Friday, May 18, 2007

How Do You Do?

Last summer, my ex's girlfriend (let's call her Jo) picked up my daughter every other weekend for him (when he had to work late).

I am uncomfortable when I have to meet new people. What kind of impression will I make? What if I don't like her?

She usually waited in the van while my daughter would get her duffle bag and give us a hug good-bye.

One day last August, she was at the door. We talked about what time she would be back home on Sunday night.

I thought she was nice. I wasn't jealous at all. She's tall. I am 5' 9 1/2" tall. (I thought I was 5'10", but I must be shrinking...topic for another day.) She is 6'4". I kid you not.

I felt pretty good about our meeting. A few times before this meeting of sorts, she'd be talking to my husband, because he was outside doing something in the garage. She hadn't officially met me yet, though.

The weekend was over and my daughter was back home. my daughter told me that as soon as Jo backed out of the driveway, she muttered, "Is your mom always like that?"

I could just see her expression as she asked, "Like what?"

Jo explained that she had her hand out so we could shake hands, but I never shook her hand.

My daughter exclaimed, "Mom probably didn't see it!!"

People with RP/Usher Syndrome may seem snobbish or rude.

I can't see anything below my nose. So if I am newly introduced to someone, I may be looking at the face. So I won't be able to see the extended hand. I am not being rude. I just didn't see it.

Sometimes I am lucky and catch a movement or just expect a handshake coming. Sometimes a person who knows I have RP would tell me to shake the person's hand.

"Oh!" Sure I'd feel awful, mortified, or embarrassed, but it's better than appearing rude because I did not shake the other person's extended hand.

Some people have a hard time understanding RPers. How can we be visually impaired? We look like we can see. Every RPer has a different degree of loss at any given time in his or her life. My central vision is good. I have good acuity. I can read the newspaper. I can read blogs. Maybe some day I may need to magnify what I read. I hope that's a long time away yet.

My peripheral vision is lost. I do have a little vision on the far side, but there's a non-existent gap between the far side and the central vision. It's gone. It's not there. It's not a black hole. There's a void. It's like a piece of thick plastic that's impenetrable. I can't see through it. I am "blindsided," so to speak.

So don't be afraid to tell me if I don't shake your hand. Let me know. I'll laugh self-conciously. I may try to explain myself, but I am not trying to be rude.

The next time my daughter had to go to her dad's for the weekend and Jo came to pick her up, I extended my hand and we shook hands.



At Sat May 19, 07:53:00 AM , Blogger Laurie said...

Hello! Thank you for your comment on my blog. You should qualify for a cochlear implant if you test less than 50% when your hearing is tested.

I had my first surgery in August 2005 and the second in January 2007. If you read around those dates, you will get some good information. I also have links on the side for other CI blogs.

Oh, and most insurance policies cover cochlear implants.

At Sat May 19, 10:17:00 AM , Blogger Sara said...

Hi Shari, this is a great story. A reminder to us all that things often aren't the way they appear. It's so easy to get defensive and think people aren't being friendly when often there's a perfectly good reason. It was nice that you were so understanding. X

At Sat May 19, 11:00:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

MCC changed to Molly says: "Hi " Jenn + Laurie. I will be at the HLAA Conv in OK too. I am a little older, 58. Just look for a gal using the cane. Hope we can have a quick visit. Happy and bilateral too!!!!!! WOW Shari we are so blessed with modern technology + being able to read about everyone's "C I Moments."

At Sat May 19, 11:11:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly says: You wrote my exact thoughts and experience about not seeing people reaching out to shake hands. An Usher friend talked about using the cane. She felt people treated her different and looked at her funny. Well I have been using the cane one year. I am too busy watching where I am going to be bothered with their thoughts. One friend said she likes to walk behind me. Everyone gets out of my way!!!!!!!!!!This is the first time I have ever had a visible aid/gadget. Now it is my public awareness.

At Sun May 20, 12:27:00 PM , Blogger robkroese said...

Interesting post, as usual.

6'4", are you serious? I'm only 6'2" and I'm tall for a guy. Sounds like she may be related to my mom.

At Sun May 20, 08:12:00 PM , Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow. Awesome post. We never really know what is going on inside another person. This is just another reminder not to judge people. You just never know.

At Sun May 20, 11:38:00 PM , Blogger Jocelyn said...

I'm still amazed that Diesel is 6' 2" because he's shorter than that in my mind.

Anhow, thanks for letting us inside your world like this. Is it wrong of me to fixate on how, um, not right it seems for the girlfriend to turn to your daughter and open with such a negative comment about you? Seems, er, inappropriate--to put your daughter in that situation.

At Sun May 20, 11:49:00 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

A superb post . Very often we are so judgemental about people because we dont stop to look beyond what is on the surface . Although your post is subjective because it deals with your personal experience I think it is exemplary and we can all take pointers from it . Thank you Shari .

At Mon May 21, 07:55:00 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Shari, that's one thing that I love about the CI...NO feedback! I had gotten to the point where the hearing aid I had had to have a super-tight mold because I had to turn it waaaaaaaaaay up to be able to hear any more. The mold kept my ear infected CONSTANTLY...and I still got feedback...I hated to smile because if I held my face just so air would leak and the hearing aid would whistle...ugh!
I don't hear yet with the implant like I did with the hearing aid...but at the end, I heard so little with the hearing aid that I had, that the CI was an improvement...that's when I decided to really put some effort into it! :)
Molly, looking forward to meeting you in OK City! Do you have a blog?

At Mon May 21, 12:37:00 PM , Blogger Karma said...

This is a great post. And I'm glad that you were able to move past your inital feelings of insecurity to connect with this woman.

At Tue May 22, 10:48:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow so many comments. LOL 3 are mine. Before my "cane days" I might forget to tell people I had a hearing or vision problem. If I did tell them, they would forget within 10 seconds. No Jenn, I am too chicken to have my own BLOG. Sure my past experiences. Which I call "War Stories." But HLAA and 30+ million people not speaking out has helped me to be open.


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