THERE is can, can’t and don’t want to – you just have to choose which path you take. That is the inspirational message that Hervey Bay resident David Wade has lived by after he was diagnosed 30 years ago with a rare sight condition called Stargardt’s Disease. There is no cure or treatment for the genetic disease, which means he’s extremely sensitive to light.
From the beginning of his diagnosis when life was turned upside down to now, Mr Wade has documented his incredible journey in his recently self-published book titled Memoirs of a Blind Man: My Experience with Stargardt’s Thirty Years On.
The book took two years to write with the aid of a Closed-Circuit Television and a whole lot of patience.
“The first book is 30 years on (after diagnosis) and when I finished writing that at the time, I was mentally drained and exhausted,” Mr Wade said.
“I had been hand-writing it on the CCT, a page at a time, every day until my eyes were sore.
“This is about me, the sight and condition that I have and what I have done since I lost it … and It’s done in my words.”
Before being diagnosed, Mr Wade worked as a forklift driver in Victoria, had a wife and young child, and was building a new home. The book tells the story of the trials and tribulations his career and marriage faced, divorce, raising three children on his own and beating prostate cancer.
“Basically, the disease effects fine detail vision from the back of the retina.
“As glasses don’t help, life started to slide into a world of doom and gloom.” Mr Wade said the decision to struggle through and keep writing the book was made in order to bring the power of positivity to others in a similar situation.
It also delves into the reality of dealing with people who fear the unknown surrounding the disease. “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Wade said.
“To see me, you wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong. I don’t wear glasses or have a guide dog or anything like that. “In the early days I went through a lot of persecution, ridicule and scrutiny from the layperson because they don’t understand, or don’t want to understand.
“But there’s other people worse off than me, so now I don’t worry about it.” Mr Wade, now 48, went on to conquer many outstanding achievements in his life from becoming a fully qualified chef and massage therapist, to completing a wood machinist course.
“Yeah, I know that sounds crazy,” he said with a laugh.
“I enjoy working with wood and when I did the wood machinist course at Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, they had hard guards and talking equipment like tape measures and I got taught to use a panel saw.
“You could cut 2.5m with the machine adjusting it for you; that’s how I got by, simple. “For me, you just have to learn to accept what you’ve got and as soon as you accept, life gets easier.
“Doors open up and you find ways of managing.” Mr Wade hopes to continue documenting his journey with a new book every five years.
“It’s important to me because no one else has bothered to do it.
“It’s important to get that experience out here and let other people know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and regardless of my circumstance, there’s people worse off than me.”