Friday, July 03, 2009

Out of Touch

I know it’s been awhile. I keep saying that over and over, I know.

There isn’t a whole lot I can add to the caning lessons except that I’ve crossed a six-lane road at a busy intersection. That was scary. I learned that it’s good to time the traffic lights to see how long it takes to cross the street and how much more time you get when you press the button thingy to get the lights to change-it also gives you more time to cross the street. I have to look out for designated right turn lanes.

I’m moving on to learning to schedule bus rides. (I’ve had to throw out the negative thoughts I’ve had about buses-that poor people or people who have had their licenses revoked use them and how it makes me look “poor” or that I’ve had my license revoked. Obviously, with a cane, people would know that I was using the bus because I really can’t drive.)

It’s pretty much common sense. I’ve had to look at the bus route and see where the nearest and safest walking route (no jaywalking and making sure that there is a street light or a 4-way stop is at an intersection nearest my destination). I’ve also had to make note of where the bus route is “outbound” (leaving the depot/transfer zone) and inbound (heading back to the depot). Everything is about timing. How long does it take to walk to the bus stop? When does the bus usually get to a certain bus stop area (you can also wave to the driver if there is no bus stop). There may be two nearby bus stops, but I would have to see if it’s inbound or outbound (depending where I want to go and how much time I want to spend on the bus).

My life will always be about scheduling and even though I may still have to wait for a ride, it’s the next best thing to getting rides from an obliging friend/family member, whether (s)he feels obligated or wants to help) for appointments and such. A taxi isn’t always as dependable as a bus. You know the approximate time it will swing through; taxis may make you wait longer depending on their passenger list, but it’s also a whole lot cheaper to use a city bus.). I’ve always been a patient person, but during the past three years that I’ve given up driving, I’ve found limits to my patience when I’ve had to wait for a taxi for an hour or having to work around someone else’s schedule just to get a ride. The only “on a whim” transportation I have is walking-walking to where I want/need to go.

Most of the time, it seems like I “fall into step” with the cane without thinking about it now. I might be out of step if I duck from a tree branch or hit a crack in the sidewalk or something, but I correct it and get back into the “swing” (or rather, roll, because I use the rolling tip) of things again. When I do “fall out of step,” the tune to the song “Out of Touch” by Hall and Oats drifts into my mind, only I’m mentally singing, “I’m outta step” instead of “I’m out of touch.” LOL.

Flare is loving Vanguard. She is a color guard and she does fancy routines with a flag in parades. She enjoys the camp-like feel to it and she’s made new friends. I admire her for doing this. I have stage freight. I feel very uncomfortable being in the public eye. She has no qualms about that. I wonder if she’d do presentation-type things with little nervousness, too? She’s song and acted in front of a crowd.

She is a typical teenager. Parents have to “get with it”. I like my fanny pack (or rather, I called it my tummy pack because I wear it over my stomach not my fanny) and lately, I’ve worn it on my hip because of the way I hold the cane in front of my stomach. Besides , who wants to add 1,319,429 inches to her waistline? Heh, heh. Flare, though, calls it the “granny pack” because only “old” people wear that these days. I like the “hip pack” (I tell her it’s “hip” LOL) because it keeps my hands free when I’m looking at things and the purse straps always bugged me. I’m not a purse person. I nearly always forget I have a purse with me because I rarely take it everywhere with me except when shopping. When I’m shopping, I don’t set the purse down anywhere. When I go somewhere else, I’m so used to not having a purse with me, I forget I have it. I try to avoid that as much as possible now, that’s where my “hip” pack comes in. No more “forgetting” my purse; it’s attached to me.

I’ve been trying to keep Angel busy by going swimming or going to the library. The neighbor kids come over looking for someone to play with.

