An Update

Hello y’all.

It has been a couple of months since I was able to find the time and the motivation to write a blog post.

I recently just finished my first semester of college and throughout the course of the semester, so much has happened.

As someone who lives legally blind, I knew college was going to be a bit of a mix up, but little did I know what it really had in store for me.

I started out expecting to be a little lost, but those first 6 weeks of college tested my strength, my confidence, and my motivation. I started therapy again. Not only were my classes challenging and my teacher not accommodating, but being away from the comfort of my family was added stress. On top of all of that, many more medical issues arose over the course of the semester.

It started with feelings of fatigue, pain in my abdomen and uterus, and consistent headaches. After multiple appointments with a variety of specialists we were able to diagnose a hormonal issue- an estrogen deficiency. Because of my low estrogen, it causes low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Low estrogen also causes poor bone health which may be the cause of my scoliosis and lordosis. As I prepare for more medical tests in the coming weeks, I am remembering to keep my chin up and stay positive throughout.

Living life with a guide dog has not been easy either. As much as he has changed my life in a positive aspect, there have been downsides, and struggles. Mack amazes me everyday, but keeping up with the constant training, the care, and the discipline has been taxing both emotionally and physically.

Being an advocate for visual impairment has really taken a back seat lately with college, my new dog and my declining health. Although I do not disclose all of my medical issues on the internet, whether that be psychological or physical, I do feel it important to talk about certain things in order to bring awareness to these issues.

So recently my life hasn’t been perfect. It has been difficult. Extremely difficult. But I have a great support system, a loving family and friends who are always there when I need a hang to hold.

I know this first semester of college has been filled with both ups and downs, but I also know that soon enough we will know what has been causing my declining health. Although these tests scare me, I do remember that these tests are going to be the ones to unlock my future and provide me with a better quality of life.

So, here is my update. I am hoping to continue my blog soon enough and get back to advocating not only for visual impairment, but for chronic illness in general.

I do hope that next semester I am better equipped to handle maintaining my blog and my Youtube.

Thank you to those who have stuck by me throughout this large transition and to those who are just joining my journey.

The Day I Gained Independence.

Hello Everyone! I am doing the same thing I have done in the last couple of posts. I know this is not my regular posting schedule, but I just needed to get a post out there. Recently, I started college and it has been a life changing experience, but things have gotten so busy writing on here just hasn’t been a priority. Although college has given me quite a bit of independence, that is not what I will be talking about today. Today I talk about the day I got my guide dog. I am sure many of you follow me on either social media or youtube, but if you do not, you probably will not have seen things about me and my new pal.

On July 23, 2019 at 1:42 pm. I was sitting on my bed awaiting the arrival of my new pup. Up until this point I have never met this dog. Earlier that morning we were told the gender, breed and name of our dog, but had not yet seen the pups. One minute later, at 1:43 pm. I heard a knock on my door. Racing to sit on my bed, a gave them the ok to come on in. Seconds later a big, fluffy yellow labrador/golden retriever cross came bounding into the room and jumped on my lap. I was filled with emotion, and at first the dog seemed some what confused. He was in this new place with a new person, and being left by the trainers he had known for 3 months prior. After we met and the dog started to settle down, the trainers and photographers left, and gave new dog and I a chance to bond.

I know what you guys are thinking. “What’s the dogs name?”, “Is it a he or her?”, “How old?”, “How big?”. Well, it’s time for the details. On July 23, 2019 at 1:43 pm I met my best friend. He is a yellow labrador/golden retriever cross and his name is Mack. He is 20 months old, and weighing in at a whopping 62.8 pounds. As for his personality, he is just the best. Almost 2 months later, I continue to learn new things about him everyday. He is stubborn, but very hard working. He is a cuddle bug- on his terms. He is a dog that has boundles energy- he could work 5 miles across campus all day, free run and still have energy to spare.

