Surviving

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

2017 06 16 Journal Excerpt: Page 30 June 16, 2017

This next excerpt was written November, 2011. A lot of time had passed since I had started the journal, and with large chunks of no activity, I often repeated myself with the entries. Many different things stuck out in my mind, and many things slipped to the side along with the rest of the blurred time.

That first year of vision loss was like the 100 meter dash. Ready? Set? Gunshot! Look at me go! It’s amazing that the world was able to keep up with me, because it sure as hell seemed like I was dashing around like a frantic man, late for work, late for the train, late for a very important date.

The important date was the rest of my life, and although I couldn’t see it, I could sense it standing there, checking the time on its wrist watch.

Time’s a wasting, so we better get going with this next post.

Take care.

Deon

***

Page 30

Nov. 12 2011

It has been, once again, several weeks since I have written in this ledger. I realize that when I have such large gaps in the entries, that the subject lines can tend to sway to and fro, as I lose focus of where I am, and the topics I have covered.

Winter 2010, 2011 was a long lonely winter for me, as well as for my wife. I know that it was probably the hardest winter she has ever had to endure. Not only was it a long and cold winter, but there was a lot of snow, and adding the extra work that she was forced to deal with, it must have been hell for her. I do admire her, and her perseverance through the long snowy days.

For the most part, I tried to do what I could, when I could. I managed to keep some paths cleared of snow out back, so that we could manage the dogs. I can only imagine how ratty the paths looked, after I got done shoveling and clearing them of snow. Most attempts at this was just that, attempts. I had no real idea what in hell I was doing. I tried to keep my visual land markers in order, but some days the blinding snow played tricks on me, and I would seriously lose my orientation. I can remember one day in particular, I thought I was shoveling out around the pool, so as to make a short run for the dogs, and a place to chuck the Doggy doo. I had no idea whether I was shoveling the existing path or not.

I was not. I had veered to the left, and was shoveling where no man had gone before. It was the final frontier, and I had no control of the bridge.

I had many times such as these, where I thought I was going in one direction, and to my shocking surprise, I was heading in the total opposite direction.

Writing this, I think back to the Lion’s meeting that I spoke at, and the facing the flag dilemma. grin

From that shoveling round-about experience, forward, , I fully understood that there were going to be times and places where my limited vision would let me down, and that humility would play a major role in how I managed to handle different situations.

I continue to get twisted around from time to time, and there are very many situations where my vision is completely useless, such as in dark, and unfamiliar areas. I will always have to keep the mind set of a blind man, and learn from each experience. I have captured many skills this past year, and as long as I can keep a healthy frame of mind, I will continue to learn and grow, as a man who can’t see very well.

Through the winter months, as I have said, I completely dove head first into my writing. I continued to get pc tutoring from Mike Adams, and with his help and guidance, I continued to advance my knowledge, and learned the accessibility features of my pc, and am grateful for the opportunity in doing so.

In early march, I did get switched over from System Access, to Jaws. I had to wait a couple months for the full version software, and up to then, I had a demo version installed. I was able to dive into it, but the demo version had a time limit on it, and after the limit expired, you would have to reboot the pc to gain another full time interval again. I did not like to reboot my pc, as most of the time, it would take me around an hour to get it fully up and running again. I have been having a series of issues with this pc since back in early 2010, where it would do the dreaded blue screen of death, and crash with a system crash dump. On top of that, when you would start it from a cold state, it would run fine for a few minutes, then with a click of who knows what, the pc would just go black, like someone had unplugged it.

These problems have been plaguing me ever since, and at this time, I leave it on 24/7. I don’t dare to shut it down, for fear of having to go through this process every time.

There also started another issue where even with a quick reboot, the pc would start ok, it seemed, but none of the programs would load up, and the system was virtually unusable. This dilemma would last sometimes for an hour or so, until everything would start loading and working all at once. It really freaked me out when this happened. When this still happens.

Over the years, I had used a little program called C Cleaner. It was a utility tool that had a couple functions. I used it to clean the junk out of the pc, like temp files, caches, recycle bin, and the temp files of the web browsers. It also had a nice registry scan tool that picked up errors, and corrected them.

I had stopped using the program after learning that the company where my wife was working recommended that none of their employees use it. She convinced me to delete the program, and so I did.

It was a few months later that my pc developed the issue with the programs not responding upon a reboot. I was in peril, as my screen reader would not load upon reboots. I was left without the use of my pc, and it really sucked.

