Friday, June 20, 2008

To Cane or Not to Cane

Glitter Graphics

That is the question.

I've mentioned this before and I'll mention it again. I have an on-going personal struggle with this topic. It takes an emotional and mental strain on a person to take up the cane. It's going to brand a person for life. I might as well slap a large sticker on my back for all to see. BLIND.

Once I start to "raise cane" (pun intended), it's going to be an emotional upheaval. I know I will feel angry and upset. I just don't like to call attention to myself.

I've spoken, or rather, I've written to on-line friends about caning. Many have had orientation and mobility (O&M) training with the white cane before they were legally blind. They needed to use it to safely navigate in the dark. Some took the training and then left the cane in the closet for a certain amount of time. It could be months or years before they decided to dust off the cane. Then some just carried it around with them, folded up in their backpacks or purses. It's a "baby step" process.

Many have said they'd wished they started using the cane earlier.

It is best to get O&M training while one still has remaining vision. And, there's even staggered O&M training as one's vision gets worse. The training is updated to fit one's visual needs. Listening skills are so important. Those with low vision/no vision listen for traffic, how the tap of the cane sounds (hollow, solid) that can tell the caner that he is in an area with tall buildings or open space.

But what if one has hearing loss? There are different methods in training. Mostly, hearing aids and FM systems are used to help the individual to hear the mobility instructor's instructions and listen for cues. If a caner is deaf, then it's all about the feel of the cane.

I am not an expert on this topic. I am jsut going by what I have learned.

Some caners prefer different kinds of canes: Folding, telescoping, or rigid canes with ball-tip, marshmellow tip, or regular tip. Then there's the length of the cane. Mostly, it's best to have cane be chin-length, though there are some that are at the chest level.

I toss the idea of the cane in my mind. I am scared to go public with a cane. It's humbling. I know I will have large lumps in my throat just knowing that people will be staring. I will have to develop a hard shell or just deal with it.

I still get around okay in familiar places, as long as there's no steps to look out for (wink). I tell myself that I don't need the cane. Maybe a cure will be found and I won't have to use it.

Sooner or later, I'll have to face facts. And convince my family that I will have to start caning for mobility, independence, and safety. I have to keep in mind that I am not the only one adjusting. My family adjusts with me.


It's wonderful to see Onyx back to her old self again. She's eating. A LOT!! And drinking lots of water. Sometimes I check her water bowl and it's bone dry. As soon as I wash out the bowl and put fresh, cold water in it, I'll get an excited yip and a half-jump from her while I am standing by the sink. :)

I'll throw a plastic horseshoe outside and she's running faster.

I finally got the girls the swimming pool passes. :) They already went swimming. The breeze is cool, so I am betting that they want to stay in the "warm" water.

I found a parent who is willing to pick up Angel in the mornings for school. I just have to find her a ride after school. I have plenty of time. Summer's just started. For right now, I'm cooling it with the phone. I am not hearing so well on it due to a hearing aid maintenance need. I have an appointment next week that can fix the problem in a jiffy. Every time someone's on the phone for me (rare), I'd have to get one of the kids to interpret for me. When Hubby's on the phone, he'll talk to the kids or I will play guessing games.

Okay, this post is getting too long.

Later. OXOX

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At Fri Jun 20, 02:29:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shari,

My name is Denise and I'm from Brazil.
I 've been reading your blog lately and today I decided to leave you a comment.
I belive I have usher type 2. RP and moderate hearing loss.
As you, I'm not comfortable to take O&M training. But I'm considering this.

email and msn:

At Fri Jun 20, 09:14:00 PM , Blogger Kila said...

Glad you found a morning ride for Angel!

As for the cane, I'm thinking I would start out using it around the house, BEFORE it was absolutely necessary.

Don't wait until you injure yourself.

It might just give you extra confidence to get out and enjoy things.

I like the telescoping option.


At Sat Jun 21, 10:14:00 AM , Blogger Breazy said...

were I in your shoes Shari I think (and this is just my thoughts so please don't think that I am telling you what to do)I would want to start doing the O&M training now before the cane becomes a necessity. I am praying for you every day that they find a cure for Usher Syndrome.

At Sun Jun 22, 07:25:00 AM , Blogger Shari said...

Hi Denise-Welcome. Hope you can relate to a lot of the hearing loss and RP issues here. I am glad you understand the cane issue. It's a tough call. It's a kind of a catch 22 situation. Good luck to you and know that you are not alone. :) Please stop by again.

Kila-As I said before, I get around okay. If it's familiar or if I familiarize myself with my surroundings. I know I should act on my thoughts, but it's such a tough thing to do.

Breazy-Thanks for your concerns. It's not an easy decision to make. I know I will have to deal with it, but it's another not only admit it to yourself, but have your family at your side, too.

At Sun Jun 22, 05:35:00 PM , Blogger Beth said...

What a very difficult decision to make - and I know you really dislike drawing attention to yourself. But since reading your blog, I've noticed that every time you have to make a tough decision, you manage to do what is right. Both for youself and others. You'll do it again.

At Mon Jun 23, 09:56:00 AM , Blogger Shari said...

Beth-It's more of an awkward decision to make. Once I can convince the family that it's something I'll have to do sooner or later and get some training for it anyway. It's not a matter of buying myself a cane and practicing. I'll develop bad caning habits and they'll be hard to break. I do know that you are supposed to hold the cane like you do a pencil. Pencils make me get "cramped." I like typing better. Winks.

At Thu Jul 03, 08:52:00 PM , Blogger Candice said...

I know going to the cane is a hard choice, that is one reason that we are starting training with Rebecca now, before she becomes to self-conscious about it.

I don't know you that well, but I would think that people may already see you as blind. The cane is not going to make you more or less blind, only assist you with where you already are. Just a thought, again - I don't really know you that well so maybe I am WAY off base.


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