Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 05 27: Poetry, Sweep May 27, 2017

Learning how to use the long, white cane was one of the toughest tasks I have ever taken on. The more I learned, the deeper the reality dug in. I am fortunate to have had such a great instructor, and as the lessons continue to come at me through the course of the days, I realize that she was preparing me for the rest of my life.

This poem touches on some of those emotions, those anxious moments, those stepping stones that helped me reach this day, today.,

I’ll be back tomorrow for another journal excerpt, but for now, well, here’s hoping you have a great night.

Deon

***

Sweep
Written 09 29 2012

I grab my cane and sweep along, not sure of where to go
Shadowed lights and dull grayed scenes dot the void along my way
I listen for a clue, a hint, a reminder of where I would like to be
Stray reminders of yesterday’s innuendoes echo through my cluttered memory

Sweeping aside a dark, never ending world, tomorrow comes again
Tap aside the daggered edges of yesterday’s haunting whispers
Spirits lift me up and out of the chains of a coal black, midnight noon
A chorus of invisible lullabies keeps my dreams just out of reach

A question of mind, a hopeful stare, a passing plea for patience
Unseen ripples reflect from a stone cast from an unfamiliar shore
Friendly voices from hidden smiles lend a hand with welcomed comfort
Uneasy feelings tug at emotions that were never felt before

A heart pounds from deep within a core of fiery red
Passion for life bravely beats back the barrage of darkened foe
The staff, the motion, the sweeping steps, the screaming spirit within
Glowing through midnight’s plight, embers of my mourning lead me home

 

2017 05 27: Journal Post Page 10

Another weekend is here, and for those of you who are working, it’s probably gonna be a long one. Good on ya.

This next segment was written May of 2011, and describes the goings on of summer 2010. Such a long time ago, but the memories seem closer than ever. I remember struggling with my vision back then. I remember trying with all my might to catch a glimpse of this, or a sliver of that. I remember around this period of time standing out back with Lynne, and for a second, just a split second, I was able to make out her eyes, her smile, her face, and oh what a sight it was. Those quick as a cricket snapshots will stay with me forever. It’s amazing that the last three faces I saw were my wife, my son and my grandson. How fitting is that! Grin

It’s safe to say that because of that, I am blessed.

Have a great day, and don’t forget to remember what you see.

Deon

***

Page 10

With all that I was going through, I managed to keep it somewhat together. I did lose it a few times and found my self babbling and sobbing on the pity train to nowhere. I couldn’t afford the price for a ticket on this train. I didn’t even want to know where it was going. All I knew was that I wanted to get off, and in a hurry.

The lessons that I had that hot August were the prelude of many to come. I was starting to get small glimpses of how much I didn’t know about being blind. It’s funny how sometimes my sad mental state would convince me that I had this blind thing licked, and then in the next breath I was snapped back to reality with a flurry of blows to my ego and my overall view of the situation I was in. The situation. It sure as hell was a situation. I learned from Leona that it wasn’t really a condition, but a situation. I had always been able to think my way through situations in the past, with a few exceptions. On occasion, I felt as though I could think my way through this one also.

Rosemary and I usually traipsed around a few blocks in Waterville. I had told her on a few occasions that I was afraid that the vision I was left with was hampering with the learning of cane techniques. Well I went and opened up my big mouth. The next lesson, she informed me that maybe we should try the mobility lessons totally ecluded. Blindfolded here we come!

There is no other experience in my life that has been as humbling as walking around with a cane blindfolded. I can honestly say that at times I wish I could have crawled into a hole and slept through it like the bears do. I knew though that I must prevail through these lessons and learn what I could from them. I was very scared of losing the sight that I have. I realized then, and now that if I lose what I have, it’s going to be a whole different ball game. I needed to work on my cane skills and utilize the rest of my senses to the best of my abilities. I still am weary of losing the small amounts of vision that I have left. It is always in the back of my mind. It never goes anywhere. It is like a never ending haunting reminder of what could very well be.

On my second or third lesson with rosemary, I was trying to go up and down a long, high, curving staircase in Augusta. This was again a first for me. I panicked several times and had as much difficulty doing this as I have had doing anything thus far. She could obviously see the panick stricken look on my face and decided that we needed to take a break and talk about what I was going through. I sat down and almost broke down in tears.

