Surviving

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

2017 08 01: Page 46 and a Half August 2, 2017

Ok then, and here we go, again. This following page isn’t from my journal, but rather from the series of lesson overviews I wrote back when I was taking the O&M lessons. This particular overview describes the last lesson of the original structure I worked from following my initial vision loss of 2010. This overview is rather long, and I apologize for that. I didn’t want to cut and chop the original piece, and figured it was best as it is.

I thank you for your patience, and hope this finds you doing well.

Best to you all, and away we go, again.

dp

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Page 46 and a Half
2012 05 14 Mobility Lesson Overview

Let me start this lesson overview by saying that this will probably be my last written lesson recap , as my orientation and mobility program is winding down. It has been a long, hard, difficult and grueling twenty or so months since I first held a mobility cane, and there has been a lot learned. I have overcome and worked through many different obstacles in this time. I have been shown how to deal with different dilemmas, and have been taught the skills necessary to take on the world and be an independent traveler. I have been shown how to work through difficult situations, and I have been praised, as well as reprimanded, when the time was right. I have learned how to take my fears and worries and nightmares, and turn them into a tremendous opportunity for growth and maturity. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to turn the frightened, vulnerable person from those dark days in early summer 2010, into a capable, independent individual, who just happens to be blind.

This last lesson proved to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It proved to be some of the best learning blocks I have been able to be a part of. It proved to be one of the best days with my cane I have ever had.

Several weeks ago, Rosemary told me of the lesson that she had in mind, and left it up to me to come up with a plan of attack, and to carry out the lesson on my own.

The objective was to plan a trip from my home, to the Apple store, located in the Maine Mall in South Portland, where I was to meet up with Rosemary. At first, I wanted nothing to do with this lesson, and cringed at the thought. These initial reactions were the norm for my ordinary past characteristics to something of this magnitude. Over several days of thinking about the chore I had been handed, I continued to fall back on the promise I made to myself when this journey of mine came to be. I remembered that I promised myself that I would not walk away from any challenge that presented itself to me, no matter how much I wanted to. This promise has proved to be more than beneficial to me on many occasions, as I have been confronted with many obstacles and situations that I would have normally run away from. Once again I was confronted with another difficult task that I could not afford to veer away from

Trying to lay out the lesson in my head proved to be rather confusing at first. I guess I try to figure it out in one fell swoop, and without being able to jut down notes, or map out the lesson on a piece of paper is quite trying at times for this soggy melon sitting on my shoulders.

The first thing I needed to accomplish was to learn the schedules of the three different buses that I needed to use on the lesson. The first bus, the KVCAP bus from Waterville was fairly familiar to me, as I had taken that particular route a couple times in the past few months. It was determined that the best time would be the 8:30 bus, which would put me at the Concord Coach terminal in Augusta at approximately 9:15 that morning.

After calling the Concord terminal, I was able to plan the second leg of the lesson, which would have me on a bus, departing from Augusta at 10:15, and arriving at the Portland terminal at around 11:25. This part of the lesson had me a little worried as I failed to fully prepare for the transition from the Concord Portland terminal, out to the Portland city bus stop, which was the starting point of the last bus leg of the lesson. I also had to do some last minute preparations for when I arrived at the Maine Mall. When I say, “last minute”, I literally mean it, as the last leg of the lesson was not fully initiated until I arrived at the mall.

The calling, and planning by me was done rather sporadically, in that I did not follow each step of the planning in an orderly fashion. I ended up zig-zagging from one step, ahead to another step, then back a couple to one of the earlier overlooked steps. I was a little upset that I let my planning get distracted, but I suppose that by having the end product reaching the initial goal, well, it all worked out in the end.

In the future, I should be able to better sort out the planning, and make sure that each step is done in order, so as to not have the burdens of loose ends cause any grief during the actual trip.

After getting a ride from my wife to the Concourse in Waterville, I hopped onto the 8:30 bus to Augusta with no problems. There was one other gentleman waiting for the same bus, and we struck up a nice conversation.