Both dogs had their birthdays in May. Topaz is a year old now and Onyx is two. When I take the dogs for a walk, I take turns with them. I prefer to take Onyx first because she’s easier to handle. Topaz is a very strong dog who just is in “alert” mode continuously. He sees a rabbit or a bird, he’s in a listen and wait form. There are times when a dog would bark at us because we are walking by its territory and Topaz would just spin me around in a circle. He’s all bones and muscle. The leash would limit his advance and by twisting me around in a circle, he’d knock into my legs. I have a nasty reminder of that-a huge bruise on my calf. Ugh. I get bruises for a lot of things. Years ago, I had a coffee/cocktail table in the living room. I got rid of it because I kept banging into it. (I don't miss it, either, because it's amazing how much less cluttered the living room looks without a coffee table in front of the sofa.) A few years ago, Hubs moved a boat trailer in the driveway. It’s right in the walking path to and/from the back deck to/from the back door. Yep, you guessed it. I tripped over the trailer by the hitch and got a nasty open wound on my shin. Yes, it was getting dark. Yes, I probably should have started caning lessons a long time ago, but I wasn’t mentally ready to “come out”. During the past year, I just knew that I had to get going on that and just get used to it and accept the vision loss and let the cane “speak” for me.

Speaking of letting the cane “speak” for me, the other day, Flare and I went to the grocery store, split the grocery list in half (actually, it was more like 75/25). That saves so much time that way and it was the first time I brought the cane to this particular store. I nodded at people and said “hi” to some of them. I watched them stare at me or look furtively away immediately after seeing the cane. One lady started up a conversation with me about spaghetti sauce. She looked at me in the eye and I looked back at her. I don’t know what she thought. She didn’t look confused or accusing. I just assumed that maybe she knew someone who had similar vision problems. Who knows? I felt that she wanted to ask, but was afraid to. (When Angel had a dentist appointment, I could see how the dental assistant tried to keep her expression free of confusion, so I just told her that I had tunnel vision and that since I couldn’t see anything below my nose, the cane helps me from walking into chairs and stuff I don’t see.) I could tell she wanted to ask.

So, when Flare and I got to the check-out and started loading the conveyer belt a Hamburger Helper box was getting crushed by the cashier. (I had no idea what was happening; I was busy putting things out of the basket. Flare told me what happened when we got home.) At first, I was loading this on one-handed because the cane was in my other hand. Somewhere along the line, I just set it against that conveyer thingy and loaded things with both hands.

Anyway, while the box was being crushed, a woman was watching that box and looking at me, like, why aren’t I going to “rescue” the box? She caught sight of the cane and reached around to move the box. (Remember, I had no idea any of this was going on.)

Ah, so, the cane speaks louder than words. I didn’t have to feel stupid not “seeing” the box get stuck. Lancelot (what I named the cane), my knight in shining aluminum spared me from looking stupid or rude. Thanks, Lance. J

(Of course, while this was going on, I don’t know why Flare didn’t take care of it, too? Of course, she was probably farther away from that box than I was, because I was in front of the cart and she was behind the cart..

Well, that’s it for now.

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At Fri Jul 03, 12:39:00 PM , Blogger hillgrandmom said...

Lancelot really seems to be living upto his(it's)name!

At Sat Jul 04, 03:17:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it must really take some getting used to, having to schedule things and not be as spontaneous. I'm really glad you're getting to learn the bus schedules and also that you have that kind of transportation available to you, which is awesome! :) We don't have bus transportation here -- that is more in the bigger cities and downtown Chicago.

So, SO glad Lancelot is helping in ways you probably never imagined. And helping keep people from making rude assumptions...always a plus! :)



At Mon Jul 06, 12:16:00 AM , Anonymous Kila said...

You are so brave. I'm proud of you. I know the frustrations of using the city bus or taxis. That's how I got around for several years before I got married and was on my own. Seriously, if you need or want to go somewhere on weekends or evenings, give me a call!

At Wed Jul 15, 08:05:00 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Late with a comment - sounds like you're having a busy summer!
Take care & enjoy the season!


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