Saturday, May 23, 2009

My White Knight

It’s funny where thoughts lead me

Remember how I came up with a name for my CI (cochlear implant) ?. I was thinking about rabbit ears, then I remembered Peter Cottontail, a children’s book about a rabbit. So Pete (or Petey) was the chosen name, and as an added bonus, if Pete were to have a brother…a CI in the other ear…it was going to be named “Repeat”. Pete and Repeat... (I remembered some joke about twins with that one, but I don’t remember how it went, though.)

The cane will be like an extended arm. It will warn me of obstacles in my path. In a way, it’ll be a bodyguard of sorts, my knight in shining armor, er, aluminum-all decked out in red and white, so it’s easy to see where my thoughts lead…I came up with a name for the cane. I was thinking that name of a knight would be fitting. Meet…Sir Lancelot (or Lance, for short). And it has a double meaning because it “lances” a lot. Yep, another male name. Heh, heh. (A result of too many females in my house??...heh.)

The fourth O&M session was somewhat a review of staying in step, crossing streets, and listening to parallel traffic. That can be a challenge. The instructor stressed that it was important to wait till the car that passed us to be out of earshot so an oncoming car wouldn’t be drowned out by the passing car. There were also lawnmowers to consider and if that were the case, then you’d have to wait till it was the farthest from you. The world is a noisy place and I pick up things differently or may not hear sounds at the same distance others do. I have a hard time singling out a sound. In a bar or at a wedding, the TV or jukebox/band/DJ would overpower anything else I want to hear, like conversation. So lawnmowers may beat out the noise of a vehicle. I am so used to using my vision to “hear” for me and I tend to “see” what I hear, if that makes sense..

The fifth and sixth sessions were pretty much review-making sure I use nearest parallel traffic as my cue to start walking across the street at two- and four-way stops and at traffic lights, whether there’s a signal for left turns or not.

I now have another cane, a fiberglass telescoping cane. It’s very lightweight and until the next session, I’ll have to make a decision whether I want to keep this one or the folding one, which is aluminum, btw. I am so used to using the folding one. I was also given three different rolling tips (each one larger than the last) to try out and see which one I like best. Rolling the cane versus tapping the cane makes a big difference in feeling the texture of the sidewalks (dips, cracks, or just worn down and full of tiny bumps). I even feel the cane go off the edge a curb more. But, it’s harder on my hand. I FEEL the vibrations as I roll it back and forth. I still tend to swing more to the right than the left so I’ll have to watch for that. I do like the fact that I’m not getting the jabbing into my stomach as I hit a crack with the tapping method, because the tolling tips go over the cracks better. So many things to try out.

Coming Out

A few days later, on a late Monday morning, I took the plunge. I got a hold of Onyx’s leash and Lance and took a stroll in the neighborhood. It was a bit nerve-wracking because not everyone in my neighborhood knows about my vision problem and would be confused or not understand why I was using a cane. I figured I might as well get used to it. Onyx was surprising good, staying close to my leg on the left side. She “heeled” very well. I was proud of her. I didn’t try it with Topaz. He tends to pull yet and I didn’t want to deal with that.

Some of the neighbors were out and about. One lady had her dog out, unchained. Before I was aware of it, she called her dog to the door. I looked up at her and she said, “He’s just behind your dog. Now he’s going to come by me.” It was strange to think that she felt she had to describe what the dog was doing. I could see him, but it only reinforces my belief that the public needs to be informed that not all cane users are 100% blind. There were lots of lawnmowers out. People relaxed during the weekend and maybe most had evening shift jobs. I did my “listening” for traffic, trying to weed out the sounds of weedeaters (pun intended) and lawnmowers. Then there was a garbage truck. Slow moving. Big road hog. Noisy. I pretty much used my vision to see if there were no vehicles coming before crossing a street. An older man was outside and saw me. He said that it was a beautiful day and “you enjoy your beautiful walk.” Again, the assumption that I couldn’t see anything and that he chose his words “beautiful walk” instead of “beautiful scenery” or something. I did have an emotional moment with that one, but I kept going. Onyx walked with me without a hitch.