I informed the bus driver that I was going to the Concord Coach terminal, and asked her if the bus drop off point was in front of the doors, or would I have some maneuvering to do in order to get inside the terminal. She informed me that she would be able to drop me off directly in front of the terminal entrance. She did, and I entered the building with no issues. After strolling carefully through the open room of the terminal, I was asked by the head clerk if I needed assistance. He directed me to the counter, where I purchased the ticket for the 10:15 bus to Portland. I asked him if it would be possible to have some assistance when I arrived in Portland, as I needed help to get out to the bus stop to catch the Portland Metro bus to the Mall. He told me that he would call the Portland terminal to let them know, and also let the bus driver know. I felt perfectly at ease with this information, and settled into a seat to wait for the departure time.

The next hour was filled with sounds of travelers arriving at the terminal, in anticipation of taking the Portland bus. It did get rather loud and busy inside the terminal, and this did create a little anxiety for me. I have always gotten excited in situations such as this, and without the visual input, I felt a little uneasy by all of the commotion going on around me. Please understand me though, when I say that the level of anxiety that I did feel was very small compared to how I would have been just a few short months ago. I have learned with my lessons, and am able to take charge of my emotions, so as not to let them overwhelm me as they have done so many times these past two years.

The bus departure was announced over the loud speaker, and I could tell where the passengers were leaving the terminal towards the Portland bus, so I got up and started maneuvering towards the doors to the bus. I was approached by the head clerk, and he told me he would be happy to help me get out through the doors, and onto the bus. I told him I would appreciate the help, and was told to wait in the lobby, as he had to go out first and help the driver load the bags into the storage compartments of the bus.

I did take a few steps towards the doors, as I could see the contrast from the light outside. As I approached the doors, I was asked by a passenger if I would like some help outside. I accepted his offer, and made it out to the bus, and in line to board. The driver of the bus came up to me and introduced himself to me, and then offered assistance to board the bus. Once again, I accepted the offering, and soon found myself in the front seat, immediately behind the driver. I sat down and took a deep breath, and felt relaxed, as I had an hour to go before I arrived in Portland. This would supply me with ample time to regain any lost composure, but it also gave me time to recapture some unwanted anxiety, as I was still unsure of the next part of the lesson.

The bus pulled into Portland on time, and as soon as I exited the bus, I was approached by an employee of the Concord Coach’s Portland terminal. He introduced himself to me, and said he would be able to help me out to the Portland Metro bus stop. I felt like I had cheated some how, as this seemed to be a little too easy. I had major concerns about this portion of the lesson, and having him sighted guide me all the way out to the bus stop, well, it was a very good feeling, and I think I shook his hand eleven times as I thanked him.

As I stood at the bus stop enclosure, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt a sense of pride. I felt like I was a million miles from home. I felt a little like an out of place wandering nomad, looking for the next ride to take him to places unknown. It felt exhilarating, and scary, and unbelievably electrifying. I had been in Portland so many times in the past, but this was the first time I had felt like I was really “in” Portland. I felt a little overwhelmed with all of the sounds and smells and as I stood there, I realized that at that particular time, I was experiencing the end results of all of the hard work I had done in all of my lessons. I was being rewarded the fruits of my labor. I was being handed something new, and for the most part, I knew exactly what to do. It felt good, and new, and strangely appropriate.

As I waited for the 11″35 bus to the mall, a young girl came up to the bus stop. I could hear her drop her heavy suitcase, and immediately asked her if she was taking the bus out to the mall. She said that she had been on the bus from Augusta with me, and that she was taking the bus out to the airport, and wasn’t sure if it was the same bus that I was waiting for. The bus stop apparently had a placard on the inside wall that contains the bus routes and numbers of the bus line, and as she studied the information, she told me that indeed, we were waiting for the same bus. I smiled as another piece of the puzzle fell into place.

She told me that she was heading home to New Mexico, and had just finished her year at Colby college. I told her that I lived nearby Waterville. She seemed a little preoccupied, and restrained from talking to me, so I ended the conversation.

As she told me that she needed to go back to the terminal to get some change, the bells from a nearby railroad track sounded. Once again I was hit head on with just how far from home I was, and how vulnerable I felt. This feeling didn’t last long though, as the sound of the approaching bus took charge of the moment.