She asked me to tell her what I was thinking. I told her that first and foremost, I hated the cane that was in my hands and I hated having to do what we were doing, but I knew it was necessary. I also told her that I trusted her with my life at that point. I told her that I couldn’t see how I could continue the lessons unless I did. I don’t know if that struck something inside her, but there was a long pause. She then said in her stern voice, “Let’s go big guy, times a wasting.”

I could have either hugged her or smacked her, but I decided to get my ass up and continue the lesson.

We then went out in the parking lot of the building and she told me to walk a straight line. I walked for what seemed like a hundred yards and she told me to stop. She then informed me that I had turned 180 degrees and was walking in the opposite direction.

I bent over with my hands on my knees and shook in my shoes. It was at that point that all of my false ego, all of my self centered pride, all of my confidence fell flat on its face, and I was left standing there, naked, facing the rest of my life. Plainly put, I wanted to die.

She explained that everyone has a natural gait that leads either left or right. I was a right footed walker it seems.

We then worked on correcting my gait and for the most part it worked. She stood in front of me about 50 yards and told me to walk straight to her. I did, and I did. It was a great feeling. She was very pleased with my actions taken to correct my right footed gait.

We continued to work on my cane skills in the next few weeks until I left for the Carroll Center in September. Yes, I was accepted into their independent living program that was scheduled to start the third week in September, but that felt like a million years away.

To be continued…

 

2017 05 26: Journal Post Page 9 May 26, 2017

This next excerpt was written in mid May, 2011. I know that a lot of the things in these posts are repeated, but I also know that the rise and fall of my emotions also were very repetitive during those days. It didn’t take much to set me off, and it seemed the more I cursed and cried, the more I realized just how hard I would need to work, because this new life just wouldn’t let go of me.

And the struggle to learn continued.

Happy Friday to you all, and I hope you get to smile today.

Deon

***

Page 9

As I look back to that point in my life I am faced head on with the reality that the person that I was, the person that I used to be has been laid to rest. The person that was looking back at me in the mirror has taken the baggage that used to weigh me down and left town. I can honestly say that I am glad he left. Now don’t get me wrong. He will surely pop in from time to time like an unwanted relative. I can not afford to let him stay in the guest room for not even one night. I can not afford to feed this unwanted guest any more. He can not be let in the front door any more.

I still am not comfortable in my skin, but I am starting to get to know the other guy that is surely staring back at me in the mirror. I can take my time to get to know this new person. I shed the skin of a complacent, non driven soul. I said goodbye to the sight, and welcomed the new vision. I have said on many occasions that I had to lose my sight so that I could see. I believe that more and more every day.

The long days of summer did seem to take a toll on me as the time dragged by. It is funny how slow the days seem to go, but then the week was done and it seemed to have flown by so incredibly fast. A perpetual blur.

July turned into August and I hardly even noticed. Summer had always been the highlight of my year, but with everything else that was going on, well, I just didn’t even notice it.

One day Lynne led me out to the garden so we could check on things as they grew. I had put so much effort into the garden that June. It made me mad as hell not being able to see how it was doing. I had always loved watching the garden grow. It was just so soothing and relaxing to me.

Well Lynne sat me down in a lawn chair as she walked through the garden. She was describing it to me as she started weeding the lower portions where the broccoli and turnip were.

I knew that the corn was in front of me. I could see a small glimpse of the hip high stalks swaying with the breeze. It was a warm day, as so many of those days in July and August seemed to be.

I got out of the chair and down on my knees. I then crawled to where the rows of corn started, and started weeding. It felt so strange, yet so wonderful to get my hands in the dirt and start pulling weeds. I had just finished weeding the garden the weekend of the 4th when I had the series of strokes that did me in. I had worked so hard weeding the onions and carrots. The carrots. Man was it hard weeding the carrots. I hated to have to, but felt so good when the row was all done.

I did manage to weed through the first two rows of corn. Lynne stood up and hollered at me. I guess she couldn’t believe that I was attempting to weed. Attempting? Hell, I was a weeding fool. The only thing was that I wasn’t really sure if I was pulling just weeds and not the corn also. She quickly informed me that I was indeed weeding just the corn. I made it through the entire two rows and only pulled 5 or 6 stalks of corn. I was shocked and amazed at how good I did. I felt good. I felt better than I had felt in quite some time. It was as though I had proven my worth for the first time since my vision loss. I had regained a taste of my independence, and it felt truly wonderful.

