Category Archives: Orientation and Mobility

Blind People Can’t Do That – Changing our Expectations

My friend @BigBadEd sent me a link to a This American Life podcast episode this morning. I told him I’d listen while eating my serial, I mean cereal.

I had seen a retweet from Ed for a podcast asking the question, can expectations make blind people see. I gave it a split second thought about listening and then just kept reading tweets about the Golden globes and skipping passed pictures of cats. But then Ed specifically sent me a mention with a link to the podcast so I changed my mind and decided to listen. Why the initial hesitation? I had contempt prior to investigation and figured it was just more sighted people talking about something they think they know about even though they don’t. I trust Ed though and since he made it a point to bring my attention to the podcast, I decided it must be good. Especially since it’s a This American Life podcast and they brought us Serial which I loved. Also, the episode was called Batman. Huh? Did I hear that right? Yep, it’s called Batman and you can play it here.

I opened the tweet on my iPad and started the episode while I poured a bowl of chocolate frosted mini wheats. Shut up, they’re good.

The podcast begins with some fun science about rats that I found interesting. Maybe science is the wrong word. It was a social experiment with rats. Then it moved on to talking about this blind guy and I was like oh great a blind guy. A blind guy who clicks. This was nothing knew to me but it was entertainment while I ate my mini wheats.

This guy has been on the news showing off his clicking and I was like what’s special about him? He’s riding a bike which he can do because he can click? Before I went blind I saw a Dateline show or 20/20, one of those shows, about a blind kid who rode his bike and played basketball, all by clicking. Just the way this guy in the podcast rides his bike. the podcast acted like this had never been seen before and I just kept thinking about that kid I saw, literally months before I went blind. I even told B I should learn that clicking thing in case my other eye ever went blind. I clicked my tongue a few times, we had a laugh, I moved on. Just FYI, that is a really hard skill to learn, the clicking thing. He’s lucky he figured it out when he was a kid.

But then I warmed up to this guy on the podcast when he admitted how much he hates showing off his bike riding skills. It’s like, yeah I can ride a bike or bake cookies or take a computer apart or insert whatever it is that I or you or your kid or sister, blind or sighted, does. It’s like so what? That was this guy’s attitude.

One of the first blind people I met when I started getting my “blind education” at Saavi all those years ago is a guy just like this clicking guy except he doesn’t click. I was amazed by him, that he could get around the blind center without a cane. I was amazed by him because I was newly blind and didn’t have that confidence yet. Granted, I still would not walk around the blind center without a cane or Jayden like he does, but he was blind since he was a baby just like this clicking guy. When you learn skills as a child, it sticks.

*Aside* You know what’s weird? I had a dream about that guy just last night. The day before Ed sends me a podcast about a clicker guy who reminds me of dream guy. I was getting a manicure and the guy from Saavi walked in to tell me he got a Mac. He wanted to shake my hand but my nails were wet. Huh?*End aside*

So the podcast went on to talk about just that, and they talked to clicking guy’s mother and how she let him just be when he was a child. She let him climb trees and fences even when neighbors and the police told her oh no, he could get hurt. I was thinking, any kid could get hurt climbing a tree. I sure did when I was a kid. I remember watching a friend fall off our fence right on her face. We were all sighted. clicking guy’s mom let him be a normal kid and he’s grown up with the ability to see even though he has no eyes. The point was that her expectations for him were that he would be independent, especially when she saw how he developed ways of doing things without sight.

Ding ding ding! That’s when I got excited and thought about how my own blind life has been influenced by other people’s expectations for me. The point of the podcast was that we can see in our ways when the sighted stop putting expectations on us. There were interviews with other blind people, with professionals who work in the blind field etc. It turned out to be a very good podcast.

It got me thinking about how Saavi treated me when I started going there for training. They eased me into getting around there independently. On the podcast, they talked about how so many blind kids and newly blind adults are led around constantly, how food is brought to them etc. I thought back to my experience at Saavi and at Guide Dogs for the blind and they would certainly help you get around if you asked but they didn’t force the issue. After I learned how to use the white cane, I got around on my own at Saavi and actually led other blind people around who didn’t know the center yet. yes, the blind leading the blind. Saavi taught me how to safely use a knife and a stove. They taught by showing and then having us do. How else can one learn? I joke about Dave, my old orientation and mobility teacher, locking me in an elevator at the mall. Yes, it was a scary experience when he told me to go to the bottom floor and then come back up and then he walked out. My heart raced and I couldn’t believe he left me but how else was I to learn to do things on my own without him?

However out in the real world, people aren’t like the people at Saavi and GDB. They see a blind person getting near the street and freak the freak out. They don’t realize that being blind means we have to get up close and personal to something a sighted person can see from hundreds of feet away. I have to find a curb with my cane that you can see from way over there. Jayden can see it from way over there too but he has to take me right to it so I can feel it with my foot.

This is where the problem is and the podcast pointed that out when the clicking guy was working with a five year-old who had to find a curb by walking right up to it. His godmother freaked out and stopped the kid from learning how to do it his way.

Damn but this helped me understand the people in my life! When I’m on my own, I just do things. When I’m with B, the way I do things change. His expectations bleed on to me. When I’m out on my own I figure stuff out in my own way, the way I’ve had to learn to do. There’s no way sighted people can read my mind and know how I’m going to do something and the expectation is that “blind people can’t do that”.

Wow.

I never thought I would learn something about sighted people by listening to that podcast when it first started. Since I’ve gone blind I try to be an open book, to answer questions people have without getting offended because I remember when I was sighted being amazed by blind people. I don’t ever want to stop being open, but I did find myself being closed with that pesky contempt prior to investigation. I’m so glad I listened to it.

When the kid’s godmother stopped him while he was trying to find the curb, I thought back to an experience I had at the hotel in Florida. Jayden and I got lost and no one jumped out to help. I don’t think anyone was around or if they were, they were very quiet. Jayden and I wandered around for awhile until I got sick of being lost and asked a jogger for help.

That’s how it should bee. Don’t jump in and help because you assume someone needs it or that “blind people can’t do that.”

I could go on and on about this but just go listen to the podcast whether you’re blind or sighted. For the blind, it might shed some light for you on why the sighted are the way they are. For the sighted, well I can’t say what it might shed light on for you.

This goes so much deeper than how the sighted people’s expectations effect the blind. How about expectations about men and women, black and white? Could the root cause of all the isms out there simply be caused by expectations? We expect a woman to be weaker than a man, a white person to be better than a black person? Is it all down to expectations causing groups of people to be what they are? B thinks it would be dangerous for me to walk in my neighborhood since there’s no sidewalk, or along the nearby street that has a sidewalk but lots of driveways because he can’t imagine doing it the way I do it so that fear has rubbed off on me and I haven’t gone exploring even though I have the needed skills to avoid getting hit by a car. Heck, i pay more attention than some sighted people walking down the street texting. The news and social media expected the destruction in Ferguson. Did that have an effect on the people there? We expect people to act in a certain way so they do?