I then remembered about the registry scan utility of ccleaner, and figured out how to download, and reinstall the program. After a few frustrating hours, I did manage to get the program up and running, and I ran the registry scan a couple of times. Thank God the program was somewhat accessible, and I could maneuver through it.

After the registry scans, I reluctantly tried a reboot, and the program response was back to normal. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as I had brought my pc back into a fact simile of normalcy.

Nothing had felt as good as that did in quite some time. I felt independently capable of handling a problem, and was very happy with myself. I will never use another registry scan utility again, and fully feel comfortable in recommending this program to anyone I know.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 10 Journal Excerpt: Page 24 June 10, 2017

This next excerpt was written late summer 2011, and describes the return home from the Carrol Center in November, 2010. I was met with a wall of change, none of which I was prepared for. I know that change is good, mainly because it helps us veer away from complacency. Even though I couldn’t see anything coming at me, my feet kept moving forward.

What we do with change defines who we are. Whether you take it head on, maneuver around it or back away from it, change is gonna come. A pocket full of change is far better than a truck load of complacency.

Ready? Set? Look at you go!

dp

***

Page 24

I left the campus that afternoon feeling sad. I also felt happy. I was a mixed bag of emotions as my son and I headed north on 95, back to Maine, and back to my wife, family and home.

The next few weeks after returning home, I felt out of place. I had grown so aware of my existence at the Center. This was just a whole new ball game. This was the rest of my life, and it was staring me right between the eyes. I didn’t know this thing, this life thing, this blind life thing. I had tried preparing myself for it, but it still managed to sneak up on me anyway. I was not prepared in the least. I never felt so scared and out of place, and needy. I just felt like I was no where near the man I used to be just a few months before.

I did stick with it though. Lynne had done her best to get all our ducks in a row while I was at the center, and this was no easy task. With a loss of steady income and not being eligible for disability for six months, our financial situation quickly became serious. I don’t know how she managed to juggle everything, but she did, and my admiration of her continued to grow. I tried to help her as much as I could with whatever I could, but everything I tried to do seemed to take so long, and was just so much of a hassle. Little ordinary things like get the dogs outside, or swap the load in the laundry, or wash the dishes, or take the trash, all of it was completely different. Completely different in my mind set and how I had to rearrange my brain to be able to do these tasks that I had done a thousand million times before.

You see, on that day back on the 3rd of July 2010, my life took a u turn. Everything I knew disappeared from sight. The sounds and smells and touch seemed strangely the same, but without the sight, even all of those had changed perception. All that I was, and all that I would be, hinged on how I was going to be able to handle the changes that faced me every day, and believe me, they hit me head on. I can remember breaking down, completely crumbling on many a day, with being totally consumed in fear and anguish and anger and frustration and a continuing loss of ability to handle it all. It was just too much for me some days. I still had a hard time understanding how someone could wind up in the predicament I was in. My sight sucked, and for the most part, what I could see, made me dizzy as hell. It was like looking at a pathetically dull, fluorescent scheme of colors just before dark. It really freaked me out, still does. I have a hard time explaining to people just what it is that I am looking at most of the time.

I did have two really clear moments of vision, or at least the most clear, and these were when I woke up the first morning at Tufts, and when I woke up the first morning after returning home after Tufts. Those two mornings filled me with hope that maybe my sight would get better, at least enough to get some use out of it.

Those two mornings I was met with a stark clearish vision field. It was filled with sharp lines of clarity and edges of shapes. It was also filled with these images being stretched and twisted and warped right in front of me. It was the weirdest things I had ever seen. Nothing from the sixties could ever come close.

I can remember hanging on to the wall at the hospital as a nurse escorted me to a bathroom in the hall. I was saying under my breath, “This is just so ffffffing weird. I could not believe what I was seeing, but the fact that I was seeing something set me off on an emotional roller coaster. I cried and laughed. It was something I will never forget. The same sort of thing happened to me on that morning at home also. I was headed towards the bathroom and I was met with the same twisted sharp images that set me once again reeling with emotion. It was like everything I could see was being soaked with water and was starting to drip and run down through my sight, like colors on a canvas running down from top to bottom. It was just one of the strangest things. It really did sort of frighten me. Those were the only two mornings that I have seen images such as those. I have wished and hoped and prayed for these visions, as twisted as they may be, for just one more moment.

