As a family member newly diagnosed with RP, here are a few tips with helping your family member or friend with this new diagnosis.
If you have other Pearls, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Temple T. Moore. I was born 9/30/42 in a small town called Kidds Fork, Virginia.
My parents were sharecroppers and we made a living off the land. I was one of four brothers. We were a family that experienced many hard times, but with our determination, pride, and support of each other, we made it and always held our head high.
I am married and have a son and a daughter, both of whom are professionals with MBAs.
I graduated from high school in 1960 and shortly thereafter, joined the US Army at age18.
While in the army from 1961 to 1964, I served as an MP. As in high school, I was very active in sports, football, baseball, and other athletic events sponsored by the military. During this time, I began to experience difficulties in my performance, especially at night. In fact, I sustained three major injuries while in the military. They were documented. Although, I was not aware of it, these were my first “introductions” to the disease, “Retinitis Pigmentosa.” (My wife did not notice any problems with my vision at the time. I did not disclose anything about my night vision problem to others, because I thought I was no different from everyone else.)
After I was honorably discharged in 1964, I joined the Richmond, Va. Police Department.
Within six months, I began to experience difficulty seeing at night. I found myself avoiding dark areas as much as possible. For fear of losing my job, I did not reveal this to my superiors.
I did, however, reveal it to my wife. She had noticed my problems, especially at night. It was during this time that my youngest brother had been experiencing difficulties with his vision. He had his eyes examined and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. He advised me that the disease was hereditary and that I should get my eyes examined.
I took his advice and was diagnosed with the disease.
I was 21 years old, full of vigor, with a promising career as a policeman. With this terrible news, I felt that I had hit head-on to a stone wall. I was fearful of not having a job, not being able to take care of my family’s need, living in the dark, and having to depend on others.
With very little education and work experience, I became depressed, angry, bitter, and difficult to live with. At times, I was all of these things, but I never gave up on hope. My parents taught me to be a survivor, not a quitter! I knew that it would be difficult for me to get a job with this disease, so I decided to keep this as a deep, dark secret for many years. I mastered the art of making excuses for my mobility issues and mishaps, moving slowly, bumping into objects, sustaining injuries, missing meetings at night, etc.
With the support of my family and my desire to put this dilemma behind me, I knew what I had to do to survive. Move on to another career.
In 1965, I decided that I needed to go to college. It was more than difficult to get accepted, because of my high school grades. However, with a lot of begging and the fact that I had served in the military, I was accepted.
In order to make it through college, my wife worked full time. I worked various jobs and used the GI Bill. I finished an undergraduate degree in Accounting at Virginia Commonwealth, with a B+ average, in two years, nine months.
This was a huge confidence builder for me!
Although the “deep dark secret” was still there, I had career options and alternatives were available to me. The “deep dark secret” did not surface in my mind as often and became less important.
In 1968, I graduated and my wife, Cheryl, gave birth to our son, Troy. In addition, I was the top pick for employment with a national CPA firm. I accepted the position that required extensive travel and included a stay in NYC.
I did not disclose my eye condition to the firm. Again, competition was tough in those days and I needed this job. I knew my limitations, but I learned to work around them, whatever it took. Gaining more confidence, I felt that I could do anything that I wanted to do. However, I knew I had a shorter time frame to accomplish my mission. (My energy level was extremely high at this point.)
After working for the CPA firm for two years, I joined a bank as an officer in Richmond Virginia.
In 1972, my wife gave birth to our daughter, Nila. My responsibilities to my family and my job seemed to soar over night. Concern over my eyesight began to resurface more frequently. I began to worry about whether or not my children would have RP. I worried about becoming totally blind. With this enormous stress and the knowledge that the time frame to accomplish what I needed to do for my family was shorter, I began to multi-task and accelerate all my activities toward building a new career.
Over the next thirty years, I concentrated on banking and related fields. I taught graduate and undergraduate courses at various universities.
While working, I began to acquire the necessary credentials to support my endeavor. During this time frame, I acquired:
The Doctorate was received after a three-year time frame. I commuted from Yuma, Arizona to San Diego every weekend. In addition, I was a full time executive at a bank and taught graduate and undergraduate classes to finance my college costs as well as my children’s expenses. In addition to these expenses, there were numerous other sacrifices and events, such as time away from family, accidents and injuries from my poor eyesight.
For the next six years, I remained silent on my “secret.” However, I had to answer many questions concerning my injuries. Finally, in 1998, I received Disability from the bank. Of course, my secret was disclosed. (It did not seem to surprise others.) After going on Disability, we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are a unique family in that we have been together all our lives. My children, both married, moved with us.
In 2000, my son and I were asked to help establish a new bank in Yuma, Arizona. After one and a half years, the bank was successfully established. The bank agreed to accommodate my RP disability if we stayed for three more years. We commuted once or twice a month from Albuquerque.
In 2004, I went back on Disability. Shortly thereafter, I contacted the NM Commission for the blind and joined their rehabilitation program. They were extremely helpful in helping me understand RP, helping me with mobility, and computer training. They provided me with computer equipment and software to enhance my skills. I went to the VA School for the Blind in Tucson, Arizona for 2 months. It is a school that provided more mobility and computer training. It was an exciting venture, not only for the training, but I had the pleasure of being among others with RP and hearing their stories. Both programs were excellent.
In January 2008, I taught an online graduate course in finance for a major university.
I believe that I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I did it my way in a time when employment laws and attitudes toward disabilities were different and/or non-existent. Today, laws and organization are in place to assist people in every way possible to accomplish one’s goals.
Help is just around the corner. What you must do is take the first step. Ask for help.
Temple T. Moore, DBA
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) refers to a group of inherited diseases causing retinal degeneration. The retina lines the back inside wall of the eye and is responsible for capturing images from the visual field. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) die.Learn More About Retinitis Pigmentosa
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