A Sight For Sore Eyes

The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss

***

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease that leads to blindness. My book, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith is due out shortly. In this book, I show how God meets my needs through putting the right people in my life to help me cope with this disease and by reminding me often how humor can be one of my biggest tools along the journey.

In today’s post I share part of an early cane training experience. This was my first time out in public.  We chose my neighborhood to keep it as non-threatening as possible.

***

The big day arrived.

I squared my shoulders when Bob, my mobility instructor, arrived.

“Ready,” I said, breathless. I was really going to do this.

“That’s what I want to hear.” He reached into van and brought out a cellophane parcel. “Let me introduce you to your new cane.”

Sorry to say this, cane, but I’d rather not make your acquaintance.

Bob took off the wrap and unfolded each length so it fell into place and became one long cane. I’d chosen the roller ball tip. He guided my hand to the bottom of the cane. “It goes on here. Do you want to hook it on?”

I backed away. “No, you can do it.”

We took to the sidewalk in front of my house with me in the lead. Shouldn’t I be behind observing him model good cane techniques? I guess not. I’m the one who knows the area.

“Try walking with your eyes closed,” Bob called.

Hey, what happened to the sleepshades? Boy, am I glad he didn’t bring them.

“Okay.” I pretended but didn’t really close my eyes.

I must have slowed down because I felt Bob’s cane nick my heel. Time to speed up. “Bob, we’re going to turn a corner here on Templeton Street.”

“Templeton. A good solid name for a street.”

The sun caressed my shoulders as I turned. Scattered dry leaves crunched at my feet as I moved along. The leaves caught under the tip of my cane as I swept it back and forth. It wasn’t clear why I was sweeping it from side to side aside from Bob instructing me to do it. If I  had my way, I’d aim my cane like a pool cue and shoot a ball of leaves into life-sized pockets low on the ground. Yellow and orange ball in the corner pocket. Everyone would be amazed when they saw I made such a tough shot.

Just then I jabbed myself hard in the stomach with my cane, and yelped. “Ack!”

The billiards game turned into a dagger or fencing sport.  “Ahh! Where’s my shield?” I said loudly, massaging my injury. I silently bemoaned the fact I was not a knight living back in Shakespearean times and thus not properly armored.

“Speaking of where to yield, let me show you how to cross the street.”

Oh, he misunderstood. I’d better stop daydreaming and pay attention. I’m in the middle of a lesson.

One of the things he pointed out was to always cross at a traffic light. For our practice, I took him around the corner to a busier road. “Okay, here it is.”

“When you hold your cane vertically, it indicates to drivers that you are stopped and do not intend to cross the street. That’s important. You then listen for sounds of traffic and yield the right-of-way to them if you hear vehicles in front of you. If you hear nothing, then you proceed to cross.”

“I can do that. This cane stuff isn’t so bad.”

I soon changed my tune. When I saw one of my neighbors, I intuitively longed to tap my cane out of sight. Why oh why did the town mayor have to be out? Oh no. I look like I’m cross-country skiing, except I have only ski and there isn’t any snow.

Soon we would pass him. He was dragging a lawn bag full of leaves to the curb. What would he think when he saw me with this weird stick? Of course he’d recognize me. We live kitty-corner from each other.

When we came to his house,  I felt my face heat up. What could I do?  I waved at the mayor and smiled.

I don’t know how Bob knew someone was there, but he did. “Nice day to be out and about, wouldn’t you say?” Bob asked in his booming voice.

No response. He stared at us like he was expecting one of us to explain what was going on.

It wasn’t going to be me. I closed my eyes for real. No time like the present to try my skills.

Sometimes we all want to hide our eyes!

In what situations have you ever wanted to remain incognito? Take a moment and leave a comment. If you enjoyed this post, please hit LIKE and SHARE with your friends.

© Copyright Amy L. Bovaird, March 2014. All Rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “Book Excerpt

  • March 24, 2014 at 11:53 am
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    It’s so helpful reading other people’s book excerpts!
    This was such an inspiring post! :)

  • March 24, 2014 at 11:56 am
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    Too many of us don’t understand the value of sight until it’s gone. So glad that you were learning how to maneuver safely before yours is totally gone. (and, had previous “visions’ upon which to rely.)
    Much success…

  • March 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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    Thanks, Sophie. The book comes out in April!

  • March 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm
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    Thanks, Roy! You are so right about the the previous visions. In other words, relying on my prior knowledge of the area. My mobility instructor used to say, “I will never forgive myself if you go blind before I prepare you.” =)

  • March 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm
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    I’ll try and get this next month.

  • March 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm
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    Your are a wonderful person,you always have been,I remember your Strive to succeed in High School.It shows you still have that.I can’t imagine,losing sight,but I know this the Good Lord will guide us any way he can.You have a purpose in life to helps others,That is a blessing.About your cane ,Can I sign it? :) I am so proud of your accomplishments.It helps me through yukky days!!
    You go girl,Such an amazing woman!
    Sonja

  • March 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm
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    Thank you, Nick. It should come out mid-April. =) It has dramatic twists, faith, lots of humor and practical tips!

  • March 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm
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    Thank you so much, Sonja. The way I look at it, things could be a lot worse!
    It’s so exciting to reconnect with former classmate. I’d choose you to be on my team any day! You always cheer me up!
    Amy

  • March 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm
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    I really enjoyed reading this. I could relate, having done mobility training at the S.C. Commission for the Blind. It is really an experience. Great writing too.

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