Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Legally Blind Myth: To Be or Not To Be

I can totally relate to this story (thanks to a friend who called attention to this article). I haven’t taken the plunge to start O&M (orientation and mobility) yet. I have to wait and see how much time it’s going to take. I also have misgivings.

Some people are going to expect a totally blind person to use the cane (or even have a guide-dog). They aren’t going to expect me to have some vision when I start using the cane. They may think that I am “faking” it or looking for sympathy. I don’t like calling attention to myself. I know I will hate it when people stare. I have been trying to hide my vision problems for a long time. Only now, it’s not that easy to hide it anymore. Sometimes I still manage to “fool” someone who doesn’t know I have RP. I still have useful central vision. I can read a font size of a 10 or 12 just fine. Some people with RP need magnification to read, such as ZoomText or a portable device. Some get the magnifying glass or CCTV to help them read. Most likely, I will need magnification to read better. I can’t predict what my vision will be like a year, five years, or 20 years from now. Everyone is different.

I still can walk on my own. Depending on where I am, I can walk slow or fast. If there are people around me, I tend to slow down. I am "armed and dangerous." I may jab someone. If I am in an open area or if I know a hallway is empty, I will walk fast. In stores, I walk slow. I have to watch out for kids, carts, other people, and items that are in the aisles.

Though I may be labeled “deafblind,” I don’t think that I would want to wear a checkered pin. Of course, I realize that this is in Canada, where the pin is recognized. The cane is the symbol for blindness. I will quote another fellow Usher Syndrome friend, “I would rather have a checkered cane than a pin.” I don’t know what it is like to lug a cane around in areas I may not need it. It is probably best to get the folding or telescoping kind for these purposes. Most likely, even when I am trained for cane use, I will probably not use it unless I really need to, like in the dark.

I imagine that I will feel self-conscious and humble once I start using the cane. I suppose that it may get easier with time. It doesn’t make me feel any better, though. I don’t wish RP on anyone.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On the Dark Side

Daylight Savings time is here again. I don't like it. I understand the purpose for it. People want more daylight in the mornings. It is safer (more visibility) for the kids when they are waiting for the school bus to come and pick them up.

For me, it means less time to enjoy the day. When I used to work at the factory, I would check-out at 3:30 p.m. By the time I got dropped off, it was after 4 (on a good day). I would have to hurry and get the kids from my mom's. (I still drove then, but I didn't drive in the dark. I am night-blind. I can see a little bit, but not like I used to. It takes me about a minute to adjust to the dark and I don't see as clearly as I used to. It was too dark in the morning for me to drive, so I rode along with a co-worker.) It would be getting dusk when I got home, especially in December and January. It was a 10 minute drive across town to my mom's. I prayed every time I started the car so I would have a safe trip both ways. I would get frustrated when I got stuck by a train. I wanted to get home.

But now that I am going to school, I get to see the daylight hours more. I am not in some windowless area of the factory. But still, I get depressed when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. I am a prisoner in my house. I would rather have an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon than in the morning. I know that we only get about 9 hours of daylight in the wintertime no matter what.

How about a happy medium? How about turning the clocks back a half hour and then leave it alone. No more changes. No more "fall back" one hour in autumn or "spring forward" one hour in the spring. No more adjusting the body clock. How does that sound?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Traffic Law: Proceed With Caution

I am beginning to hate going to the grocery store. Before it was just an errand, now it’s a dreaded chore. I would be pushing the cart to the end of the aisle and have to strain over the cart for a “green light” to see if there’s traffic before I would turn to go into the next aisle. People just don’t pay attention. I am so busy looking out for other people, their kids, and their carts. I still have mishaps. It seems like other people expect you to look where you are going. They don’t seem to take precautions. They walk fast. They grab what they want and move.

When there’s a slight collision with another cart, you mumble an “excuse me” or “I’m sorry.” Sometimes it’s not even your fault. (What is it about apologizing for something you didn’t do? It’s so automatic. “Oh, I’m sorry.” It must be psychological.)

There’s also traffic chaos in the aisles. There’s no order. People are lining up on both sides of the aisle, going every which way. Don’t you think that they should make it a one-way “street”? Or have people line up on one side at a time, like regular traffic? (Yes, I am guilty of it, too.)