Food for thought.

PS – I appreciated that clicking guy said anyone could learn that skill and use it to ride bikes and hike and stuff as long as they didn’t have another disability stopping them.

Random Link from a Random Tab

A tab I had open when I opened the podcast link had a Mental Floss article about why electrical plugs are different in Europe. I thought I’d share for your inner Arthur Weasley.

1 Comment

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, dream, fellowship, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, twitter me this, white cane, working dog

Tampa Bay Trip – Day Four: Ferg’s and the Radio Booth

First let me thank Josh Groban for “cleansing my pallet” (my listening pallet?) so I could focus on happy memories. I’m currently reading the new Stephen King book and I had let it sour my mood. Music saved the day this morning, yay!

So Tuesday April 1, 2014. This day ranks right on top of all of the days. A bunch of us met at Ferg’s Sports Bar before the game. One can’t visit from away and not do the Ferg’s thing. I had been looking forward to it for months! Our group even had our own section reserved! The red carpet treatment was everywhere! I am just me, right?

I had slept great the night before thank goodness. So I was well rested and fresh. It was awesome to experience Ferg’s, a place I had heard so much about. It’s really cool. There’s different levels and wood floors that sound cool to walk on. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and that’s where our section was. The actual bar area is where the music is so it was quieter outside. I hear it gets pretty crazy at night after games so I was glad we went beforehand.

I was craving a burger with fries and an iced tea. I can’t remember what it was called, but I got a burger with blue cheese and bacon. It reminded me of a burger I used to get at The Diner, before it closed. It tasted similar too! Unfortunately I couldn’t eat it all. Nerves! I mean really?

Hanging out at Ferg’s was so relaxing. Hearing happy voices around me, music, fellow Rays fans, it was the best!

One of the people who was there was Adam Pendleton. He had been signed by the Rays and reported to Spring Training and was so interesting to talk to! It was like an inside look at Spring Training! I don’t remember how we got on the subject of pitching grips but if I had been anticipating what would happen next, my nerves would have ratcheted up even more!


Direct youtube link

Thanks Davis for taking the video and having a spare baseball in the car! Adam signed the ball for me and it is now in a protective display box. That experience was going to be hard to top! The video didn’t capture Adam explaining the two and four seem fastballs but those were the easiest pitches to remember haha.

I had an idea about how a split finger was held thanks to Dave and Andy a few years back describing it on air and explaining how that can be tender around the elbow joint. I remember trying it, without a baseball, just spreading my index and middle fingers apart as far as they would go and it definitely hurt.

I remember asking B what a knuckleball was when I was first starting to study baseball and he showed me with a tennis ball. Those were my two experiences with pitching grips before I met Adam. Thanks to my Twitter friend Eric, for bringing your awesome son!

the food came after that and I was midway through when my friend Kaitlyn arrived. Did we scream? I can’t remember. She is my YOUNGIFIER on Twitter and that translated perfectly in person. She is like the sister I never had and I adore her!!!

After we settled up at Ferg’s, we were set to walk to the park. Ferg’s is across the street from Tropicana Field and there is a walkway under the street. So cool! It goes right up to the main gate.

I had Jayden’s dinner with me and Manda, Kaitlyn and I stopped along the way to feed and relieve the boy. I was giving everyone human guide lessons and today was kaitlyn’s turn haha. We met up with her mom outside the gate, went through security and into the main gate. I got a little panicky in there because there were tons of echoes. Echoes mess with my hearing which messes with my spatial reasoning. At the blind center here, they have foam “art” that gets rid of echoes. I don’t like echoes haha. Kaitlyn and I hustled it to the elevator. There was a picture of Jeremy Hellickson in the elevator and Kaitlyn is the biggest Helli fan alive. It was too funny!

Dave Haller had let me know that one of the Spanish radio broadcasters, Enrique Oliu, and his wife Debbie would be waiting for me in the suite. As soon as we walked in, he was there! Enrique is also blind . He’s got a great story! It was great to talk with him. When I said I would be visiting Dave and Andy during the game, he told me to be sure to stop by the Spanish booth.

Oh did I forget to mention that? Yep, I was scheduled to visit Dave {Wills} and Andy {Freed} in the radio booth during the third inning! I met them in Arizona last year when the Rays played the DBacks, but I was so excited to see them again and be in the booth!

We settled in to get ready for the game. Kaitlyn was on my right and I have to wonder if people thought we were a bit crazy hehehe. We had so much fun together! She truly is my YOUNGIFIER. I got to be my unbridled silly self with her. I tend to tone my silliness down. Most adults tone their silliness down. I guess I’m Peter Pan at heart.

She kept gazing at Hellickson in the Rays dugout haha. It was just too awesome. Oh and guess who else came by the suite? Tiffany! She’s the woman who keeps David Price in line. I’ve talked to her quite a bit on Twitter and it was so wonderful to meet her! I’m so glad she came by!

Dave Haller came to take me to the radio booth. Excited! Davis came with to get pictures and video. the radio booth was on the same floor as the suite and not far away. We got there and I could hear them talking as we stood outside the door to the booth. I had just been listening to them on my littler radio and there they were, in front of me! We stood silent until the second inning ended and as soon as they went to commercial they got up and came over to hug me. Happy reunion! There were two steps down to their desk and they were both very helpful helping me get to the seat they rolled over between them for me to sit. I got Jayden settled between them and Dave stuck a set of headphones on my head. I could hear the commercials. Dave was on my left, Andy on my right and I told them that’s how I always imagined them. I asked if they had ever mentioned that but they didn’t know. Later I figured out that the reason I probably always pictured them that way is because Dave is a lefty.

The top of the third inning started and I heard Dave and Andy in my headphones as I sat between them. What. An. Experience! Rays Radio emailed me a copy and told me I could share it, so so click to listen if you like. During the commercial break we talked and I met Steve Carney finally, getting an awkward hug.

I had forgotten to bring the cookies I was going to bring to the booth so they told me to come back the next day. Yes please! There were hugs all around and then I stopped by next door to listen to the Spanish broadcast. I don’t speak Spanish but I was pretty sure I heard “bonita” and “perro”. So I think they were saying I had a pretty dog haha. I recognize some words. Sometimes if the 620 WDAE feed is having problems in Gameday audio, I’ll tune into the Spanish broadcast just to keep an idea of what’s going on. Even when you only know one percent of the Spanish language, it’s amazing what you can pick up when you are a dedicated student of the game.

