O&M, (orientation and mobility), was a crucial ingredient of my rehab, and of the rest of my life. This mind altering, anxiety building, emotion forcing tool proved to be a new window into my new world. It was a necessity that was brought on by my vision loss. Vision. Boy does that word have a ton of definition. I never realized it fully until I lost it, but did I?
I write a lot about O&M because I felt a lot of it, experienced a lot of it and learned a great deal from it.
Well, that’s about enough of that, and here’s some more of this.
Have a great day, and thanks.
My mobility instructors name was Heather, and I thought that we hit it off ok. She had a raspy voice that could not be mistaken for anything other than her. She had a good sense of humor and it showed. I found myself growing quite fond of her, even though she continued to boot my ass all over the campus and the town for that matter.
One of the first lessons we had was to go to what they called Newton Center, or Newtonville, which was a fairly busy part of the town. Little did I know what I was getting into as I had never experienced anything quite like what I was about to go through.
We walked to the busy side of one of the blocks and she proceeded to tell me to go find CVS and buy a pack of gum and then come back out. I walked down the entire length of the block figuring that I would be able to find the store front on sight alone. Man oh man was I ever wrong. This would be the first of many times that my crappy vision would play tricks on me.
After walking back and forth along the block, I came to the stark reality that I would not be able to do this on my own. I didn’t know what to do. I was mystified and baffled and felt all alone in a strange town in a strange state. A state of confusion was more like it. I was honestly as humbled as I had ever been in my life.
After what seemed like 4 hours, I finally figured out that I did need assistance and it was up to me and only me to get it. So I did.
I asked the first person, the first shadow I noticed walking by and they assisted me to the front of the store. I did manage to walk in and make it to the sales counter. I could see well enough to know where I was inside the store and managed to purchase a pack of gum. It felt strangely wonderful, and at the same time I was terrified as hell.
I made it out to the front of the store and reunited with Heather. I felt a little cocky as to why she had given me such a simple task. We then proceeded to walk back around the corner to the car. Along the way I managed to mistake a car on the side of the road as a car in a parking lot. I walked around to the right of the car and proceeded to walk right out into the road. Heather managed to grab hold of me and pull me back onto the sidewalk. She composed herself and asked where in hell I thought I was going? I had no clue what I was doing or the danger I was putting myself in. Once again I wanted to go home and wake up from the horrible nightmare.
When we finally made it back to the car, I broke down and lost my composure. I felt completely chewed up and spat out. I felt like I was a completely lost soul with no hope of ever finding a way out of this mess that I was in. Helpless, hopeless and useless is the best description I can come up with. Those are 12 step slogans and boy did they fit my mental state at that moment.
Once again I had beaten myself up, after I had been told that I shouldn’t beat myself up. I was very hard on myself for the predicament I had let myself get into. I was a lost cause in my mind and I needed help.
Heather was as cool as a cucumber. She told me everything I needed to hear and quite a bit of the stuff I didn’t want to hear. They were for the most part, one in the same.
I grew rather close to her that day. She was able to pull me back from the pummeling I was giving myself. She was able to reassure me that I was right where I needed to be and that part of the learning process was the figuring out the mistakes and errors. There were going to be a whole slew of them for sure. I didn’t disagree. I couldn’t.
Those first few mobility lessons were a drastic step sideways for me. They weren’t forward, nor were they backwards. They were exactly what I needed to get my bearings and helped me set the tone for my rehabilitation in the next coming weeks. I hated the days when I had Heather’s classes, and the other days, well, I hated them a little less.
To be continued…