The bus pulled up to the stop, and the doors opened, with the driver shouting out to me, asking me if I was going to the mall. I smiled and hollered yes. As I approached the bus, he informed me that there was about a foot gap between the curb, and the bus entrance. I thanked him as I climbed on board. As I handed him the fare, he informed me that there were seats open right away on the left. I quickly smacked my way to an open seat. Just as I sat down, I felt a large bag plopping onto the seat to my right. It was the young girl whom I had been chatting with at the bus stop. I smiled, sat back, and took another deep breath. Another piece of the puzzle had been firmly put in place, with just a couple more to go.

The bus ride to the mall was full of all types of audible excitement. The sounds of the air brakes, the city traffic, car horns, sirens, and the sounds of the passengers in the bus, it all sounded wonderfully busy to me. It sounded as though I was listening to a movie. It sounded like I was heading to the mall, and as I smiled again, the bus loud speaker bellowed, “Macy’s, Maine Mall, next stop.”

The bus stopped, and as I got up and moved towards the front of the bus, the driver asked me if I needed help exiting the bus. I smiled, and politely told him that I didn’t. He again told me that there was about a foot gap between the bottom step, and the sidewalk. I thanked him again, and smacked my way down the steps, and out onto the sidewalk in front of Macy’s.

I swept and took several steps until I found the wall of the store, where I turned, took another deep breath, and smiled as I reached into my pocket for my digital recorder, and my cell phone.

I had recorded all of the information that I would need for the trip on my recorder, and quickly found the recording for the Mall Security phone number, which I called. I told the officer on the other end that I had arrived at the Macy’s stop of the Metro route, and that I needed assistance to get into the mall, and to the Apple store. After ending the call, I leaned onto my cane, and wondered if Rosemary was near the area, watching and waiting. I smiled again, and chuckled under my breath.

A couple minutes later I heard the faint sound of keys jingling, and wondered if it was one of the security officers approaching. It was, and as I took his arm, I smiled again. The last piece of the puzzle took it’s place. The finished product, nearly complete. I was on my way into the Mall, and to the Apple store

As we arrived at the store, he asked me if there was someone I was supposed to meet, and what they looked like. As soon as I described Rosemary, I heard her voice behind me, to my left. At that point, I started celebrating in my mind. The confetti and balloons started falling, and as the master of ceremonies congratulated me, I took another deep breath. I had made it. I had successfully thought out, planned, and carried out my last mobility lesson. The hardest lesson of all. The most gratifying lesson of all. The ending lesson of a long line of mind bending, twist turning, gut wrenching stepping stones of the past twenty-one months.

I thanked the Security Officer, shook his hand, and turned my attention to Rosemary. she asked if I was hungry, and I assured her that I was. We made our way to the area of the mall where the food court is located, with her sighted guiding me through the Mall.

We ordered a sandwich and found our seats, and as we sat there and ate, I couldn’t keep from wandering back through the past few hours. I kept going over the lesson, step by step in my head. I tried to stay focused on our discussion, but I found myself still sitting on one of the three buses, making my way to Portland. I felt wonderfully good, and as I took one more deep breath, I was able to take in all of the sounds of the Mall. I had grown up nearby, and had been in the Mall a hundred times during my youth. I knew exactly where I was, and exactly how I got there, and it felt satisfyingly wonderful.

We talked and ate our sandwiches, and then made our way back to the Apple store, where we got some information on some of the apps that are available for their products. I also got the chance to play a little with a new iPad. The store was alive with the sounds of technology. My heart was racing, and I tried to take it all in.

As we left the store, and headed outside to Rosemary’s car, I actually got a small sorrowed feeling that the lesson was finished. I realized that we still had an hour and a half ride back to Waterville, but the lesson felt like it had come to an end.

The ride home was full of discussion about the lesson, the past year and a half, and all of the things that blended into it all. Rosemary told me several times how proud of me she was, and how confident I looked as I stepped off the bus at the Mall. I suppose after hearing this from her, and from others, that it might be starting to sink in that I do have a strong appearance to other people. That how I appear to be on the outside is perhaps slightly similar to how I feel on the inside. Perhaps the scared little boy is starting to look and feel like a competent, capable, strong willed man. Perhaps I may fully take hold of these feelings in the future, but I must hold tight to that scared little boy on the inside who is constantly seeking experience and maturity. I need always remember where that scared little boy has been, and all that he has felt, and been scared of, and overcome, and held passions for. I can safely say that all of what that scared little boy has to offer, will always have a place in the life of the man that stands before the mirror these days. I can never let myself forget how far I have come, and will hopefully never lose focus on how much further I still have to go.