It was awesome to talk to Adam during the game and ask him what he thought was wrong with Alex Cobb. Cobb just wasn’t sharp on the second game of the season. It was too cool to talk the game with someone who had seriously played it. The rest of the game I was silly with Kaitlyn, mingled with my other friends and cheered the Rays to their first loss of the season. I definitely enjoyed the experience, if not the outcome.

I feel like I’m missing something. Wednesday was the truly crazy day so maybe my mind is already focusing on that haha! I might take a break and finish this trip remembrance Monday and give my arms a break. Though I don’t want to lose the momentum, so we shall see.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #RoToTrop, baseball, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, music, num num food, Orientation and Mobility, silly girl, twitter me this, video, working dog, wow, youtube

“Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson

When I began Orientation and Mobility lessons a few months after going blind, I was amazed to learn that using a white cane involved so much more than just interpreting sensations in the hand holding the cane. My instructor, Dave, taught me to begin paying attention to sounds outside my apartment. Hear that traffic? If you ever get turned around, listen for the traffic and use the sound to point yourself in the direction of your apartment. Years later I would use this skill after arriving home with my guide dog while he was learning the lay of the land.

Dave also taught me how to listen for buildings and hear the difference between a flat building front and an alcove or covered area. I used this a lot while learning my home area since those sounds became landmarks. Instead of the mailbox on the corner letting me know I was close to my destination, the different sound the cane made as I passed by an aluminum overhang became my landmark.

Dave taught me how to tell which lane a car was in as we stood next to a three lane road. He would stand me near a bend in a busy street and have me point to where I thought the intersection was. In buildings and stores he would have me stop and listen for the sounds of a cash register or talking. When I expressed fear of entering a public bathroom alone, he found a blind female coworker who told me to listen for the sounds of the sinks, the hand dryers, the paper towel dispensers, the flushing toilets. Remember those sounds in relation to the door and you’ll be fine.

As I learned all these skills I couldn’t help but remember a television documentary I had watched with B back when I was blind in just one eye. This documentary was about a boy who lost his eyes as a baby. B and I watched in amazement as this boy road his bike, skateboarded, shot basketballs and didn’t miss, all by clicking his tongue. When the program ended I turned to B and said, “I should learn that in case my other eye goes blind.” I clicked my tongue a few times but the thought of losing my other eye never seemed like a reality. Who knew a year later I would begin to learn the basics of echolocation without even knowing it.

When I read “Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson, I found myself remembering those early days of O & M Lessons with Dave and smiling. While learning to navigate the world without sight was frustrating and terrifying, there were also some really fun times. This book was a refresher for me in many ways but it also introduced new skills and concepts. It can be exhausting moving around the world with your ears. Johnson gives examples of relaxing exercises and techniques to practice to assist with honing your hearing, decipher sounds and open your mind. I think this is invaluable to help with energy conservation. I have found myself focusing on these things in the days since I read this book.

Johnson makes it clear that this book is not a replacement for O & M lessons with a qualified instructor. He also gives information about centers where one can go to specifically learn echolocation. I would love to be able to attend this kind of training! I remember when I was first blind, navigating around my apartment and stopping just before I hit a wall. I remember telling people, “I heard the freaking wall!” I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out in detail just how it worked that day I heard the wall.

Johnson explains sound waves and why certain objects sound the way they do when a click or clap bounces off of them and back to the ears. He explains how the visual cortex in the brains of the blind still function, allowing us to build images in our minds from the things we feel and hear. I ate this information up since I love brain science. When I finished this book I felt brain tired, just like I do when I read books about science. I love it! I also had an aching tongue from all the clicking I did as the book described different techniques. Johnson flawlessly uses descriptions to teach you all the different ways you can click.

I recommend this book for anyone, blind or sighted. Even if you are not interested in learning echolocation, it is still a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys learning something new. “The Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation” is available in print from Amazon with large print available and audio coming soon. You can also download the book in MS Word format to read with your screen reader.

We don’t think about the kinds of echolocation we use every day. Whether using a white cane or a guide dog, if we can hear, we can see our surroundings as we move through the world with our mobility aids. There are even some days I can tell when it’s cloudy, just based on how different the traffic sounds. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful to be able to sharpen all my tools as I continue trudging along on this sightless journey. My thanks to Tim Johnson, for devoting his time and skills to this book!

*Addendum* Exciting news! I heard from Tim Johnson and the audio book is now available for download here, and will soon be available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes!

4 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, blind opinion, cool product, gratitude, guide dogs, NaBloPoMo 2012, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, white cane

Doggy Diaries – Jayden saved my face

O & M 101: Pay attention, even if you’re just relieving your dog.

My brain was running on safety mode, either that or my RAM was handling too many processes as I relieved Jayden this afternoon. You know you’re foggy when you lose your orientation on on a tiny patio. I thought I was walking towards the door…

With cat-like reflexes and a speedy processor, Jayden leaped in front of me, blocking my path!

Ok, he didn’t actually leap. But he did put his body in front of me and kept my face from colliding with the stucco wall. That would have been very, very painful.

He wasn’t working and was on a loose leash. What an amazing dog. What would I do without him?

3 Comments

Filed under Doggy Diaries, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, spoons

O & M – Over & Mystifying

O & M actually stands for Orientation and Mobility, as most of you know, but today the letters have the meaning of over and mystifying to me because the lessons I’ve had with Dave nearly every week since November of 2008 have come to a close.

In the beginning, our lessons were all about teaching me to use the white cane, to know my position in space, to orient myself by sound and sometimes the position of the sun. Dave showed me how to be mobile again after I lost my vision. Having these skills led to me being able to use paratransit to get places like Saavi to work out or to be able to walk to my mail or take out the trash.

The independence I gained from the skills Dave taught me were the first things I grabbed ahold off to regain some semblance of normal life after going blind.

Dave was not only my O & M instructor, he was a mentor for me even though he is sighted. He told me about services Saavi offers and encouraged me to do anything I thought I might want to do. On our way to the locations of lessons, we’d talk about life, our pasts, our families, anything. I told him of my adventures, I rambled about the latest technologies I’d found, I bounced my wild ideas off of him. He became like an uncle or a big brother.

When B went out of town back in July, Dave turned our lessons into an opportunity to get whatever thing I might need. When my coffee pot died, we turned a lesson into going to Walgreens and when we got back home, he opened the box and made sure I could find my way around the coffee pot. He knows what a coffeeholic I am.

When I decided to get a guide dog, our lessons became all about preparation. Dave had done training for O & M instructors at GDB and even did my first ever Juno walk.

