In many ways, Jenny Peterson was like other mothers of young children. She cooked and baked, cleaned and washed clothes, and cheered her children on from the sidelines of their activities. In one significant way, though, Jenny was different: She did all of these things without sight.
Jenny lost her vision in 1976, after having a severe reaction to antibiotics. "I developed toxic epidermal necrolysis, and lost 100 percent of my skin, my hair and fingernails," says Jenny, a resident of Vermillion, South Dakota. She was just 23 at the time. Her children, just 2 and 5.
The antibiotics were meant to treat a sore throat. But her reaction was life-threatening. It caused Jenny's skin and mucous membranes to blister and peel. It also caused scarring in both of her eyes. She walked out of the hospital after 96 days, alive but functionally blind. "I could see shapes and light, but that was about it," she says. "I could walk around my own home, but I couldn't drive. I couldn't read. I couldn't see my children clearly."