I have been told by my Ophthalmologist in Waterville that the damage to my retina is irreversible, and that I have no hope of gaining more vision than I have right now. On that day, it seemed that the last nail closed the coffin filled with hope. I buried it, along with any notion that miracles would ever happen. I know that miracles are just that, miracles, and they could occur under any circumstances, but when it comes to my vision, I don’t hold out any hope for them any more.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 08Journal Excerpt Page 22 June 8, 2017

Seven years ago the vehicle that was carrying me through my life crashed head on into a well hidden road barrier. The damage was substantial, which meant I needed to go shopping for a new mode of transportation.

With much needed help from friends and family, that’s exactly what I did.

This next journal excerpt describes a tiny segment of my car shopping experience, a time I will never forget which was wrapped tightly in a time that was hand crafted especially for me.

Thanks to all of you who kept helping me up and nudged me forward. Words can never sufficiently express my gratitude.

Here’s Page 22.

Deon

***

Page 22

That last night at the Center was happy and sad and scary for me. I was so glad that I had had the opportunity to go to the Center, and was grateful that such a place existed for folks with life changing events such as mine. I could not have been more happier with the way it all turned out. I did have some internal conflicts with a couple of students in the program, but after remembering the old AA slogans, I returned the focus onto myself and what I needed to do.

I was sad that my time at the Center was ending. It was melancholy and surreal to think that the eight weeks were up, and I had the rest of my life staring me in the face. I was scared as hell at the thought of having to go home and face reality head on. I knew that I would continue to get help along the way, but the safe confines of the Center were tugging at me, ever reminding me that the world was a lot different off campus.

I was very sad to say goodbye to some of the best people that I had ever met. By sharing our likenesses and flaws and hopes and fears together, we grew into a close knit group. I think I grew closer to these people than any other group of individuals in my life.

There were going to be seven of us graduating that next day. It was a rather large graduating group for the Center. Usually there were 1 to three people graduating at one time.

I woke up that morning of November 19th 2010, with an eerie feeling that something close to me was coming to an end. We had a few morning classes until lunch time, but it just didn’t seem the same. I even had a mobility class that morning, and I didn’t mind. It just seemed not to be as much of a deal as I always made it to be.

Matt was heading down to pick me up, and he was going to try and get there to attend the ceremonies. He was also going to try and video tape the event.

As it got closer to lunch time, the whole campus seemed to grow incredibly strange. It took on a different sound, and feeling. After the final class, a lot of us gathered in the fish bowl to sit and chat before we went to the Tech Center where the ceremonies were to be held. They usually held them in the rec room of the main stables building, but with so many of us graduating, it was decided to hold it at the auditorium of the Tech Center.

We sat and chatted and laughed and reminisced about the past few months. I was holding my car that I had made, and it seemed to be getting a lot of attention from the students as well as the staff and administration. I knew that everyone had worked extremely hard on their projects, just as hard as I did on mine. I felt like part of something wonderful. I felt part of a group of people that were in the middle of getting on with the rest of their lives. I felt extremely good and grateful.

Padma, one of the mobility instructors, came into the foyer where the fish bowl is, and told us it was time to proceed to the Tech Center for the ceremonies. We all giggled and laughed and swept our way to the auditorium where we were led to the front of the room and to our seats in the front row. The room was loud and felt a buzz with life. ?There were a lot of family that had come to attend the graduation. I did meet up with Matt on the way to the auditorium. He snuck up behind me and said, “Hay Pops.”, in his usual calm tone. I smiled and hugged him. I was very glad that he was there. It made me feel complete.

Mike Festa, the president of the Center, spoke to the class and the audience to start off the ceremonies. I like Mike a lot. He always made me feel that I belonged at the Center, and that I was going to be ok. He also showed an interest in me and my life. He and I shared a couple of interests. We both liked to garden, and we both liked sports. I did get the chance to help him and Bill build the chicken coop out on the main lawn. I enjoyed that immensely.

After mike gave his announcement speech, he introduced us one at a time. One by one we went up and accepted the certificate, and said a short speech of our time at the center.

As each person went up to the podium, I got a little bit more nervous. I never have been one to like talking to a room full of people, and this was no different.

One by one, the class went up and spoke and told of the hard times and the good times at the center. My turn at the podium finally came, as Mike called my name.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 03 Journal Excerpt: Page 17 June 3, 2017

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.
Deon

***

Page 17

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…

 

2017 05 29: Journal Post Page 12 May 29, 2017

The last weekend of May is here, and I’m curious as to where all of the May days went. Boy oh boy how the time has a way of slipping away on ya.