My vision is like wearing horse’s blinders except that it’s like wearing blinders on the top and bottom, too. I can see movement out of the edge of my vision, but it’s not foolproof. I worry about little toddlers roaming the aisles. I don’t want to bump into them.

There have been several accidents with the little yellow thingy retailers and businesses use to warn customers about the floor being slippery. I would knock them over. Whoops. How embarrassing. Well, at least it wasn’t a child.

I can move faster, but I am slow. This is my precaution, my instinctive protection against harm. (A little wry humor-I ought to wear one of those orange triangles on my back to warn of others of slow traffic.)

Lately I have been going to the store by myself. It’s nice to go without the kids. No fighting, no whining. On the other hand, they are mommy’s helpers, too.

In the meantime, I guess I will just have to do what I have always been doing until my oldest gets her driver's license. Then I'll have her take over.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Word Imperfect

I checked out Word Imperfect. It is a blog where you play word games. A new word is posted daily and you just guess the meaning of the word. I thought it was a lot of fun to play. You can interpret it in any way you want. I have seen some wacky definitions. I never heard of these words. I would try to get a feeling for these words or maybe see part of the word that may mean the same thing. I have always loved word games. It's wonderful way to expand your vocabulary. Go on and check it out.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Golden Glow of Light

Some nights I would be watching TV, and I could just see the lamp in the far corner of my eye. It would bother me. I would try to move my head just enough so that it would be in my “blind spot.” This blind spot is the "doughnut" area between the corner of my eyes and the center-kind of like a doughnut in front of my eyes-I can't see through that area. Sometimes I would tell one of the kids to turn the lamp off. I would continue to feel like the lamp is on. I would repeat, “Please turn that light off,” or I would proceed to just turn it off myself. But I would find that the lamp is off. The room is dark except for the TV. It was weird.

I noticed that it happened a lot. I would get that feeling that the light is on. This strange golden glow would appear as soon as I turned out a light in the dark. It doesn’t help me see any better, though. I would lie down on my bed, bathed in this golden light. I think of it as angels watching over me.

I found out that some people with RP get this.

Other times, I would get a “light show” or swirls of light circling in my eyes. Sometimes it would come out of nowhere. Mostly, though, when I am exercising or exerting myself, I would get these lightning flashes. (Lightning flashes, light show, and swirls of light are pretty much the same thing. These are just what other people with RP have called them.) They may vary for each person who has RP. Even for those within the same family. My brother and sister have a different rate of vision loss than I do and it (RP) affects us differently. My sister doesn't have the "islands" or "holes" in her vision that I do. I can see out of the corner of my eyes, but she can only see straight ahead.

It makes me wonder if sighted people with normal vision see things differently. People wear glasses for near-sightedness or far-sightedness. Some just wear glasses for reading. Some are color-blind. We all see things differently. I just wonder about the fact that, once being fitted with glasses, do they see 20/20 again? Is there something that can’t be corrected? Maybe no one really has perfect vision. Of course, I do wish RP was that simple to correct; just find the kind of glasses that can correct RP. If only it were that simple.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

There's a New Shade of Blue

Have you ever listened to a song you liked and didn’t know who sang it? For years I have been looking for the song “New Shade of Blue.” I didn’t hear it on the radio anymore. I even asked fellow country music lovers if they knew who sang the song. The answers I got were Doug Stone or Clint Black. Most knew what song I was looking for, but couldn’t help me. I can listen to songs, but sometimes I just don’t know where the songs come from. I can’t hear deejays on the radio that well so if they named the song or the band/singer, I wouldn’t get it. But I can hear music on the radio. And it really helps to get the lyrics so I can follow the songs.

So, I checked out CDs for this song. I was beginning to think that maybe “New Shade of Blue” was not the title. There were so many other singers who had used the same or similar title. I was at a loss. I started to give up.

I would look for it off and on. I realize now that I was looking for it under the wrong artists. It was a song sung by Southern Pacific, a band that broke up in the early 90s.

To those of you who prefer heavy metal or hard rock: To each his own.

I have included the lyrics (below) to the song, with help from my oldest daughter, who loves most of the same music I do. I find that rather ironic, when you consider how many don’t like the same music as their parents. I didn't. She is also a better singer than I am.

"New Shade of Blue"

He watched the sun set on the highway
Headlights shinin' at the moon
The evening dropped a silent curtain
As the sky turned to a deeper blue
He parks his car along the road
To breathe the desert air
Told himself that he'd forget
She's no longer there.