I don’t ever want to forget how good that day felt to me. I want to bottle those emotions and take them out on days when I am having a hard time. I need to be able to never forget how simple and easy it was to turn around my outlook on everything. I wanted my life back. I wanted it back in the worst way.

Those first few days in August were some of the most important of my life. I had a sense that things were starting to happen in my life. I was overwhelmed at times with the onslaught of being blind, but it didn’t seem to feel as hopeless as it had during those long dark days in July.

I was still in close contact with Leona and she continued to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. Somehow I knew it would be, just by the way she told me that it would be. I trusted her with everything I had. With everything I have. It was crucial that I took her positivity and ran with it. I needed an excuse to feel confident, and she was it.

I did finally meet Steve Sawczyn and Rosemary Houghton in those early days in August. I was so impressed with Steve that I can’t even begin to tell you. Now I should tell you that he has been blind since birth, and his accomplishments through his career as an assistive technology instructor have done nothing but grow. Everything he had, I wanted. The confidence, the intelligence, the savvy, the self assurance, all of it. I wanted it all.

I also met, as I said, Rosemary, She gave me a certain level of confidence that I desperately lacked. I knew that the orientation and mobility lessons with her would be some of the most grueling experiences that I had ever encountered. I was right, and this time I hated being right.

The first couple of lessons were very strange. I felt sort of cocky and that bothered me. I could not afford to be cocky in the least. I now look back and realize that I was showing off to her the fact that I could still see, even though it was a small sliver in my right outer peripheral, which was similar to looking through wax paper at dusk. I wanted her to feel that she was wasting her time with my lessons. I didn’t need them, not in the least. I could still see. I could still get around on my own. I could still have a brain transplant too, because nothing was ever further from the truth.

The fact is, I was blind. The fact is, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The fact is, I needed help. I couldn’t do this on my own, and that scared the hell out of me. It scared me completely. I was completely scared beyond any doubt. Did I mention that I was also scared? Walking around with a long white cane made me more aware of my disability than any other thing. I knew that when the long white cane was in my hands and I was trying to stay on the sidewalk, that I was completely vulnerable. I was completely humbled by my new existence. I was ashamed, scared, humiliated, embarrassed, mad, pissed off, frustrated, and about 400 other internal emotions. I was in fact a blind man walking with a cane, because I was blind. I was a blind man walking on the streets of Waterville Maine in early August, 2010, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all, and there was nothing I could do to change it. Nothing. I could accept it though. I could accept the fact that I was willing to acknowledge my disability and ask for help. I was willing to start fresh and learn what I needed to learn about what had happened to me, and what I needed to do to learn to live with it. I wanted to learn how to learn to accept what I had lost, and look for things that I could learn so that I could start to live again.

I realized that it was going to be a long hard struggle, and I kept telling myself that I was going to see it through. No matter what, I was going to see it through. I owed it to myself, I owed it to my wife. I owed it to my son, and my grandson, and my folks and siblings. Most of all, I owed it to myself. I said that already, right?

I was the recipient of the fruits of my labor, and I sure as hell needed a chance.

Those first few mobility lessons were an eye opener for me of sorts. Never had I laid my heart and soul out there for all to see like that.

To be continued…

 

2017 05 25: Journal Post Page 8 May 25, 2017

The time is moving quickly, and here we are creating the memories of the day.

This next post is indicative of change, for I was rapidly experiencing change in ways I had rarely seen in my life. It’s funny how our attitudes can change. It’s funny how those things that cross our paths are usually the direct cause of the changes we see, we feel, we experience. As the people in my life crossed my path during those days of summer 2010, I began to realize that it was all for a reason, and I had better take notice long enough to reach out and grab hold of the change and use it as best I could.

Change was happening, and it all seemed as though perhaps the biggest thing that was changing, was me…

Here’s hoping you all have a great Thursday. Until tomorrow, take good care.

Deon

***

Page 8

The rest of my July it seemed like I was waiting for something. I have no idea what I was waiting for, but I felt sure that it would come. I just needed to be patient is all. I needed to trust that my life would have some purpose, and that I would find it sooner rather than later. I had gotten some self help cd’s from Paula and I spent the mornings listening to them. I tried to pay attention to what I was listening to, but I found that my mind wandered out of control. I just couldn’t stop my mind.

