A New Kind of Sport?

An Excerpt from Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith

cane

Bob, my completely blind orientation and mobility trainer, snuffed out his pipe. “That’s what I want to hear.” He reached into his 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 of the four sections so they fell into place and became one long cane. He produced a second, much smaller parcel sheathed in plastic wrap. “This contains your roller ball tip.”

 “It doesn’t come with the cane?”

“No, the tip comes separately, which thus requires you to attach it before your first mobility training.” He expertly pulled apart the plastic and extracted the tip. He guided my hand to the bottom of the cane. “It goes on here. Do you want to hook it on?”

Focused, I took the white plastic hook at the top of the roller ball tip in my hand. But instead of hooking it, the elastic snapped back into the bottom casing of the cane, pinching my thumb.

“Ow-ow-ow,” I groaned, shaking my thumb back and forth. It had already turned purple and was bleeding. I dropped the cane as I brought my thumb to my lips to stop the pain.

 Bob bent down to pick it up. He gingerly brushed it off.

“Sorry about that.” Did I break my brand new cane already?

 “Not a problem. It’s tricky to get your fingers in the right place. Are you all right?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said with my thumb still between my teeth.

Bob pulled until the elastic surfaced from the casing of the cane. “Want to try again?”

“No, thanks.” I backed away.

I thought it ironic he could expertly secure the tip on without a whit of sight while I, the one who could see, fumbled. He placed the cane in my right hand. After a quick reminder of how to grip it, he instructed me to go ahead. “Just get a feel for it now.”

We took to the sidewalk in front of my house with me in the lead. Shouldn’t I be behind observing his good cane techniques? Probably not. I was the one who knew the area.

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

Hey, what had happened to the sleep shades? Boy, was I glad he didn’t bring them.

“Okay.” I pretended, but didn’t actually 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 except that Bob instructed me to do so.

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 that I’d 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 of a fencing sport.  “Ahh! Where’s my shield?” I said loudly, massaging the area I poked. 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, Bob 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.”

 “This is Rice Avenue. There’s the school where I teach mornings,” I pointed out to Bob. What was I saying? He couldn’t see any school.

If Bob thought anything strange about me pointing out a school he couldn’t see, he never let on. But he jumped on the opportunity to promote more cane instruction. “That’s the high school where you teach Spanish? I often conduct mobility training at the workplace. Would you like that?”

“It’s a little part-time job,” I said, as if I barely stepped in the building. “I get along pretty well there. I go straight from my classroom to the parking lot.”

And what about the day the photographer came to take class pictures?  Okay, so what if I stumbled down a couple of steps in an area I didn’t know well. That could happen to anyone.

 “Well, it’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with other parts of the building. I can assist in that navigation.” Bob had an eerie knack for looking past all the fluff without my saying a word.

***

 As a thank you gift, today you can order my Mobility Matters FREE. It’s my way of saying “Thank you,” for the positive reviews and feedback I’ve received from it.

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Cane Training – A New Kind of Sport?
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14 thoughts on “Cane Training – A New Kind of Sport?

  • August 5, 2015 at 10:26 pm
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    I work near to a nonprofit that helps the visually impaired with training and other services. I see some of their clients out and about from time to time in my work neighborhood and marvel at how they can get around without sight, or with just limited vision. To me, that is scary, although I had a blind professor in college who was a world traveler. (Speaking of being a role model in the 1970’s, he even refused to wear the eye shades that signified blindness in those days) Thank you for letting your readers take peeks into your world. P.S. I had no idea about the “hold cane vertically” meaning. There’s a lot of education we of normal vision still need.

  • August 5, 2015 at 11:05 pm
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    Hi Alana,
    You know more than many people about various aspects of life with a cane. I put that up to your natural curiosity and exposure to vision impaired. I love the exchange of information. I learned about the “fall training” from you. The cane being straight up and down has been new for several others as well. Ha ha! I’m writing a song about it to teach elementary school kids that rule!
    Take care!
    Amy

  • August 6, 2015 at 9:00 am
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    Sometimes I feel the ones with sight have problems with vision… But it must be quite something to actually imagine crossing a road using a cane and not being able to see at all…

  • August 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm
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    Good morning, Nabanita,
    It sure it! It gets easier the more you do it, though.
    Thanks for your comment and for reading about my experience!
    Amy

  • August 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm
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    Hey, Amy. Glad that you are managing with it! I’d also love for you to join the 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group. We are a group of bloggers who blog about compassion to raise awareness, and I hope that you can join in the fun/spread alittle love as well.. Let me know! My name is Michelle Liew on Facebook.

  • August 6, 2015 at 5:21 pm
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    Oh, bless you, Amy. I hope a lot of people grab a copy of your book and leave a nice review. You write so beautifully and give just the right amount of tension in each scene.
    I wish I had your courage in learning new things. It must be so hard to handle the difficult cane. I just hold onto my rollator, but I can see well.

  • August 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm
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    Thank you for using your precious gift to inspire and uplift many people, Amy!

  • August 6, 2015 at 7:07 pm
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    hi amy, I am inspired by your posts. it feels great whenever I stop at your blog.

  • August 9, 2015 at 2:36 pm
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    Hi Francene,
    Thank you so much for your good wishes! Learning to use my cane got easier. 🙂
    I would like to get my mother a rollator. That’s a walker, right, but it moves on wheels? I saw one that my brother-in-law uses and I thought that my mom might like to use it on some days and her birthday is coming up on Tuesday!
    Amy xx

  • August 9, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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    Hi Dorit,
    Thank you! 🙂
    Amy

  • August 9, 2015 at 2:38 pm
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    Thank you so much, Amar! I’m so happy that you enjoy my blog. 🙂
    Amy

  • August 9, 2015 at 2:45 pm
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    Okay, Kerry, I will check it out.
    Thanks for the encouragement to do so!
    Amy

  • August 9, 2015 at 2:46 pm
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    Hi Michelle,
    Okay, I’ll go check it out. I’ve heard some of my writer friends mention it.
    Thanks!
    AMy

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