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Andy woke up with no sight and a tube down his throat.

On Sept. 28, 2011, an unknown person assaulted Andy. The attack knocked him unconscious, and when he woke up, he couldn't see anymore. The assault had damaged his optic nerve.

"I thought to myself, 'Hah. Whatever. You'll just open me up, reattach the wires and lights come back on again,'" recalls Andy. But that wasn't going to happen. "[The doctor] put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'I'm sorry, Andy.'"


Over time, Andy adjusted to losing his sight. But it wasn't easy.

More than 7 million American adults are blind or have a visual disability and it doesn't necessarily have to be a sad thing. But for Andy, losing his sight was difficult.

"The hardest thing for me being completely blind is not seeing my family every day," says Andy. "For me to learn to accept, 'You're never going to see again, Andy. You're never going to see your wife, your children, your dog.' Taken away in the blink of an eye. It's not fair."

But then the doctor said he might know something that could help.

There's a weird device out there called the BrainPort. It lets people see with their tongues. Yeah — their tongues. The device has three parts: a small camera, an iPhone-sized computer, and a weird half-spatula/half-lollipop-looking thing.

Using it is pretty simple: The camera and computer capture an image, then send it as a pattern of buzzes to the lollipop, which the person puts in their mouth (the buzzes apparently feel kind of like Pop Rocks candy.)

A buzzing lollipop sounds pretty weird, but it does seem to work.

Our brains are actually pretty good at figuring out how to use new information (it also helps that our tongues are incredibly sensitive, as anyone who's accidentally bitten theirs can tell you). It took a little while for Andy to get used to the buzzing sensation, but not that long.

"I felt this buzzing on my tongue, and I felt the impression. And then I saw my hand. For the first time in five years, I saw my hand," Andy explains. "Something that small is huge."

If certain studies are correct, Andy's brain could have processed the signals in his vision centers, as if the information was coming from his eyes themselves.

Seeing his hand must have been big. But not as big as seeing his family again.

"The first person was [my son] little Andy. He shook his hand back and forth and he said, 'Dad, you can see me?'" says Andy. You could see the emotion in his face. "He said, 'Hey, pop.'"

"It had been five years since I've seen my kids," Andy says. "It's incredible."

Watch Andy's story below:

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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