Before I got Mack, I never realized how much the cane didn’t do. On occasion, I would be frustrated with it , but 99% of the time it was just the thing I have to use to try and gain my independence. Ever since getting Mack, I have realized how much I had been missing. I now feel comfortable crossing streets alone, walking at night, and even in high sensory environments like cafeterias that were near impossible to conquer before.

Mack is not only a guide dog, he is a friend. He is a dog who gives me independence and someone who diminishes my fears about traveling. I don’t think I will ever be able to articulate the words for how he has changed my life. Everyday we walk with speed, with ease and with confidence. I am now able to conquer any obstacle, because of him. After almost 2 months of being a team, ever going back to the cane seems impossible. Impossible because the realm of possibilities has been opened by my boy. With him by my side we are able to to be independent. Thank you to The Guide Dog Foundation for helping me every step of the way and providing me with the most bomb proof dog ever. You have forever changed my life.

I hope you guys enjoyed hearing about the day I met my boy, if you want an in depth blog post about our training, let me know and I would be happy to do it! Make sure to check back in Tuesdays and Thursdays (hopefully I will get it together and actually post).

Be sure to follow us on Instagram: @guiding.golden.mack

Follow us on Facebook: Zoe Ridenour

Subscribe and Follow us on Youtube: Sight Unseen

Guys, I am Sorry…

Hello Everyone, I am back today with another blog post. I know, I know. It has been forever and I need to get better at posting, but remember I am a teenager and I am not perfect. This summer has been incredibly busy, first going to Maryland and North Carolina, then France, then off to New York and then to get my Guide Dog I have barely had time to think, let alone write a whole post. So, this post won’t have much to say because this is just a post letting you guys (my loyal blog followers) know that I am still here and I still plan on posting. Thank you guys so much for following my journey and I wanted to let you know that I have updated my posting schedule for the 456 time. I will from this point on try to post every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. I will see how long this lasts, but for now be happy that I actually posted on a Thursday. Thank you guys for sticking with me throughout this journey. See y’all with another post on Sunday.

Best Wishes, Zoe

How Well Does Our World Cope With Blindness?

Hello Everyone, as promised I am back. I plan on every Thursday at least being able to write and upload of post for all of your eyes to enjoy! Today’s topic is something that has recently popped into my head as a prepare to go to guide dog school and that is: How Well Does Our World Handle Blindness?

The truth of the mater is that many people in the society of 2019 are careless about not only visually impaired or blind people but about disabled people in general. I can say as a disabled woman with the utt-most confidence that this world, or at least this world in 20th century. But I can also say with great confidence that the people of our world in 2o19 are trying harder and making great improvements in making this world more accessible. Is this world perfect? No. But will it ever be? Like most things, probably not. But that isn’t to say tat we, the people of today can’t try out damn hardest to make it as close to perfect as it can get.

Why is the world not meant for disabled people you ask? First of all, if you are disabled person reading this, you should already know the answer to that, but for all of you reading this who are just people living their lives, let me do a little explaining. Firstly, one of the biggest problems I face as a visually impaired woman is transportation issues. Besides New York City, D.C., Los Angeles, and maybe a few others, are we really making cities where transport is easily available? The answer is no. Many blind people live in a small town where busses or metros might not be readily available, and if they are they often cost a fee that is much beyond what a blind college student should pay. Then comes the issue of Uber and Service Dogs. As someone who is getting a service dog in less than a week, I worry everyday that I will not be able o get the plaes I need to go because of an Uber driver being uneducated how the service dog laws and denying me access. Then of course there is also the problem of an Uber of Lyft driver calling you saying they aren’t sure where you are and using words like “over here” and “in the yellow car” to describe their location.

