Surviving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care.

Deon

***

Page 30

Nov. 12 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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2017 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

***

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 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 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 04 05 National Poetry Month: Invisible World April 5, 2017

The fourth of the fourth. Has sort of a nice ring to it, wouldn’t you say?

As a lot of you know, being blind can easily turn into a state of mind. Some days we’re the windshield, and some days, well, we ain’t. When I reach out for an object, a door knob, a glass of water, and my hand ends up exactly where I intend for it to be, man that’s a good feeling.

And then there’s those times when everything seems to be two inches to the right of where it’s supposed to be.

I used to write a lot about losing vision, but it seemed as though there were those periods of time when that was all that I wrote about, and the repetition really seemed to gnaw at my core, for as my writings tend to lean towards the opinion that being blind was, is the last thing on this earth that I want to be, or do, or exist with.

And then, I write some more.

This poem digs deep into the fabric of a mind gone blind, a mind looking for a place to be, a mind looking to find a way to see without the light of vision.

And enough with the rhetoric from the ridge.

I hope you all had a great Tuesday, and thanks for allowing me to explore the possibilities that writing affords me.

Be well and keep on writing.

Dp

***

***.Invisible World

Gathering strength of mind.
Hoping the footsteps will keep in time.
The future cleverly hides in the shadows.
Fading glimpse of independence threatens to be only what used to be.

Obscured visions slow the footsteps to a crawl.
An invisible canvas searches for a colorless world.
Artistic voices paint their faces from within.
A character is revealed.

Lightless days quickly become the past.
A new chapter searches for a title.
The student’s cane sweeps across an invisible world.
Begin to learn, to teach, to live.

 

02 17 17 Anybody Know Why? February 17, 2017

I still like to write, but I ain’t writ much since Christmas. Anybody know why?

I started another semester of school four weeks ago. I didn’t get too excited about it. I usually do. Anybody know why?

I found a chocolate bar in the fridge that I didn’t know was there. This would usually cause me to smile and go, Ooooooo. I didn’t do either of those two things. Anybody know why?

I got one of my favorite sandwiches from Subway this afternoon, which usually tastes really, really good. Today it tasted like rubber chicken. Anybody know why?

If it sounds like I’m a little down, a little depressed, a little sad, a little off track, a little befuddled, a little flustered, a little blue or a little bayou then perhaps I am.

Anybody know why?

I know one thing, and that’s that I have seen my shovel in my hands more times this past week than I can remember for a long, long time. I’m glad I had a shovel to put in my hands, but to tell you the truth; I would have preferred to see it in someone else’s hands.

Do I sound a little agitated, a little frustrated, a little pissed off, a little perplexed? I know one thing. My mind is in a frozen state of white out, and I think I need me some more cow bell.

Anyone know why?

The dryer just made a ding noise, which means that the load of wet laundry is probably all dry, which means that I should open the door of the dryer, put the clothes in a basket, take it out and put it on the kitchen table and put the clothes away.

This is not causing me to feel overly joyous or incredibly uplifted.

Anybody know why?

 

2016 04 20 Poetry: Cars April 20, 2016

I’ve driven a few miles in my day. Frost heaves, detour signs, unplowed roads, dirt roads, pot holes as far as the eye can see, it’s a lifetime of experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I figured out one day how many miles I have driven, and the best, roughest total I could come up with, determining the trips to Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Florida, Down East, to the mountains, to the coast, and all of the work miles, it all added up to around two and a half million miles. That’s a lot of driving, and that’s probably a pretty good reason why I don’t miss driving yet. I miss the independence, but I just don’t seem to miss it all that much. I suppose having my own private chauffeur makes the transition a little easier. Thank God for that.

Today is the 20th of April, and this is the 20th poem of the month. I have to admit that I’m cheating a little on this one, as I wrote the following poem three years ago. I always loved this one, so here you go.

If you drive, thank your lucky stars that you have the ability. If you don’t, be grateful whenever you get a ride. If you walk wherever you go, pay attention, because there’s a ton of crazies out there gripping the wheel like I used to.

Tell you the truth, I think I miss riding my John Deere lawnmower more than I do driving a car, or a truck.

And here we go. Have a great day, and don’t forget to buckle up.

dp

***

Car
A poem by DP Lyons

The wind whistles in through the barely open window.
the smattering of tires on wet pavement strains the concentration.
Frayed Windshield wipers sway back and forth like a gold pocket watch.
Restless fingers tap on a cracked dashboard.

Rear view mirror reflects a traveled past .
The radio tunes in and out of the oldies station.
A lone maple leaf clings to the wiper for dear life.
Three empty cans roll across the back seat floor mat.

A busted belt buckle lies empty across a torn vinyl seat .
The car turns sharply left while a hubcap quickly rolls right.
A tire jack in the trunk slams against a busted cooler.
The glove compartment door springs open, again.

The cup tray hangs straight down.
The volume knob for the radio falls off, again.
The right rear speaker rattles and vibrates as a song on the radio hits a low note.
The engine belt slips and squeaks, again.

The needle on the gas gauge reads one eighth of a tank.
The check engine light flickers on and off, again.
As the car turns sharply right, a warped cassette case slides across the dash to the left.
The jack in the trunk slams into the busted cooler, again.

She looks over at you and grabs your hand as you smile, wink and step on the gas.