Living With Wolfram Syndrome – Lauren Gibilisco

Photo of Lauren Gibilisco

People think that when you are blind your other senses kick in to compensate. But when you are living with Wolfram Syndrome, that is not true.

When I still had my sight, I was colorblind.  When I was in first grade, I used to wear one purple sock and one blue sock.  My mom told me to go change my socks and I told her I like it like this.  My mom thought that I was showing that I was confident and independent and wanted to be different.  Then when I was in sixth grade and my mom had me at the doctors, they asked my mom how long I had been colorblind.  She told them that I wasn’t.  They then proceeded to have me show my mom how I matched up the color blocks.  She couldn’t believe it.  She never knew.

When you go to cross an intersection you would normally listen for the traffic since you can’t see it.  I have high frequency hearing loss and wear hearing aids.  I can hear traffic but can’t tell which direction it’s coming from.  So it takes awhile standing there to hear no traffic. I have trouble hearing little kids because they talk in a high pitch and I really can hear older guys better because of their lower toned voices.

I have been diagnosed with Anosmia.  It is the inability to perceive odors.  I have trouble determining what I am smelling. I would have trouble telling if I was smelling a rose or smelling a lilac.  But there is one odor I can smell.  It is ONIONS.  I don’t know if it is because I hate onions.  But the smell makes me sick.  I don’t know if it is in my head, but don’t bring an onion near me.  So I would greatly appreciate St. Louis doctors if you would take the onion out of the smell test next clinic. 🙂

I have the same trouble with taste as I do smelling.  I have trouble determining what I am tasting.  I love cinnamon, but if you gave me a piece of cinnamon candy, I would have trouble knowing what I was eating.  I went out for breakfast with a friend last week and they didn’t have any of the cinnamon muffins left.  They did have a roll with a little cinnamon on it, but I couldn’t taste it.  My mom told my friend next time to just say it was cinnamon and I would believe that’s what I was eating.

The last sense I have trouble with is touching.  I have learned to read Braille.  My problem is that I am very slow at it.  I have had diabetes since I was two and I have real difficulty in feeling what I am touching.  Poking your finger for 25 years at least 5 times a day causes the nerve endings in my fingers not to feel as well.  I also have trouble with the force of my touch.  I think I am just tapping your arm and everyone says “ouch” because I guess I am punching them hard.  So I am apologizing in advance for anyone I may touch too hard.

So living with Wolfram Syndrome causes problems in my life but I enjoy the challenges learning how to adapt.