The next issue is restaurants and although they have in recent years become significantly more accommodating, they still have struggles and behavior that needs to be taken more seriously. For the first time in my almost 10 years of being a cane user I was asked if I needed a braille menu. I said no because I am a print reader for the most part,, and although I can read braille it is usually just not conducive to the situation. Anyone reading this is probably thinking “why would you be writing about this if you don’t even nee braille menus?” and my answer to them is that I want to be an advocate for al blind people not just individuals with my level of vision. All adults in America should know the symbol of the white cane and in turn whenever restaurant employees see a white cane they should immediately offer a braille menus. As for restaurants that don’t have braille menus, there is nothing more to say then they must incorporate them.

Another simple thing the American population could do to help the blind population is just having manners. If you see a blind person, do not approach them by touching them, but instead by saying something first to alert them that you are near because remember, they are blind and can’t see you.

The last thing is the education system. Education professionals need to be taught how and when to help a blind person. They should be taught the basics of how to make the learning experiences for a blind person more helpful. Let the blind person advocate for themselves and don’t constantly ask if they need help, but if you visibly see them struggling, feel free to offer in helping hand. Always print out large print copies of the activities or homework even if it may take some extra time because even if the blind person declines the large print, they will appreciate the gesture and thank you for being so helpful in the long run. Also always be willing to help and never ask why they need something. It is important to let them know they are safe and always being taken care of.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and I want to make something very clear before ending it. I did not write this to bash the US or say how terrible it is, I wrote this post to bring awareness to general public of things they as Americans can do to help their blind or disabled citizens around them. This is strictly for educational and awareness purposes and I hope that all of you start to alert your friends and family to these things as well so we as a country can make this place more easily accessible to those with any disability.

Di$@b!lity Is Not a Bad Word.

Hello Everyone. I apologize for my absence, but for the past montth I have been traveling around and out of the United States. Now that I am offically back, I plan to have a more concrete posting schedule for the summer and from now on that will be Tuesdays and Thursdays. This blog post might be triggering for some, so anyone that is easily triggered by talk of disability and what it entails, I recommend skipping this post for now.

Lets get into it. What is disability? What constitutes a person as having a disabilitty? Is one born with a disability or does it come over time? Are disabilities chronic? Today,, as it is the month of Disability Awareness, all these questions and anymore that y’all might have (leave any comments below) will be answered.

Firstly, by dictionary, Disability is defined as: “a physical or mental condition that limits a persons movements, senses or activities.” That’s right everyone, someone doesn’t have to be in a wheelchair or connected to an central line to have a true disability. In fact, most of the disabilities in our world are invisible to the genral population. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

The second point is a common misconception tthat a person is born disabled. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This isn’t to say that all people with disabilties are born fine, in fact, that is mostly the opposite. For the most part, many people who have physical disabilities are born with them, but for many with mental illnesses those either are accquired over time, or if they are present at birth they usually tend to worssen as time goes on or circumstances change. Now remember, I can speak for everyone with a disability because every person is unique, I am just here stating the “usual” what is common of people with disabilities.

The third question worth answering is “Are disabilities chronic?” For most, the answer sadly is yes. But for the few with disabilities that is not always the case. Everyone is unique and therefore has unique circumstances.

Probably the question I get asked the most is “how do you feel about being disabled?” or “would you change your vision if you had the chance?” The truth is, I feel great about being disabled. I couldn’t ask for a better life. Sure, I could have more sight, be able to drive and not have to use that obnoxious cane, but would I be the same person? Would I be as strong? As brave? Or as fearless? I can say without a doubt, no. I wouldn’t be the same person with the same grit and determination. Although disability has taken so much from me, it has also given me a life I find worth living. And as for changing my vision, the answer is no. Although being visually impaired is hard, painful and a constant struggle, it is also my biggest blessing. Sure, there are challenges, but if I sat in my bed thinking of all those challenges instead of thinking of all that vision impairment has given me, I wouldn’t be as strong.

I like to think of my vision impairment as my superpower and my cane as my undercover weapon. I am able to get to the front of the customs line in the airport in about 2 minutes flat. I pass through security like it is an open gate. Although I might sound like I am bragging here, the truth is, I just want people to see the fun parts of disability and what it has brought me. I get to sit in the front row of almost any concert, and lines rarely exist for me. So instead of thinking how I can’t drive, I think of the perks of being the wing-man in the passenger seat. I am able to talk, text and nap without any concerns.