There’s a new shade of blue.
There’s another kind of heartbreak
To get through.
Mm, mmm.
Color loneliness with
A new shade of blue.

He stared across the desert darkness
Watchin’ taillights fade away.
He came this far to learn the hard way.
There are some things the miles can’t erase.
He pulled back on the dusty road.
He never looked behind;
Destination anywhere
He won’t have to find.


Drivin’ down the dusty road;
Never looked behind.
Searchin’ for the border line;
Leave this state of mind.


"New Shade of Blue" by Southern Pacific (between 1985-91)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Three Beautiful Things

I browsed Clare's Three Beautiful Things blog. I just loved the inspiration from her blog. Just look, I mean really look, at the goings-on in your lives. The everyday things that you observe, the things that bring a smile to your face, and a reminder that we must stop and smell the roses. Don't take life for granted. I tell myself often to appreciate each day, but sometimes life gets in the way.

So now I am one of her "copycats". I have created a second blog, The Daily Three. This will be a challenge for me. You are welcome to go to the website and check it out.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Potato, PoTAHto

Dinner. This is a word that I have eliminated from my vocabulary. (It’s just a lot of noise-how many people want to cut down the “din” in their lives?—pun intended.) This word gets me into more trouble than it's worth. I always thought dinner was supper. Now I see that others say it’s really lunch. Say what? We have breakfast, lunch, and supper. Where does dinner fit here? To me, it’s useless. I have had this discussion with a number of people and it seems that the jury is out on this word. There's no end to this debate.

I decided to look up the definition of dinner. Maybe this would help bring in the verdict? According to the Encarta website, dinner is the "main meal of the day, usually eaten in the evening or sometimes in the early afternoon."

Well, there you go. No one is wrong. Case is dismissed!

I say "potato"; others say "potahto."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Can Do!

I came across a person who didn’t mean any harm. She was just a curious person. She knew that I was hard-of-hearing and had vision problems. She just couldn’t place herself in my shoes and see through my eyes and hear through my ears to understand what it is to live with Usher Syndrome. And I don’t expect her to.

We were discussing school, classes, and future jobs. She blurted, “Can you work?” Why do you think I am going to school? I admit she burst my bubble. I lost some self-esteem. I shouldn’t have felt that way. Am I a better student than a potential employee or what? For a while, I had to do some soul-searching. I had to get my perspective back. I am not the strongest person emotionally. My self-esteem can get crumbled easily. I'll just have to hold my head up high next time I get a question like that. I am not angry with this person. I will just have to educate her more next time I bump into her and the topic comes up again.

I mentioned this in my Pet Peeves post that I have gotten this question asked of me before, but not regarding work. Things like, “Can you see? Are you okay walking home?” Again, they mean well. Just because I cannot hear and see that well doesn’t not mean that I cannot do things “normal” people can. Sometimes I feel like they think I am an accident waiting to happen. What? Am I supposed to hole up in my house all day and not venture outside in case I trip or get hit by a car? If it’s my time, it’s my time. If it’s my destiny to get fatally injured by a car, well, that car may just ram through the house to hit me because it’s my destiny. Get my drift?

Next time some well-meaning person asks me, “Can you...?” I will just have to learn not to get defensive about it or let it rip my confidence to shreds. People just need to be educated about this. We need to band together and advocate. If that means I have to educate others myself or prove myself to others, then so be it. There are plenty of legally-blind and blind people working in all kinds of jobs-some earn a good living. They got to that point because they knew they CAN do the job and didn't let anyone stop them (or crush their confidence in their abilities).

Today is National White Cane Safety Day. How about a Deafblind Day called “Can Do!”?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

There has been a lot of news about mass murders. As soon as you read about a school killing, there are “copycats” popping up elsewhere.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea to print this stuff. Other people, who are angry with the world, who feel like outcasts, or who are just plain evil, read this stuff and get ideas. All you need to do is plant a seed, then give it something to feed on and watch it grow.

Now that the sad story about the Amish girls getting killed has been circulated throughout the world, do you think some sick person is going to read this and think, “Oh, great idea! Lemme try that!” Then there is more killing. Is that a little bit “overkill” on the part of the news?

