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…

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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 18: Journal Post: Page One May 18, 2017

Today is May 18, 2017. The following 1 page excerpt is taken from a journal I started in the winter of 2010. I haven’t read through this piece of writing since I wrote it, so I figured I would start posting it, page by page, to this blog.
I had not been writing long when I started this journal. A few emails back and forth to family and friends was just about all I had been doing, as I had only recently learned touch typing, as well as using a screen reader with the computer, which for me was a very strange, new world.

Ok then. Here we go.

***

Page 1
December 2010,

OK so I have been through quite a lot. I have experienced probably more in my life than most people. I don’t feel any different or special because of it. Most of the time, I feel as though I have just lived a life. A life that is not really different than most people. Not any more difficult, or hard, or more full of obstacles. I am just the owner of another ordinary life.
I have had a few obstacles put in my path, but haven’t we all? Aren’t we all handed a boat load of life bending turns and hills and twists and hairpin corners? Don’t we all seemingly go through similar hardships and rough times? I hear every day of tragic events from all around the world. My life seems rather good when compared to what other people are going through on this hectic blue marble we call earth. In just one revolution we are transformed, propelled, enabled, held back, stepped over, left out, included in, forgotten about, lied to, sung about, hugged, punched, kicked, pulled, stepped on, stepped over, walked around, helped through, sent back, pushed aside, and on, and on, and on. It never stops. Life just keeps coming at you whether you are ready or not.

I have felt on many occasions that I was not prepared for life, and have seemed, on many occasions, that I was winging it, we must all feel that way quite a lot, I would imagine. Life sure has a way of throwing a bag full of wrenches at you.

I suppose that situations in my life have kept me from really concentrating when I should have been. I always seemed to be preoccupied with some things other than whatever it was that I should have been paying attention to.

I have recently become blind as of this past summer. It has been a rather trying 6 months for me. I should tell you that I lost my left eye to retinal cancer as an infant.

The recent problem with my right eye started last June when I lost my sight for roughly 45 minutes. It did return that day, and I was left with a blind spot almost directly in my line of sight. The doctors told me that an artery inside the eyeball had collapsed and the loss of blood flow had caused the temporary blindness, and the blind spot. It also was the cause of the glow that surrounded everything I saw. My hazy blurry condition lasted a month, and had actually gotten a little bit better. It had gotten better to the point that I was going to try to go back to work on the day after the 4th of July. I was sort of actually enjoying my month off. I was able to get outside and do quite a lot after a couple weeks because my sight had gotten that much better. I had my garden all in, the Japanese Willow bush behind the garage had been dug up and moved. The trees and shrubs out beside the barn had been pruned and cleaned up nicely. I was rather happy with the amount of yard word that I had been able to do. The last week of what was adequate vision was a good working week also. I had managed to weed the entire garden except for about 2 rows. I was feeling good. Tired, but well. That afternoon after Lynne finished work, she came out back to ask me if I would like to go get something to eat and run a few errands up to Skowhegan. I said sure, as I was bushed and could use a break. It had been warm and sunny all week out in the garden. I was hot, sunburned and hungry as hell. We were off.
The trip to Skowhegan was like any other of the 4,231 trips we had taken there in the past. We got some food from Mickey D’s and I went in to Hannaford’s to get a few items we needed. I did see my friend Artie’s wife at the checkout. We exchanged conversation and I asked her how the hell Artie was doing. He has been through his own hell these past few years.
I exited the store, got into the van, and we drove out of the plaza. As soon as we got out onto Rt. 201 I started to have another episode with my right eye. This time it was more sudden than the one on the 2nd of June. It was the 2nd of July, and the geometric prisms that were dancing in front of me were Pink Floyd’ish psychedelic shapes that I had only dreamed of before this day. All I could say to Lynne was, “OK, here we go again,” At the time I was not concerned about the vision loss, as I was sure that it would return, just as it had the first time. Little did I know that I was in for quite a ride the next 24 hours.
My vision did return just as we were getting back home. I noticed that things seemed a lot more blurry and cloudy and all bright and hazy. More so than after the first episode in early June. I managed to walk the dogs and a few other normal things that I usually did as the day was winding down. My wife Lynne and I watched Ice Road Truckers, but I couldn’t see what was going on on the screen. It was quite uneasy for me, but I still believed that it would get better. Later that night I noticed that the blind spot had crept right in front of my line of sight. It was noticeably worse than before and it made it quite impossible to watch and comprehend anything that I was seeing on TV. As was the case in early June, when items were in the blind spot area, they were intensified in a color schemed rainbow sort of distorted prism. Hello Pink /Floyd was all I could picture. It was weird indeed.

I fell asleep that night still comfortable with the feeling that everything would get better. Little did I know what was in store for me that next morning.