He made sure I knew what I was getting into, he listened to my fears. He gave me strength while I was in class, knowing I would be returning back to him, his mild mannered speech, his understanding of my fatigue, his faith in me.

He helped me adjust to life with jayden, taught me how to show Jayden new routes, took phone calls from me in the summer when Jayden’s heavy panting scared me, assured me Jayden was fine after every new dog thing occurred. Dave is a dog person so aside from being my instructor, he also helped me ease into being a dog mom.

For the last month or so, we’ve been grasping at straws to come up with ideas to do on our weekly lessons. After I arrived home with Jayden, Dave and I met twice a week, carrying over the pre dog schedule. Going down to once a week was an adjustment, but there wasn’t as much for me to do, so it was ok.

We both knew our lessons were coming to a close. We’ve known it since we first started inventing things to do, new places to pattern. This morning there just wasn’t anything. There was no new place to check out, no route to master. Finally I mentioned that I still felt uncomfortable finding the relieving area at Saavi so we went and did that. I had gotten help from other staff, but there’s just something about an O & M instructor’s brain that really helps you map things out in your head, especially when you know longer use a cane, which offers much more feedback than the gentle turns of a guide dog.

Upon arriving home, Dave said he thought we were done. As tears filled my eyes I had to agree. I don’t need him anymore. That fact is incredibly bittersweet, because the fact that I don’t need him anymore means I’ve accomplished a lot in the less than three years I’ve been blind.

He asked me if I could visualize how far I’ve come and all I could say is that it’s night and day. I won’t share anymore of our conversation because that’s between him and me.

I will say that I will greatly miss our Tuesdays. I’ll miss his jokes and his friendship. I’ll miss the confidence he had in me, which transmitted to my own self assuredness. He’ll still be there though, if there’s a new route to learn.

It’s completely mystifying to me that that I’ve graduated from O & M lessons. It’s overwhelming to look back on the last nearly three years. The difference between who I was when I first met Dave is not even comparable.

Orientation & Mobility. Over & Mystifying. Complete. Mission Accomplished. Independence acquired. A truly irreplaceable friendship made.

5 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, coffeeholic, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, Juno walk, misty eyes, Orientation and Mobility, spoons, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – More than just writing

Since I’ve mostly been firing off short and random posts for NaBloPoMo, (is that how it’s spelled?) I haven’t written much about life not involving writing. It really is too bad that I didn’t know about NaNoWriMo in time, since yesterday I surpassed the 50,000 word count. The only other hurdle left to jump to say I completed NaNoWriMo even though I didn’t enter, is to actually finish the novel, which is about to happen. There are scenes I had in mind that are no where near close to happening, which only opens up the door for a second book. Soon the revision will begin however, and that might trim the novel down or make it even longer. We’ll see how fun I think the writing is when I begin to fine tune it. 😉

I think I’ve only been writing for about a week now. It’s amazing how I’ve lost all sense of time while working on this novel. Wait, didn’t I say I’d write about something other than writing? Yeah, oops.

Jayden and B and I are going to Gamma’s in a bit for turkey dinner. It’s finally gotten cold here, well cold for Arizona. Low thirties at night and I’d guess maybe low sixties during the day. It’s fabulous because it helps my aches big time. I had missed my massage a couple weeks back when I thought I might be sick. During the summer if I missed a massage, my body was screaming in pain. Not this time. I was two weeks overdo but felt pretty good. In a writing tip by Justine, I’m sorry, I can’t spell her last name, she wrote ‘Liar’ and is Scott Westerfeld’s wife, she talks about getting a massage once a week when she’s writing a novel. I hadn’t thought at all about needing to take care of yourself when writing a novel, but believe me, it’s a lot of work. By the end of the day, my eyelids feel as though they’ve got weights on them, and I’m not even stuck staring at the screen. Look at that, I’m talking about writing again. It’s been my life recently though, so it’s kinda hard to discuss life without referring to it.

The week I thought I was sick, I didn’t go work out, and then I started writing so I haven’t been to the gym. Bad Ro. Justine also says exercise is important for writers. Once I get this zero draft done, I’ll get back to that routine.

Jayden is just awesome, but are you surprised? He’s hadnled me working like a champ and anytime I feel a little guilty, I just imagine the dogs who are under a desk. Jayden gets to be free at home, usually curled up right beside me on the couch, as he is right now. Sometimes this makes using the wireless keyboard a little difficult when he decides to put his head on my leg. In that case, I twist and sit not even close to ergonomical to type on the laptop. If I’m gonna continue writing, I really need to consider a desk, though I have no idea where I’d put it.

One of the things that’s been frustrating me lately is the realization that in this town, we can’t just set out for a walk and get things accomplished. We need to get to places using more than our feet. The one place we can get to has a road that Jayden refuses to work. I talked with Dave about it Tuesday, finally telling him that Jayden and I just need to work it as often as possible and there’s really nothing left for Dave to do. He knows I know how to be safe, and that’s his main purpose. There’s no point in him following us and watching me try and get Jayden to work. So Dave won’t be helping with that anymore, not until I finally get Jayden to get down the road, then Dave will help me fine tune the entrance to the store, which is an accessibility nightmare.

I’d had an idea on Tuesday, a way to help the problem of needing transportation anywhere. I thought of a shopping center with a Target and a craft store. If we take the van or a cab, we can get quite a few things done there. So we went and checked it out on Tuesday and they really did an awesome job in this shopping center. They’ve even got raised domes at the wheelchair ramps. So we patterned first, doing sighted guide with Jay on lead. We found the customer service desk where I’d ask for help, then we went and checked out the pet supplies. I’m still gonna need to get to a pet store for Jayden’s needs, which is a bummer because there isn’t one located near another convenient type store. That’s what I’m trying to find, the place where we can get dropped off and get more than one thing done.

Anyway, we then patterned to the craft store and I showed Jayden the counter where we’d get help. I asked about their slow days and they were very happy I thought to find out what days would be best for them to be able to help. I think it’s only courteous, if I’m gonna go in and ask for help, that they not be slammed. Some people might think otherwise, that it’s our right to get help and sure it is, but I think it’s nice to do it when a place isn’t slammed. Not just for the employees, but for my sanity as well.

We did human guide back inside Target and then I worked Jayden out of the store and over to the craft store. He was doing a lot of weaving, which Dave explained was due to potted plants and flat electric outlets in the ground. Jayden went around those rather than over them hehe! He was only shown the way once, but he got me to the craft store and up to the counter no problem. There’s a bench outside where we could wait for a ride and all I had to say was “find the chair” when I knew we were near, and he took me right to it. He is such a smart boy. If only our road wasn’t presenting such a problem…

Dave and I sat on the bench and talked about how I’m getting really close to not needing him anymore. There are a few more places I’d like to check out, but really I can do those with friends too. I explained to Dave that my sighties just don’t ahve much time, and I’d really like to check out the places once with Dave and then I’ll be good. When I first got home with Jayden, I needed to do things several times to feel confident. Now I’m like, just show me once please. Haha!

