Logan, WV - Can you imagine being blind for more than seven years and then waking up one morning having regained your sight? That is exactly what recently happened to Sam Tenney when he awakened to see the inside of his house for the first time in a long time.
Tenney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001 and lost his sightdue to the swelling of the optic nerves located behind his eyes. He was told that his condition was brought on as a result of a traumatic fall he suffered while working in Texas. After falling from a scaffold, he underwent back surgery and also had his appendix removed. Soon thereafter, he started noticing a difference in his sight and eventually became legally blind.
Over the years he has taken some experimental drugs to help treat his MS,including steroids. Nothing seemed to help his symptoms. Currently, he isusing vitamins and mineral therapy to treat his condition.
"This is truly a miracle and I will tell anyone that. I am so excited about the new opportunities for me. I'm still in shock,"Tenney said. And so are a lot of people that know him, including his parents.
Tenney grew up in a military family and lived in a variety of places, including Germany. His parents currently live near Elkins, WV who he credits for encouraging him to never give up when he lost his sight.
"My dad was always a strong person and basically told me I needed to learn how to deal with this in order to go on with my life," Tenney said. "So I went to the Rehab Center at Institute where I learned how to use various software for the visually impaired and other ways to deal with my blindness. While I was there, I met a special friend and she brought me to Logan."
While at the rehab center, Tenney said he tried to learn to read Braille but that did not work out for him. After moving to Logan, he discovered Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Employees there have played a big role in Tenney's life during the past two and a half years. He has taken numerous basic college level classes and credits the student services staff for helping him through difficult times.
"I guess you could describe them as a mother hen. They really stayed after me to make sure I continued my education," Tenney explained.He added that Art Instructor David Jeffries has been a positive influence on his educational experience. "It takes a special person to tea chart to a blind student."
What's next for Tenney? Now that he has regained his sight, he plans to enroll in the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies at Southern. He is interested in learning more about fire rescue training.His family has roots in the mining industry.
"Sam is independent enough and is willing to do what it takes to get things done," said Sherry Dempsey, director of Student and Academic Services. "You might say he is stubborn, but in a positive way." Dempsey has been a constant force in Tenney's college experience and is excited that he has a new lease on life.
The seven years of blindness has been life altering for Tenney to say the least, but the experience has taught him to be patient, humble and more accepting of others; a far cry from his former self.
"When you are blind, you see others for what they really are. It is not just about looks but what people have in their hearts."
Now that he has regained his sight, Tenney says he plans to help others by sharing experiences and most importantly, the story of his miracle.