Two days later, I braved it and took the plunge again. I saw a neighbor I talked to often. I don’t think she was aware I had a vision problem because I walked the dog(s) often. It felt weird. It’s going to take some getting used to, not only for me, but for those who knew me casually.

I am always getting jabbed into the stomach by the impact of the tip getting stuck into a crack in the sidewalk. The cane bends like a fishing pole.

(This is another thing about me: I’m left-handed. I write with my left hand. I eat with my left hand. I used to play tennis with my left hand. I scrub with my left hand. But pretty much everything else, I do with my right hand. I bowl, shoot darts, and use the cane. Weird..You know that saying about how left-handed people control the right side of there brains and right-handed people control their left side of their brain…well I guess I’m only half in my right mind. Heh..)

Oh, I had another “Close Encounters of the Magnetic Kind” moment.

I was hanging the wash on the line and whaddaya know, I bumped my head on the clothesline and ol’ Pete decided to pop off my head and attach himself to a clothes pin. It was one of those plastic ones with the metal clips that holds it together. Well, they are MAGNETIC!! It was like scolding a wayward dog or child or…(dramatic pause here)… husband. “Come on now. You have to stay with me. “.

The other day, Flare was practicing her music and the high singing pitches (soprano) were getting to me. So I just turned off my hearing aid and demagnetized my CI. Isn’t that great? A whole new meaning to “selective hearing”....just turn everything off so I don’t have to hear it.

Hear, Hear.

I had my 9-month map earlier this week. I am pretty stable with my hearing, word, and sentence tests. There isn’t much to report here. I had the volume pumped up a bit more for the first two programs (P1 and P2) while P3 (focused listening) and P4 (music program) stayed the same. I did get the high pitches back, thus the sharp “sss” sounds when people say the “shhh” words. I’m just playing around with that again because things sound kind of “flat” without it. I’m hearing the details of the dogs walking on the floor again-padded paws along with their toenails clipping on the floor.

I still hear different birds chirping, but until I know which bird is what, I couldn’t tell you which ones they are. LOL. One day I was sitting on the porch, just looking around (or zoning out, lol), I hear a weird bird. I’m like, is that a duck?? Where is it? I’m looking up at the phone lines, rooftops, etc. Here Hubby was standing in the doorway behind me, using his fake duck call thingy he uses for hunting. I’m sure he got a kick out of that. Ha.

Okay, will try to make my blog rounds when I can. I’m so behind on everything again. Emails galore!!! I’ve been pretty selective with emails.


At Sat May 23, 08:54:00 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Great name for your knight-in-shining-armour - and, as usual, a wonderful attitude and "take" on the challenges you face!

At Sat May 23, 02:40:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! I was really looking forward to an update on your cane training. So many things to learn -- different tips and different canes, rolling and tapping, etc. It's so interesting to read about.

I totally love the name you chose for your cane -- it's appropriate in so many different ways. :)

I think you're right, unless they know you well, most people will assume you can't see anything when they see the cane. But that's okay -- it will just (hopefully) make them a little more solicitous. If you get the chance to have a conversation with them, you can let them know that you do have some vision and explain the cane...but if not, don't worry about it. Let them think what they want -- the most important thing is that you're getting your training.

Your neighbors sound like nice, thoughtful people. I hope you're having a great Memorial weekend and have some nice weather to go with it!! :)



At Sun May 24, 03:43:00 PM , Blogger Becky said...

A very good name, lol.

The duck call story was hilarious.

Lots of Libraries have bird call sounds on tape or CD if you were interested in finding out which birds make which sounds.

Glad you're getting the hang of the cane.

At Fri Jun 12, 01:00:00 PM , Blogger Jennifer Bruno Conde said...

Hey there, Shari!

A gal named Jessie left a message on my blog. She has Usher Syndrome and I aimed her to your blog. Here is the link for hers.

I'm not sure if you guys have connected yet or not.

I read her blog and she was all set to her her CI surgery yesterday and she got to the hospital only to be told it had to be postponed because her device hadn't arrived!!! ARRRRGGGGHHHH.

If all goes well I believe she is having her surgery today.



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