So that’s bittersweet, to be coming to a close with Dave. I’ve been blind two and a half years now, and he’s been there every step of the way. I’m so grateful for that man. He assured me that anytime I need him though, he’s just a phone call away.

Aside from that, I don’t have much to report. Jayden’s work is incredible and once we get that road problem fixed, we’ll be good to go. Oh I had a follow up call from GDB’s alumni group, and we talked about me starting a chapter here in AZ. I was interested in it back at school, but then life happened. We’ll see if I want to try and start one, though it would be nice to meet up with other GDB grads here.

Now that it’s cold, I’m happy. We can go out whenever we want now and not die. It’s probably the best time to work on the road so we’ll just keep it up.

I haven’t been reading any blogs, so I hope you’re all well. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Comments

Filed under blind opinion, desert life, Doggy Diaries, family, Gamma, GDB, gratitude, holiday, I might be a writer, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, Orientation and Mobility, weather, working dog

Carnival Post – My first meeting with a guide dog

The topic for my first ever blog carnival post is “firsts”. (I’ll post when the carnival is organized so you can check out other posts.) I thought about just sending in my dog day post, but decided on something original. So, here is the story of my first meeting with a guide dog.

It took me a good month or so to call Dana*. I just couldn’t bring myself to speak with another person who was blind, because I just couldn’t accept that I myself was blind. Somehow, calling another who suffered the same affliction as I meant that I would never see again.

It’s funny the thoughts that plague our minds when something unthinkable happens. Looking back on those first few months blind, I just can’t relate to the girl I was. Twenty nine, suddenly blind, hopeless, afraid, actually make that terrified. Life was over.

Now? Ha! I don’t resemble that girl in the slightest, nearly two and a half years later.

Let’s get back to Dana; I was able to talk with her easily. A mutual friend had given me her number and Dana was eager for me to call. She knew what it meant in the healing process to speak with another who understands. I was in awe of her. I thought she was remarkable. I could never be like her. Especially when she said she had a guide dog and went into details about going away to guide dog school for a month. She said it was amazing and the campus was beautiful and I just had to do it. She explained that I’d have to learn the white cane first, but I wasn’t paying attention; I had already shut down at the mention of going away for a month. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to fly away for thirty days and nights all alone. No way. Are you kidding me? Don’t you know I’m blind now? I can’t do that. You’re mad!

We talked on the phone every few weeks and I’d ask how her guide dog Scully* was and she’d tell me all the amazing things they did. I eventually started to learn orientation and mobility, or O & M. Basically, those are skills we learn to use with a white cane or a guide dog. Of course in my case it was the white cane.

After learning O & M skills and independent living skills from the blind center, life started looking up. I soon discovered that being blind was not the affliction I had once thought it was. A little over a year after losing my vision I went with a friend to a big celebration for a fellowship I’m a part of. Dana was also part of that fellowship and we had never met face to face. I couldn’t reach her before the event to see if she and Scully would be there, but I sure hoped they would be.

The event was insane. Loads of people sitting along long tables, packed in like sardines, eating, talking, laughing, lots of noise, incredibly overwhelming. Doing sighted guide was rather cumbersome, and I just sat in the chair pretty much the whole time so I wouldn’t have to deal with bumping into people while trying to communicate with my friend above all the noise. There was no way I was going to try and use my cane in that situation.

A friend came up to me about mid way through the event and asked if my friend who had the guide dog was named Dana. We all wore name tags at the event and it’s hard to miss a lady with a guide dog. I told her yes and my friend told me Dana was there. I was so excited! My friend told me to stay put (like I was gonna try moving) and she would go get Dana.

A few moments later, I heard her speak from across the table. We shook hands and she shouted she’d come to me, and was gone. My friend was still there, across the table. How was Dana getting to me without my friend’s help? I was sitting in the middle of the incredibly long table. She would have to walk up towards the stage and back down between the tables. I sat and waited and wondered.

Suddenly I heard Dana call my name and I responded so she could find me. She was there in an instant and I stood to embrace her. After we sat, she asked if I wanted to meet Scully. Boy, did I! Her guide dog had gotten her through that mess of people. Wow.

Dana said Scully was right there between us and I reached out and felt the thick soft blanket of fur that was her guide dog. Scully sat patiently between us, and leaned in to my touch. She was just so sweet! It was love at first touch. How could you not love a dog who sits there calmly, pressing her body into you comfortingly? It was as iff all the anxiety I was feeling being in the middle of all those people just melted into her silky coat.

I knew Scully was a yellow lab, and I had seen a guide dog in harness back in my sighted days, so I formed a mental image of her as I touched her. I was surprised when Dana took my hand to describe the harness to me. She showed me how the straps go around the chest and under the belly. She guided my hands to where the handle was, and she explained how you hold the leash when you’re working the dog. It was all terribly confusing, but so amazing to experience first hand how it all worked.

We only chatted briefly; it was incredibly hard to hold a conversation among the loud chatter of hundreds of people around us, however in that moment it felt like just Scully and me. I stroked her lush, soft fur until she decided to lay down at Dana’s feet.

That was my first meeting with a guide dog. It sparked a curiosity in me, though the fear of going away still won, however only for a short time.

Three months later I had applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind for my first guide. I was very saddened when I called Dana to tell her and she informed me that Scully had passed away. I had just met her three months earlier, how could this be? Scully had worked for eleven years. Now that’s a good long career for a guide dog! She worked up until the day she died. She just got tired, went to the vet, and passed.

Dana was going to take time before she went back for her next guide. Her first having just passed, she wasn’t yet ready to move on. I haven’t spoken with her since getting my first guide. I haven’t known if it would be too painful for her. As I finish writing this however, remembering how Scully affected me, I think it might just be time to check in, and tell Dana how much meeting her departed guide dog has changed my life. I know now that I can navigate a crowd of hundreds, just like Dana did with Scully that day. I can’t imagine life without Jayden by my side now. He is my companion and eyes today in part because of my first meeting with Dana’s guide dog at the celebration.

It goes to show that we never know how our assistance dog, whether he or she be a guide dog, hearing dog, seizure dog, diabetic dog, autism service dog, therapy dog, the list goes on, will affect another. These amazing dogs have such an impact on every life they touch. The next time you see one, look on fondly, from a distance, unless you have the courage to ask if you may pet, just don’t be upset if we say no. We’ve only got our own best interest to think about, or that of our dog, or the future person the dog is being trained and raised for.

