Surviving

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

2017 05 28: Journal Excerpt Page 11 May 28, 2017

Filed under: Essay,Humility,Inspiration,Life,Perception,Writing — DP Lyons @ 7:26 am

There’s certain periods in my life when I have been faced with difficult tasks. The build up to these times were hard, mostly because I would go through the possible scenarios in my mind time and time again. Man what a waste of time that was. I’m sure most of you know what I mean, because we’re all so much alike in this respect.

Being faced with so many new experiences, 2010 was the largest stepping stone my life had ever seen, and there I was, smack dab in the middle of it. If not for the people in my life, I would have drifted off into the land of no return, but the people were there, in my life, crossing my path, and for that, I became as grateful as a goat could ever be.

Summer was heading towards fall in a flurry of activity, and as the time continued to move forward, the learning never stopped.

Be well all, and enjoy it all.

Deon

***

Page 11

My O&M lessons with Rosemary continued to be some of the hardest things I have evrer had to do. Time and time again the lessons proved to be quite humbling, and a continuous smack upside the head with an assortment of blows from reality. I remember getting home from the lessons exhausted. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I didn’t like the lessons in the least. I still don’t like them, but I realize that they are probably one of the most necessary things I have ever done in my life. Nothing has ever had more of an impact on me than these. Nothing has ever tore me down to ground level like these have. Nothing has proven to be the hardest thing I have ever done, ever. Nothing compares. Nothing.

I still feel that when I’m out on a lesson, I’m putting myself out there for the whole world to see. I might as well be walking down the road bare naked with tassles stapled to my ass and earlobes. That’s what it feels like sometimes.

Sorry for that devastating mental image.

That’s the kind of mental anguish that I put my self through in my mind. I can’t stop it. Although I do feel rather good about my accomplishments afterwards. I get a feeling of gratitude also though. Gratitude that the lesson was all over with until the next one. Until the next one. There always seemed to be a next one.

Over all I felt quite awkward walking the sidewalks of Waterville. I went through, and still go through spurts of bad balance and dizziness. It seems that the harder that I try to utilize my sight, the harder it is on me. I do get quite dizzy and confused and frustrated when I concentrate and try to get some use out of my limited vision. It’s like everything is right there, just out of sight a little. If I could only reach out and pull the stuff out of the mirky muck and into some good vision, everything would be so much better. I convince myself sometimes that I can see better than I really can. It’s almost like I’m building a version of what’s really inside my mind. The version of my minds scenarios is occasionally pretty close to what actually is, but I have found out more than not that it can sometimes be very far from the correct version.

Well August brought with it a young man who had exactly what I wanted. He had the cutting edge of assistive technology in the palm of his hand. He had the vision of a sighted man, but without the vision. He oozed confidence and demanded attention without asking for it. Everything that he embodied was what I needed now more than ever. He had so many of the same qualities that Leona had. It was remarkable. He still amazes me today. Probably more today than before. I know more today just exactly what the level of knowledge that this man has.

Steve sawczyn entered my life in early August, and I have been on screech ever since. He introduced me to a world that I never imagined. He introduced me to a part of my mind that I never knew existed. He brought it all to me with the stroke of a key. He introduced me to a place in this world where people like me have a voice, a say, a place in the sun.

I would be a lot different person today if not for the introduction, or re-introduction to my pc. I don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

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…

 

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

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

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

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

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

Deon

***

Page 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

 

2017 05 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…

 

2017 05 17 Essay, Poetry: Old Habits May 17, 2017

Hey there.

I just finished another semester at college last Friday, and as the dust settled down, a thought occurred to me. As much as it feels like I just finished something, there’s something else that’s just about to start. It’s as if I needed to finish one thing, so I could get started on another. Ain’t life funny like that sometimes?

I guess it’s all about the task at hand, like life is one “thing” after another. Don’t you dare loosen your grip, because there’s another one coming around the corner with your name written all over it. No time for self adulations or being able to take a break. Nope. None of that, well, that is if you’re not one to grab a seat and take it easy for the rest of your life.

Granted I don’t take on things like I used to, but on the same note, it seems that things didn’t slow down much when it comes to me. I guess my memo didn’t get out on time or something.

I think we are who we are because of what we do. Perhaps you can spin that around to look at it as though what we do is because of who we are? Maybe it’s a little of both?

