Ali is 79 years old and lives in Glasgow. He previously had his own art gallery and framing business. In 1997 he had to give his business up after a spinal injury affected his mobility to a point where he could no longer continue this line of work. Ali continued to keep himself busy by learning how to build websites, which he then did professionally by creating artists’ websites.
But, ten years ago, Ali woke up one morning with a swollen eye. After the initial panic he went to the optician who referred him directly to hospital. The optic nerve had been damaged in his right eye beyond repair and all sight was lost. Ali was diagnosed with glaucoma. He had cataract surgery 18 months ago and has since benefited from increased vision in his left eye, but he still has no peripheral vision.
What self management means to Ali
For Ali, self management is about being comfortable with yourself and keeping active to get the most from life. Before living with sight loss Ali was a keen painter but had increasingly found painting frustrating due to his inability to mix tones and colours. What once was a passion was now wearisome. However, Ali has since realised managing a long term condition provokes adaption and is going to try abstract art to see whether it can activate some of the pleasure he once got from art as a hobby. Ali also enjoyed photography, and since his surgery has also slowly began to revisit it.
Equally self management can also be about implementing a routine, filling days with a range of activities that will challenge and develop your skills as well as more mundane actions like dishes and ironing, which offer a normality of pre diagnosis and are key to family life.
‘Self management’ is a relatively new term to Ali and he considers it to mean not sitting, waiting on people to make life interesting, rather taking control of your life and making things happen.
Ali has been inspired by, and is a member of the peer support group ‘See No Borders’. This is a self management initiative led by RNIB, for Black African individuals who live in Glasgow.
Ali is keen to promote the message of the importance of routine health checks, accessing services available to keep you well. Visiting an optician for routine tests would have detected his condition before it reached this severity. Self management to him can also be techniques used to keep people well as well as managing a long term condition.