Disability is hard, but not impossible. To anyone out there with a invisible disability or someone who might be connected to an IV pole, know that your disability gives you super powers and makes you unique. Happy Disability Awareness Month to everyone out there with or without a disability and remember everyone has struggles whether they are visible or not. Not to say eveeryone has a disability, but everyone has struggles and is someoone is unique as well. When you feel down, look at this quote:

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines”

“Are you looking for gold?”

Hello Everyone! I apologize for being so absent on here as of late! I am on my way back from one vacation and on Monday heading to France, which I’ll be sure to blog plenty about.

While on my trip I went to a local gift shop and as I rounded the corner a child saw me with my cane and immediately started to stare. After taking 2 steps I looked back and there he was, still transfixed by the sight of someone so young with such a large stick. He finally worked up the courage to ask a question, but not the one I was expecting. He said in a very excited voice “Are you looking…. FOR GOLD?!” I found this funny and said “not for gold, but for something.”

That simple question was a life changer. No matter your circumstances or upbringing we each have our own gold that we are searching for. I know you’re probably reading this wondering why I took something asked so literally and turned it into something so complicated. The short answer is because I like thinking of things with layers, but the truth is that it’s true. We each have some kind of “gold” in our life. Something that we are reaching for, studying to achieve or waiting to accomplish and each person should spend moments focusing on the “gold” moments in their life and teach others how to find them as well.

This experience helped me realize the innocence of children and how amongst all things they are able to bounce back stronger and with such love for life. I strive to be the person who continues searching for the “gold” even if it means digging through multiple layers!

Thank you for reading and I hope this helped y’all get a sense of how to search for your own gold!

Why I Love Being Blind.

Hello Everyone! That is right, you saw it from the title, in this post I will be explaining why I love being blind. I know, it is a very odd topic of conversation and I am sure that if you have ever met someone other than myself who is blind or visually impaired they did not say they loved being blind, right? Well the truth is that I actually love being blind. When I say this, I don’t mean that it is the most amazing thing everyday and I am never sad about it, but more to the degree of I have learned how to accept it and be happy with the skin I was born with.

First of all, everyone always makes a big deal out of it when they first find out. That can either be good or bad. They could be intrigued and positive about it as well or they could feel like you are now gross and never talk to you again. No matter which of these reactions I get, I always tend to be positive whether or not others think it is a negative thing. Not only do people my age constantly act like blindnes is horrible, but because of the lack of educating children on blindness, whenever a child sees me with my white cane I can overhear the conversation they have with their mom and it usually starts like this “mommy, what is wrong with that girl?” Because parents these days tend to not want their children to know what potentially could happen to them, they usually say “oh honey, some people are just different”. I then feel the need to pull myself away from whatever I might be doing and tell the child myself that believe it or not “I am blind which means I can’t see like you”. If only parents would just tell their children straight up what is problem with people who carry canes, they might not stare as much. Obviously it is very understandable if a parent does not know exactly what is wrong, then why doesn’t a parent lead their child over to ask me? I never want children to feel like they don’t deserve to know what is going on around them. With that said, I believe that if you ask someone what is wrong with them, the reserve the right to keep that personal, but it never hurts to ask!

I love to be blind because I love a reason to be here, like we all do. My reason is to educate those who know little about blindness about what it is, how it works and the different types and diseases that cause blindness. Although some days being blind is not exactly awesome, I know that the reason I am here is to educate and that is exactly what I am doing through this blog. Speaking of the blog, we hit 1,000 visitors the other day and I have to say, I am blown away! 1,000 of you have tuned in my posts. I know 1,000 doesn’t seem like a large number, but for someone who is nowhere near celebrity status, 1,000 is quite a lot. Words can’t describe how much this blog has changed my life and how much it means to all of you blows my mind!

