Tag Archives: mobility

Part 2 plus if I could talk to myself from high school

This post is a continuation to the last post in ways, but may be a bit more rational will see. I want to say RIP Mr. Rekey Frank. I should have said that in my last post. I got worked up at the end. I just think the could be me. I’ve been with people who’ve ran a light it happens, but that article was written with no regard to Mr. Frank. He was a blind man who thanks to that article I know was blind for 20 years. That’s all. I know the other guy had a job lol. Let me tell you something about penalties and having to follow the law.

For a year after college it was a struggle for me. I couldn’t find a job I got hired by Apple than fired because there system for answering tech support was not accessible. In this time I made $638.00 per month from the government on SSI. After a year I found a job. I had a meeting with someone at SSI and they told me about a blind work program. If you made a certain amount you could keep SSI because they would take off travel and work expenses. I did exactly what they told me, but when I moved to Louisville to work at Humana I received a letter from Social Security. It said I owed $1800.00 and it had to be repaid. I had no way to fight this and this would have been a year after stopping anything from SSI. Now I have student loans and I’m having to pay $75.00 to Social Sucurity every month. Basically that hour I spent learning about the blind work program cost me money lol. I paid the fine back, and it was a struggle for the first year I lived here. Again though I didn’t kill anyone I was just given money by the government. I had no forgiveness rule this story just baffles me. Also student loans aren’t forgivable debt yet killing someone where you have a fine is forgivable if you do the community service?

One thing if I could go back in time and tell myself in high school is to relax. Looking back I do wish I had attended the blind school for at least one year. I’d like to have gone my 9th or 10th grade year just to be around people like myself experiencing puberty. That was hard in public school being the only one blind. Looking back at it I’ve learned so much. When I went to Bal State I think that was the biggest growth for me. I met Carlos who was blind and he taught me the bus system something I never had access to where I grew up. I met my first blind female that I was around for more than a week at a summer camp. I think that experience would have been nice to have during high school when all those changes are happening. Sighted kids steel a dirty mag or video and figure things out lol it’s a little different being blind. I think the pressures of high school also do you want to be the person dating the odd kid with no vision? Reading this that sounds like I am being hard on myself but kids don’t want to do something others might find not normal. I also think as a person I missed some of the nonverbal communication that if I had it may have changed things also.

Abby and I were watching something where they referenced eye contact and how nice it was just looking at someone’s eyes. Abby says that eye contact must be some amazing thing? It got me thinking about a paper I had written in college 90% of communication is done with eye sight. I know in college I missed some opportunities with dating, because I think I didn’t interpret something correctly. My first girlfriend in college when we broke up she called me drunk and asked if she had a bad personality since I broke up with her? In her mind it couldn’t just be that we didn’t have the right chemistry it had to be she had a bad personality.

Whenever we go out with friends you know they look around and watch people. It’s amazing how much people can observe that I miss. Abby’s mom for example gets annoyed that I look at my phone when were out eating. I don’t really get it, because I am mainly looking at a sports score or news article. Yet during the same conversation she may bring up the score of a game because they have it on a television nearby. I’m not just picking on her it’s came up a lot over the years, but I don’t know how it’s fair for you to glance around and see things yet I can’t listen to my phone and hear some updates? I was going to say maybe because when seeing you can stil listen, but sighted folks get distracted and don’t always hear you.

It’s 4:21 AM I have a CPAP which is helping me sleep, but now I’m just left with the blind staying asleep issue. I no longer stop breathing during my sleep scaring Abby, but not I am refreshed at 3:30 ready to get my day started. That not seeing light does suck to keep your body in rhythm.

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Retiring Frasier

Today was pretty rough and shitty as days go. The Seeing-Eye came out to help with an issue we were having at work with other dogs. After witnessing the dog issue it was recommended that I retire Frasier. The news hit me hard, because I felt maybe there could be a way to fix it. The heartache returned it felt like losing Robin all over. My throat got tight and I literally couldn’t;t talk for about 15 minutes after they left. Frasier has brought me some hard work and his barking was an issue for me, but I always felt I could overcome it. He healed a part of me that broke when Robin passed that I never thought would work again. I know most of you won’t get that at all, but these dogs are our partners.

