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 23 Journal Excerpt: Page 37 June 23, 2017

 

Our lives are full of stories that we keep with us through time. The years are filled with trends that we latch on to with a ferocity for excitement. Myself, I have what you could call an addictive personality, so the trends, the impulses, the things that latch on to me become very addictive to me, and man do they have a way of changing me. Some of these trends, as quickly as they grab hold of us, they also can just as quickly pack their bags and move on down the road, rapidly being replaced by the next trend, the next impulse.

 

This next page deals with a couple of those trends, those things in my life that had a unique way of latching on to me. Some times we don’t notice one trend being replaced by another, but often times, we do.

 

It’s Friday, and I hope you all have a great rest of your day, and weekend.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 37

Summer 2011

 

There were many instances of my lack of concentration getting the better of me. Through it all, I had to learn how to trust my mobility instructors, and I’m very glad I did. Gaining trust in them allowed me to focus on the most important thing of all, my relationship with my cane. I had to learn how to trust my cane along with trusting my instructors, for my cane was also an instructor. My cane talked to me. It spoke in a language that I had to study, and as I began to understand the cane, I began to figure out how to open the doors of mobility., As I walked through those doors, I learned another lesson, probably the biggest one of all. I began to learn that I lost my vision so that I might learn how to see. The mobility, the assistive technology, the additional heightened senses, the inspiration that was coming at me, that was touching me, that began to rise up from within me, all of these additions to my life were so very unexpected, and to this day I’m still learning from each and every one of them.

 

Other emotions were having their way with me as well. It had been a year since the world had grown dark around me, and through the 2011 summer, I was constantly reminded of just how much I couldn’t see. I was a stubborned blind man with a passion for hanging on to my independence. I didn’t want to let go of the past, of my life with sight, and as the days progressed, small pieces of my past life, of my independence fell through my fingers and away from the present. Every time it happened, I shuddered inside as I lay another part of my past to rest. Realizing all of the things that I couldn’t do any more was a painful task that wreaked havoc on my vulnerable soul.

 

The tears that had flowed so freely began to diminish with time, and with each incident of bitter truth, I eventually felt like a damp dish rag that had been wrung out over and again and over and again. I tried to find things to feel happy about, but the happiness didn’t last long. The smiles quickly turned to a thin lipped frown that was full of anger, resentment and fear.

 

Man, as I write this, I’m being flooded by samples of those emotions. Here it is several years later, and the heart still races, the anxiety still rushes and the doubt still creeps in.

 

That summer of 2011 also saw me say goodbye to a dear old friend. I had written about my roto-tiller that sat idle through the summer of 2010. I wrote about pushing it back to the garage through half a foot of snow in early December. I wrote about how she hollered and screamed at me for just one more chance to run through the garden. As she cried, so did I. Another part of my past was slowly coming to a sad end.

 

I ended up trading the tiller for a 12 string Fender electric acoustic guitar in the summer of 2011. Lynne posted an ad somewhere that I would like to trade the tiller, and at just about the same time, she saw another ad from a gentleman in Moscow who was looking to trade his guitar for a tiller. That’s Moscow Maine. Grin It was meant to be, and saying goodbye to my old ground chomping friend was one of the hardest things I had ever done. If not for another girl entering my life at the same time, I don’t know what I would have done. Holding that guitar in my arms as he drove away with the tiller was the worst of times, and the best of times. I could hear my tiller screaming to me as he drove away, but I also heard a sweet 12 stringed lullaby softly playing in my ear.

 

Man, the emotions that swept down through me during these times was simply amazing. I guess they played a major role in helping to build a new foundation that started to replace the one that was being slowly demolished. Is demolish a good description? I’m sure there’s a more suited word, but at times it sure felt like it was truly being demolished.

 

Life continued to come at me. It didn’t care what I was going through. It didn’t care in the least. It was only able to continue on as before.

 

No matter what.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 22 Journal Excerpt Page 36 June 22, 2017

Here I go again on another emotional trek. It seems that’s mostly what I did back a few years ago. I lived a little, I felt a lot. It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of what I was feeling was so different, I wouldn’t have been able to put a name with the emotion. Fact is, if faced with those same emotions today, I probably still couldn’t pin a name to it. I lived it though, and learned a great deal from it, from them.

 

This next excerpt took me back to a place that I’ll never ever have to worry about forgetting. The level that this page grabbed hold of me was unforgettable, and the lesson learned was priceless.

 

I hope you’re having a great day, and I’ll catch up with ya later on.

 

Be well.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Excerpt describes summer 2011.

 

Page 36

 

With each O&M lesson came different situations which proved to supply me with different experiences. As my written overviews detailed the lessons, they allowed me to go back and explore those experiences from my own unique perspective. So many lessons accompanied so many memorable moments.

 

One of the most memorable of the bunch was the time when I didn’t care much for where the street ended. There I was, walking my way down the sidewalk, when all of a sudden, I took three or four steps onto a lawn. I turned to face Rosemary and asked her what the hell happened, and why I was standing on grass. I imagine she was smiling as she looked at me and told me to figure it out.

 

Well, I turned a quarter turn, then another, then another, and again asked her where I was. The panic slowly subsided, only to be replaced with a level of confusion that I had rarely faced.

 

She was very determined not to help me figure it out, and so as I turned where I stood, I tried to figure it out. The audio clues continued to come at me, but I couldn’t put them to any good use. I looked up to find where the sun was, then listened again to the sounds. Cars going by, children playing, a dog barking, they all mixed into my head like a chef’s salad, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find the ranch dressing.

