Tag Archives: disability

Street Corner Religion

10 Feb

by Jenny Jones

I was walking from the bus to my office one cold morning. I was standing at the corner of an intersection waiting for the light to change and cupping my one free hand over my nose and mouth to stay warm. A man walked up and said, “Hi doggie, what’s your name?” I said, “Please don’t talk to him because he is working.” The man then starts talking to me and says he used to be on oxygen, but then God healed him. “Oh that’s nice,” I said.

My ears perk up and I realize that the light has changed, and we are so close to getting to my warm office. I give Racer the hand gesture for forward, and don’t have to say anything; he just starts leading me across. The man stays put, but I hear him calling after us, “I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.”

His words just hung in the chilly air echoing on and on. It’s weird but I felt like my dog was in agreement with me that this guy was a quack. Maybe what he had to share with me was meaningful but his delivery was lacking. I couldn’t help but wonder why he had decided to share that bit of information with me. Was he indicating that his illness was similar to my blindness and he wanted to offer praying as a solution? Would he have shared this information with just anyone at the corner? I can’t help but feel that it had something to do with my disability.

Multiple times I’ve been approached by other strangers who try to tell me that there are doctors who can fix my blindness. They are certain that they have read somewhere about a procedure that will help me. I assure them that I visit a specialist every year who would inform me of any cutting edge remedies. I’ve come to terms with my blindness, but apparently people I sometimes encounter have not. If I were to tell that man my true feelings about praying to be healed, I would say that it would feel too arrogant to ask God to heal me. I would rather God spend his energy on more pressing issues, like granting food to the starving children around the world. Blindness, I can deal with. Going without food, now that’s a problem.

 

Jenny Jones lives with her guide dog Racer in Utah. She was born with cataracts. Retinal detachments took the rest of her sight when she was in her 20s. She loves to read but writing is new to Jenny. She finds it helpful and hopes to continue.  Jenny has a blog at: Jennysjourney464.blogspot.com

 

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When Love Opened My Eyes

14 Aug

by Francesca Marinaro

A warm blanket of sunshine enveloped me; horse-drawn tourist carriages clip-clopped along the cobblestone streets. My boyfriend brushed away a strand of hair that the breeze had whipped across my face as we sat on a bench in the center of St. Augustine, Florida’s historic district, where we were spending spring break. As penniless graduate students, our options consisted of someplace within driving distance offering affordable hotel accommodation with free breakfast. I’d have spent the week on a slippery rock in the middle of the sea; the magic of a romantic getaway had, for me, always existed in novels and Hollywood rom-coms. If not for the warmth of Shaun’s arm across my shoulders, I might not have believed the dream had become a reality.

I lifted my head when the ring of church bells wafted toward us.

“Do you hear that? It must be coming from the cathedral.”

“Yeah, I think it is,” said Shaun, consulting his map. “Do you want to check it out?” I considered; my non-religious boyfriend had recently survived my best friend’s Catholic wedding, and I thought he’d served his penance.

“Only if you want to,” I said finally. We sat in companionable silence for several more minutes until Shaun reached for my hand.

“We should go. It’s your faith. It’s important to you. I get that.”

The church was empty save for the two of us.

“I should tell you what it looks like in here. There’s this old leather Bible—it looks really old—on the altar, with what looks like gold etched around the pages, and a crucifix of course. I think it’s made of wood, and it’s really intricately carved.”

I remember little of his actual description, but I can still feel the warmth of his touch as he held my hand, conjuring a picture of our surroundings as he whispered into the silence. I remember the prism of light filtering through the stained-glass window and dancing across our linked hands, and I marveled at how the simplest act could invoke such love. I loved Shaun in that moment not because he knew all of the words to the Donald Duck theme song or willingly sat through a viewing of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” I loved him for the way he held my hand and lent his voice to describing the world around me as easily as he talked to me about work or our respective dissertations, because my visual impairment was a part of, not a hindrance to our relationship.

The passage of two years and an eventual breakup have yet to dull this memory. It shimmers in my heart, an effervescent soap-bubble of hope. The challenges of dating with a disability are all-too familiar to many of us, but Shaun opened my eyes on that spring morning to a glaring truth that had often eluded me—in my moments of self-doubt—that I was, and am, worthy of being loved.

Francesca Marinaro was diagnosed with Lebers in her infancy and lost her usable vision as a teenager. She currently lives in Florida with her Yellow Lab guide dog, Zeus, and works as a freelance writer and teacher. Her writing has appeared in numerous online publications including Lifehack.org and the Living Blind Blog. You can visit her website at http://www.fmarinaro.com.

Quotation of the Week

17 Oct

Your only disability is your own attitude.  (Unknown)

Denial

28 May

By Stella De Genova

Denial.  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word?  The alcoholic, addict, over-eater?  Yeah, the person who can’t see the reality that is obvious to everyone around them.  I thought I knew all about denial.  I was in a relationship with someone who was in denial of an addiction and I denied my co-dependence.  It took a long time to see the truth, and it was hard to move forward.  But once I did move on with my life, I knew how to detect denial and its many disguises.  I was wiser – or so I thought.

I have had retinitis pigmentosa (RP) since childhood.  I’ve never been able to see in the dark.  I’d hang on to a family member or friend in dark, unfamiliar places and wore glasses for myopia, but besides that, I was self-sufficient.  Through time, I’ve lost my peripheral vision, colors are fading and there is no corrective lens strong enough to give me clear vision.  I was diagnosed as legally blind 16 years ago.  For me, it has been gradual adjustments.  I still ran a household.  I held a detail-oriented, high-responsibility job for 17 years – I was in control.  My family was getting concerned though.  I was having more trouble accomplishing visual tasks – picking out matching colors, reading, seeing who was coming up the walkway or seeing where I was stepping.  I needed assistance at work.  OK, more adjustment.

Then, one year ago, I fell into reality.  I was at work, carrying some glasses into the kitchen.  I tripped over the open dishwasher door.  I broke my arm and got stitches in my hand.  Upon discussion with my husband and employers, they, and I have to admit now, thought it was time to apply for disability.  Until then, I only used a cane occasionally.  After that, my family wouldn’t let me leave home without it even though I still didn’t think I needed it in daylight hours.  I wasn’t going out much alone, mostly to physical therapy for my healing arm.  I felt useless.  I needed to figure out what came next. 

One day, I was web surfing and saw a support group starting for people with RP.  I wasn’t sure how Id like it, but what the hell, I wasn’t busy with anything else.  At my first meeting, I mostly listened and saw people that were already completely blind and definitely worse off than me.  I felt like this might not be the right place for me.  Yes, I had lost my job due to my vision and I was apprehensive walking into this new building for the meeting, hoping I wouldn’t fall and kill myself but I could see much better than a lot of these people.  I listened to the others in the group and started recognizing what they were talking about.  Life wasn’t always easy but they knew who they were and they had accepted their disability.  Sitting in that meeting, it suddenly hit me, I was like the addict.  I was in such denial.  I went home and cried and thought about who I really was and the deck of cards I was dealt.  And I thought about the people I met and how moving they were.  They had experienced things that I experienced.

I started feeling better and I stopped trying to hide that I can’t see.  I use my cane regularly now and noticed that people can be pretty helpful.  I’m not working but my days are full.  I’m doing all kinds of new things – this blog is just one of them. 

I used to have two disabilities.  Now, I am still visually impaired but I’m cured of the disability called denial.