The purpose of printing news like that is to get people to buy the paper. It sells. I often hear that stories get printed because they are something that don’t happen every day. People get into car crashes everyday. Big deal. An airplane crashes. Oh, big news! This doesn’t happen every day, let's print that.

You read a story about a kid who has been picked on in school. He brings in a "weapon of mass destruction" and starts shooting at his enemies, fatally wounding them. Sometimes innocent people end up dying because they were in the line of fire or in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of a sudden, other kids in similar situations think that this kind of payback is a great idea. They become obsessed with it. Now there’s more news on mass shootings at an educational institution. And on and on.

Where does it end? It keeps compounding. Is this a sign of the end of the world?

Maybe journalists need to start printing more pleasant things that go on around the world. This way, it doesn’t seem like such an evil place after all. Where there’s a silver lining, there’s hope.

Do I have a point here? Will anyone listen? Will anyone care?

On the other hand, I concede, information like these does help prepare others. They look for the signs and help avert a potential disaster, such as the scheme that was plotted in Green Bay, WI.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Internet Classroom

Until two years ago, I never heard of an online class that you can take via the Internet. It is very convenient. Most people still work full-time jobs while attending a class or two. You can “attend” classes at any time it is best for you. With gas prices going the way they are, it saves students money spent on gas. Some have to commute a good half-hour to class. This saves more time and money.

I was leery of taking on an online class. There was a class I needed to take (a prerequisite) and that is how I experienced my first online class. There was a discussion thread that every student had to reply to for each learning plan or chapter. Assignments were submitted to a “dropbox” on the e-college website. I didn’t mind it. I took more online classes the following semester. Sometimes there were group assignments. Some teachers assigned teams and others expected the students to email each other and form their own groups.

The only thing I didn’t like about online classes is the faceless classroom. I like being around people. I didn’t realize that it was going to be an issue with me. I was used to going to work and being around people. Going to school was like being around people again. How many stay-at-home moms (and dads) out there feel the need to be around other adults besides the spouse? That's what it was like.

There are many pluses, too. I didn’t need a note taker or interpreter in the “classroom.” All my assignments were written in black and white. Everything I needed was right there on the computer. I had to use the information in the online classroom and in the textbook(s) that were required for the class.

Now that I gave up driving, the online class forum is looking more attractive to me. I wouldn’t have to worry about transportation. I would still miss the interaction, though.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I have encountered this time and time again. Hard-of-hearing (HOH) people have to conform to the hearing world or so it seems. Most (most, not all, but most) hearing people would prefer the person with the hearing loss to communicate orally with them rather than to meet halfway or make it easier to communicate by signing. How many people want to learn sign language or put effort into it? It’s a novelty. Sometimes the eagerness to learn wears off. Why bother? The HOH person can speak. It doesn’t matter that it’s hard to get everything in a conversation. So many words sound the same. It seems like all the work falls on the HOH person. After all, the HOH person has to be a part of the hearing world, not the other way around. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule: Some HOH people out there do not know sign language. So it does rest on their shoulders, too. We must make it easier for them-the hearing people. If we can’t figure out what they are saying, then we either try to bluff it or endure an exasperated sigh with a “Forget it!” or a “Never mind!” I cannot count the number of times this has happened to me with co-workers, friends, and family.

If I try to bluff my understanding, it gets thrown back in my face. “I told you that...(fill in the blank)” I can’t win. I am a people-pleaser and I shrink from confrontations. I would rather walk away from a fight that is brewing than to bother sticking up for myself. Sometimes any reasoning on my part is no match anyway.

The only reason why I know sign language at all is because I went to a self-contained classroom with other Deaf or HOH students. I was fully mainstreamed in 8th grade and high school. I communicated with my family orally. We were not allowed to sign at home. This is because of the oralist or audist view that signing would just hinder our ability to talk. (My parents were told not to learn sign language so we would talk.) I am surprised I was even allowed to sign in school at all. My brother and sister were mainstreamed at a much younger age, so they didn’t retain sign language like I have. Don’t get me wrong, I can communicate with hearing people. My family is hearing. I survive.

I wrote a paper for a class titled “Assertive Listening.” One of the things I learned is to repeat as much as what is being said to me as possible so the speaker knows what I heard and fill in the blanks. This saves the speaker’s time so he or she doesn’t have to repeat the whole thing. And if I still can’t understand a word, I would ask that another word be used to replace the misunderstood word. I have been more honest about what I understood. Instead of carrying on like I did, I would say, “I still don’t get it.” Besides, I usually get caught.

