Ruth Alhilali was born and raised in Los Angeles. She received a degree in Near East studies from UCLA and went on to complete a master’s in international relations and eventually a law degree. Ruth made the move to Texas when her then-husband was offered a job there and she currently lives in a Dallas suburb. Ruth's legal work focused on disability law, evaluating disability claims at the Veterans Administration and then representing claimants for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
When she retired in 2002, Ruth devoted herself to community involvement and volunteering. When thinking about how to approach retirement activities she remarks “Anything that was new, I was game for. At least for a try.”
She joined Rotary International and volunteered in a wide variety of activities, from Meals on Wheels, to reading to kids in elementary school, and mentoring high school students. She also volunteered her legal skills by reviewing cases for the League of Women Voters in Texas.
In the spring of 2022, Ruth had a routine visit to her ophthalmologist. Something she has been doing twice per year to monitor possible ocular side effects from a rheumatoid arthritis medication. It was an uneventful visit. One month later, without any prior indication, the pressure in one eye had spiked. She was referred to a glaucoma specialist who prescribed drops and surgery, and her vision has stabilized. However, Ruth lost peripheral vision in her left eye and her depth perception. She has also had to adjust her brain to seeing through her lazy eye.
It has been both an emotional and physical adjustment to vision loss, Ruth reflects. One thing that confounded her was trying to find things. “I put them in one place and then just couldn’t see them,” she explains. “But the worst part was not being able to read.”
“When that happened,” Ruth explained, “it was like everything was taken from me. I explained to my doctor that I was looking for something to help me read, and all she said was ‘Don’t get anything for about six months, because your vision may change.’ Well, that’s probably true, but six months is an awfully long time to wait when you’re lost.”
She spent all her spare time searching the internet, looking for help. “And it's not easy to find anything,” Ruth shares.
It was during this online search that Ruth found Hadley.
She started out listening to our Adjusting to Vision Loss series. “I was in a deep hole at the time,” Ruth remembers, so the advice given in the workshop to have some patience didn’t sit well with her. “That’s just not me! So, I wrote a comment that was on the negative side, showing how frustrated I felt.”
“I never thought anybody would ever read my comment much less respond to it. But lo and behold, Debbie Worman from Hadley called me. It was fantastic! Just to know that there was somebody else on the other end who could tell me, ‘Try this’ or ‘Try that,’ and reassure me that it will all work out. I was just amazed at Debbie’s interest. That's what sold me on Hadley.”
Ruth has gone on to complete many workshops with us, from using her iPhone’s vision features to knitting and crocheting. She has also signed up for just about all our discussion groups.
But it’s the human connection that continues to impress Ruth. “You're not just a website. Hadley has people who will talk to you. That's what Hadley does that you just don't find any other place. It's hard to get a human voice these days.”
Ruth is so pleased with her experience at Hadley that she wants to get her doctors to spread the word to their patients with vision loss. “Nobody should have to go through what I did. I was searching for months. And that bothers me so much. I have decided I'm going to do what I can. I’m at least going to spread the word here in Dallas.”
In recognition of her passion and efforts on behalf of others with vision loss, Ruth has been named a Hadley Hero this quarter. Thank you, Ruth!