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Blind Within Days: Local Woman Struggles to Regain Independence; Thirsty Whale Hosts Benefit

Doctors have not been able to give Cindy Sieben of Cary a clear answer as to why she went blind in less than a week. A benefit will be held this Friday to help cover medical costs and purchase a scanner to help her read.

Can you imagine going from completely healthy to blind in a matter of days? 

Now, imagine that even after months of tests and examinations, no doctor is able to tell you why you are blind. 

This is the reality Cindy Sieben, 50, of Cary was dealt this past August when her blurred vision on Monday had turned to blindness by Thursday.

Sieben, a manager at the Thirsty Whale in Algonquin, went to Centegra Hospital at the onset of the symptoms but all of the tests that might explain why she was having blurred vision — such as if she had diabetes, a stroke, or heart attack — all came back negative. 

“She was an enigma to all the doctors who saw her. They all said they had never really seen someone go completely blind in less than a week with no previous condition,” according to a message on the Vision of Hope -- a Benefit for Cindy Sieben Facebook page.

Since then, Cindy Sieben has had to completely start over. She has been forced to quit her job at the Thirsty Whale. And she is now learning how to cope with her day-to-day life as a blind person, said Nicole Sieben, Cindy’s daughter, who is also a manager at the Thirsty Whale.

“My mom is a very independent person and now, she needs to be cared for. She has lost all of her independence,” Nicole Sieben said.

This Friday, the Thirsty Whale, at 1700 S. Randall Road in Algonquin, will host a benefit for Cindy.

Proceeds from the benefit will go toward purchasing a $2,500 scanner for Cindy for Christmas that would allow her to scan documents that would then be read off to her. Money raised will also go toward the steep medical costs that continue to pile up for the Sieben family. 

The benefit will start at 5:30 p.m. There will be a $20 per person dinner buffet and a portion of the proceeds from the buffet will be donated to the Sieben family.

There will also be a silent auction for several different donated items, including one year of full season landscaping services, $500 worth of room painting, salon gift cards and much more, Nicole Sieben said. There also be a 50/50 raffle and drink specials.

The silent auction and buffet will end at 8:30 p.m. and a D.J. will begin at 9:30 p.m.

Nicole Sieben hopes Friday’s benefit will help her mother in two ways.

“First, I hope we will raise enough money to get her her scanner,” she said. ““Second, I want her to understand that she has a lot of people behind her that will support her. She keeps thinking that everyone needs to help her. I want her to see that everyone wants to help her. And understand that she is not alone.”

A Rough Couple Months 

Since Sieben first experienced blurred vision in August, the doctors have not been able to figure out the root cause to her blindness.

They did find some fluid behind her eyes that had caused the circulation to her optic nerve to be cut of, which they determined “was the reason for the blurred vision and blindness,” according to the benefit’s Facebook page.

Looking for more answers, Sieben spent 3 ½ weeks at Rush Medical Center in downtown Chicago where doctors performed several tests, such as MRIs and CAT scans, and tested her for various viruses and infections.

“The doctors can still not say for sure what caused the swelling and vision loss in the beginning but they think it may have been something associated with the shingles virus seeing as the only test to ever come back positive was the chicken pox,” according to the benefit’s Facebook page.

They did perform a biopsy on her eyes. And tissue from her eyes has been spent to universities throughout the United States to try and provide some answers.

“We do know the blindness in one eye is definitely permanent and we are waiting to hear the results on the other eye,” Nicole Sieben said.

The cost of oral medication and eye drops has been staggering for the Sieben family. Cindy’s salary had been the main source of income before she was forced to quit her job. Proceeds from Friday’s benefit is also meant to help cover those costs.

“It’s $200 every time she needs new medication,” Nicole Sieben said.

More information on the benefit is available on the Vision of Hope — a Benefit for Cindy Sieben Facebook page

Karlene December 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Hang in there Cindy! I hope you hear good news about your other eye! It sounds like you have alot of loving family and friends to help you through this transition to a new normal. Best wishes!

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