I realize that my journey is not so different than most peoples, in that I have to wake up every morning and live it, no matter what may come along the way. I take on the day, one step at a time. I live my life, one sweep of the cane at a time. I am like all the rest in that respect.

I remember back to the days that followed my sudden loss of vision, and I reflect back on how alone and fearful I was. I remember how much of my life I wanted to trade off. I would have given anything to have been able to work out a deal with God to trade all of my woes, misfortunes and just overall crappy luck for another day of sight. Just one more. That’s all I wanted.

I realize today that my life is right where it is supposed to be. All of the twists and turns that have led me to this day are for but one reason. I have learned what I needed to learn this past couple of years. I still have much to learn, and will take it on, one experience at a time.

I also feel that I needed to learn about other people as well. I needed to learn how to really feel gratitude. I needed to learn how to ask for help, and graciously accept it when it was offered. I have learned how to step back and feel the complete electric charge of pure humility. This, more than any other feeling, has helped me to overcome, and conquer my tightly twisted emotions that had been such an unanswered part of my life. I am able to feel those same emotions these days, and ride them through the experiences that have enabled me with so many wonderfully different learning moments.

I have so many things running through my mind as I write this overview. It is hard for me to put most of it into words, and as I try to get them into this document, I drift back and forth through time.

I realize that my future is at best, uncertain. I also realize that if I continue on the same paths of the last twenty or so months, I will be better prepared to handle the uncertainty of my future, one sweep at a time.

I can never properly express my humbled thanks to the Division for these learning opportunities, and for having such a wonderful instructor as Rosemary placed in my path. I am where I am today because of her devotion, steadfast drive, determination, and wonderfully natural guiding instincts. I am blessed to have been given the chance to work with her, and have grown quite fond of the comfortable feeling of knowing that she has always been just a few steps behind me, ready to teach, ready to praise, and ready to steer me straight.

I realize that every time I leave the comforts of my home, I will embark on a new mobility lesson. I realize that all of the variables of the day will continue to come cascading in on my world.

I also realize that I am no longer fearful of the unknown as I once was. I am ready, willing and able to tackle the rest of my life, one mobility lesson at a time.

To be continued…

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2017 07 28: Journal Post Page 46 July 28, 2017

Well my journal finally screamed long and loud enough for me to realize that the story was sitting there, patiently waiting. Sometimes the really important things in our lives get moved to the side. Sometimes our attention becomes swayed towards the next amazing thing, or wonderful thing, or addictive thing, or whatever thing grabs you by the collar and jerks you sideways. I think it’s safe to say that the most important items of our lives always remain on the front of the shelf, so that we can’t help noticing them every time we walk by.

I’m not sure if this story of mine is an attention grabber, but as I’m writing it, it sure as hell is grabbing hold of mine.

Happy summer day to all of ya’s, and I surely do hope this finds you doing well.

dp

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Page 46
Spring 2012

Spring 2012 instilled many changes into my life. My vision was basically the same, although from time to time the clarity of what I was able to see seemed to grow significantly. The window of vision still remained in the right outer peripheral in a small, vertical crescent moon shape, with a larger window of light perception that brought to me the differences between day and night, light and dark, what I knew was there, and what I couldn’t see. The left peripheral of that same right eye kept reminding me of a possibly total dark future, which I hated with a raged passion.

These small tantalizing slices of better sight usually only lasted a moment or two before I was pulled back into the dull and hazy gray halls of what I had become used to, and what I relied heavily on to help me maneuver my way through the day. The blue colors that I was afforded seemed to be the strongest, which fascinated me, as every time I was startled, the color blue roared in like a cloudless summer sky. I called it Wal Mart blue, and realize now that I’ve probably already told you this. Either way, these curtain calls of color had a great impact on me.