On this Memorial Day, I hope you all carry those memories nearest to your hearts with you through today, and the rest of your life. God bless you all.

Deon

***

Written May 30, 2011. Describing August 2010.

Page 12

We will all miss you Aunt Jetta. Heaven reclaimed one of it’s angels. May god touch your soul, as you have touched ours.

I thank god that I have piece of mind to capture some of my thoughts, emotions and experiences on paper. I am very fortunate to have recaptured my love of writing. I have walked away from the evident for many years. Years that I will only be able to relive in my mind, and in type. I can not afford to ever forget how fortunate I am in that regard.

I started slowly with my computer rebirth. I was scared as hell and was convinced that I had so much work in front of me if I was ever going to be able to rely on my pc in the future as I had done in the past. The pc had always been a friend of mine, that is after I worked past the fear of computers way back in 1995. it had become a companion whom I could always count on, except for those times when a hard drive reformat was necessary. I had loved doing my digital multimedia and I felt as though I would never be able to get it back. This screen reader stuff seemed so outer body to me. I felt like a new born baby when I sat in front of the computer screen for the first time. I did not know what to do. I did not know what to think. I did not know how to type. I did not know how to email. The only thing I was sure of was how much I did not know. That fact alone was enough to scare the hell out of me and send me running for the hills. That fact alone was enough to make me want to sell my pc and never think of it again. It had been after all a month or better since I had even sat in front of the keypad, and it was sending my mind into a thousand different directions, all of them being pulled against each other.

I saw the savvy that Steve Sawczyn had and I was jealous of him. I almost hated him and all of his knowledge. I hated him for being blind his whole life and being able to have come so far. I wanted to have what he had, but I knew that I had a very winding road ahead of me in order to get there. A very winding road indeed.

He did manage to get me set up with my first screen reader that day. He thought I would be more suited to use System Access to get started. He knew that the email client was more accessible than anything with Jaws would be. My main goal right then was to get my feet wet and progress from there.

Lynne was enamored with Steve. She was just so intrigued at how pc literate he was. She had a ton of questions for him, and I tried to take it all in. I just couldn’t. As soon as all this information entered my drenched brain, it leaked out my ears. I was just saturated with everything, and I was awestruck that this huge event was smack \dab in front of me. I was happy and overwhelmed at the same time.

When Steve left our house that day it was like a digital tornado had come through and left in the same breath. I was left staring at my pc screen in total amazement, and a little dumbfounded that he would leave me with all of this new tension and frustration and anxiety. Didn’t he know that I was blind? Didn’t he know that no one on the face of the earth was in as much turmoil as I was? Couldn’t he have seen the look of sheer terror on my face? Or was he blind too?

He was indeed blind. He was indeed fully aware of everything that I was going through though, and he knew that I would be ok. He knew it the same way that Leona knew it. He knew that when left of my own devices, I would figure it out. He knew that I had it in me to get through today so that tomorrow I could start on it again.

I did get through that day, and the next, and the next. I can remember the first email that I tried sending Leona. It was an audio file message. I sent an audio file because I didn’t think I could figure out how to send her a text message. I sit here now writing this and I can remember the feelings so well of what that was like, and I don’t want to ever forget it. I want to remember how I felt then compared to how I feel right now as I write so much faster than I ever would have imagined possible. It’s truly amazing to me how much I have learned, and how fast I have done it. Lots of work. Lots and lots of work, Lots of trials and errors. yes, the errors. It seems like I had spent half the time spell checking.

I did manage to progress through the month of August and in to September. I learned to type with the help of a program called Talking Typing Tutor. This program taught me how to touch type. I went from a 4 fingered hunt and pecker to a full fledged touch typist. I knew where all of the letters were, I just didn’t know which fingers to go after them with.

With the help of System Access’ online community and SamNet, I quickly found how to surf the web with assistance of a web service designed to be totally accessible. I could check my local paper, listen to descriptive movies, listen to podcasts and audio files that were geared for the blind community. There was so much information on this service and it was all a key stroke away.

I soon found out that the screen reader software I was using was not the industry standard. The industry standard was a program called JAWS, (Job Access With Speech), and as soon as I heard the name, I wanted more. Steve did try to install a demo version of it when he initially got me set up, but the demo was not fully functional and I really needed a fully functional one so that I could quickly gobble up everything that I could.

To Be Continued…

 

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…