Friday I was walking across a drive way and a car pulled out and Frasier backed me up. I couldn’t hear it because it was a hybrid. He saves my life Friday and Wednesday I’m retiring him and without a dog? Life is a tornado sometimes.

The crazy part is when talking to the Seeing-Eye if I have no one that can take him or if I can’t keep him basically I will know when he’s placed with someone but I no not much else. So again my buddy who did his job I know nothing on how he is doing or where he is. It’s not the Seeing-Eyes fault I guess I’m not trying to be a dick about all they’ve done it just is frustrating.

We’ve bonded I need a facebook or twitter connection to him just to get an update once and a while the not knowing where he is or how he is would kill me.

I left work early because I couldn’t do it, and came home and cried and held Frasier. I also ate a large pizza thanks I’ve been working hard on my figure. Frasier has become part of the family. Him and Bancroft play he follows me around like my shadow which I secretly love. He also now pushes the door open while I am in the bathroom to lay at my feet. God I don’t know why he does that. Lol but he does. I never thought time would be this short.

Thankfully when talking to my friends Jerry and Lee they offered to take him. They were looking for a dog they wanted a bit smaller than him but they’re excited to take him. This also works for me, because I can still visit. I want him to be there dog once I drop him off, but knowing he is in good hands has helped my mood and also the writing in this blog tonight. Tears have been lessened since I know where he will be, and that he’ll be with good people that I love. We went and visited them a few weekends ago and he loves the yard they have. He ran out for hours chasing his ball. Lee told me he will walk to there mailbox and back with them which is about a half mile I believe.

I did think about keeping him, but he is so young and if I get another dog it might be tough on him and also be a lot of dogs we have to care for. At this moment I will be collecting myself and try to figure out if I want to put myself through it again. It’s so hard I feel I failed him. I did everything they asked he just is a dog and didn’t respond to the conditioning. I called several times even asking for someone to come out and pretty much got ignored for some reason. Every time I got new advice on trying something, but maybe seeing what I was seeing would have helped things.

Monday when going to the bus it’s just me and the cane again. It’ll feel weird I’ve never walked this route with a cane so things Frasier took me around I’ll hit and curse and then move on. I know he wasn’t perfect none of us are really yet working dogs all most have to be. He was a great worker he picked up on things so quickly. For example in Louisville or most of America they never fix sidewalks so we have a lot of broken parts. Once I tripped on it, and Frasier never forgot it. Every time he would stop I could stick out my foot and there the broken sidewalk would be. I’d always thank him and scratch his chin. Even after a week off when I went to Germany when coming back I thought he’d forget nope like a champion he got it right. I’ve been thinking about all the things he’ll miss and we can’t do together and it just kills me. He was going to be in the wedding as my best man. Were not doing a wedding party to save us from all of the drama lol. Now in the blink of an eye it’s gone. I want him to enjoy his life and I know he will. I thank him for his short service, and thanks for being my dog and guide for the last several months. I know he’ll never understand how much that meant to me.

Shock

I got a big shock. My friend Jenny called me and asked if I wanted to do lunch. I said sure. I told her to meet me at the front office, and I would get her checked in. As I came up the steps she said hi Joe. I was kind of confused. since I didn’t sign her in. I think I even said how did you get past security? She said I know people. She then said she had a surprise visitor with her. I heard someone say hi, and Jenny told me it was Dawn Gee a local journalist/news Anchor. I love Dawn and all she does to help Louisville! She also had a little stroke earlier this year but it didn't slow her down I admire her resistance! Then she started putting 100 dollar bills in my hand. I was a bit overwhelmed lol. I know that might be hard to believe.

Dawn asked me to talk a bit about Robin. That was hard for me to sum up 8 years in a short time I could have talked forever. I shared some stories, and a bit about how much she meant to me as a companion and my eyes.

I did think about something later I wish I had said. After Robins passing I do the bare minimum to get through the day. I don’t like to take risks. I’ve always been a good cane traveler, but I hate crossing streets with my cane, because of veering fears. Crossing streets with Robin was so easy, and after the first 6 months I never worried about it. I think that’s why when Abby and I walked and crossed West Port I really realized if I want to do this I need a dog. I’m getting so excited, because were getting closer and closer.