My emotions still came roaring in like a rush of high tide. Some days I seemed to be chugging along at a good clip, not thinking about being blind, not worrying about the rest of my life, not thinking about anything other than the day. I worked hard trying to stay busy, and my computer grabbed the largest chunk of my day.

As I said, the emotions rose and fell quickly, and without warning. Many times I would be overcome with a feeling of hopeless, helpless torment, which usually left me breaking down for a few minutes. It felt like a great power was scouring my heart and soul with a cleansing release of all the worry, panic, fear, frustration, and left me completely worn out. I didn’t like these sudden surges of emotion, but looking back I realize that it was happening for a reason. I’m still learning what that reason was, or should I say, what that reason, is.

That spring I entered the final phase of my O&M lessons with Rosemary. She and I had been trudging up and down the sidewalks of Waterville for nearly two years, and our relationship had grown tighter than ever. I still disliked my lessons, but always felt good about my accomplishments after they were done, and I was writing the overview of the lesson. There was one final assignment that she handed me, and when I first heard what it was, that usual rush of charged electricity set in motion the wheels of resistance that smacked me with the usual reaction, one of which I was neither proud of, or glad to see.

Rosemary laid out the final white cane excursion, but it quickly formed into much more than just an O&M lesson through the streets of Waterville.

To be continued…

 

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

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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 13: Journal Excerpt Page 27 June 13, 2017

When something is out of your control, it can be frustrating to no end, especially when it messes with your plans. I’ve had a plan or two impacted greatly with circumstances beyond my control, and as I would shake my head and curse under my breath, I began to understand and learn the significance of patience and understanding. I’ll tell you right now that I’m still learning, and still do get flustered from time to time, but like I said, none of it is in my control.

If my frustrations are caused by me, then that’s a completely different learning experience.
Grin

Go after it, grab it, live it and learn from it. This life of yours wouldn’t want it any other way.

Deon

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Page 27

Winter continued to roll on through Christmas and the first of 2011. Early in February, I had the privilege of being invited to attend a jobs workshop put on by the Division of the blind in Augusta. Leona was very excited, and when she got excited, so did I.

The first two days of the workshop had me wondering what in hell was going on. The two facilitators seemed to hate the Governor, and made sure that everyone taking the workshop knew about it. They were very unprofessional, and I was left thinking that maybe this was not going to be such a good workshop. The second day of the event, we were supposed to get a storm that afternoon, lasting right through the next day, so they cancelled the classes for the next day, and let us out early that second afternoon. On that second day, Leona came in during a meal break, and sat to talk with me. Apparently she could sense the frustration in my voice as we talked, and later that night, called me to discuss it.

She asked me, and I let into her about how totally perplexed I was by the situation, and did not know how anyone would benefit from the workshop.

She pulled me out of the workshop, and I took it again the next month, which was in March. I am not sure if these two facilitators still do the workshops, but if they do, I pity the participants.

The major event cancelling storm came and went, and the sun was out by nine o’clock that next morning, which was said to be the morning of the biggest storm mankind had ever seen. It was a fairly harmless storm. These days were not going to be able to be made up, so we were going to have to try and squeeze in the work into two fewer days. The facilitators seemed that they wanted to call off that next day in some sort of rebellious tone against the Governor, who had came out and said that if you live in Maine, you should be able to drive in the snow, especially if you had lived here for very long. This particularly seemed to frustrate these state workers, as no Governor that they didn’t vote for was going to tell them when to not take a snow day. It was a pitiful display of spoiled childish behavior, and I was very glad that Leona pulled me out of the workshop. When I took the second workshop, there were people taking the second one who had also been pulled from the first one.

The next event in March was done with professionalism by two facilitators that showed passion and expertise in the materials, and in the way they facilitated the week’s events. I benefitted greatly from the lessons. I still keep in touch with one of the facilitators.

The helper that was assigned to me for the event was Sharon Pottle. She provided the transportation and helped me with reading the printed work in the workshop. We hit it off rather well, and had some wonderful discussions during the half hour trips there and home.