The way I do things totally changed these past few years. My abilities changed, my perceptions changed, my reactions to certain things, how I move through my day, how I interact with folks, it’s so different today, and to think that with each day I see, feel and react to new things, or are they really new?

A year ago I lost the rest of my sight, and the changing happened all over again, or did it just continue? The light from the window, the shine of the chrome, the sun in the sky, the contrast of white on black, it all came to a screeching halt, and as I changed again, the way I think about things, realize things, perceive things, absorb things and search for things changed, again. I don’t see my vision changing any more. I don’t see myself trying to find the light, the shine, the morning haze, the evening stars, the full moon, because even though they’re still there, and I can see them in my mind, I’ll never actually see them again.

It’s funny though how I catch myself turning to try and see something going on around me, still. Standing in the bathroom a few days ago, I heard a strange bird call outside. I leaned over to the window and looked at the spruce tree outside, or where I thought the spruce tree should be. I didn’t realize I couldn’t see it until I had looked out through the window and up at the tree. As soon as I realized what I had done, I smiled, chuckled, shook my head and turned away from the window. For those few moments, the picture in my mind turned itself into reality, and boy did it feel good, if only for a moment.

I do these same sorts of things a lot while I do up the dishes in the kitchen. When I am wiping them dry, I turn to put the dish away in the cupboards, and sometimes I reach out to grab the cupboard door handle, and I can see it. I reach out for it, and there it is, exactly where I reach, exactly where it should be. Man oh man how the mind can help to fill in the blanks.

Old habits have a hard time dying sometimes, or is it that I’m still trying to live?

The ability of the mind to see is a habit that I hope will never die.
So far, so good.

The following poem was written a few years ago, but it seems to fit in with this essay. I guess I’m continuing with the theme of April. An essay, a poem, a mark in time.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day.

dp

***

Mindful Sight

Darkness to the left and to the right
The vision, unseen, lies just ahead
Trudging on through muddled footsteps of the mind
The glimpse of light stolen from sight

With staff in hand the journey begins
Step lightly over unseen paths
The mind wraps around it all
Announcing the unseen visions

Walk through the fear and anxious days
With eyes not seeing, the stories still unfold
The pages turn one by one
And endless chapter of a new journey begins

Helpful hints arise amidst the countless curves
The paths walked before call out with familiar phrase
Twisting there and here against the grain
Rolling on towards sunlight’s invisible touch

With memories of sighted mind
I reach for the light within
Cascading down through the limbs of life
Refreshing the heart, mind and soul

Falling forward, life tumbles on
Unknown roads and unseen faces
Call out a familiar name
Reaching out a familiar hand

Oh humbled soul, take the steps
Walk the mile of frozen fear
The book is open and lesson learned
True visions lie from deep within the pages

Sighted past, forget me not
Remind me of the colors I still see
Explain what I’ve been able to feel
Build shape from the things that I touch
Give voice to the faces dancing in my mind

 

2017 05 15 Poetry: Bitter Grin May 15, 2017

Hey.

Addiction comes in many different forms, but they are all very similar. The capture of the spirit and soul leaves the addicted with a feeling of helpless, hopeless destruction that can happen slowly, or quickly. Deception is the key, as false promises tend to fool even the strongest of hearts.

I have suffered through periods in my life where my addictions controlled how I acted, reacted, believed, and with a simple alluring stare, the addictions convinced me that I couldn’t live without their influence.

Through the help of loved ones, the halls and my God, I have been able to keep away from the spiraling decent that darkened so many of my days, but in reality, I only have today, and my oh my how many of the todays can seem to last forever.

The following poem was written with respect to addiction. It’s a rather dark poem, but it’s also a reality check, from my own perspective anyway.

Thanks for dropping by, and please remember that no matter where you go, there you are, so try and make a good day out of it.

dp

***

Bitter Grin

Beasts of desire approach a vacant soul
Scattered notions of sympathy lend nothing for a fevered lust
Broken fingers reach for the hand of a deceitful friend
Agonizing hope beside a bitter grin become common place

Soldiers of sorrow hungrily loom over their pleading prey
Character of doubt accepts the tainted promises from a darkened enemy
Merciless pawns of destruction revel amidst a weakened foe
Spiralling depths completely consume an altered stare

Weapons of suicide are thrust into a hollow victim
Shattered dreams are paired with unforgiving reality
Innocence of the addicted wanders through the haunted night
One single choice is disguised as a thousand possibilities