's in the World Series. We always try to take her at least once a year to a real game at CamdenYards and for years that was such a highlight. Even though she couldn't see well, she loved being part of the excitement of being in the stadium and part of the energy. This year we had tickets and she declined to go because her vision was so poor. She just felt it would not be enjoyable for anyone, including herself, and that was a very big turning point and a very sad event.

She does have friends and they are very kind and they will take her out to lunch or to drive her to an occasional outing. Because of her vision she also doesn't walk very steadily. She's off balance and so she really is dependent on friends to be her eyes to help with support-to look ahead at a curb coming down the road or a rock or something like that-to really help her see.

Sadness is really something that I see manifesting. Often in mom, if she, as I said, has a good doctor's appointment then her whole demeanor, her whole mood, her whole outlook on life today and the future is much better. If she doesn't have a good doctor's appointment, I can really see the sadness. I see it—I observe it in just every day living where she can't do the things that she would like to do.

Don't miss out.
Receive research updates, inspiring stories, and expert advice
Keep me imformed about: *
Please select at least one.
You must select at least one disease category.
Please enter your first name.
Please enter your last name.