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Published: Tuesday, 1/8/2013

Event to honor caregivers to visually impaired

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledoans Theresa Carroll and Tom Dimit make a quick bread. Ms. Carroll, Mr. Dimit's girlfriend, has been his caregiver since he had a life-changing stroke in October, 2011, that left him visually impaired. Toledoans Theresa Carroll and Tom Dimit make a quick bread. Ms. Carroll, Mr. Dimit's girlfriend, has been his caregiver since he had a life-changing stroke in October, 2011, that left him visually impaired.
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

He had it all — a successful law practice, an independent lifestyle, season tickets for his beloved Ohio State football team.

Then, on Oct. 20, 2010, Tom Dimit suffered a cataclysmic stroke that left him in a month-long coma.

Recovery has been painstakingly slow. Visually impaired, he’s had to overcome depression, bitterness, and anger that still sometimes threatens to overwhelm him.

The Toledo resident relearned how to walk and talk. He’s regained some vision, but needs help doing things he took for granted, such as pouring a glass of orange juice or changing the TV channel.

Helping Mr. Dimit, 54, through it all has been his longtime girlfriend, Theresa Carroll, 47, who has become his 24-hour-a-day caregiver.

“I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without Theresa,” he said. “I’d probably be ... hiding under a blanket eating Cheerios.”

She is one of several caregivers for the visually impaired whose efforts will be recognized at 10 a.m. Feb. 6 at Reynolds Corners Branch Library, 4833 Dorr St. The free event is sponsored by the nonprofit Frogtown Low Vision Support Group, which has declared February Caregivers of the Vision Impaired Appreciation Month.

For info or to suggest a caregiver for honors, contact frogtowngroup2020@sbcglobal.net or 419-867-1940.

Frogtown, with 75 members, aims to help the visually impaired adjust, said Paul Rachow of Toledo, a founder. It offers a monthly support group, individual counseling, and social outings.

Caregivers are key in the lives of those with low vision, Mr. Rachow said.

They offer emotional support and help with everday tasks. And that can be a thankless job, Mr. Rachow said. “... They are our forgotten heroes.”

In addition to helping with chores, Ms. Carroll has challenged Mr. Dimit to celebrate life.

She urged him to attend Frogtown meetings.

“Tom was a little reluctant at first,” she said. “There was a lot of resentment and anger, because he used to be fairly active.”

He’s learned to embrace a mix of activities: going to the movies, walking in the woods, traveling, learning how to target shoot. And he fulfilled his dream to fly in a vintage biplane.

“It was exhilarating,” he said.

Next goal: start a bakery business.

“We’re both incredibly grateful,” Ms. Carroll said. “This experience has brought us closer together. Instead of being bitter, hostile, and angry, we’ve chosen to embrace things.”

Contact Federico Martinez

at fmartinez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.



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