Leona had told me when I had talked with her that there were ways to regain the use of my computer. She told me of screen readers, and the functionality of accessible programs. All of this seemed beyond my capabilities, and I was very uneasy at the idea of me ever figuring out how to use my pc with these tools. How could I? I hadn’t even figured out how to be blind yet. How could I? This question got the better of me time and time again. I seemed pathetically hopeless. I seemed as though I was never going to be able to do anything beyond being a burden to my wife.

I would spend my days listening to my audio cd’s in the morning, and after begging for food from my wife like a hopeless, lost dog, I would either sit in the recliner and listen to her work as she analyzed calls or just crawl into bed, turn on the television, and drift off to a world were I could still see. Those first dreams after losing my vision were very strange indeed. I remember them vividly. It was as though I was in the dreams living my life as it was before.
I rarely slept well at night those first few weeks. I didn’t eat well either. I just had no appetite what so ever. I had lost quite a bit of weight while I was out of work for the month of June. I had done quite a lot of yard work and rarely snacked on junk food. I was down to almost the same weight that I was when I married Lynne. As I write this several months later, I have put some of the weight back on. I suppose that I have regained some of my life back, but I would rather have never regained this part.

Leona was keeping contact with me for the next few weeks, as she did for the remainder of her stint as my VR Rep. She did call one day to let me know that she had set up a meeting with Lori Gains, a recruiter from the Carroll Center in Newton Massachusetts. I was excited as hell to hear this and couldn’t wait for the day. I had so many expectations about the center from what Leona had been telling me.

The next few weeks seemed to drag as I was anticipating when the meeting with Laurie Gains would be set up. I was told that I would probably be able to attend the rehab center sometime in September or October. I was chomping at the bit.

I did get to meet Steve Sawczyn in Augusta in early August. I was scared as hell to meet him because he was like a rock star to me. I had been listening to his online assistive technology show with the help of Lynne. How could a blind guy do all of the things that he was doing? I was mystified that the computer was so accessible to people like me, people like him. He just seemed so damn smart to me. The fact that I was going to be able to meet with him was recharging my battery so to speak. I had so much to look forward to, and it seemed that he and Leona were the center of it all. Maybe my life did have a purpose? Maybe I would be all right after all. I mean, look at all of the positive things that were going on around me. New directions and new people were entering my life and I was smack dab in the middle of it all.

I did receive a Rune card reading from Paula some time in late July or early August and it hit me head on. So many things were so clear to me in my interpretation of the readings. With her help my mind had a new path that I really seemed to be able to embrace with ease. It seemed as though I was saying good bye to my old life, and welcoming in my new life. I really didn’t mind saying so long to my old life, because I was stuck in a never ending rut most days, and I didn’t know how in hell to get out of it. There were so many things that had happened to me that I should have been completely enamored with hopelessness and despair, but I wasn’t. I had so many things in my life that were presenting themselves to me. So many positive influences. So many directions that I could take. So many people supporting me. It really was a time in my life that I had rarely seen before. The rush I was getting from all of the possibilities was completely enlightening, as well as completely draining. I was excited as hell, and tired as all get out. My insides were in a tug of war. Back and forth. I am fully aware that if not for these new roads entering my life at just the right time, I might have easily ended up in a place that I care not to think about. I thank God that He put these things and people in my life. I thank Him every day. Most of all I thank Him for giving me Lynne to go through this with. It all seemed more clear and uncomplicated with her by my side.

The talk that I had with Paula on the phone in regards to her reading was an eye opener for sure. I had, for so many years, been trapped inside of my vision. My vision of myself. A vision that I had never really come to terms with, or accepted. I used to cringe at the sight of myself in mirrors or plate glass windows during the course of the day. It just seemed that the person who was staring back at me wasn’t the same person that I felt inside. Not at all. It was some other stranger that was holding my appearance hostage. I had never really been comfortable in my own skin. My mind had a total different interpretation of what I looked like from the inside out, and whenever I was met with my true image, well. It wasn’t met with much enthusiasm on the inside. I dealt with it though, as best I knew how.

It seemed as though I may finally be rid of the haunting perception of myself that had held me captive so to speak. Without the visual input, maybe I could forget what I look like on the outside, or at least not be bothered with it. I could finally grab hold of the person that I was on the inside and carry it out there for all to see, and not be self conscious about it. I could finally work on something that I could come to grips with. I started to become the person from the inside out. I started to become the person that I had always envisioned myself as. I had started to change, and the change was slowly becoming the next chapter, the next leg of my journey.

