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Legally blind teacher works, can't get disability assistance

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GONZALES - An Ascension Parish school teacher has gone partially blind, it's a side effect from a brain aneurysm.

Almost overnight the simple tasks Carla Duplechin performed on a daily basis, like getting dressed or driving, are now impossible to do by herself.

Duplechin says she's been an active member of her community and helps others by volunteering, mentoring and donating to charities. The day roles were reserved she says help was nowhere to be found.

"You work, you get no assistance," she said. "I pay my taxes, I've done my sponsorships, I do donations. Nothing here for me."

Several months ago in the midst of her home flooding, Duplechin says her vision started going. It got so bad, glasses didn't help and she used a magnifying glass to look at her computer.

"And I didn't know why," she said.

In October, a specialist told Duplechin there was no circulation behind her eyes. After multiple testing, doctors found a brain aneurysm was on the verge of bursting. Following emergency surgery she could see, but it was short-lived.

"By Wednesday, I was running a fever of 104.8," she said.

It wasn't then did reality set in. Duplechin could not see. Her life completely changed, she started calling around to find assistance and help her with her daily tasks.

Duplechin says one health organization after another turned her down because she worked.

Duplechin teaches special needs students at Gonzales Middle School. Her teaching career spans 32 years.

"But if I didn't have a job, I could be provided with all my meals everyday, I could be provided twice a week with someone to sing or read to me," she said. "I would also be provided with food stamps and cable TV."

The list of health providers Duplechin has called tops 20. She says she can't get any assistance to help pay for a personal care attendant.

To help get her from home to school, Duplechin has moved in with a friend. She sold her flood-damaged home and is in the process of buying a new one. Not working is not an option.

"I love what I do," she said. "I love my students."

She's learning how to adapt and prays that one day her vision will come back.

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