Anyway Wave 3 donated money that will really help me pay bills while I am gone. I’m so grateful I was worried and doing calculations on how long I will be without a pay check, and I was really nervous. This helps so much, and makes that worry dissipate. I thank Jenny for contacting them and making it happen. By my calculations it’ll be something like 5 weeks without a full paycheck. I am working with APH now to see about doing some work on the weekends or when I can, but I also don’t want to get to worried about that. I want it to be about the dog first then everything else after that.
I went to my friend Joe’s house, and we talked about how Robin and I came to Louisville alone. I’ll never forget when we moved out of my downtown apartment to one off of New Lagrange road we were packing up, and we had moved my bed and Robins crate to the truck. Robin went in to the bedroom and my dad and I walked in, and he said she looked sad. I gave her a hug and told her we were going to a different apartment. I remember her just standing looking around. I know she loved moving to the house because of the yard.

Joe hasn’t had a dog in 20 years or so, but he still remembers his dogs so vividly. I know that’s how it will be for me. You never forget them. Trading stories about things your dog done or did is just so cool. He told me before his dog Timmy was put down he had some people over to say good-bye. I thought that was a neat idea. Even though you have no petting and things over time the dog becomes part of a group or people are drawn to it. If I hadn’t had Robin at Humana I may not have met Jenny, Leslie, or Michele. The reason I say this is I would have had my cane, and I walk in sit at my seat and walk to the bathroom, and then go home. I would have interacted with Mel, because she was my boss, but others I may not have found. Having Robin had me taking her out on breaks doing some things in the morning it made me more active as a person. I also think right or wrong some people just don’t approach you with a cane. Not all people are animal lovers, but it for those who are it sparks that wheelhouse. I would drop Robin off at the groomers and go to Walmart. With a cane waiting for my ride to go get her no one talked to me or said hi. My god though with Robin I had to be a therapist to some people they couldn’t stop talking. People would be like I had a dog named bla 10 years ago man she was a great dog. I would say yes sounds nice. Then they would go on with a story about their dog lol. I should have brought tissues with me.

As weird as it was at times with people you would encounter it created something I didn’t have before, and that was easy access to finding someone. If I stand somewhere with my cane appearing lost, because I am no one says anything to me. If I stood lost with Robin except in Arizona where no one spoke English people would constantly come up and ask if they could help which I didn’t always need, but was nice.

Okay one more thing about technology. Recently an app from Microsoft came out called Seeing AI. This thing is amazing as hell. I never thought I could have the abilities that this thing gives me. I also never wanted wearable glasses until this app. In the app it has several channels. Short text’ document scanning, bar codes, people, and scene. Short text is what I will focus on mostly here, but you can take your phone point it at something and hear it reading. It’s amazing. I took it to the Outlet malls in Simpsonville and it read me Bose as I was walking by Gucci or however you spell it as we were walking by. In Sam’s it read me office furniture when pointing it down the aisles. I asked my mom if something said office furniture, and sure enough she said there was a sign. This thing shows me how much text sighted people deal with constantly, and how much as a blind person I miss. I love this thing so much, and thank you Microsoft for boosting my confidence in you as a company, but for also pushing AI technology.

I am really excited to go get my dog, but I am sad about leaving APH for a little while. I really do enjoy coming in to work every day, and the working with the people here. It’s refreshing I’m sad to leave maybe they’ll realize they don’t need me. Also I feel like I am now comfortable here leaving again for most of the month then returning will be interesting. All that aside it’s worth it. I just post this part so you can see all of the emotions that play in to this. It’s not like buying a car. Imagine if you had to get fitted for your car based on personality then to drive it you had to go somewhere else and stay for 2 and a half weeks while you learned about your car. I think we’d have a lot better public transportation if this were the case.

Thank you again Wave 3 and Jenny that really was touching. The fact I can bring Robins story to others, and help them see how much these dogs play a roll in our lives is so cool. I think today we can get lost in ourselves and loose that community feel. I love Louisville, because it’s that big small town. I talk about moving in retirement, that’s a long ways off, but if not I love it here. Besides a major league baseball team I have everything I could ever need here. Growing up in Indiana a lot of people made fun of Kentucky, but I love this state so much. We have mountains, knobs, big cities, and lakes. What more could you really want? I want to get back in helping young blind kids get technology they need. I would really like to focus on eastern KY in particular. I’m not sure how to get something started that can benefit kids the way technology donated by the Lyons and Mr. Lanbright helped me, but I’ll come up with something. Also football is about to start lets go Cats! I bought tickets to Florida, but since I am coming home with my dog that weekend I decided to give my ticket to one of Abby’s family members. I want them to have fun the dog and I will cheer them on from home with Tom on the radio, and of course Kentucky Sports radio pre and post-game.