To be continued…

 

2017 05 23: Journal Post Page 6 May 23, 2017

Today is Tuesday. The following journal post was written in April 2011, and describes Friday, July 9, 2010. The days were very confusing back then, and it’s a wonder I could keep them somewhat organized in my head, because there sure was a lot of crap flying around inside my mush melon back then.

We all go through difficult times in our lives. We all tend to find some way to figure out how to survive so we might stare at another sunrise.

I am so very fortunate to be where I am today, and am grateful for the inspiration that’s helped to keep my feet moving.

And away we go with journal post page number 6.
Have a great rest of your week.
Deon

***

Page 06

Well the next day, Friday, was a hectic day for sure. I had an appointment for another treatment early that morning, so Lynne and I headed out for Bangor fairly early.

I suppose that I should tell you that Thursday night I snuck out back and lit up a cigarette out in the back yard. I lit it up and took a couple drags from it. The feeling that I got was similar to when I first tried smoking. I got very dizzy and after a couple of drags I felt as though I was ready to pass out. I got scared, mainly because I remembered that the Technician at the hospital told us that this treatment would scrub clean the cells in the lungs. It was a cleaning of my whole system. Well, when I got extremely dizzy, it scared me. It snapped me to attention. All of a sudden I was completely aware of just how damaging these stupid things were to me. How could I continue to put this crap into my body? How could I have been so distracted all of these years to not listen to my body as it hacked up stuff from my lungs continuously. The addiction to nicotine is a deadly addiction. This drug is just as. Or more dangerous than any other drug I can think of, because it convinces you that you are ok. Convinces you that you are ok while it is slowly robbing you of your life from right under your nose. Cunning and clever. Dastardly and misleading. I hate cigarettes and the way they have controlled so much of my life, without even realizing it.

Well, I put the cigarette out after a couple drags, and went inside the house and told Lynne to get rid of all of my cigarette stuff. The tobacco, the rolling machine, the tubes, all of it. She did, and I really never had much of a hard time with the withdrawals. I guess I am fortunate. I did have periods of cravings the next two weeks, and I must admit that they were rather strong, but with all of the other things going on with me I didn’t really have much time to dwell on it. Thank God.

As I write this, it’s been 9 months and I am still smoke free. I have twinges of cravings from time to time, but they only last a few seconds. My lungs feel fine. My throat is still messed up sort of. I am always having to clear my throat.

Well, as I said, Lynne and I set out for Bangor the next morning for my second treatment. It went without a hitch.

Once again I was convinced during the treatment that there were things happening with my eyesight. I was convinced that it was getting better. I was able to see the shape of the TV screen on the wall across the room. That was something I could not remember seeing during the first treatment. I suffered the same effects during the process of reaching 100 percent oxygen level. My ears were closing and I kept having to clear them. After a few minutes of the dive, my ears were starting to hurt from the pressure change.

I made it through the second session, and was once again asked a barrage of questions from the Program Physician. She once again seemed a little disappointed that there had not been any significant positive results from the treatment.

I always had in the back of my mind the fact that I was aware of the very low percentage of positive results with these treatments in regards to my condition. I was still rather hopeful that there would be some improvements. I just couldn’t succumb to my condition. I had to be able to find a way out of my caldron of darkness. Once again I was presented a blank sheet of paper in which to start writing my new life’s story.

The ride back home was a rather quiet one. There wasn’t much good to talk about. We had to get home because that afternoon I was scheduled for another treatment, and my sister Paula had offered to keep me company that afternoon.

We arrived at home just in time to meet Paula, and after a few minutes, her and I piled into her Honda and I was once again off to Bangor.

Paula and I talked up a storm on the way. I have since wondered what was actually going through her mind. It must have been twisting and turning to say the least. Her and I have always been able to have heart to hearts. It sure did me good to have her with me. I felt like the whole family was there through her. Thanks PJ. It meant more than you could ever imagine to have you there.

Well I was really really convinced that 2 treatments back-to-back would surely snap me out of my funk. How could this not help? It had to. Right?

Once again I was having things happen to me in the chamber that was surely evidence of a major improvement. Once again the questions came afterwards. Once again I left the hospital as I had entered it. /almost completely blind.

