Can you imagine what it’s like for your whole world to change overnight?
To feel like a different person, to have people treat you differently and to feel lonelier than you have in your entire life?
You see, five years ago that’s exactly what happened to me.
There I was, a confident outgoing woman in her 50s, driving wherever I wanted to go, meeting friends, enjoying long walks in the country.
But suddenly, all of that changed. Overnight my vision became blurry and in a matter of days my sight deteriorated dramatically.
Of course, I sought medical help straightaway. The last thing I expected my doctors to say was; ‘I’m sorry Kim there’s nothing that can be done’. I went into shock. In fact, I think it took six months for the news that my sight would never return to sink in.
Everything became darker, not just visually but emotionally. I was in a dark place. My self-worth and my confidence were on the floor.
And to make matters worse, people began to treat me differently; they would address my husband or my friends instead of me. It was as though they thought that along with my sight I had also lost my mind. I felt like I was fading away, becoming invisible.
But, from the beginning I knew there was one thing that could help give me back my happiness, my independence and my confidence. I knew, even then that a Guide Dog was the key to getting my life back.
Kim Murphy with her husband Anthony and her Guide Dog Jango – Photograph: ©Fran Veale
I can honestly say that every day I spent waiting was excruciating. I felt trapped inside my house, unable to leave without somebody’s help. My beautiful morning walks by the lake near our house became a thing of the past. I couldn’t visit friends like I used to.
Heartbreakingly, I even had to give my gorgeous Great Dane, Bella, to a friend. Without my sight, looking after such a big dog had become impossible.
But one of my worst days was the day my car was sold. Hearing the car being taken from the driveway, knowing I would never drive again was devastating.
I’ll never forget the day I finally received the call that would change my life forever.
A dog had been identified for me and he sounded perfect. His name was Jango, he loved country living but could also handle a bit of retail therapy when duty called. Upon receiving the call I burst into floods of tears. But they were tears of relief and of joy; life was about to start again.
Meeting Jango was one of the best moments of my life. He’s a beautiful big cuddly dog with the personality to match. From the moment I met him I knew we were going to be best buddies.
There are no words to properly describe how our first walk together felt. I was nervous of course, but the sense of freedom was incredible. Walking down the street, not bumping into anything or anyone. I knew with Jango by my side everything would be better. My hero had arrived.
Since that day we’ve been inseparable. It’s not just Kim anymore, it’s Kim and Jango. I can’t imagine waking up and not having him there.
Each morning Jango and I go for that beautiful country walk that I’d missed so much. We go shopping, visit friends and do everything I used to do before I lost my sight.
And we’ve had lots of adventures. Before Jango I could barely step outside the front door alone and now we’re crossing oceans. Planes and ferries are no problem to us.
He’s given me back my independence, my confidence and even my personality. Being social and getting out and about is such a big part of who I am. But there was a time after I first lost my sight when I thought that person might be gone forever.
What Jango does for me every day is amazing. In fact, he’s saved me from serious injury on more than one occasion. Several times at pedestrian crossings he’s used his body to block me from walking out just as a car zoomed past breaking a red light.
So you see, Jango hasn’t just changed my life – he may actually have saved it!
What these amazing Guide Dogs do for someone like me is incredible. Jango has been the key to restarting my life and helping me live independently again.
View all stories