Unblinded: One Man’s Courageous Journey through Darkness to Sight is an epic read, one that is destined for the bestseller list. New Yorker Kevin Coughlin lost his sight when he was 36 years old because of a rare genetic condition called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Kevin had no idea he had this disease, and was blind for 20 years, but today he has his vision back. Did he receive a cutting edge treatment? The answer is no – it was a miracle. He is the first person to experience a spontaneous regeneration of the optic nerve –without medical assistance. This mind blowing account of Kevin’s story co-authored by Traci Medford-Rosow has created quite a stir, gaining the co-authors the coveted Reader’s Favorite Five Star Award and a Gold Winner at the New England Book Festival. We were thrilled that Traci and Kevin had a chat with us about their book and what’s coming next.
Unblinded is an extraordinary story and a really compelling read. Can you talk a bit about why you decided to share your story, and what you hope readers take away with them when they read the last page?
Much of the messaging in the book is subtle rather than in your face. That said, I want readers to realize the importance of living in the moment, being present for one’s life. For the entire thirty six years during which I was a thoroughly visually focused individual, not only was I not present, never once had I felt a moment of gratitude for the extraordinary gift of sight. My journey has taught me to have gratitude and joy for even the smallest of blessings. Additionally, the underlying notion of Unblinded is that any challenge big or small can be faced with hope, perseverance and love.
Did you experience a lot of grief when you went blind? How did you work that through and come out on the other side?
By grief, I assume you mean anger. I experienced enormous anger on a visceral level. I could not stand to hear anyone share about anything that was even remotely visual in nature. When a friend shared about a current movie, or pictures of their grandchildren I boiled inside. Addressing and working through the anger was a ten year journey. Although individual therapy was hugely helpful, I attribute developing a meditation practice as the key to quelling the daily feelings of anger and loss.
In your book, you write that patience, prayer, and Turmeric were important parts of your journey can you tell us more about this and what it means to you?
I had always been exceedingly impatient. I was the stereotype fast paced, arrogant, annoyed New Yorker. The painfully slow progress of my healing has forced me to become more patient. It is progress, not perfection. A huge part of my healing has involved asking friends, relatives and even strangers to pray for me. Whenever I encountered someone who was shocked that I was suddenly walking without the aid of a guide dog or cane—I would say “please keep me in your prayers. If they seemed weirded out by that request, I would offer just please put some positive energy into the universe for me.”
Much of my early healing involved ingesting the herbs turmeric and cayenne pepper. They are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Taking three teaspoons of each daily for several years accelerated my cleansing, and sped up the return of my sight.
Traci, how did you and Kevin connect, and ultimately begin working on this rather epic book together?
I met Kevin through my husband, Joel. Joel had met Kevin walking our dogs while Kevin was walking his guide dog. One day, Kevin told Joel about his sight returning and Joel suggested that Kevin write a book. This led Joel to ask me if I would write Kevin’s story with him and I that it would be my honor.
Traci, Last but not least can you tell us if you are working on another book or if there is another project you can tell us about?
I am working on my third nonfiction book, tentatively entitled Love in the Time of Corona. It is the story of Joel’s and my work with the homeless men and women of New York City during the pandemic.
Head over to Amazon to pick up Unblinded or get more information.