Archive | June, 2014

Black Dot

26 Jun

by Dihann Flowers

Black Dot, would you please move,
You’re constantly blocking my view
Every time I try to see things clearly
You forbid me to.
 
Black Dot, I pretend you don’t exist,
But that only causes distance,
Between friends and family I don’t speak to in public places,
Simply because I can’t see their faces.
 
Yet, when I try to explain it’s because of you,
They still don’t believe it’s true.
When it comes to vision, they don’t understand there are many levels of in-between,
Instead they base their ideas on what they’ve seen.
A person is either blind or sighted.
 
I’m starting to realize you’re not going anywhere
And wish I could honestly say “I don’t care”,
But the truth is, I dread your presence every day,
And pray to God that you would just go away.
 
Regardless of how much I pray, Black Dot, you’re still here,
Ironically, I think you’re starting to make things clearer.
Since you refuse to go,
I’m forced to use another approach.
A strategy that will give me a peace of mind,
And help me get through the rough times.
 
Instead of allowing you to limit me
I will find new ways to help me see.
I will try my best to accept and adapt to you
Although it‘s the last thing I thought I would ever do.
 
Black Dot, eventually I won’t notice you.

 

Dihann Flowers is a new writer to the Words Wide Open writing workshop at Second Sense blind service organization.  She thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and her first poem was appreciated by all.

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Lower the Standards

20 Jun

by Audrey Demmitt

My husband is a wise, clever and loving man. He once told me to “lower the standard” and it was one of the most loving things he has ever said to me! Over the years, this loving suggestion has freed me from the tyranny of perfection and saved me from my over-achieving, over-striving self, time and time again.

One of the hardest things to accept as you lose your vision is the reality of new limitations. Vision loss slows you down and it is impossible to be as efficient and productive as you were when fully sighted. In the early years of learning to live with low vision, my days were filled with frustration, set-backs, and mishaps. One no-good terrible day, I decided to clean the refrigerator. I knocked a carton of milk off the shelf. As a white river began to flow across the floor, I leaned down to clean it and bumped into another shelf which sent a jar of bright, red maraschino cherries and dill pickles crashing to the floor. The dogs sidled up to lick at the colorful, sticky mess. Hurriedly, I shooed them away and felt around for  the broken jars and shards, cutting my finger. Angry now, I threw the pieces in the sink and broke a glass pie dish. One step forward, five steps back…not an atypical day! Many days were punctuated by a succession of searches for lost items-glasses, magnifier, dropped earrings or ice cubes that skitter just beyond my vision but in clear view! I rarely seemed to be able to get everything done on my ambitious to-do list and would end the day tired, defeated, and feeling guilty. During this time, I was juggling the demands of work and meeting the needs of my family. I struggled to figure out which things were most important and what things I had to let go. True to my nature, I wanted to get everything done and do it well.

One day, upon arriving home from work, my husband found me haggard and the house in chaos. Tearful, I apologized that I did not do a better job of “holding down the fort” and he quietly said “Lower the standard honey…it won’t kill us to eat on paper plates tonight.” This was revolutionary to me! I do not mean to suggest that blind or visually impaired people cannot be efficient, productive and organized. Nor do I suggest that there should be a lesser standard for the blind. That would be offensive. Through the process of vision rehabilitation, we become quite skilled, resourceful and competent in managing our lives. We learn to adapt and adjust the pace of life to match our skills, goals and priorities. Some become the “super-blind” and the “uber independent”. I myself have had to fight this temptation because it is often accomplished at great personal cost. Most of us just want to live normal lives and keep up with the demands and responsibilities of the lives we have carved out for ourselves.

Now in my fifth decade, I better understand what is most important in this life: relationships. That is where I choose to invest my time and efforts. It matters not that the house is spotless or that I am caught up with the laundry. There are many things that can wait until tomorrow. What is important to me is that I make the time to nurture family, friends and myself.

Maybe “live by your own standard” more clearly states the concept. What is important to you? Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a day and stick to the important stuff. Give yourself a break, lighten up, have some fun, learn to relax, recreate and give these gifts to others as well. Keep it simple, remember to breathe, and eat off paper plates once in a while.

Audrey Demmitt was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 25 and has been legally blind since 1994.  She has used a guide dog for the last three years.  She is a retired  school nurse. Audrey lives in Georgia with her husband and three adult children.  See more from Audrey at her blog: Seeing Possibilities, http://seeingpossibilities.com/

Colors

13 Jun

by Mani G. Iyer

On drives, long and lazy
as is wont of her
she reveals in color,
the moving panorama.
 
In autumn, her palette flows
with shimmering yellows,
fiery reds, mesmerizing maroons,
reluctant greens and soothing oranges.
 
And come spring and summer
it is the spectrum of vibrant greens
with the rare rainbow resplendent
enough to enthrall for many a moment.
 
On this bright wintry day
I brace myself for the pale grey,
the near nakedness, a lusty yellow
brazenly stripping stubborn whites.
 
Instead, she said—
in a metallic red, two braided blacks
billowing blues from slender whites
delicately dangling out of pastel pinks.
 

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.  Writing has always been a passion for Mani and has done a writing fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center.  He has also just started a writing group called “The Good Word.”

Change and Choice

6 Jun

by David Flament

On my way into work this morning I decided to stop at McDonalds for breakfast.  Perhaps not the healthiest choice, but a great way to start the day.  On my way from McDonalds to work I thought how 3 years ago when my vision loss was still new I would never have left my path to work to stop somewhere.  That was something I used to do when I could still see, but after losing my vision I was too worried about getting lost.  There was a lot of things I stopped doing when I first lost my vision.

I have been visually impaired all of my life and have lost all of my vision about three and a half years ago.  I also work with people with vision loss.  Through my personal experience and learning from those I work with I have identified two important factors in adjusting to vision loss, change and choice.  Both of these played an important role in my adjustment process.

Let’s start with change.  Losing your vision means changing the way you do things.  That last sentence is very important.  It means changing the way you do things not stopping doing things.  Earlier I mentioned when I first lost all of my vision how I stopped doing things.  It took me a little while to come to terms with my vision loss and realize that I needed to get back to doing the things I liked to do.  That is when I began to understand that all I needed to do is change the way I do things and I could resume living my life.

Choice is also very important and the power of change gives you choice.  Once you know different ways to do things you have a choice of when and how you do things.  That may sound simple, but when you first lose your vision choice is one of the things you may feel that you have lost.  I know I did.

Another part of choice is the choices we make.  I cannot drive and depend on public transportation to get me where I am going.  In the suburbs, public transportation is undependable or non-existent.  In the city, public transportation is excellent.  Knowing this, I could live in the suburbs and always worry about getting around, but choose to live in the city where I can go where I want when I want.  This is at the core of my independence.

This may sound like common sense; however, vision loss is different for everyone.   What works for some may not work for others.  This simple approach worked for me.  I hope this will help you too.

 

Before becoming the Manager of Adaptive Technology Services at Second Sense, David Flament worked in a Fortune 500 company as a computer programmer.  His programming background is in both mainframe and PC development.  His academic background is in both education and computer science.  He has an A.A. degree in Business from the College of Lake County, a B.A. degree in education and computer science from Northeastern Illinois University, and a M.S. degree in computer science from Northeastern Illinois University.  His teaching philosophy is a simple one; match the training to the student rather than trying to fit the student into a preset training slot.  He uses various learning methods to accommodate various learning styles.