Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Driver

Where did my baby go? Driving already?

Flare got her driver's license early this summer. She has her own car. She's so glad not to have to ride the bus or taxi again.

For me, it's nice that there's another driver in the house, at least temporarily, considering she's a senior and will be moving on to college next year. So while it's nice, I know it's not permanent and I still can walk around with the cane, ride the bus or taxi, or get a ride from someone. I just don't want to let myself get used to it, because my life will be the same when she's gone. Besides, I don't want to hold her back. She's got to live her own life, not cart her mom all over the place.

Soon, she will start school and I will be doing the same things I've always done. That is, if I needed or wanted to get a few things, I'll hop on the bus while the kids are in school. I'll find my own way to get to the appointments I have made for me during the times they are in school.

My CIs are still going strong. I am still deaf. I still don't get everything and the noisier things are, the harder it is to hear. I take them out during the night, I'm deaf. I take them out for a workout (in the house only) or while showering and drying my hair, I'm deaf. Sometimes, in the early morning hours when no one is awake, I'll be enjoying some quiet time for myself. There isn't much to tell that's new.

Now, I may be starting a new chapter in my life. Another journey. This time I'm giving serious thought to getting a guide dog. When I first started using the cane, some people, even a woman who was a member of the local Lion's Club, approached me about getting a guide dog. I was like, "No, thanks." I had two dogs as pets at the time and that was enough. I just was not comfortable with the idea of a guide dog, though during this time, some friends I knew were in the process of getting or just got their dogs. I just wasn't ready. So early this spring, we were discussing dog guides and with almost two years of caning under my belt, I was more open to guide dogs. We were down to one dog as a pet and I played around with the idea and looked into the guide dog schools from the GDUI website where there is a listing of all the guide dog schools.

But I can ask questions about the dog guides to my friends who already have one and they are a great resoruce.

I was down to three schools and got the paperwork on two of them and started applying. One school allowed me to send in pieces of it at a time (eye report, references, health report, video, etc) or whatever else they needed to complete the application.

You are supposed to have knowledge on using the cane. O&M skills is important so they know you know how to navigate independently on your own, crossing streets, using stairs, and walking with a sighted (human) guide.

This is what the video is for. So they know how you use your cane and how fast you walk. There may be more, but this is the gist of it. This helps trainers match a dog to you. If you walk fast, you will get a more energetic dog. What is your lifestyle? Do you have kids in the house? Other pets? A dog is matched for that.

So, in future blog posts, you will start to read about my journey into getting a guide dog. I've done so many things in the last five years as my vision changed.

Gave up driving.

Got a CI.

Got O&M training.

Got another CI.

Now, a guide dog. Like the CI and cane, it took me some time to think about it and actually go ahead and do these things. Some of it was my own vanity. I didn't want people staring when I got the cane out. But the more I did it, the easier it got. As for the CIs, they were an easier decision because I had no vanity issues with that. I wore hearing aids all my life. I was used to telling people I had a hearing problem. I was deaf. With the CIs, I hear more, but I still misunderstand at times. I am hearing more with the CIs than with the hearing aids. But then again, if it weren't for the vision loss, I may not have gone through with the CI.

Once I opened myself to the idea of guide dogs, I talked about it with the kids. They thought it was cool. Another dog in the house. There were some setbacks, second thoughts. Would I be able to afford extra dog food and vet care? Would I get enough use out of a guide dog since I don't work? How much use would I get? I had to think about all the things I do during the day. Not much, but during the week? Month? There are appointments to see the dentist, doctor, hair dresser, etc. I go for long walks except in winter. Too cold. And I hate that some people don't shovel their walks and that there are high snowbanks at the street crossings. I'd be going by bus or car. Going to church. I have been refusing to take communion by myself. When my daughter is home that weekend the church has communion, I will go with her to the front of the church. It is a fairly new church and I am not comfortable walking around in front of the pews for communion. A guide would help me get around that area better.

So, in the coming months, I'll talk about guide dogs. :)