Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What It's Like To Be Blind

Greetings Everyone! You would be absolutely amazed at how many times in my life I have been asked what it’s like to be blind. It’s happened so many times in fact that I’ve decided to blog about it. It’s not that it’s a dumb question because it’s not. The only question that is dumb is the one you didn’t ask. I actually encourage people to ask me anything they want to as long as they are respectful about it. Half the battle is getting the knowledge out there and if people don’t ask the knowledge is lost. Maybe if people asked more questions I would get stared at less and approached more. But that is a topic for another post. So as I was saying this particular post is to answer the above mentioned question to the best of my ability. It’s only my personal opinion and of course doesn’t in any way reflect the opinions of any other blind person. I’m going to answer this question in two ways because if you asked my answer would depend on the day.

On A Good Day: Normally being blind really isn’t a big deal. I’m not generally very negative about it because it’s just a fact of life. I’m blind so what? Being blind does not in any way define who I am. Blindness is just one small part of me. I don’t consider it a character trait or flaw.

I love my life and not missing much. I can still hear, feel and taste the world around me. I can still cook my girl’s dinner and clean my house. The only difference between me and a sighted person is the way I do things. Unfortunately, my vision does sometimes make an activity take longer to complete but I’ve gotten used to that so I don’t consider it a problem. One example of a simple task that sighted people can take for Granted is vacuuming. Most sighted people simply plug it in, turn it on and start moving around the house easily avoiding obstacles and not missing anything. For me it’s a bit different. When I go to plug something in I have to feel the wall in the facinity that I know the outlet is located. Next I feel the holes of the outlet to help me get my alignment right (PS… make sure your fingers are completely out of the way before putting the prongs in the outlet. I’ll explain later). Once the vacuum is plugged in I make sure the cord is out of the way so I don’t run it over. Oh I almost forgot. I vacuum completely bare foot. I do it this way because while I’m vacuuming I can feel with my feet as I walk things that I may have missed. In the areas of my house that I know are fairly open I can move at a decent pace. However, instead of gliding in one particular place say one or two times I do it four or five times to ensure it’s clean. I’m careful to move in strips and move to the next strip as straight as possible so again I don’t miss as much. In the areas that I know have the furniture I move slower and more carefully so not to slam the vacuum into them. I have to do it all in sections to be the most productive. When I’m done I try and walk through without the vacuum to feel for anything that was missed. If I know a particular area had crumbs spilled because of my wonderful slob children (just kidding… kinda) then I might even get on my knees and feel that spot with my hands. That’s a pretty good example of most tasks. I just take a little more time with them to at least attempt to ensure they are done properly. I also have a wonderful family support system that assists me with anything extra I need.

I can maneuver around my house completely without the use of my Cane. I prefer this because sometimes I need both my hands. Nevertheless, as well as I do this I still run into things sometimes really hard. Believe it or not I sometimes forget myself that I am blind. When this happens I usually walk through the house as though I can perfectly see any obstacle, corner, piece of furniture or toy that may be lingering on the floor. I do trip and fall on occasion because my speed doesn’t always reflect that I can’t see. I do admit that when this happens I often verbalize the use of expletives to make myself feel better or to at least if nothing else get my point across. When I’m at my parent’s house I don’t use my Cane either. When I run into an object there my fathers favorite comment to make is “we haven’t move the furniture recently.” Or, “That wall has always been there.” To this he generally receives an obscene gesture that shall remain nameless but I’m sure you get the point.

I’m used to “watching” TV as a blind person. For the most part it doesn’t bother me. The only time I get discouraged is when I’m “watching” a movie and the talking stops and transitions into a music sequence. Once it’s over I sometimes have a hard time catching up to what just happened. For this reason I like re-runs. Most of them have been showing for so long that I probably was able to actually see them for real in the past. I have a really good memory and can usually remember what’s happening with out being told. I do watch new shows and sometimes the blindness is helpful. My oldest daughter loves the show Hoarders. I honestly think if I could see half of what went on during that show I would be traumatized. PS… It’s never funny when a blind person says that they watched something for someone to say “really? How did you watch it?” Those statements get very old very quickly just sayin.

Cooking and travel are all the same as cleaning as well. They just take a little longer and I have to rely heavily on my other senses. I do admit my cooking abilities aren’t as strong as what they used to be. I sometimes get paranoid that I am not going to cook the meat right. They do make technology to aid with this but of course thanks to supply and demand it is pretty expensive. Traveling isn’t much of a problem. I’m lucky. As I mentioned before I have a family who is willing to help me with rides pretty much any where I need to go. I do live in a neighborhood that allows me to walk to some places. I like to walk as long as the whether is nice. As mentioned in past posts I’m not a fan of the rain. Also, my youngest daughter absolutely despises anything that spills water of any kind on her head so that adds another complication.  She tends to have a meltdown in the rain so I try to avoid it if at all possible.

I have a strong belief in God and the fact that everyone has a purpose. There is a reason I’m blind even if I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe some day they will come up with a cure. If they do then that's wonderful. If they don’t then I’m not going to spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself. I have a life to live and I’m not going to let blindness or anything else stop me.

On A Bad Day: some days I can hardly get out of bed. I have pity party moments that make it hard to breathe. It’s hard for me to not see my girls. That is my one and only regret of my blindness. Sometimes when I listen to them play and acting silly, I have to swallow back the huge lump in my throat and blink back the tears even though I’m happy to at least hear them.