Sorry for that slight change of subject, but now back to what I was saying. Being blind is hard, no one ever said it wasn’t, but it is the thing that makes me unique. Although I may not be like everyone else or see like everyone else, I see in my own way and see our world through a unique lens.

That is why I love being blind. I hope you guys enjoyed this post as usual and make sure to stop back on Sunday to see the next post! Remember to laugh everyday.

Why I Chose The Medical Field?

Hello Everyone! In today’s blog post I wanted to address a topic that I get frequent questions about and that is: Why I chose the medical field for my career path? People see me with my cane and using my vision equipment and they immediately think that I, as a disabled person could never hold an esteemed career such as a doctor. But, I am here to tell you that I am proving everyone who has ever told me that being a doctor wouldn’t work out. Anyone who ever said that jobs such as working at fast food restaurants, or as janitors were left for the disabled had never met someone as strong-willed as I.

As many of you know, next year I am attending John Carroll University as part of the class of 2023 and majoring in Biology in Anatomy to eventually go into a career in medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Lofty goal, I know,, but I feel that with hard work and determination I will able to not only succeed for myself, but surpass some others in my class and become a highly recognized physician.

One of the biggest reasons I decided upon the career path was so that I coul be a doctor who changed the face of medicine and someone that parents relied on to take the best care of their children. Up until about 2 years ago, I had my whole life plan laid out. I was going to be a successful trial lawyer, study at Kent State for my undergraduate and then eventually move to Washington D.C. in order to pursue a job at a prestigious law firm. After an experience my junior year of high school, my eyes were really opened to the average life of a lawyer, which in contrast was much different from what I had imagined. This is not to say that a lawyer’s work is boring or unimportant, but as someone who loves to conversate with people, I felt that taking the career path of doctor was much more conducive to my well-being.

I longed for a career path that would let me interact with my patients while being the most knowledgeable person to help them with their problem. The second reason that I felt called to participate in the field of medicine was a more personal reason. Throughout my life I have probably seen a doctor over 10 different specialists for reoccurring symptoms and none of them seem to be able to find the problem. In the next few weeks, on May 14, I go to see a well-known Internal Medicine/Infectious Disease specialist who hopefully will be able to solve my problem. I never want a child to go through the process of floating from doctor to doctor as I did. I want to be the person that could prevent that by looking deeper into their problem and ordering the tests that other doctors wouldn’t think of ordering. I want to be a better doctor than some of the doctors I had, so I can change the lives of others.

Although this career path is one that has many obstacles, I am determined to show that even people who have major setbacks, whether they be physical or mental are strong. We are capable and no one can ever put us down. Those reasons listed above are the reasons that I decided to be a doctor. I wanted to make a change in people’s live and through medicine that is possible. There is always a future and new things that can be invented to help those who need it. I am determined to change the face of disability and destroy the stigma about what people who might have a setback can accomplish.

Thank you guys so much for keeping up with my journey, I hope you are enjoying these posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

My posting schedule is: Tuesday’s, Thursdays, and Sundays. Remember to laugh everyday.


Hello Everyone! I wanted to put a trigger warning at the beginning of this post. If you are at all triggered or angered by the topic of death, please click off this post as it will be discussing the topic at length. Before I get into the post, I just want to say that the woman I am about to talk about was one whom brought a light to so many people’s lives. She was not only a happy and beautiful soul who saw light even in the darkest of times, but also someone who never lost her appreciation for what she had no matter her circumstances. Although it might be incredibly sad for me to write this post, I know it is something that needs to be said. this is important for the world to know what and how a chronic illness affects someone and the impact those people can have on the world.

