‘I insure things that aren’t there – but I’m not running mad’

‘I insure things that aren’t there – but I’m not running mad’

Fifteen decades ago, at the age of 13, Kirsty James was told she would go completely blind. From then on, every morning as she brushed her teeth she wondered if it would be the last day she’d watch her face in the mirror. As she struggled to come to terms with her diagnosis she started find visions – which left her terrified that she wasn’t only losing her sight, she was also losing her mind.

It was the first week back at school after the summer vacations and 12 -year-old Kirsty James was in registration. The teacher told the children to copy down from the board the new timetable for the word ahead.

“I wrote down some of the wrong lessons and I even turned up to some of the incorrect lessons, ” Kirsty says. “But because I’m a bit dippy people thought that was just me – I am a bit like that.”

Kirsty didn’t yet know there was anything severely wrong with her eyes. She knew it was hard to see the whiteboard at school, but hadn’t fully admitted it. She would intentionally try to get kicked out of lessons for bad behaviours to avoid having to read in front of the class.

She didn’t talk about her degenerating eyesight with anyone and nobody suspected, until one day she walked past her mum in the street without seeing her.

Image caption At secondary school, one year before her diagnosis

“She guessed I was being a rude teen, ” Kirsty says. “But I said, ‘I’m not, honestly, I only didn’t see you.’ And that’s when the alarm bells really started ringing.”

Numerous trip-ups to the opticians followed, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with Kirsty’s eyes. She was just pretending she couldn’t insure because she wanted glass, they said.

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