 

Finally, as I slowly started to remember where we were, the neighborhood, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. The children were out at recess at a school that was at the end of the street where I had been walking. The traffic was running back and forth, which I knew was Pleasant Street. The sun was, for the most part, in the eastern sky, for it was fairly early in the morning. The grass? The grass? Really? Now, let me think.

 

And think I did, until a smile crept across my face.

 

Rosemary asked me what I was smiling about, and I began to tell her what I thought had happened to the wandering goat.

 

I had reached the end of School Street, which had the school on my right as I approached the street corner, the School Street and Pleasant Street corner. This particular street corner was not raised up from the street, but was flush with the street level, which explains why I didn’t detect it with my cane. I swept right past the tactile mat at the corner, not hitting it with my cane, and proceeded to walk right across the street without knowing it. Rosemary had walked up beside me as I approached the corner to make sure there was no traffic coming along Pleasant Street. There wasn’t, so she let me walk across the street, through the opposite sidewalk, which was also level with the street, and up onto the lawn of an apartment building, where I finally realized something was wrong and stopped.

 

This was one of the most awakening moments of my mobility experiences. I will never forget it, and as I write about it right now, those same emotions came rolling in. Remembering back, I am pretty sure that I had become completely caught off guard, mostly because my concentration had been broken. The sounds of the children outside playing at recess picked me up and carried me away. This was the second time we had been around that same block that morning, and I guess you could say I was feeling a little cocky. I was so self assured that there would be no problems to think through, no obstacles to work through, no dilemmas to have to problem solve through. It was just me, my cane, and my misplaced ego against the great big beautiful visual world.

 

Man how 8 seconds can change your attitude.

 

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

***

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 03 Journal Excerpt: Page 17 June 3, 2017

O&M, (orientation and mobility), was a crucial ingredient of my rehab, and of the rest of my life. This mind altering, anxiety building, emotion forcing tool proved to be a new window into my new world. It was a necessity that was brought on by my vision loss. Vision. Boy does that word have a ton of definition. I never realized it fully until I lost it, but did I?

I write a lot about O&M because I felt a lot of it, experienced a lot of it and learned a great deal from it.

Well, that’s about enough of that, and here’s some more of this.
Have a great day, and thanks.
Deon

***

Page 17

My mobility instructors name was Heather, and I thought that we hit it off ok. She had a raspy voice that could not be mistaken for anything other than her. She had a good sense of humor and it showed. I found myself growing quite fond of her, even though she continued to boot my ass all over the campus and the town for that matter.

One of the first lessons we had was to go to what they called Newton Center, or Newtonville, which was a fairly busy part of the town. Little did I know what I was getting into as I had never experienced anything quite like what I was about to go through.

We walked to the busy side of one of the blocks and she proceeded to tell me to go find CVS and buy a pack of gum and then come back out. I walked down the entire length of the block figuring that I would be able to find the store front on sight alone. Man oh man was I ever wrong. This would be the first of many times that my crappy vision would play tricks on me.

After walking back and forth along the block, I came to the stark reality that I would not be able to do this on my own. I didn’t know what to do. I was mystified and baffled and felt all alone in a strange town in a strange state. A state of confusion was more like it. I was honestly as humbled as I had ever been in my life.

After what seemed like 4 hours, I finally figured out that I did need assistance and it was up to me and only me to get it. So I did.

I asked the first person, the first shadow I noticed walking by and they assisted me to the front of the store. I did manage to walk in and make it to the sales counter. I could see well enough to know where I was inside the store and managed to purchase a pack of gum. It felt strangely wonderful, and at the same time I was terrified as hell.

I made it out to the front of the store and reunited with Heather. I felt a little cocky as to why she had given me such a simple task. We then proceeded to walk back around the corner to the car. Along the way I managed to mistake a car on the side of the road as a car in a parking lot. I walked around to the right of the car and proceeded to walk right out into the road. Heather managed to grab hold of me and pull me back onto the sidewalk. She composed herself and asked where in hell I thought I was going? I had no clue what I was doing or the danger I was putting myself in. Once again I wanted to go home and wake up from the horrible nightmare.

When we finally made it back to the car, I broke down and lost my composure. I felt completely chewed up and spat out. I felt like I was a completely lost soul with no hope of ever finding a way out of this mess that I was in. Helpless, hopeless and useless is the best description I can come up with. Those are 12 step slogans and boy did they fit my mental state at that moment.
Once again I had beaten myself up, after I had been told that I shouldn’t beat myself up. I was very hard on myself for the predicament I had let myself get into. I was a lost cause in my mind and I needed help.

Heather was as cool as a cucumber. She told me everything I needed to hear and quite a bit of the stuff I didn’t want to hear. They were for the most part, one in the same.

I grew rather close to her that day. She was able to pull me back from the pummeling I was giving myself. She was able to reassure me that I was right where I needed to be and that part of the learning process was the figuring out the mistakes and errors. There were going to be a whole slew of them for sure. I didn’t disagree. I couldn’t.

Those first few mobility lessons were a drastic step sideways for me. They weren’t forward, nor were they backwards. They were exactly what I needed to get my bearings and helped me set the tone for my rehabilitation in the next coming weeks. I hated the days when I had Heather’s classes, and the other days, well, I hated them a little less.

To be continued…

 

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

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

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

Deon

***

Written May 30, 2011. Describing August 2010.

Page 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

 

2017 05 27: Poetry, Sweep May 27, 2017

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

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

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

Deon

***

Sweep
Written 09 29 2012

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

And the struggle to learn continued.

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

Deon

***

Page 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…