Now add low vision. (Please note here that basically the only people I sign to are the interpreters at the local tech college I attend and the occasional fingerspelling by my oldest.) The signer has to be a certain distance from me (Again, if you have been reading prior posts, the “funnel vision” effect.) Sign language is really a visual language of the Deaf. I cannot see signs up close. The hands can be out of my line of vision. I have to remind the signer to sign closer to the body at a certain distance from me. In other words, I have to tell the signer to back up and sign in the upper body region where I could still see facial expressions. I need as much of the visual cues I can get.

When that doesn’t work, most deafblind people use tactile, tracking, or other modes of communication.

When a HOH or Deaf person loses all of his or her sight, then what? One, two, or all three main cues of communication are gone: Verbal, non-verbal (body language), and paralanguage (pitch, volume, and meaning). One cannot shout in a deafblind person’s ear. That does not work. One cannot pass notes to him or her; he or she will not be able to read it. One must put in more effort to communicate with the deafblind person. That includes tactile, tracking, and whatnot. No one wants to be left out. I know I don’t.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Color My World, Part II

Autumn is really a beautiful time of the year. The green leaves transform into vibrant hues of oranges, reds, and golds. The display of nature’s bounty is just breath-taking. That may be corny or overused, but there is no other word for it. The word hasn’t even invented yet that could justify the splendor of the changing scenery of the foliage. It inspires poems and dreams. When you look around, you really see it as for what it really is...a work of art: God’s creation. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I made a poem analogous to the Giver of life, people of different color, and rebirth.

The Tree of Life

Trees are turning color.
It’s that time of year again.
Leaves of orange and yellow
Hang on as long as they can.

Wrenched by a gust of wind,
They spin, flying all around.
They glide, gently, falling free.
Meeting old friends on the ground.

Jumbled and mingling together
In harmony: oranges, yellows, and reds,
United together in solemn wonder
As they lie in their temporary beds.

Looking up, a majestic view
Awaits them from the earth.
The big oak that gave them life
Is preparing for spring’s rebirth

It braces itself for winter’s wrath.
When the icy fingers of frost
Form icicles on its branches,
It digs in its roots at all costs.

Oh, what joy is there to know
That another life begins anew
When the big oak sprouts new life
To wash away the winter blues.

by Shari dated October 8, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Color My World

Color. Color is omnipresent. What can life be without color? You feast your eyes on color. They are descriptive, beautiful, and mean different things to different people. I don’t know about you, but I love colors, especially various shades of blue: Royal blue, turquoise, teal, sapphire, and sky blue. It’s hard to pick which is my favorite.

But with the eye disorder I live with, the rods and cones are dying off. Ever so slowly, the killer DNA genes send self-destructive messages to the rods and cones, snuffing them out one by one. The cones are photoreceptors for reading, seeing color, stationary things or people, details of objects during the day, looking at pictures, and recognizing familiar faces while the rods help you see movement, night vision, and peripheral vision.

I have a hard time determining if a color is black, navy, or even a rich dark brown, the kind of brown that is so dark that I could go cross-eyed trying to determine whether it's black or dark brown.

My oldest daughter, a fashion police wannabe, recently informed me that brown is the “new black.” How appropriate! If I have a hard time telling the difference between black and dark brown, it’s perfect. It is my “new black.” How about making olive the “new beige?” That is another color that is hard for me to determine. I have to layer them one on top the other in order to see the difference. Even then, sometimes it’s hard.

There is a special device, though, that can tell you what color things are so you can mix and match your clothes. I was envisioning having only jeans, black, white, khaki, and tan pants so that any top can match when and if I lose all my colors. I don't know how well I will hear the device "talk" though.

They say that red is the last to go. It’s such a vibrant color. I hope that it doesn’t get to that point. Life would be pretty dull without color.

God willing, I’d like to retain as much of the colors in my world as possible.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

I used to lay out at the end of the pier on clear, cloudless nights just gazing up at the stars. I could listen to the waves gently splash against the rocks on the shore.

I would look for the North Star and the Little and Big Dippers. I loved looking at stars. I used to watch it “move” from one side of the sky to the other as the seasons changed.

I used to walk the dog down our lane when the moon was full. I could see quite well.