The winter seemed to fly by, although it also seemed longer than the other seasons I had just come through. I missed so many things about the winter. I missed watching the snow fall. I missed being able to drive in the snow. I missed being able to use my snow blower to create the dog paths out in the back yard. I used to love walking the dogs outside after I had finished clearing the paths. It was just so clean and neat looking, and I loved watching them run through the paths. I miss being able to see the turkeys out back by the corn field scratching at the dirt. I missed being able to see the trees after an ice storm. I miss the look of branches laden with ice. I missed so many things about the winter. It was still there, but it just seemed so far away. Sort of like looking at things through a display window at a department store, but not being able to touch the items. Winter seemed to be just out of my reach, along with so many other things.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 12 Journal Excerpt Page 26: Word Count 998 June 12, 2017

email: dplion@roadrunner.com
Word Count 998
Blog Address: http://www.dplyons.wordpress.com

Boy were my perceptions a little distorted back in 2010. Reading back through the journal, it’s apparent to me that I became so needy that I grew to expect things from people. I became selfish and unfeeling outside of my own pain and anguish. As many wrenches as life was throwing at me, it seems that I didn’t do the smart thing, which would have been to catch the wrenches, open my tool box and stock up. What I became good at was blocking the flying tools with my forearms while I cursed my very existence.

I apologize to anyone that I have looked down to, talked down to, and expected things from which was completely uncalled for. I know that I still do fall back into my little nook sometimes, and I’m in no way finished working through the process of grieving. They say that time heals all wounds, but it has become fairly apparent to me that there’s a ton of things that I still need to work on.

While I keep working, I invite you to keep reading. Thank you all for your help, your friendship and once again, away we go.

Deon

***

Page 26

After I returned from the Carroll Center, I also contacted the Lions Club in Clinton because I had heard about them at one of the class seminars at the center. I had no idea that the Lions organization had so much to do with helping folks with vision problems.

I wrote an email to the head of our local chapter here in town, and was answered by the head person. She asked me if I would be interested in speaking at one of their monthly meetings in town. We were invited for the supper event that coincides with the meetings. I gladly accepted and was quite excited at the chance. I thought I would be nervous, but at the end, I was really not. The fact that I could not see the people at the meeting as I spoke probably had a lot to do with my non fear factor. I had always been terrified to speak in front of people in the past, but found that it was rather easy to speak that night.

One of the regional big wigs of the organization was also in attendance at the meeting. He spoke to the group and told them that one of the main reasons that the lions club was formed, was to help and assist people such as me.

We were graciously welcomed at the meeting, and treated with the utmost courtesy and friendship. It was a true fellowship feeling.

I did speak with passion and a little sense of humor, as I always have in those situations. At one point, I was speaking, and Lynne kept whispering for me to turn to the right. I did. She told me to turn to the right a little more. I did. Still, she told me to turn to the right. I asked her if I was speaking to the wall. One of the men at the head table told me that I was speaking to the ,American flag behind the head table. It seemed that as I was speaking, I was slowly rocking back and forth. As I rocked back and forth, my feet shuffled, and continuously slowly turned me around to the left, until I was facing at around seven o’clock. He told me that I was speaking to the flag, and then I put my hand over my heart and said, “Well, God Bless America.” The whole place burst out in laughter. Lynne told me that my ears were beet red, which happens to me when I get embarrassed.

The night was a lot of fun, and I felt really good afterwards. I knew a couple people at the meeting, and they came up to me after to say hi. We left with the feeling that we would be in touch with the Lions Club a lot in the future.

To this day, fall 2011, , we have heard from no one belonging to the organization. I did find out that Leona has also been involved with the organization, and this past spring, she went to one of their regional events at Sunday River. She keeps telling me that the organization is going to be in contact with me about some sort of offer or something. She also wants us to join the organization. I have my doubts.

My folks reached out to the organization when I was an infant, as they were looking at an incredible task of getting my mother and me down to New York City for cancer treatments. The organization did nothing in the form of any kind of help. My folks have held a sore spot in their hearts for the Lions Club ever since. ?This fact, along with the fact that I have had no offerings of assistance what so ever, have left me with a sour taste in my mouth as well.

I realize as I write this that my perceptions of the Lions Club arise from the turmoil I was going through, and in a fractured state of mind as I had laid claim to, strange perceptions and expectations can work in to your mind and play havoc with your approach to many, many things. How can I come to expect things from a source that I knew nothing about? How twisted is that? How twisted was my logic back then? Should I consider this as one of my stepping stones, one of my learning points? Just asking these questions leads me to believe that the answer is, yes.

