Antonius Tixi proving blindness is not a death sentence To be born blind, never to have seen the world in its vibrant living color is one thing, to have this gift suddenly ripped away is an entirely different matter altogether.
Antonius Tixi has lived both lives and he says he counts his blessings every day, grateful that he has breath and can still care for his family.
The 40-year-old Blanchard, Desruisseaux resident moves around his home and yard with little effort. He weeds and goes regularly to his backyard garden where he has a variety of fruit trees and vegetables. Antonius has been blind for 11 years, as a result of Optics Neuritis, an inflammation that damages the optic nerve, that transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. Pain and temporary vision loss are common symptoms. Most people who have a single episode of optic neuritis eventually recover their vision. Treatment with steroid medications may speed up vision recovery. But for Antonius’ it was a case of too little too late.
He spent 16 days hospitalized receiving treatment in St Lucia but there was no change. The optic nerves, he said, had become too twisted and damaged. The medication was useless. Within three months the outgoing young man had become completely blind. His life would never be the same. Filled with concern and fear about the future Antonius returned home. Although the journey has not been easy, Antonius credits his wife, family, close friends and God for his growth and courage to accept his condition.
Antonius has never seen the face of his three biological children. The youngest is 4 months old.
His bond with his children is tight. He helps with school work and this has certainly paid dividends with his eldest daughter consistently finishing as top student in her class. She is sometimes charged with helping her father when the two head to Vieux Fort. Antonius has not let his disability stop him from working. Produce from his garden keep the family fed, even as he faces challenges from thieves. He also had some advice for others who face life changing situations.
Antonius is also concerned that government is not paying enough attention to organizations that assist people with disabilities. He says it is sad that most people whether blind or otherwise disabled are not able live full lives and sometimes get very poor care.
Truly Antonius embodies the saying that to be blind is not miserable, not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable. We salute Antonius’ determination not to be defined by his blindness but to meet the challenge head on and succeed against the odds.