Pat’s story

CNIB gave me my life back

Photo of Pat GatesImagine being a prisoner in your home: too afraid to venture outside and not having the support or encouragement to make any sort of change.

For Pat Gates, such a scenario dominated her life for 10 years as she lived in isolation while coping with glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy – two eye conditions that have left her with very little vision since 2000.

“For nearly a decade, I struggled with depression, limited self esteem and independence,” Gates says upon recalling the years she spent confined to her home due to vision loss. “I basically lived in a vacuum – disconnected from family, friends and the outside world.”

In what Gates describes as a “life-altering decision,” she called CNIB. Through the Adjustment to Vision Loss program, CNIB helped Pat deal with the emotional side of losing her sight and connected her with others in the community in similar circumstances.

CNIB’s orientation and mobility (O&M) lessons were truly a turning point for Pat, teaching her to travel safely and independently in her community again. First to the corner, then a little farther and eventually she was ready to tackle her biggest fear – riding the bus. The last time she took the bus, Pat couldn’t see the steps when getting off and took a tumble that terrified her and damaged her pride.

Pat was shaking and thought she couldn’t go through with the lesson when CNIB’s O&M specialist said, “You’re not alone, Pat. I’m with you” – something that she had been waiting to hear for 10 years. Pat got on the bus and took a seat, amazed.

“I’m on the bus! I’m on the bus!” she thought, realizing that at 54 she was feeling like a kid again – so proud. She hadn’t set foot on a bus in 25 years. “The incredible support and encouragement I received from CNIB staff, volunteers and others struggling with vision loss helped me realize I wasn’t alone in this,” says Gates. “I couldn’t believe I was talking with people who understood how I was feeling – something that motivated me to take control of my life again.”

Today if you call Pat, she probably isn’t home. Nowadays, she has an extremely active life, visiting with friends, volunteering with CNIB to support others who are adjusting to vision loss – and, of course, riding the bus!


Join the CNIB 1000 Challenge

$10 per month, that’s all it takes!

For just $10 per month – you will enable individuals, like Pat, to pursue their life goals. Please consider joining our movement by clicking on the Join Now button and becoming a CNIB 1000 Challenge monthly donor.

Pat Gate's signature