Tag: blogging

Why I Finally Started Using a Long White Cane

Long before I decided to begin using a long white cane, I recognized that my eyesight was declining and impacting many aspects of my life.

Among other things, my condition, RP, steals the light-gathering cells in your retina.  Meaning, where others could easily see to navigate, either inside or out, I struggled.   As it worsened, I hesitated going out alone at night.  I hesitated going out with people who didn’t know my sight challenges.  Even on a sunny day, if a shadow wasn’t being cast by steps, I could go flying down them.  I really needed to start using a white cane.  But, like so many in that situation, I held off.

The big wake-up call happened at age 45 when I failed the vision test for my driver’s license.  A follow-up visit to my eye doctor sealed the news.  He pronounced that I now met the terms for being legally blind.   As I sat dejected in the exam chair, he recommended I contact service providers who, among other things, could get me the white cane training I’d need.

For months, I vacillated between thinking of following the doctor’s advice and holding off.  I couldn’t verbalize what kept me from taking his sensible advice.  I knew no blind person to whom I could talk about this.

In my case and maybe for others, my reluctance was really based on fear.  No, I wasn’t afraid of the cane itself, it was fear of what people I knew would now think about me when I appeared with a white cane.  Fear that I’d no longer be seen as the competent guy that I knew I was.  Fear that coworkers or supervisors might start treating me differently and maybe start questioning my work.  Fear that friends would feel sorry for me and want to be overly helpful.  Maybe I was just uncomfortable at the thought of beginning to present as a blind person.

Then there is the thing that guys might not talk about.  If you’re at the age when you’re hoping to go out on dates or find a partner for life, a guy is likely to think his chances are slim if he advertises his disability.

On that point, significant vision-loss wasn’t a factor until after I married.  But before we were engaged, I told her of my retina condition.  I explained that already, I was uncomfortable with night-driving and it would probably get worse.  Her response was simply, “Well okay, then let me start doing all the night driving”.  And that was all there was to it.  I’m a lucky guy.

During a period when I was open to the idea of using a cane, I learned there was a local chapter of a national blind organization in my city and they had an upcoming meeting.  Meeting and talking to both vision-impaired and totally blind members over a period of months, gradually got me over the hump.  I obtained my first folding cane and started learning proper travel techniques.

As I practiced with the cane on walking trails, it was obvious how helpful the cane was.  No more tripping on uneven pavement or stepping into water-filled holes.  Those coming towards me assumed I didn’t see them and gave me wide berth.  Past concerns I’d bump into people, happily vanished.

I worked in a large government complex downtown and had a responsible job.  Even as my vision declined, I was able to successfully travel inside and around the buildings.  I never ended up pulling my folding cane out of my shoulder bag at work.  I did use that cane to get to the bus from home, from the bus to the building and then reverse it all at the end of the day.

I did use a cane when I became involved with new volunteer organizations.  I did use it whenever we traveled by plane or train.  Beside the benefits I’ve already mentioned, a bonus was if I stepped into a confusingly designed or poorly lit public restroom, some helpful guy might be in there and offer some useful directions.  If I accidently bumped into someone, my apology and the sight of my cane always prevented any misunderstanding.

This isn’t a blog on where to go to get assistance.  Dear reader, you could be living anywhere.  But, you might reach out to those in your community who work with seniors or contact your local or state library.  If you have access to the internet, search for the word “blind organization” and the name of your state.  If you have such a thing, consult your phone book.

My relationship with my white caned totally changed when we moved to a new city.  I decided I’d use my cane from then on.  Now everyone who knows me here, knows me as a cane user.  Perhaps it is being older, but I now am proud to walk throughout my community showing that blind people can safely travel independently and are otherwise, no different than anyone else.

I admit that I am not the person who can preach to anyone about boldly stepping forward to start being a cane user as soon as it would help.  I can only say that once I got and learned how to use my white cane, many things I feared did not happen.  And at the same time, challenges I previously faced greatly diminished or ended.

If low vision is making you uncomfortable going around independently, I’d urge you to reach out to any of the many organizations that exist and are anxious to help you.

When Where You Are Is Not Where You Want To Be  

This Blog Post is quite different than my other ones.  This one came to me over time and seemed worth sharing.  I’m trying to put into words a philosophy for dealing with my vision-loss. It’s an attitude I’m trying to live by.   Perhaps it will strike a chord with you. Here’s how this thought came to me.

I have more trouble seeing now than I did about a year ago.  I have a couple of routes that I can walk to get to the store, the coffeeshop and downtown.  One is more shaded by trees than the other, so when it’s hot I take the more shaded route. While the coolness is nice, it is also darker.  A year ago, I could make out the curves in the sidewalk and paths where the shade was deepest.

However, this year I realized that I no longer could see the path in those shaded spots.  It was disheartening to face the reality that my eyesight had declined so much so fast. I stood there soaking in what this meant.  After a bit, with no visual clues, my handy long white cane found and kept me on the path. I slowly get past this and other sections and back on my way.  

Over time, I started to try and see beyond the deeply shaded sections.  If I could make out where the path picked up beyond these sections, I’d aim for them.   Combining confidence that comes from using my long white cane, some eyesight and this method, I’d get through these spots more quickly.  Later, I realized that if I could see someone on the path ahead of me, I’d try to use them as a moving target.

It was on one of those walks that it dawned on me that such a practice could be an allegory for the way one lives their life.  There will be times in our lives when we may feel lost, getting nowhere or unhappy with our current situation.

But if you have a big goal or a series of smaller goals, you have that spot in the path ahead to aim for.  If you don’t have such goals or if they are vague, work on them. Having goals and working towards them can be very helpful.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

I also noticed that If someone was a bit ahead of me on the trail, I could use them to point the way forward. I translate this to mean, find or learn about someone who has walked a path similar to yours.  Especially if they are now in a “place” more like where you’d like to be. Guides, role models and mentors can make all the difference as you travel along your path.
Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

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The Reluctant Blogger

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Why would I want to write for a blog? Who would even read it?

My web person tells me that having a blog raises my webpage ranking.  When that happens, possibly more people will discover my calendar.  So yes, I do want more people to learn of this calendar.  Yet, doing a blog would mean I have to get comfortable inviting strangers into my “world”.  It begs the question, why would anyone be interested in what I’m doing to make and market these calendars, let alone anything else going on in my life.  

Then there is the very real fact that I barely can get done each day what needs to be done.  Now I’m supposed to write about it as well?  If I do this, I should sign it, “The Reluctant Blogger” So how do people who Blog find the time?  I suppose it comes down to the old adage, you make time for what you want to get done.  I will think seriously about this, especially if the posts can be short.

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