Thanks be to assistance dogs! I hope they know how special they are!

*Names changed to protect privacy. Yes, I had to pay homage to the ‘X-Files’. 😉

9 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blog carnival, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Long time no blog

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to write a monster post because I’ve been slacking haha! This falls under the Diaries though I’m sure there will be talk of all things.

Where to start? Maybe I should look at where I last posted. Ah, ok memory jogged. I love having a blog to keep track of memories. 🙂

So yeah, the last time I really wrote about life was when I was feeling a fatigue coming on and I wasn’t sure if I’d make goalball practice. I did indeed miss practice that Saturday. The pain that Friday night was just getting increasingly worse so I cancelled my ride and called Lisa, then proceeded to crumple and dissolve into tears. I hate it when my stupid disease has to give me a big reminder that I’m sick.

Weather was definitely the cause of it all. We got hit pretty hard over the following days, but luckily it was the start of cooler weather. Yay!!!

I went to Gamma’s that Sunday for her birthday lunch and my dad and uncle went as well, which was really nice. My dad had yet to meet Jayden, wow. He’s not much of a dog guy, but my uncle sure is. Jayden had a blast with him and went for a run around the whole house, causing much laughter from the three of us. Dad had already left. My uncle also got to see Jayden jumping straight up in the air and side to side when I asked if he wanted a banana. Fun!

I worked out that Monday and just didn’t have the stamina I’ve built up. It was rather disappointing, but I’m sure it’ll come back. Tuesday, we had our lesson with Dave. I just was able to keep lessons with Dave by the skin of my teeth. Due to budget constraints, many O & M services have been cut. Luckily, I fall into the “safety” category, meaning I still have things to learn to keep me safe. IE, still need to learn new routes with Jayden. The summer months really set us back because we had to do things in pieces, so most of my routes have not been done in their entirety.

Tuesday was fun because we had an O & M student come along to observe. She’s working on her masters in O & M and just moved here six weeks ago. She’s a teacher for the visually impaired, but wants to get out of the classroom and into nature. This was her first time watching a guide dog team learning a new route. She’s off to the Seeing Eye in New Jersey in a month to spend a week there. Awesome! I told her she has to do a Juno walk. She asked a lot of questions and had a good time.

It was the perfect lesson for her, since I had chosen this walking path I want to learn since it’s cooling off. This was not easy for Jayden. Just like the rules of traffic, you must stay on the right side and not cross the yellow line. Jayden wanted to shoreline on the left. It was getting quite difficult to keep him from drifting and I could not stay in good follow position. Dave usually follows my lead and lets me brainstorm, so I tried the gentle leader. Distraction wasn’t the issue so that didn’t help. So I took the GL off and told Dave to tell me the moment Jayden hit the line. Dave would give the word, I’d give a correction and ease Jayden towards the right. I had the keep the leash out the whole time. He was doing better, but still not staying on our side of the path all that well. We turned around and walked on the other side, and this seems to be the way to do it. You can start out going clockwise or counter clockwise, and Dave had suggested going counter clockwise since that’s what he does when he guide runs. However, I think clockwise is the answer since after Jayden was staying on the correct side better, we realized I was in a safer place walking that way. Going the other way, we were much closer to traffic.

So it was great for the student to see how a new route is worked on. She got to see that there is a good deal of scoping out the situation, if you will, and then letting the team work together to decide the best way to tackle it. The student had a great time and when we got back home, I deharnessed the boy so she could say hi and Dave gave Jayden a good loving too. I explained to her that it’s a personal decision for the handler to allow this, and that in our first few weeks home, I didn’t. But Jayden knows who he is bonded to now, so I let people say hi a lot more, but only when he’s naked.

Normally Jayden just eats up the attention, but he knew that after he works, he gets a frozen Kong, so he just wanted to get inside hahaha!! The student got a kick out of watching him perk up when I asked if he wanted it.

I don’t remember what day it was, but I know it was before the rain because it was hot. I had the bright idea to go get the mail. It was hot but not as hot and I’ve been itching to be able to leave the house when I feel like it, no matter the time of day. It was some time after 4pm, I remember that. Actually I think it was a Monday because Dave was here the next day. So it must have been about two weeks ago. Anyway, we went to get the mail and I guess I wasn’t paying attention on our way back. We do that route so often that Jayden knows it no problem so I must have zoned out. I was in the remaining recovery from the first goalball practice I think. Anyway, I don’t know how I figure out that we were lost, but we were majorly lost. Hmmm. Probe out. That curb feels awfully high. Hmmm. It’s hot. Jayden, find home. Walk some. Stop, probe out, a curb. I can’t relay step by step what happened, but I started getting really hot and freaked out and of course I didn’t have my phone. I told him to find home and he started taking me to doors that weren’t ours. I am lucky enough to have a “warning track”, a bump on my sidewalk. There was no bump. Eventually Jayden walked us under shade and we stopped and I called out, “is anyone there? I’m lost.” Nothing. Of course no cars came or went to help me out by sound. I couldn’t get a read on traffic. I couldn’t concentrate. Finally I just took a deep breath and listened. Ok, traffic is on the wrong side. It’s distant traffic, but an audible landmark just the same. I walked into the sun and it was on the wrong side. Ok, I know more of where we are now.

Then, the heavenly sound of the yip yip dogs!! Oh, yip yip dogs how I love thee! And my they were close, coming from inside their house. Nice! I know they live catty corner to us. Ah…thank you yip yip dogs! I turned in the right direction and told Jayden forward. Once we got over closer to home, he knew right where we were. When I felt my warning track I was so happy and when Jayden got us to the door, I collapsed on the ground and hugged him and gave him a jackpot kibble. After we got in, we both chugged water and collapsed into a heap in the foyer. What an adventure!

I told Dave about it the next day and we still don’t know what happened. It must have just been the slightest deviance from the path that I didn’t feel. It all worked out though. It was the first time I’d used the sun to help me navigate. I remember way back in the beginning of the O & M lessons when Dave tried to tell me about navigating by sun. I told him I didn’t want to rely on the sun because what if it was cloudy? Good point, but man, that sun comes in handy.

I’ve still been working on fall cleaning, and it actually feels like a hint of fall in the air. Jayden and I are doing more walks now and it’s awesome! I haven’t been spending as much time on the computer. I’m pretty much keeping up on your blogs, even if you don’t see me commenting.

I’m not gonna talk about baseball. I just can’t do it. The Rays play in about two hours. That’s all I’ll say.

