I finally got the oldies am station from Waterville on my kitchen radio this morning, and boy how those pre 60s oldies sound good. Not the ones you hear on the normal oldies station where they play the same 500 over and over again, but this station goes way back to the days of swing, big band, and stuff you just never hear anymore.
Speaking of stuff you never hear anymore, as much of a hard time as I had at the Carrol Center, I still remember very well the sounds of the halls, of the roaring traffic running right over me, of the click clack of my cane as it swept down the sidewalks of the campus, and yes, of the sounds of my O&M instructor telling me to stop quickly.
Ok then, enough reminiscing, and now, on with the show.
The first two weeks at the Carrol Center were the assessment period, and overall I thought I did rather well. I did feel a little held back due to the other people in the assessment classes with me. One in particular was a woman from Florida. I will not name her, but she did have her own style of learning, and it wasn’t the same as mine. I did learn some patience with her in my classes, which in turn helped me to realize that the most important thing was for me to be able to build a strong foundation that other skills could develop from. I thank her for that.
I seemed to do well in the assessments and received good reports from the instructors at the evaluation hearing after the first two week period was done. It was suggested that I return to go through the 6 week independent living program. I was happy that I had done so well, and wanted Leona to know that I was willing to do whatever it took to get through the program and learn whatever I could. It was after all my life, and I was the one in the driver’s seat. No one but me was going to do the work for me. It was up to me.
Manual arts seemed like it was going to be a good class. I got along real well with the instructor Bill. He understood my sense of humor, and I admired his candor and knowledge and ability to put me at ease.
The assessment period of this class was a lot of tactile stuff. I worked very well with the tactile puzzles and I thought I would be fine with this class.
My classes with brail were ok. I did pretty well with low vision as well. I know that I did get tired after a few minutes of trying to read the Closed Circuit TV, and after a few classes I realized that this was not going to be a good form of information gathering for me. It was just too tedious for me, and wore me out mentally.
One thing that bothers me now is that I was not properly taught how to read brail. I was doing what they call scrubbing. This tactic is a bad way to read, and I didn’t find this out until I just recently was told that there is a more preferred way.
Needless to say, I was learning improperly and I can not get those months back. All I can do is work with what I have and try to recapture my place.
Learning to read brail at an older age is not as easy as learning as an adolescent. I have my work cut out for me. If I can some day learn contracted brail, grade 2, , I will be pleased as punch. For the mean time, I will see Spot run and watch Jane jump.
I did not have any fencing classes during assessment and couldn’t see how fencing was going to help me learn how to be blind. How could it?
I did manage to get to know most of the students during those first 2 weeks. I felt almost home like during the second week. I had gotten into a routine and it seemed ok. I wasn’t sleeping much at night, so I would sneak back to my dorm room and grab a cat nap during my free periods. The first weekend my roommate went home and I think you could hear me screaming with delight all the way to Kenmore Square. I finally got 3 great nights of sleep, and that next Monday morning I felt like a new man. A new blind man. The only thing was that by mid week I was once again dragging from extreme noise emissions escaping from the sinus region of Carlos the magnificent snoring Puerto Rican. This guy could curl the wallpaper from rooms throughout the dorm. I think that there are echoes of his snoring orbiting the earth as we speak.
Luckily he was graduating from his program after my 2 week assessment, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that if I got another roommate, he would not be a snorer. I was ready to kill to get some sleep.
After the first two weeks, I headed home for the long Labor Day holiday. It was sure good to get a hug from my wife. It sure was good indeed.
I spent that weekend relaxing and spending time with my wife and son and grandson. I hadn’t seen Jack in some time and when I gave him a hug, well, it felt right at home.
I had spent the first weekend at the center just trying to get my bearings and on Saturday, one of the clients put on an internet radio show right there in the Rose Room of the dorm. He is quite a little tech geek in his own right. Brandon from Long Island. I found the online stream of the show that Saturday back at home and called the show. It felt weird and everyone got a kick out of it.
While I was at home I kept getting the uneasy feelings that had overpowered me so many times before, the feelings that made me feel very inadequate. I just felt like their was so many things that I couldn’t do, and nothing that I could. I felt so far from the man I used to be. I did feel good about the center and all that I had accomplished in the last 2 weeks, but I just couldn’t get the rest of my blindness to stop revolving around in my head. It seemed that being home was making my uneasy feelings worse. At the center, it was like out of sight, out of mind. At home, my mind was never out of sight, and the visions of the future were scaring the crap out of a very nervous, very insecure man, who just happened to be blind.
To be continued…