Happy birthday Robin!

I will eventually get to a Robin story, but I have to take care of something personal first. Last post I commented about Dave and a discussion we were having in a Facebook post. Imagine my surprise when I found out he blocked me. haha Well that’s okay, so I figured I would just say my peace here.
When I started at college at Ball State in 2004 I had a mobility instructor who would come sit beside me show me a braille map, and then when I’d walk it and get off track would get mad at me. Seeing a braille map can help, but I’ve found for me the best way to learn something is to just walk it. With a cane there are so many variables you just don’t know what you’re going to find when doing it in reality. I fired him, because his lessons weren’t helping me learn the campus. I went out and found another person named Dave who came in we walked the campus twice, and I felt so confident. Along the way we became associates when I worked my first job we needed a mobility instructor he worked when I needed and it all most cost me my job. I stuck by him though, because he got things done. When I was thinking about moving to Detroit to work for the radio station he called me and said you might want to think twice about it with the current state in which Detroit finds itself. I took that in to advisement. Fast forward to last weekend when he commented on a Facebook status saying I was irresponsible and it was dangerous for me to take Robin to a ball game. Which by the way I’ve taken her to more games then I can count. Baseball was supporting me for a point or at least helping. It just floors me that he is going to call me taking my dog to a game irrisponsible. All the things I have heard about him over the years I dismissed and never judged, but seriously? He helps blind people learn how to navigate for a living then posts feel good moments and how it helps him repent something. I’m glad your job helps you sleep better at night Dave, but blind people are people, and it’s amazing to me after all the ones you help you can’t seem to figure out some have lives and aren’t needing you to self loth. Am I a better person because you helped me become a great traveler and helped me to believe in myself yes, but to call me irresponsible for a sighted person stepping on my dog out in the open is a bit ridiculous.
With a cane some days I would just shut down. It took so much concentration to navigate I hated it. Rather than go out and do something I would just stay in my room, because it was easier. Carlos was the first person I met with a dog, and I saw how he was able to navigate so freely and I felt the dog made him better. I do not know if that’s how he’d feel but observing it it’s how I saw it. In college had I just got a dog it wouldn’t have went well. I needed to mature, and get the young things out of me. Like drinking obsessively and passing out in yards mainly. When I got Robin I decided to make that change I’m going to start living more responsibly. I commented last post I’m scared to think about retiring Robin, because if I give her to someone else maybe they’ll let her off leash and not watch her and she’ll get hit by a car. Sighted people especially Pita supporters or as I call them hypocrites would argue a blind person can’t take care of a dog after all how can they spot the blood in there urine? I think Robin and I do just fine, and I am tuned in to her because were constantly with each other. When your blind everyone has these great ideas on how we should live or what we can or can’t do, but in reality your not living the way we are so just stop.
Dave’s suggestions were I should leave Robin at a hotel or a friends. If I had to leave her at a friends overtime I wanted to do something what would be the point of having a dog? I’m not trying to hide from society because I have nothing to hide. I want to go out and let people see a blind person and his dog navigating alone or being successful because that’s how things change and progress. At the Reds game 3 people that sat by us as I was leaving shook my hand and said they enjoyed my commentary on the game. Would they have approached me if I were sighted I don’t know. One guy was a Jehovah witness, and di the religious thing, but what he said didn’t bother me. He said last week every Jehovah witness learned about some blind person. Sorry I kind of blocked him out as he was telling me the story, but what I took from it was everyone was learning about someone blind. In public school my classmates knew me obviously, but its not like we learned about any blind people or what they could do.
On Robins birthday it’s hard to exactly state my feelings on her. Along the way I’ve faced different emotions. I get annoyed when I meet people in the elevator at work and their responses I bet she does a lot for you? Yes I guess she does, but they mean it in a way of I can’t feed myself or something or I couldn’t possibly exist without her. That’s the way I take it anyway. The best quote I found is a guide dog is like the ship and the handler is like the captain. If the ship had no captain it would just float around aimlessly. I’m going to Toronto this weekend, and with Robin I will do better than with out her. She makes it easy for me to travel, and feel sighted for the first time. When I got lost in Phoenix last year that might have been the most scared I’ve been, but I was lost with Robin and that made me feel a bit better. It didn’t help when people didn’t know english kept passing me, but we eventually got on track. The scariest part definitely for me was when I got mugged and when I woke up on the ground and Robins leash wasn’t on my hand. I remember being real frantic wondering where she was. When she came over to me and licked my hand it took the weight off my shoulders. I can lose my phone and wallet, but she isn’t replaceable. I will get another dog eventually and it will be good, but she’s my first and took me through a lot of hurtles in life.
After college being unemployed for a year through break ups where I wasn’t sure how I was going to get over that person. She’s always been there wagging her tail in the morning wanting me to take her out. I do think having her does help people connect with me easier in that it gives people the ability to say something. At the end of the day I have a lot of getting out to do, because most people don’t encounter blind people much. Happy birthday Robin, and thank you for making my life easier and more complete. I’m sure when I have dog number 2 she’ll probably look down and think damn he didn’t let me get away with that. When I first got her I never broke in of the rules as she has gotten older I’ve relaxed a little maybe at times to much. haha I think it’s like being a parent you have to find that balance and figure out what’s right and wrong.

