Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blind Observations

Hi there, and Happy New Year! Over the last week or so I’ve been reading back over my first 32 posts and I noticed something that surprised me a little. I’ve never really talked much about what it’s like to be blind. I’ve talked about my thoughts and feelings regarding my blindness, but not so much about how my day-to-day life has changed. But how do you tell someone what that’s like? Is it possible to convey that to a sighted person?

On more than one occasion, people have told me about games they have played where they put on a blindfold and try to find their way around a room. I honestly do appreciate the sentiment, I know they’re not trying to be mean. But when you’re blind, you can’t take off the blindfold when the game is over, know what I mean? No, for me, and others like me, the blindfold is on all the time, and you just have to learn how to adjust to it.

Take eating for example. Cutting food and picking it up with a fork is harder than you might think. Usually what I end up doing is holding the fork in one hand and kind of feeling around with one finger of the other hand. Feeling where the food is makes it much easier to manage the fork. Of course, finger foods are no problem so I like to eat sandwiches or something like that whenever I can.

Toothpaste is the same way, it’s hard to get it on the brush so I have to feel with my finger while I’m squeezing the tube. Something just occurred to me though, maybe I could squirt the paste right into my mouth. I'll have to try that.

Being blind means that it’s hard to go looking for things. So it’s important for me to have a specific place to put everything. I have one particular spot on the kitchen counter where I keep my water glass. If I get distracted and set it down somewhere else it’s pretty hard to find it again, and it’s pretty likely that I’ll knock it over while I’m looking. I can’t tell you how many glasses I’ve knocked over and broken. That’s why we all use plastic cups now.

What it all boils down to is memorizing things. Memorizing where things are like my water or my mp3 player. Memorizing where all the furniture is so I don’t trip over it. Memorizing keystrokes on the computer. The mouse is useless to me now so I have to remember keyboard shortcuts to do everything. Everything I do takes more concentration now.

When I first went blind six months ago, I remember going to bed so exhausted every night. Even if I only sat around the house all day, which is usually what I did, I would be so tired because you have to concentrate so hard to do things.

Walking through the house is a good example. I have to always be touching things as I navigate the house, making a mental note of each thing I touch to guide me. Like anything else in life, this has gotten easier with practice. Sometimes I still slip up though.

There’s an area in the back part of our living room that I think of as kind of a black hole. It’s an open area where there’s nothing to touch. I can walk through it okay, but sometimes I get turned around, like if I stop to pet the dog or something. It’s so disorienting when I reach out my foot thinking that I’m in front of my chair and instead it’s the filing cabinet or something. And even though I know it’s the filing cabinet it takes me a minute to get my bearings because it’s just not what I was expecting. Have you ever been driving and you were sure you were going north, but you find out you were really going west the whole time? Even after you’ve discovered the mistake everything feels backwards because your mental compass is still turned around. It’s a disquieting feeling.

Well, like I said, it all gets easier with practice. Some of it has even been easy for me. I’ve always been a very organized person so learning to keep everything in its place was easy. And my memory has always been good which helps a lot. Also, I have good computer skills so I’ve been able to re-learn the computer pretty easily.

It’s kind of like God was preparing me for this all my life. That makes me feel good because it reminds me that He is in control and is taking care of me. At the same time it scares me; would He have gone to so much trouble if I was only going to be blind for a short time? That’s the worldly part of me talking and I try hard to ignore it. What’s a short time to God anyway?

So there are a few examples of what it’s like to be blind. I don’t think I’ve explained it very well. I’ll have to do some thinking on this and try to come up with some better descriptions sometime.

Isaiah 60:19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the lord shall be an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.


  1. At Saavi, all the instructors who are sighted have had to do 6 weeks of blindfold training. The spent 6 hours at work under blindfold, and had to do independent living skills, O & M and A.T training. I immensly enjoy it when one of them is under blindfold lol. But I did point out to one of them that he got to take his blindfold off at 3pm. However, I like the fact that they are doing this. It truly is giving them the vriefest glimpse into what it's like for us. Closing eyes doesn't work, because they can just open them quickly. I've had a few friends close their eyes and try to do stuff and they freak out after 30 seconds. I don't think a sightie can ever truly understand it. Maybe if their blindfolded for an entire month lol.

    I put toothpaste directly on my toungue. I got sick of trying to put it on the brush. I mostly eat with spoons. Unless it's like a pasta dish with chunky pasta, then I'll use a fork. I also use my hand to direct the food onto my utensil. I rarely get things that need cutting. If I do, I just put the knife in my right hand, and hold the food with my left. Saavi taught me safe cutting techniques.

    I hate that feeling of getting lost in your own home. It happened often at first, and now rarely, but yes, if I stop in the middle of walking or get distracted, I lose my way and will run into the crochet cabinet instead of the couch.

    I use short fat travel mugs for all beverages. They are next to impossible to knock over. I use a Gatorade bottle for my water. I lose them often lol! There are usually only a few places my coffee or water will end up though. I trail the tables or counters lightly, running my hand along them until I find the bottom of the cup or bottle. I rarely touch glass. B unly drinks out of Gatoraide bottles or soda cans, and they are always in the same place, so I don't worry about his stuff.

    It's fun to read about how others do things. We all pretty much do it the same, with a few variations. I also didn't realize you've only been blind 6 months. I thought it was longer.

  2. Sarah had to train with a blindfold, to work with the blind, and I never ever played games with a blindfold. I experimented when I was a kid because we had this blind guy in the neighborhood who I would help cross the street or something. I tried the blindfold as an empathetic gesture to knowing what the blind go through.

    I lasted pretty long too. My sister wouldn't dare try it. She bumped into things without a blindfold. ha ha

    I had a woman in the neighborhood who only had one arm, so yeah, I tried tieing my one arm behind my back. I am and always will be an empathetic person, whether you're blind, quadreplegic, an amputee, or just weathered with age. This world needs more compassion for every individual! That is why he made people like me and you! :-)

    Having any disability which keeps you from your five senses is extremely hard. That is why I'm glad my dear Lord saw to it to give me six! *wink*

    Ro, Stormcrow lost his sight completely in May of 2008. So it is more like 8 months, but then again...he's lost all sense of time. lol (kidding Stormy love)

    This road we travel is never easy, it is only a learning experience to get us to the next leg of the journey. May we all wind up in the same place! Even after going in circles a few years 'round the block. ha ha

  3. Well, my sight faded gradually for a couple of years, but I finally lost the last of it last June. It seems longer than six months to me too, lol

  4. I'm confused. JayNoi says May of 08. You say last June. Huh? LOL!

  5. okay let me see if I can clear it up.
    We moved here April 26th of 2009, our daughters birthday. (He'll say the 27th) I say he was losing his sight and he'll say it was fine. It was all shadows to him. Ro, he had a way of not letting me know he couldn't see a lick of nothing! So, I say around May 20th it went completely, he'll say June-ish.

    I told you he's lost all sense of time!!!lol

  6. oh, sorry for the '08 typo, I think I've lost all sense of time too. lol

  7. Haha that clears it up. I easily lose all sense of time too. Like I still say it's been a year and a half when really I'm only a few months away from 2 years haha. It happens. Speically not being able to see calanders hahaha!