My hopes were slowly dashing as I had but one more treatment set for the next morning. I was torn between feelings of hope, and feelings of despair. The latter of the two getting the most coverage.

We arrived back home and I was completely exhausted. My mind had been put through the ringer. I had seen the lows, and felt the highs, and through all of it I felt as though God would guide me through the rest of the way. He would have to, because I had lost my road map.

That night as I lie in bed I was put through a plethora of emotions. I was happy, then sad, then frustrated, then happy, and on and on. I can’t imagine how I must have appeared to Lynne. I know that at times I felt like a sniveling little brat. I was so damn helpless and confused. I did not want anyone to see me like this, but in the same breath, I wanted everyone to know what kind of torment and torture my heart was going through. Knowing that I might be faced with this for the rest of my life was of no comfort. It only added to my chaos.

To be continued…

 

2017 05 20: Journal Post Page 3 May 20, 2017

Good morning everyone.

This is the third post of my journal series. As I read through these pages, I am taken back to those days in 2010 when it appears that I started this next chapter in my life. Although the going was tough, it enabled me to experience a series of tests that I would have never been introduced to, had it not been for the loss of sight.

Life is what we make of it, and here’s a small slice of my life seven years ago.

Deon

***

Page Three:
Early July, 2010.

For the next two days, I was put through a barrage of tests which all came back with the results that I was dreading. My vision was permanently impaired, and would not ever get any better than it appeared to be right then. My heart sank when I heard one of the specialists say that there was nothing they could do for me. It was Tuesday morning, and I was just coming from the last series of tests.

They had ruled out all of the other probable causes of the stroke, and pinpointed the root cause as a central retinal arterial occlusion. The blood flow had been cut off to the retina from in behind the eye. It appears that the walls of the artery collapsed, thus shutting down the blood supply. This is what happened over and over again, and the final few times on that Saturday morning finally did me in. It was just too much for the retina to handle, and it finally shut down.

It was also thought to have been caused by the continued lifelong deterioration of the arterial wall, which was the direct result from the radiation that I received as an infant to combat the retinal cancer. This form of radiation, which was very new, as well as severely intrusive on outer lying tissue, was the culprit.

I will never forget Dr. Witkin’s comments made to me in his Waterville office a few weeks later. He said that in his opinion, I had been given 50 years of vision in that eye, and from his perspective, that was a miracle in its own right. I had never thought of it like that, and have never thought of it any other way since that day. He spun my mental state around 180 degrees that day, and I owe a lot of my rehabilitation, or ability to stay focused enough to move on, on those comments.

After all of the dust had settled from the tests in Boston, a call was made and Matt came to take me back home. I was never so happy to see him as I was that afternoon when he arrived in my room at the hospital.

I did not want to be in Boston for one more second. Not one. I had had enough bad news, and wanted to say goodbye to the town where so much hope had been shattered. The dwindling hope faded as we drove closer and closer to Maine and my Battleridge home.
I had not had a cigarette in over 2 days. So I think I smoked around a pack on the way home. We stopped at Mickey D’s on Rt. 1 on the way back to Maine. The food never tasted so good, and the caramel ice coffee hit the spot.

When we finally arrived at home, I felt completely alone. I know that my wife was there, and the comfort that I had in knowing that she was waiting for me is indescribable. But even though she was there waiting for me, I felt as though there was a huge blank sheet of paper in front of me that represented the rest of my life. My life was at that point and time, very uncertain at best. It was as though someone had taken my life story, and ripped it in half and thrown it in the trash. What in hell was I supposed to do now?

So much of my life was based on pure complacency. So much of it was just robotic at best. I liked my life, but probably most of all I liked the unchanging ways of my life. There was a routine that I had grown to accept as just the way things were. I had routines that I had created, and that was just fine with me, just fine and dandy. What in the hell was I going to do now? I felt completely vulnerable and totally at risk to everything around me that I couldn’t see anymore. That was the scariest and probably the most frightful times that I had ever felt. I was completely at the mercy of everything around me. My senses were all messed up. My thoughts continually veered the wrong way down a one way street. I could come up with a thousand metaphors and they would all fit. Every one of them.