I did a blind blunder on Thursday. I had to clean because baseball was upsetting me, so I did the patio doors and then went outside and swept and cleaned up the back patio. Now that it’s cooling off, we can actually go back there. Before, there just wasn’t a point to going back there. Since I hadn’t swept and stuff, I hadn’t taken Jayden back there. So I got it all cleaned up and took Jayden out on a long leash. It’s not fenced, so I can’t let him be free. He sniffed a lot and marked a spot and then he wasn’t moving so I went to reach out and see if he was hunched and that’s when it happened.

Pain. The weirdest pain. Kinda like when an ice cube hits an exposed nerve in your mouth. What had I done? Wait, it’s wet. My hand is wet. Oh no. What happened. The top of my hand was bleeding. I had felt something ram into my hand. I stuck my hand on my pants leg and got Jayden inside. I rinsed my hand and there was this knot forming on the top of my left hand, towards the outside, just under the pinky knuckle. I forced myself to stay calm and got out the ice pack. I sat with my hand on the ice pack and texted B clumsily with my right hand, letting him know what had happened but I thought I was ok.

I had explored the area off my porch with my cane before taking Jayden back there. It had been just dirt. What I failed to remember was that there is an agave plant between my patio and the tree. My cane must have just swept right under the jagged protruding leafs. When I had reached out, the thing had stabbed my hand.

When the game was over I called Carol and she looked up agave to see if they’re poisonous. I wasn’t having any strange symptoms, but just wanted to make sure. Turns out if you get pricked by an agave, it causes the blood capillaries to rupture. I had figured that was what had happened, because I had seen that back when I was a phlebotomist, and the knot that formed looked just like when I had grazed a vein. It seemed like ice and pressure was doing the trick though. Yesterday it was pretty sore but today it’s pretty much fine, though there’s still a little knot there. Carol came over yesterday and noticed a blood spatter on my pink Croc. I can’t believe how much it bled from just a tiny little prick haha!!

Carol spent the whole day here yesterday which was awesome. She had come over in the morning for coffee and we actually got to sit out on my patio. Before we knew it, it was noon! We just didn’t feel like stopping conversation so I just made more coffee and we stayed outside. It was brilliant to be outside for so long and Jayden was just lounging out there with us. As the sun moved, Jayden scooted into it and had a sun bath. It was the nicest day!!

She’s coming back on Monday so I can go get B’s birthday present. His birthday is Friday. His dad is coming for a visit from West Virginia! I can’t wait!

I think that’s about it.

I’m really looking forward to the blog carnival. I’ve decided what I’ll write for it and it’s a story I don’t think I’ve shared here before, so I’m excited to get to work on it.

Oh yeah! Congrats to L^2 and her new guide dog, Mr. J!

5 Comments

Filed under baseball, birthday, blind blunders, coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, family, Gamma, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – The mall and a little girl

This morning Dave gave me a choice. Work some more on the route to the store since it was our early morning, or have a longer lesson at the new mall I’ve decided is my favorite. I had been all geared up for the outdoor lesson, but frankly a nice inside route without all the traffic noise sounded wonderful. Yesterday I was feeling pretty terrible due to Aunt Flo’s visit so a nice relaxing walk sounded much better. Plus, I really want to master that mall as it has everything I need, just about.

So we went there. Being so early, the stores weren’t open yet, but you can always get in the food court entrance. That won’t be my usual entrance, since I can’t see ever going that early, but oh well haha.

It was nice and quiet so we did a lap around the mall with Dave telling me where the stores are and pointing out audible landmarks. There’s this magic bus thing that I’m guessing is a toy dispenser and you can’t miss the noise. It’s right by Old Navy. Sweet! We got down to the end of the mall where there’s a store Gamma is interested in. She doesn’t want to walk the whole mall though, so once I realized it’s near a set of doors, I had Dave tell me where she can have her friend park, so that will work great for her.

We made it back to the food court and Dave said I should do the walk on my own with him some distance back. So we set off.

Unfortunately when we got near the bookstore where I’ll actually do my coming and going, there is construction on a new bar and grill. Jayden decided we should walk that way and since I’m not totally familiar with the place, I didn’t notice it. Later in the day, there’s a children’s play area that is a great audible land mark but no kids were there yet. Before I knew it, I had no clue where we were and the noise coming from the construction just about made me freeze. I couldn’t hear anything else and couldn’t tell what I was touching. Finally I just said, “get me away from the noise!” more out of frustration than an actual command. But Jayden did just that! Suddenly he was walking and there were two women asking if I needed help, I answered yes and then Dave was there. We hadn’t patterned down that way at all, but Dave saw us go that way and waited to see what would happen. I guess Jayden was just curious lol.

We got back on track and headed the other way and I heard the magic bus and then smelled popcorn, telling me we were across from the theatre. Cool, we should veer right a bit and be at those doors. I feel us go right and then Jayden stopped. The two ladies were there again and asked if I needed help and I asked if we were facing the doors. Yes. Ok cool. I think Jayden was just making sure I wanted to go that way. He walked us to the doors, we turned around and headed back towards the food court.

I was wondering what would happen as we had to veer left and kinda veer right to shoreline properly, but he did it just right. I smelled popcorn then heard the magic bus, then Dave was there.

We sat in the food court and talked about everything and he said Jayden was totally focused on me, even when he saw Dave when I was freaking out about the noise. Jayden didn’t just beeline for Dave, he waited to see what I wanted to do. So that was good.

Then I hear a voice say, “that’s not your dog.” Dave said there was a little girl looking at Jayden and her grandparents were telling her it wasn’t her dog. I asked if they wanted to say hi so the grandpa brought the little girl over. She didn’t really talk and sounded very young. Jayden’s tail was going and I just told him careful and held his leash by the collar. He was soooo gentle with her! He wiggled and wagged but ever so slightly. The little girl was inching towards him with urging from her grandpa. She was making petting gestures, Dave told me, but about a foot away. Jayden then lay down right in front of her, and she sat in front of him and he licked her hand, making her giggle. Then she was petting his head and he licked her feet which made her belly laugh. It was soooo cute to hear her little noises! The grandpa thanked me for exposing her to a good dog, since all she has is cats. It was so fun and I was just so amazed at how gentle Jayden was, not his usual yay a person reaction. He was still in harness, so I’m sure that helped.

It was such a great ending to the lesson and it made my ovaries ache just a tad lol. Her little noises were just adorable. Oh! And the grandpa asked her what noise a dog makes and she said, “woof woof woof” all tiny and timid little voice hehehehe. Almost made me want one, just for a split second. 😉 I think my uterus was screaming at that point hahaha!!!