On that December day back in 2010, I came to the bitter conclusion that I would wait to see what was to transpire. The last thing I wanted was to close any doors in my life. I could not, and can not afford to by any means.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 11 Journal Post Page 25 June 11, 2017

This next segment was written September 2011. When I read through it I realized again that I often wrote how I felt like a complete waste of time. I felt many emotions, and many of those left me wondering, worrying and wandering through a slideshow of a dark place that, even though I didn’t care for, I found myself struggling to not think about.

I know now that by writing about it, I was facing those fears head on in a way that allowed me to explore different understandings of things that were brand new. Its funny how learning how to touch type opened up so many different things for me. Nothing can veer me away from believing that things happen for a reason, and we are exactly where we are meant to be. This time, today, right now is the start of something new. Each minute of each day is a gift. The present.

Pretty cool, huh?

Deon

***

Page 25

It’s been some time since I’ve entered anything again, so here goes.

Those days when I returned home after the Carroll Center were some of the hardest days I have ever lived. They were also some of the most spiritually awakening days of my life. I tried to have a chat with God on a daily basis. A lot of the chats revolved around me asking Him “why?” I did not know why anyone would be left with the vision that I was left with. It really hit home and I felt continuously like I had done something severely wrong to be left with this. It must have been redemption for all of my past faults and past wrongs. I truly did some soul searching back in those days, as I still do today.

The first few weeks after returning home, I was left with a feeling of sheer emptiness. My wife, God bless her, had poured her heart and soul out onto the table for me and everyone else to see. I wasn’t sure just how much fuel she had left in her tank. She has shown me time and time again what a strong woman she is, and that she is in this, along with me, for the long haul. I can not imagine being in her shoes, back then, or now. I must have seemed like such a lost child. Some days I still do.

The months through the winter were long, hard, and cold. I tried to grasp onto everything that I had learned at the center, and for the most part, I think I did the best I could. I still felt like a lost little boy with no sense of purpose. I did keep in touch with Leona, and she told me what I needed to hear. She always did.

Mid way through December, I managed to get the roto tiller rolled back to the garage area. It was very hard for me to know that the tiller had been out there beside the garden all summer, and had not been used. She talked to me, my tiller. She cried to me to let her have a couple runs through the garden. I was not able to run the tiller for obvious reasons, and Lynne just couldn’t run it herself.

That was a part of me that I had lost that really had an impact on me. It really hit home, and I still greave the loss today. My garden had been such a form of independence to me, without even knowing it. Now as I write this, it’s been a full summer of having no garden, and I long to walk through freshly tilled dirt again. Nothing felt better than walking through cool fresh dirt with my bare feet. I just loved it, and miss it greatly.

As I have said before, I am sure that I will gradually get back into gardening, but it’ll be a completely different feeling. Who knows, it just might be even better than before. We would like to get into some form of box gardening, or a small plot so that we may grow some tomatoes again. I think that’s what we miss the most, the roma pear tomatoes. When I walked past the box gardens at the Carroll Center, I could smell the tomato vines, and it almost made me cry. I crave the smell of tomato vines.

Well, winter came, and the snow piled up outside. I did manage to get the front driveway and a few paths out back shoveled. It was extremely hard, and I look back and wonder just how I did it.

I know that I must have run back and forth over the same shoveled areas again and again, because I could not really see the areas already shoveled very well. I did persist though, and managed to keep the driveway and the paths out back all clear all winter.

I did get some help from Mr. Nelson across the street, as he used his Kubota tractor a couple of times to clean the end of the driveway back. The snow at the end of the driveway was piling in from the town plow, and creeping in to the driveway. I had a very difficult time getting the snow up over the banks with the snow scoop. One of the last storms that we got was very heavy and wet snow. I had to use a regular shovel to get the end clear. I thought I was going to have a heart attack before I was all done.

I used to make a running joke about thinking I was doing such a good job at shoveling, until one day my wife drove up beside me and asked if I would like a ride back to the house, because it seems that I had shoveled right past the end of the driveway, and had unknowingly started busily making my way down the road. I got a lot of laughs from that one.

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…