Those next few days were some of the longest of my life. I was receiving phone calls from my family continuously. They were very far away, but they seemed so very close. I did a lot of crying and complaining those next few days. Hell, those next few months. I guess I still do go through some of the same feelings now as I did back then. I feel as though I can handle the emotion swings a lot easier now.

I did continue to smoke those next few days, and that must have worried Lynne to no end. Just think of it, a blind guy banging his way outside through the garage to light his fingers on fire while trying to light a cigarette. Crazy is the best adjective I can think of. That would all come to an end sooner than I ever imagined. Thank God. I never ever saw myself quitting smoking. Never in a million years. I saw myself choking on those damn cigarettes until the day I died. Pitiful.

 

2017 05 19: Journal Excerpt Page 2 May 19, 2017

Good day readers.

The following is an excerpt continued from my 2010 journal. This is page 2, which started on the morning of July 3, 2010. This was a rough day for the Battleridge Lyons clan, but through it all, we stuck together and held each other tightly. I thank God I had my son and wife there, and am grateful to have them with me still today.

And away we go with Page 2.

***

Page 2

When I woke the next morning I was in the midst of another episode, a stroke in my right eye. I lay in bed and waited for it to subside. As it finally did seem that it was ending, I started to get out of bed. I didn’t make it very far though as I slid right into another one before I could pull my shirt on. Down in bed I lay again.
Funny thing was that during these 2 back to back strokes I never felt like my vision would be permanently damaged because of all this. I guess that after all these years with good vision, even though it was in only one eye, I was convinced that I would always be ok when it came to my vision. Gullible? Naive? Complacent? I guess I was a lot of things.
So there I was. Confused and a little disoriented by what was going on. I did manage to finally get dressed and take the dogs out for their morning walks. I was having trouble seeing as I walked them, but I did get around the back yard with no problems.
I got them back inside the house and started back in preparing for the day we had planned. Jack was supposed to come out and spend the night with us. We had planned to take him to see the fireworks in Dexter that night. From what I can remember I seemed to have 1 or 2 more small episodes in the next hour or so.
Finally, I had one happen around 10 o’clock. This one was the one that did me in. It seemed to come in waves and waves. Finally after an hour or so I noticed that my vision was not returning as it had done so many times before. I was left in total darkness except for a little light around the outer edges of my fields of vision. Time passed and my son and grandson arrived. I was starting to get a little scared that maybe things were a little different and that maybe I was not going to get it back.

After an hour or so my wife called Dr. Lavin and he told us that he would meet us at his office in Waterville. It was a Saturday so he would have to come in by himself and open the office.
The 4 of us piled into vehicles and headed for Waterville. Dr. Lavin met us at the office and we all went in. He took me immediately into the exam room and proceeded to give me a going over. He did pretty much the same things that he did back in June when I had my initial bout while working.
After the exam he got online and did some research into what was happening to me. He also got on the phone to Dr. Chang at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Dr. Chang, after consulting with his boss Dr. Duker, told Dr. Lavin to reduce the pressure inside the eye by extracting fluid from the eyeball with a syringe. It did not work and we left for home after an hour or so with me in the same condition as I went in with.
Over the rest of the afternoon we waited around the house, not knowing what to do, or what was in store. The rest of the afternoon Dr. Lavin was researching and communicating with Dr. Chang. He called us up periodically to see if there was any change in my status. There was none for the rest of the afternoon and into early evening.
Around 8 pm, Dr. Chang called us up at home and told me that I needed to get my butt to Boston quick as I could. It was like someone flipped a switch and we were off! We headed into Waterville to get Matt to take me. Luckily we, Lynne managed to wake him as he was sleeping. He was supposed to work that night. Matt and I flew down the interstate and arrived in Boston around 1 am. I was surprised how easily Matt found the way. Even though we did get lost in and around the city, it seemed relatively easy for him. I imagine that he was quite nervous and maybe a little uneasy or scared to say the least. He is quite a guy.
That particular day, Saturday leading into Sunday, seemed to never end. It was from my perspective, the day the earth stood still. I have to recreate it in bits and chunks in my mind. It all seemed to happen very fast at times and then again at times, it was a dramatic blur of a nightmare. Not once during the day did I realize that my vision was permanently impaired. Not once. I guess that I was naive to say the least. Probably by myself having always been naive, it helped me to handle everything a little calmer and more relaxed? If that be the case, then I hope I continue to have a smidgen of naiveté for the rest of my life.

To be continued…