It’s unbearable to know that I won’t see them graduate. I won’t see them in their first formal dress for a dance posing next to their date. I won’t see their first terrible driver’s license picture. I won’t see the awkward puberty years when they start getting zits and their hair never seems to lay right. I won’t see them in their braces. I won’t see them in their wedding dress as they walk down the aisle.

If it wasn’t for these facts, I would be completely okay with my vision loss. Nevertheless, it’s because of my girls that I get up in the morning. It’s because of them that I strive to be a better person and set a good example for them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be who I am today. Please don’t feel sorry for me because I’m not. These bad days are very few and far between but they are there on occasion. I try to put them on the back burner and most of the time I’m successful. Life is too short to stress about ones short comings.

In all actuality in some ways my blindness is a blessing in terms of the girls. It helps to teach them patience, tolerance and the ability to know it’s okay to be different. If everyone was the same in life it would be incredibly boring. I don’t look at my blindness as a hurtle. It’s simply a jumping block to help me get to new places in life.

47 comments:

  1. Lovely post, and really inspiring to read! Wish I had met you a few years ago when I was desperately looking for positive role models, a blind mother, when I was pregnant and a little scared. So glad you found me, and therefore I have now found you!

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  2. Thank you so much for the kind words I feel the same about you. I am glad you liked this post. I love your blog and am even following it now. I'm excited to read more.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post. I am an Actor playing a blind girl and I saw your post. I allowed me to put things in perspective. Thank you for sharing and I feel honored to be able to represent this part of life, living with blindness. I have learnt so much and wish you all the best with your girls.
    The fact you cannot see your girls, is meant to be and 'seeing' is only one aspect of our perception of reality. Everyone has their own perception and feeling, sensing, touching, hearing and tasting is yours.
    In all the moments you described, you will still be their to share the excitement and moment. Enjoy that moment!

    Xx

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  4. i'm a 12 year old girl, and i'm writing a story about a boy who is a blind kid. this this blog is awesome! thank you so much!

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  5. Hi I'm Ranae, I'm 13 and my mom is blind. I never really understood it but now I get it! My brothers are also blind and me and my dad are the only one's who aren't. Well, I'm legally blind, but I just met the standard for that. I always ask people with normal vision what it's like to see, no one ever tries to answer, I think it's kind of funny.

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  6. I'm a teenager and I'm writing a story about a girl who is blind. This helps a lot to help me put things in the right perspective. Thanks :)

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  7. What an excellent post! I was just curious on how life was experienced from the perspective of someone who is blind, and your blog is great! will carry on reading :)

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  8. Thank you for posting both the "good day" and the "bad day" responses. I am a pastor of a local church and preaching this Sunday on the verse (Lk 4:18) where Jesus says He was called to proclaim, "...recovery of sight for the blind." I loved reading of your faith in God and your inspiring embrace of His purpose even though you haven't figured it out yet. It sounds like you see very well which I think is what the verse means. I may read some of the post in church this Sunday if that's OK.

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  14. Great Blog. And inspiration for us all. You were completely right when you said God has a plan. We may not know why we have to overcome what each of us has to overcome, but in the end it'll make us stronger, and one day Heavenly Father and Christ will have welcoming arms for us. And in that day you will see, and you will feel great warmth from your Heavenly Father. Thanks for this post again <3

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  16. You're an enlightened being. Whether or not you realize it. Life is not an accumulation of normality to be set against the mean. It is chaos that brings forth new realms of happiness, sadness, triumph and learning. Every individual experiences the "same" thing in different ways. Often i have wondered what my life would be like without hearing, or my sense of sight, taste, touch, or even smell. I've come to the conclusion that although the little things would be perceived differently, and information may or may not be easier to obtain, the path in life remains the same. We all aspire to new levels. Always look forward. God/The universe works in astounding ways! The mind is a powerful tool, my friend. Sight or no sight, you have insight. I sometimes feel as though I too, am blind. Considering the common person's view on this existence. I often wonder if i am alone in how i perceive life. Perhaps everyone is blind in their own way? This post is an aberration of my proclivity. I have not commented on an article in years. Perhaps even this has a meaning. Or not, maybe we can be friends "smiley face". People need to judge less the superficial, and indulge more on the things/activities/people in their lives that make them happy. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thought is worth a thousand pictures :)

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  44. I always have people ask me this question. Doesn't your son miss so much being blind?". I always described my son's blindness like this. (he was born 3 months premature and needed oxygen to survive and it detatched his retinas). imagine that aliens came from another planet where everybody had 3 legs. When they came to earth, they said "how do you do things with only 2 legs?". Must be aweful!! We all feel that we can do everything and only know life with our two legs! life is Wonderful!! the same applies to my son. He's had a fantastic life and continues to excell at doing things!! He is engaged, lives on his own and he and his visually imparaired fiance just bought their own home. ( 1 year ago) I am very proud of his accomplishments and independence and thank God for technology. I always tell him he was lucky to be born in 1984 instead of 1894. Life is good and one should be proud to be blind and surviving in a sighted world. I have so many fond memories and have met so many great people who are blind!! My life has been greatly enhanced by my children. (2 sighted and one blind) I am thankful to have such wonderful experiences and teachings from my son!! Stand up and be proud of who you are! Blind or not...we are all people doing what makes us happy!! :)

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  47. I'm not sure if you still update this blog or check on it anymore, but I figured I would leave a comment anyway. I found your blog through a random train of thought and Google searches, and have read several of your posts. A little more than a year ago, I made a friend online who is blind. As a sighted person, I love learning about what life is like for him without sight, but sometimes I'm afraid I might annoy him with more questions. So reading your blog has helped me understand and taught me a little more of what it's like. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and not sugar-coating or leaving out much of it.

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