To be continued…

 

2016 07 26 In The Books July 26, 2016

It looks like another semesteris in the books. Do I look smarter? Do I feel smarter? Am I dressing smarter? Grin Probably not is the answer to that last one, for three quarters of the time I don’t know what color the clothes I have on are, but I’m sure I’m color coordinated for just about any occasion, right?

It’s been five years since I started my blog, and I can honestly say that I still hate cancer. In all of cancer’s ugly forms, none is uglier than the one that attacks me and you, for none of them have a care in the world how much evil they possess. They just keep moving forward with that stupid smirk on their face of death, without thought or care.

As you know, my vision loss in 2010 was directly related to my own battle against cancer as an infant. The radiation I had at five months old directly caused the blood flow to shut off to my good eye, my right eye, and after starving for blood, the retina finally shut down. The tiny amount of vision I enjoyed for a few years after the series of strokes finally succumbed to even more strokes, as the artery kept collapsing these past few months, and now I stand before you a completely blind goat on the verge of a thing.

I like that line from a song that Peter Frampton sang back about ten years ago.

The thing that I am on the verge of now could be considered the rest of my life. The mobility lesson I have recently embarked on is unlike any other from my past, in that when I remove the ecluders now, I am still in complete blackness. I’m not complaining in the least, as I knew it was just a matter of time.

Life is only a matter of time. Our time is a matter of life, and as this life of mine rolls on, it’s up to me, and no one else to see what I can do with it. So far, well, I guess I’m keeping sort of busy, but man have I slowed down. I feel most of the time like I’m moving like a sloth on qualudes. My balance is crap, my agility is crap, my sense of fashion is lacking and I still love chocolate.

The saying, Out of sight, out of mind”, is having fun with me. The visual cues are no longer something that I can take for granted, so I have had to try and make mental notes of my daily routines. Mental is right, because my short term memory without the visual cues really sucks, but then again, that happens with age a lot of the time, right? Right? Help me out here, ojk?

Fact is, I can’t remember crap either, and that gets me into a mess a lot of the time, but it’s my mess and my oh my how the times have changed.

I am all signed up for two more classes this fall, and no, I’m not going to take three. I do fine with two, and I’m in no hurry. Both of my classes are online, and with a little work, I have a pretty good grasp on BlackBoard, although that could change at any time, due to technological updates that have a habit of hampering digital accessibility from time to time. My tutoring has paid off, but my hard work has paid off as well.

The bouts I had these past three years with the meningioma slowed me up some, but it isn’t gonna do me any good to sit back on my goat caboose and wonder why I didn’t keep moving forward. There’s not much going on in my past, and although I moved a little quicker back then, it isn’t gonna help me if I don’t find a way to help myself today.

So, here I go, bouncing down the road with my white cane in one hand, and my laptop bag in the other. I did migrate both of my computers to Windows 10, and can honestly say that I am glad I did, as they seem to be running more efficient, especially with the taxing properties of JAWS tugging constantly on the system resources. It’s a similar platform to Windows 7, but with differences that are distinct. It’s a ton better than 8.1 ever dreamed of, and hopefully will be keeping me company for some time to come. Now, if I can get a better grasp on the ribbons, I might feel brave enough to move past my Word 2003 that I still use on this desktop machine. Yes, that’s right, Word 2003. My old buddy. My ally.

Ya, you’re probably right. I might as well move the rest of my past into the present too. Grin

Some things will never change the mind of a goat though, and one thing is for certain, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find the receipt to exchange it, color coordination be damned.

Thanks for hanging in there, and thanks for your continued inspiration.

Those of you heading into the fall semester, good luck to you all.

Take care for now my friends.

Dp

 

2016 04 15 Poetry: Detour Signs April 15, 2016

Ya ever wonder how you make it through the day? Ya ever think about all of the hurdles, obstacles, inconveniences and royal pain in the butts you encounter as the world spins underneath?

Oh, by the way, hello and welcome again to Surviving. It’s good to have you stop by. Actually, I’m honored and humbled to have you here.

As I was saying, some days are chock full of the things that can turn your knuckles white and make you growl under your breath. And then, once again, another day stands ready and waiting in the starting blocks to do it all over again.

I have to admit that knowing what some people have to endure during the course of their day is truly amazing. Whenever I think I have it rough, something comes along and makes me say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”, and then, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did a moment ago.

Detour signs, warning bells, flashing lights, it’s all out there waiting for us.

I wonder if they’re ready for us, for you, for what we have to offer. Grin

And then, once again, away we go.

The following poem is number 15 for the month, and one that I wrote a few years ago. National Poetry Month to be precise.