A quick Robin story and travel

So a quick story on Robin. Yesterday I left her while I took a quick bus trip to see a friend for the afternoon. I left Robin with my friends Jerry and Lee. When I got back to there house Lee told me Robin must only like blind guys. She tossed a toy outside and Robin would just look at it, so she had to go pick it up herself. When Jerry would toss the toy Robin would go get it and bring it back to him. Lee can see I forgot to mention that part earlier. I just laughed about that. I am glad I left her the bus was so full. She is getting older, and I notice its harder for her to get small like she used to do.
Last night I locked myself out, because I left my house at 4:45 am and just wasn’t thinking clearly. I realized I left my keys at my house when I got to Indianapolis. I was so angry with myself, but I was like I am going to block it out until I get back, and just deal with it when I get home. The locksmith couldn’t get in to my lock, but we finally managed to get in a window. That saved me money, but I made a copy of my key to give to Jerry soon, so at least if I make the mistake again they’ll have it. When I was living in Indiana Robin scratched my shoulder waking me up and it was weird watching someone break in like that. I am glad I have a gun by the bed just in case. I bet in the dark we will be an equal shot so let that be a warning.
Today Pilot Niel and I flew up to Pittsburgh, and watched the pirates Cardinals game. He actually bought a new plane, and wanted to show it to me. Robin had her own seat she could stretch out on, but I think she stayed on the floor behind us. I wish he and his wife still lived here because I miss are random baseball trips. We were joking with each other today he told me I have to step up my game, because he found a guy in a wheelchair that makes him laugh, but I still win because the plane doesn’t have a ramp. It was hot today at the game, and Robin panted a lot I was sure to keep water on me, but I just notice some differences in her this year. Some lady came up to me and said she was beautiful, and that she had a miniature wiener dog. First off how can you say that with out smiling? I bet they have a complex like those damn Terriers. Neil is going to hang out here a few days which is cool before he heads back home. Robin is on my feet now wanting some attention. I am going to go to bed, because this weekend I didn’t get much sleep at all, so I am tired. Using the cane Saturday I realized how poor my cane skills have become. With the dog she just takes me through doors or to a door something I hadn’t thought about in a while. I did okay no bruises but maybe I need to go out with it a little more just in case. Robin did give me the third degree when I got back to Lee and Jerry’s she licked my hand smelled my legs and ran circles in the same motion.

Robin doesn’t like to poop without me.

So I’ve made a discovery since I bought my house that after six years my dog does not like to go outside without me. I’ll use this morning as an example I let her out twice once at 6 AM while eating my breakfast, and another before I fed her at seven after my shower. She did not go to the bathroom either time I don’t believe, because when I got to work she had to do both before we went in. I guess I will have to start going back out with her to make sure she’s doing that I don’t mind if she runs around but I want to make sure she’s actually going to the bathroom. I guess it’s true shepherds are routine animals!