Reality – What a Concept

6 Sep

by David Flament

Pardon me for stealing from Robin Williams and Einstein, but the title seemed appropriate.  I was born with vision loss, but not totally blind.  I lived a large portion of my life as a high partial and then a mid partial.  About 3 years ago I fell off the Glaucoma cliff and lost the rest of my vision.  I have also worked in the field of rehabilitation with people with vision loss for almost 12 years.  Perhaps all of the clients and professionals I have worked with during that time helped make my transition to life without vision a little easier.

It is that transition that I am writing about.  I am definitely not a type A personality and did not look upon this change in my life as a new challenge to be overcome.  Neither did I decide to stay at home and think life was over.  My blindness is neither a challenge to be overcome nor is it a burden.  It is simply a fact of life.  That does not mean that I do not have times when I get a little depressed about losing my vision or do not miss things from my life with vision.  Of course I do.  I think that is normal for anyone going through this big a change in their life.  It simply means I choose to focus on what I can do and finding ways to still do the things I want to do.

My first year was mostly just trying to adjust and finding ways to do the things I had to do just to continue working and living.  Perhaps the one thing that helped me the most and gave me the most confidence was receiving training from a certified O&M (Orientation and Mobility) instructor.  Working with him helped me to go from just getting by to actually becoming an independent traveler.  As stupid as it sounds, now I actually get a kick out of finding new ways to do things and from not letting my loss of vision stop me from doing the things I want to do. 

Another thing that really helped with my adjustment was something that happened to a friend.  This friend has been without vision for over 50 years and has travel skills similar to those of Ben Affleck in the movie Daredevil.  One day he mentioned to me that he had a bump on his head, a sore knee and a scratch on his wrist.  I asked how all that happened.  He told me that it happened on his commute that morning.  He went on to explain that no matter how good your travel skills are you will have days where things just do not go right.  I found it very comforting to know that even seasoned travelers have bad travel days.

Finally, I think my view on life and my beliefs also helped me with this change.  I do not think just because a person has vision loss that they are entitled to any special treatment.  However, I will take advantage of programs and services that are offered to people with vision loss: for example, pre-boarding the plane when flying.  It makes the boarding process easier to have someone help with finding my seat and it helps make the process smoother for the airline too.  Do not be afraid to ask for or accept help when you need it.  It does not make you any less independent.

Well that is my story.  I hope I did not disappoint you by not driving a Ferrari through downtown streets, or defeating a villain by using my cane as numchucks. While that may be normal for a blind person living in Hollywood, none of that has happened to me.  Yet.

David Flament is Manager of the Adaptive Technology Department at Second Sense – beyond vision loss in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.  To read more about David, click here and scroll down to his name.

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2 Responses to “Reality – What a Concept”

  1. Jeff Flodin September 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM #

    Thanks so much for your story, David. Your sense of reality and balance are just what I need to hear.

  2. guidepooch September 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM #

    I fear the transition to total vision loss, this helps reassure me that I’ll find a way when I jump off that cliff. And you’re right, we don’t overcome blindness like so many journalists love to say. We deal. That’s it.

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