8 Comments

Filed under Doggy Diaries, Gamma, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, spoons, working dog

Nothing here but nothing

Ah, it’s been awhile since I wrote a nothing post. I really don’t know what to do at the moment and haven’t enjoyed blogging for blogging’s sake in so long. So, when you’re bored and killing time, what better thing to do than open up a blank blog and just write?

I’m feeling a bit blah right now. Yesterday I went and worked out like normal, came home and felt my normal afternoon fatigue, settled in to crochet and wait for the game when a wave of exhaustion, a deluge of pure fatigue from my bones to my skin, crashed over me with no warning. My eyes didn’t want to stay open. I zoned out completely during the game until something happened and the announcer’s voices got louder. Whoa, that kind of mind altering fatigue is always disconcerting. I instantly jump to why. Why am I this tired? What did I do differently? Then I remind myself that my body doesn’t need an explanation.

It was becoming clear though, that I didn’t feel well. My throat felt sore, my ears felt full of pressure. Allergies? Or am I getting sick? As the hours passed I felt worse and worse. I told B I didn’t know if I should call Dave and cancel this morning’s lesson. We meet early on Tuesdays, so if I was gonna cancel, I didn’t want him to wake up early. B said that by judging how I looked and sounded, I wouldn’t feel up for a lesson this morning. So I called Dave and he said someone at work had gotten smacked by a bug that came on fast and took her down for a few days. Great.

I took some cold medicine and went to bed and woke up this morning to a visit from Aunt Flo. Ooooh. Is she the reason for the sudden onset of body numbing fatigue? You know, Aunt Flo is a real brat. I hate her monthly inflitrations. Bah.

Lori and I are supposed to hang out today. We’ve been getting together Mondays, but she was busy yesterday and Tuesdays actually work better for me anyway. She sent a text this morning asking if we’re on and I told her I think so, but I’m playing by ear.

So that’s where things stand. I’m in this moment between feeling like utter crap and feeling ok. It’s a limbo. I think, yeah I’ll be fine to hang out, run to Walgreens, grab a Starbucks. No problem. I’ll just stay loaded up on Advil and I have plenty of Always Infiniti. But then I think, ok a shower will feel great and that way I’ll be presentable to leave the house. And I have those cute new capris Gamma ordered me. I get excited thinking about putting on my new clothes, if only to see my clerks at Walgreens, when the realization that I have to take a shower rushes in.

A shower. Invigorating. Hot water massaging my aching muscles, cascading on my crampy belly. It sounds so inviting. But will it be an exhausting shower? It’s hit and miss with me. Sometimes a shower makes me feel great, other times I have to collapse for awhile after. Since I’m coming out of a recent fatigue, and with Aunt Flo nagging at me, a shower might put me down for the rest of the day.

That’s a long explanation for why I’m sitting here contemplating whether to shower. But, welcome to my life haha! I’m so brain missing that I can’t even concentrate on reading my classmates’ last assignment and giving feedback. The writing workshop has come to a close and I really need to get over there. But have you tried to make your brain work when you feel about four hundred pounds, full of aches, like you’re stuck in quick sand? Yeah, I’d rather write about nothing.

Writing about nothing is such an oxy moron. Is it possible to write about nothing? Nothing is a word, so it’s something. I never know what will come out when I sit down to write about nothing. I really didn’t expect to share my womanly woes with the world. Sorry to the two men who read my blog haha. There might be more men. They don’t comment though, if they read.

I hear a cat eating. I wonder if it’s Timmy monster. I have to lock him up every time I leave the apartment. He’s become a total escape artist. He’s so easy to trick though. In the mornings I just open the door and he runs to howl at the screen. I snatch him up and put him in a room. Other times, I just open and shut the screen door and he comes running. He meows and purrs, rubbing on my leg, making it easy for me to grab him. I hope he never gets wise to my schemes.

The weather has been nice enough that I can leave just the screen open for most of the early afternoon. I love hearing the birds chatter amongst themselves. Jayden loves to lay by the door, getting fresh air. It’s all so soothing. Until Timmy starts. Meow! Howl! Meeeeeow! Let me out! I want out! Let me get dirty! Let me let me let me!

It’s not so peaceful anymore. I grit my teeth and wait for him to tire himself. He does. He’s quiet. Until Jayden wants to go out, I trick Timmy, lock him up, let him out and meow meow meow let me out let me out let me out!

Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

For now it’s quiet. I hear Alex echo my letters as I type. I hear a song bird outside, the kind I love. She sounds so merry. I hear B’s computer hum. I hear the fridge making it’s strange click clack noise.

I love the quiet.

Oh hey, you know what I haven’t done in awhile here? Brag. About me. I brag about Jayden, but I haven’t bragged about myself and I feel the desire because I’m so proud. Back in my drinking days, at my heaviest weight, I was about 230. I wore a size twenty two. When I stopped drinking, the weight poured off after cutting all those calories and carbs. I think the smallest I got was maybe a 16. Then I got sick and quite inactive and I ballooned up again. Then I went blind and started O & M and dropped weight again. But I still wasn’t exactly fit and strong. I started working out in September to prepare for Jayden and to help with the MS fatigue. At first weigh in I was 179. I really started noticing changes, clothes fitting looser, muscles getting firm, less flab.

Now I’m so active that the changes are impossible to not notice. I got tons of compliments at the bbq on Saturday. But the coolest thing is that Gamma was able to order me clothes out of a catalogue and they fit. She got me two pairs of capris and two tank tops. and actually I could have gotten away with a size smaller than I got. She ordered fourteens and they’re somewhat loose. I don’t think they’ll fit for long. And I’m strong. I’ve never felt strong. I’m getting an athlete’s body, something I’ve never had. I don’t feel jiggling when I walk. I don’t feel like my arms have wings when I wave. I’m freaking strong! It’s so cool to be strong. I don’t feel like a wimpy woman. I don’t feel afraid. I love being strong! It’s looking like I’ll even join a goalball team in the fall! Me, strong. Me, with an athlete’s body. It’s sooo cool! I’m twelve pounds away from my target weight of 150. I can hardly even believe it! So there’s my brag on me hehe! Man, can you imagine how horrible the fatigue would be if I wasn’t strong? I can hardly remember. I mean, the fatigues are still horrible. They’re still bad enough that I can’t even commit to a Tuesday Walgreens run. It will never get to a point where I could work and be reliable, but it’s definitely more manageable now that I’m strong. And when I need to, I can put on a burst of energy to carry me through a twenty minute walk with Jayden.

Alrighty, I need to find something to put into my stomach. I decided not to risk a shower. I don’t smell, so I won’t knock people down at Walgrens hahaha! Well, I won’t knock them down with smell, but I could knock someone down with my muscle haha!

4 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, Alex, Gamma, goalball, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, random stuff, spoons, The Nothing, Timmy, weather, workouts