Sight loss mum: “I memorised my children’s faces”

Mel Donaldson and her kids Cameron and Caitlin. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Mel Donaldson and her kids Cameron and Caitlin. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Have your say

A MUM has told of the heartbreaking moment she tried to memorise her children’s faces as she started to lose her sight.

Mel Donaldson took in “every inch of their bodies and mannerisms” after realising she was going blind.

The sight loss was the first sign of Multiple Sclerosis, and although some vision has returned, she can only see shapes and outlines.

Mel, 39, was running her own successful florist ­business when she began to suffer severe headaches and loss of vision.

She said: “My vision started to deteriorate in late 2009. When I visited my GP he saw a shadow behind one of my eyes and referred me to an opthamologist. Silly as it may sound, I sat one Saturday afternoon and stared at my kids.

“I took in every inch of their bodies and mannerisms and imprinted it in my mind so I would always remember what they looked like, right down to the colour of their eyes and hair, to the tone of their skin. I remember how beautiful they looked when they smiled.

“I remember my son ­coming into the bathroom to talk to me. He sat on the toilet ­blethering away and when I turned to answer him I couldn’t see his face. I was petrified and I burst into tears, which set him off too.

“I knew that night when I went to bed I wouldn’t be able to see in the morning. I was terrified to close my eyes.”

In early 2010, Mel was ­diagnosed with Optic Neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve which can cause full or partial blindness.

However, doctors also had to break the news to the brave mum that in 20-30 per cent of cases, the condition is the first sign of Multiple Sclerosis.

Mel, whose son Cameron, 13, attends James Young High School, while daughter Caitlin, 10, goes to Bankton Primary, said: “For a while I was ­completely blind, but some vision has returned. I can see shapes and outlines, like blurry shadows.

“I had a scan when they diagnosed the Optic Neuritis and while there was no sign of MS then, I was told it could only be a matter of time. Nine months later I had another scan and was told I had MS.” Since then Mel, from Livingston, has had to cope with ­staggering when she walks, inability to hold objects and four falls down stairs.

Daughter Caitlin has now joined the Young Carer’s ­Register, but Mel has to wear a panic button around her neck when she is in school.

But, Mel has refused to let all this dampen her spirits – and is now organising a lavish charity ball this October in aid of the MS Society.

She said: “I am very lucky – I have wonderful kids, and ­fantastic friends and family. This fundraiser will hopefully help people who aren’t as fortunate as me.” And she fancies her chances of luring a very special guest to the glittering night at Livingston Football Club’s The City Stadium on October 26.

“I met JK Rowling in Ikea a few years ago, which was quite bizarre. She complimented me on how beautiful my children were. She’s done a lot for people with MS and I actually attend the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, which was named after her mother, so I’ve sent her a letter about the ball.”