In the early summer months, I could see fireflies doing their “mating call” with their built-in light bulbs. It was like having the night sky fall to the ground. We had stars in the sky and "stars" twinkling on the earth.

My cousin and I used to catch fireflies and put them in jars and pretend they were lanterns. The fireflies felt cool to the touch.

On overcast nights, the beautiful, twinkling lights of the stars would be curtained by the clouds. I would have to wait until the sky was clear, so that the stars would come out to "play" again.

I don’t know exactly when it happened. I didn’t go outside to watch stars anymore. I worked. I went to bed early. I had a child. I stayed inside at night. Then, I moved into the city. I had another child. I didn’t take the time to go star-gazing anymore. Oh, I wish I did!

The fireflies still come out in the early summer months. My kids do the catching now and pretend to have “stars” in a jar. The kids would say that the fireflies are all over the yard. I can only see maybe one or two fireflies at a time. I guess I should be happy about that. It's better than nothing. I am night-blind. I can see a little bit as long as there is a light shining nearby. Either that, or it takes about a minute to adjust to the darkness so I can scan the yard for the dancing, twinkling lights of the fireflies. It'll just have to do.

I used to think that it must have been cloudy outside because I couldn’t see the stars. One day, about two or three years ago, I complained that it always seemed to be cloudy when I wanted to look for the stars. But I was told that it was clear and stars are twinkling all over. I would squint and look very hard up at the sky. It hit me then that I couldn’t see stars anymore.

I can still look at pictures of stars, but it’s just not the same thing.

If I were to wish on a star, what do you think it would be?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cars with Eyes

Cars with what? Cars that can see? Impossible! I kid you not! A car manufacturer is trying to make a car "sense" how close it is to another car (or anything that takes up space three-dimensionally) and alerting the driver. It does this with a special chip.

I wonder how much insurance companies will profit from this? Fewer accident claims would be filed.

I would love to get back into the driver's seat. Imagine getting into the car and telling it where you want to go and it safely drives you to your destination, like in the TV-series Knight Rider or other science-fiction movies. (Well, a girl can dream!!)

What's next? Houses that can clean itselves?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Muscle Sense

In Anatomy class, I learned about “muscle sense.” This means you know where parts of your body are. Just by stretching your arms above your head, you know where your arms are. You don’t have to look to make sure it’s there or to watch it to make sure it's doing what you want it to do.

It’s the same when you walk. Do you need to look at your legs to know that they are moving in the direction you want to go? No, you know they are.

What about when you are visually impaired?

Stairs are one of my nemeses. I have no problems going up stairs. It’s in my line of vision. When I go up the stairs, I can see where I am going. But going down steps are altogether a whole different ball game. I have made it a habit to count steps so I know when I get to the bottom. The steps blend together. I can’t tell where the step ends and the next one starts. It really helps when the steps are a different color than the surroundings or if it has a metal strip or some kind of marking on the edges of each step so I can see them. I go down steps carefully, especially if I am not familiar with the area. Cement steps are the worst. They are already grayish in color and that makes things blend. Sometimes curbs blend. (It helps when they are painted yellow.) It’s hard to describe what it is that I see. It’s like there’s no depth perception. They look level. If I am walking around outside, I know where the end of the block is. Then I have to look down and make sure I “find” the curb/step. If I keep my eye on it at a distance, I am fine. But if I am talking and/or walking with someone next to me, it is much harder to stay oriented. It’s too distracting. In a lot of ways, I feel safer when I am walking by myself. I don’t like it when someone is too close to me. (It's the “funnel vision” effect- I see better farther away than up close.) If a person is by my side, I have a hard time staying in step. I need to concentrate on where I am going and it’s hard to do if I am carrying on a conversation. I don’t want to bump into that person, especially when he or she is directly front of me, I may step on the back of his or her heels.

If my kids want to walk ahead of me, they know they have to keep a safe distance. If one of them slows down, they get a painful reminder, especially the youngest, because she is still below my line of vision. This happens because if I am looking straight ahead, I really don't see too much below my nose (though I do have some islands of sight around the sides and bottom).

To stimulate this, try cutting holes out of the bottom of those small bathroom-sized Dixie® cups, hold them against your eyes (like binoculars) and walk around with that. The smaller end of the dixie cup is approximately 10 degrees of central vision. Try it. See how much "muscle sense" you have.