Don’t forget to yield.

dp

***

Detour Signs
A poem By DP Lyons

Right back where I started from
Here I go again
Same old sounds, same old towns
What now, which way, what then

Left turn, yield, right of way
School bus stop ahead
Maximum height, thirteen feet
Lights changing, green to red

Left turn signal, look both ways
Apply the parking brake
Adjust the rear view mirrors
So many things at stake

Rear defroster’s on the fritz
AC’s blowing hot
Check engine light is on again
Let’s go, or get off the pot

Traffic jams and detour signs
Construction up ahead
Pedestrians have the right of way
Battery just went dead

Parking ban from dusk ’til dawn
Hidden one way signs
U turns, wrong ways, dead end streets
Toll booths, fees and fines

Quarter tank, and dropping fast
Alternator fried
Break down lanes. Tow truck chains
Nowhere left to hide

Information radio
Bottle neck ahead
Coming to a crawling stop
Take a right instead

Last turn now, heading home
Three more blocks to go
Right back where I started from
That’s all I need to know

 

2016 04 11 Poetry: So Much, So Many April 11, 2016

Happy April the 11th.

With vision loss comes a unique array of emotions. With each emotion comes a journey through the past, followed by a quick glimpse of today. So much to think about with so many options involved. So long are some of the days, yet so quick the nights.

Oh my! That sounds like a poem, right? I better cut and paste while the cutting is good. Grin

Anyway, like I was saying, vision loss, blindness, teaches the senses a perspective untold with sight. It becomes an instructor, yet at the same time, it is the student. I imagine with a different vision these days, and I lie in bed at night arranging my dreams, for they are becoming such a vivid and descriptive movie in my mind.

Life doesn’t seem easy sometimes, or fair, but it does allow for an opportunity with each new day.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I’m starting to learn where I have come from, and where I am.

This is the eleventh poem of the month, and thanks once again for stopping by Surviving.

And away we go!

dp

***

So Much, So Many
A poem by DP Lyons

Frustrations build from deep within
A past darkened by night
Clinging tight to yesterday’s song
With hopes of finding the light

I searched for your eyes, for your voice, for your touch
I gazed where you once used to stand
I remembered that smile that lit up my room
And the footprints we left in the sand

In the blink of an eye, at the drop of a hat
As quick as a cricket can be
Everything vanished without a trace
I was left with my fears, and me

So much of my past came flooding in
, so many memories rushed by
So badly I wished I could open my eyes
And look up at an endless sky

I longed for the hue of a morning’s dawn
I pined for a rainbow or two
I craved the shadows dancing about
I missed the morning dew

The dandelions painting an endless field
The majestic mountain views
The rolling waves as they crashed to the shore
So many visions to choose

I flipped through a book of a world gone by
A hint of what once used to be
I whisper out loud as I lower my head
I then close my eyes, and I see

 

2016 04 10 Poetry: Empty Bucket April 10, 2016

And so it goes, on this, the 10th day of April, 2016.

I am blind, as a lot of you know. I have been through some difficult days, weeks, months, and yes, years. I have seen, and then, I have seen nothing. I have tried not to ask for pity, although the pity lies inside of me, and me alone. It’s a strange feeling to lose something you take for granted. I suppose that through my years, I failed to appreciate the many gifts of my life, body and soul, and when the vision fell slowly away, what I was left with was faith and love.

This poem below is one I just wrote. I don’t know why I did, but its content is something that will stay with me until my days here are through. I have come far from those first days of blackness, and as I clawed my way back into my life, these feelings will always be welcome, for they are my story, and many chapters have been written since.

Blindness affects so many of us, and each of our stories is unique. I have found so much without the use of my eyes, and I continue to believe that with a little work and a lot of effort, there are many gifts that still await me.

It’s up to me, and although there are many days where I have to dig deep to find the energy, the energy still waits for me.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for inspiring the hell out of a goat, on a ridge, on a big beautiful blue marble that I am glad to call home.

God bless and keep well.

dp

***

Empty Bucket
A Poem by DP Lyons

Kidnapped by the keeper of a blackened hell
Gut wrenching spiral down, down, down
Shades of yesterday’s light, lost forever
Bartering with a devil doesn’t seem out of place

Out of reach
Out of sight
Out of time
Out of control

Unwanted cane screams out with haunting tone
Unprepared passions lie empty inside a hollowed heart
Unchallenged torment lays claim to a wilting rose
Unimaginable burden bears down with fueled rage

Weathered woe casts aside yesterday’s dream
Body blows pummel the innocence within
Hopeless fate rains down on a barren land
The bucket from the well rises empty, again

Fear from helplessness
Anger from Hopelessness
Pity from untruths
Pain from never ending doubt

Starless night
Sunless dawn
Disappearing smile
Fading passions of a gazing child

Blindness begins