On April 29, 2019, our community lost a friend, a warrior and wife and a service dog handler, Jaquie. You might know her as Chronically Jaquie on YouTube and if you have not had the pleasure of watching her yet, I highly recommend that you do so when you have the chance. Like many others in our world, Jaquie battled multiple invisible illnesses such as Mitochondrial Disease, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, POTS, Gastroparesis, Mast Cell Activation Disorder and a few others. She was constantly battling these illnesses, but with the incredible help of her husband, and her service dog, friends and family she was able to live a very successful life and one full of accomplishments.

To many people in the service dog community, Jaquie is the person that introduced them to the idea and made them aware of the benefits they too could receive from a service dog. Not only that, but she constantly advocated for her medical illnesses and showed the world that just because you are chronically ill does not mean you spend every moment in the hospital.

She was a friend to many, including myself. Although she was taken much too soon from this world, I know that God has just called yet another angel to join him in his kingdom. Jaquie may not be on this earth physically, but her spirit will continue to live on throughout the lives of the many people she has touched with her kindness and inspiration. It is not my place to be telling exactly how she passed away, but I know that no matter when she was taken, she was taken into the most peaceful place a person can go.

Loosing someone important in your life, but although I cried for hours yesterday, today I understand that instead of crying, Jaquie would want all of us to advocate for ourselves. She would ask us to carry on her legacy even if she didn’t have the chance to, so today I pledge to do exactly that. She may not be on this earth any longer, but if as a community keep the advocacy for chronic illness going, she will never be forgotten and always be remembered.

I ask that all of you understand that each family needs space and time. Please do not try and comment questions on her personal life or how she died on this post. It is not my business to be sharing information about her death, but know that she was someone who inspired so many people to be chronic illness warriors and to “keep moving forward”. We love you Jaquie and we hope that you finally are free of pain and suffering. Loss is difficult, but what makes it better is that fact that although a person is not with us any longer, they are no longer suffering.

Today is a Special Day!

Hello Everyone and welcome to today’s blog post! Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted anything, but life just got ahead of me.

If you were not aware then I would like to wish all of you a very happy International Guide Dog Day! Yes, today April 24, 2019 is International GD Day! We dedicate this day to all those Guide Dogs who have given people their independence and remember all those Guide Dogs who have completed their time and now lay in the hands of Jesus.

If you are new and reading my blog for the very first time, let me give you a little background so you are not too confused. My name is Zoe and I was born with a congenital eye condition called Bilateral Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. In short, my optic nerves are underdeveloped and therefore do not transfer signals between the eyes and the brain to let in enough light. I also recently applied to the Guide Dog Foundation in New York and was accepted 2 months ago. I am currently awaiting my perfect and so I thought what better way to honor my future pup by posting about this special day.

So many people do not understand the job of a Guide Dog and how they are considered service dogs for the blind. Basically, as many of you might infer, a Guide Dog is a dog that helps lead its visually impaired handler through obstacles, help find doors or entrances or even retrieve dropped and unseen items.

Many people do not realize it, but unlike other service dogs, Guide Dogs have to be spatially aware of their surroundings and therefore require the most amount of training. They legitimately are responsible for their handlers life.

This post is to honor all those Guide Dogs, deceased or currently working and congratulate them on their work. They have given so many who struggle their independence back including myself come July. They are the reason that many people get out of bed and make a life for themselves. Because, when you have a Guide Dog, it is not just about you anymore, but about you and your companion. From what I have heard, Guide Dogs are not just your eyes, but are your heart. What I mean by that is that yes, they help you be more independent, but they also are your built in best friend. Guide Dogs not only give independence but give confidence to their handler.

I hope you guys are as excited for a documentation of this journey as I am. I absolutely can not wait to be able to share this upcoming experience with all of you and tell you the ups and downs of having a Guide Dog. And although sometimes Guide Dogs and service dogs in general are a lot of work, the work you put in for them is given back to you by their life-saving guidance.

Thank you guys so much for reading todays post. I will be trying my very hardest to be getting back on track with boh my YouTube and my Blog. Remember to laugh everyday!

Blog Posting Schedule: Wednesdays, and Sundays.

YouTube Posting Schedule: Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.