- I am now, literally, a "bag lady"- pack on my back and after shopping,a sack or 2 in hand
- I think my ancestral "peasant stock" is coming in handy as I shlep bags from place to place
- Waiting for a bus is MUCH easier when you're yakking on the phone with someone!
I've actually adapted rather easily, all things considered and minus a few bad days, to being car-less and being a mass transit-er. And while a few people have said good job, I'm proud of you, mostly I'm proud of myself. I thought I might hit a brick wall, so to speak, when the driving phase of my life ended, but I'm doing ok. Someone suggested to me that I adopt the "large metropolis mentality", where using public transportation reigns supreme and carrying shopping bags is a daily occurrence. Just pretend, she said, you're in New York, or Chicago, or Boston. It's a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but writers are supposed to do that.
Pretending you are cosmopolitan is a whole lot easier than the issue I'm dealing with now I had my first orientation and mobility (O and M) training session this week. That means, in plain terms, learning to walk using a white cane. When the instructor measured me for the correct size cane and then handed me a cane to use, it felt almost like someone giving me a prosthetic leg. I can only imagine how weird it must feel standing on a leg that isn't really yours but being expected to adjust to it as if it's a part of your body. Learning to use a cane properly equates to the same thing for me.
Our first exercise was just learning how to hold it correctly- the where you grip it, the where you position it on your body frame- and the sweeping motion back and forth. The next step is to walk around the office space trying it out. So we are preparing to leave the instructor's cubicle and she's telling me to sweep back and forth, hitting the cane against the opening walls of the cubicle smack....smack....smack... back and forth, side to side. She's watching my technique, I'm just thinking oh crap, can I possibly make any MORE noise so people will notice me???? I just wanted to drop it and run. She tells me that the noise is ok because everyone there knows what's happening.........I just want to run. It's that emotional component that I'm struggling to overcome.
I had decided if they had canes to purchase, I'd buy one. I wouldn't use it, but I'd buy it. Lots of people in the RP Support Group have said that they bought a cane, put it in the drawer, and didn't use it for many months. [of course we're talking about a collapsible cane] That's what I thought I would do. When I found out that they didn't sell them, you had to order them, I was so relieved. Then my instructor offered to loan the cane to me until our next session, in 2 weeks. I'm thinking you want me to practice with it out in public???? I said, no thanks, I probably won't have time to practice with it. The equvalent of drop it and run.
I am feeling so tentative and a little fragile about using this cane. I know it will be helpful for me, currently, at night. I already "feel" blind at night. But daytime, well I still feel like a sighted person- ok maybe a limited sighted person who bumps into stuff sometimes. But I feel sighted and using a white cane makes me feel blind. What's worse, it makes me LOOK blind. How do I get over that? See, it's that emotional component again.
My next session will be at my house. I asked my instructor to bring a blindfold. During O and M, depending on what aspect one is working on, it can sometimes be helpful to "eliminate" all sight so you don't rely on it as a crutch. I figured I'm comfortable enough with my condo complex that I can try it blindfolded. But truthfully, I think it has more to do with not seeing others watching me learn to use a cane because it embarrasses me.
How long, I wonder, will I go on feeling uncomfortable using a cane. Will seeing me use one bother or effect my friends and family? I just don't know but I'm not really wanting to find out yet.