Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pros & Cons-by Natalie

You would think that having a legally blind father would have more cons than pros but coming from a girl who has lived with Dad for 17 years, you might be surprised. One thing that would probably be listed under cons, is going out in public. As a fairly noisy family of 7 we are already conspicuous enough, now add a long white cane, an Australian-style cowboy hat and a guy with a funny looking eye. We stick out like a sore thumb. Most people make an attempt at politeness and only stare bug-eyed when they think we are not looking, some people on the other hand, make no such attempt. They will stop in their tracks staring openly at us, mouths wide open, and I can’t say I really blame them, we make quite a sight. But one thing in my opinion, makes up for all the cons and that is my relationship with my Dad. Due to his eyesight, not as many people will hire Dad and so he has been able to spend much more time at home than most fathers with regular jobs are ever able too. Because of this I have developed a very good relationship with my Dad. If I ever have a problem I can always go to him and I wouldn't trade that for anything. Not that I’m bragging or anything, but I am pretty sure that I have the best Dad in the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TRICK OR TREAT!!! -From Teri

A few years ago Tom got a trick for Halloween. Our children thought it would be funny to trick or treat to Dad, as he was passing out the candy. They managed to sneak out the back door, throw a couple of blankets over their costumes and run to the front door. Disguising their voices and shrinking a couple of inches, they sang trick or treat. Tom opened the door and started passing out candy, and the kids burst out laughing. We all laughed for a while about this, and we still do, including Tom. This is a Halloween classic at our house.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Driving the Corvette

Over the years I have driven several vehicles; cars, trucks, motorcycles (Four different times with only one crash.) a tractor, a three-wheeler (Crashing through a barbed-wire fence, taking out two fence posts and walking away with a scratch on my knee.) and a jet ski. But today my friend took me for a drive in his cherry red, T-top 1970 Stingray Corvette! We were driving down a road that ran parallel to I35 when he pulled into a side road and asked if I wanted to drive. -I took it down the side road with no traffic. I even backed it up and turned it around to drive down the road again! It was awesome feeling the 300+ horsepower engine kick in as I hit the gas. Its hard to say who is crazier, me for driving it or my friend for letting me. Thanks John, that was AWESOME! (If you are a law enforcement officer reading this, I was describing a dream!)
Enjoy the video.

Thank You

I would like to thank all of you who take the time to read my blog and for those who share your comments. However, it is I who has been the greatest beneficiary. This is the closest thing I’ve had to a journal for many years and sharing my thoughts and experiences has helped me to cope with my challenges. This experience has also reinforced a belief that we often do not comprehend how we impact the lives of others. Sometimes a small compliment or seemingly insignificant act of kindness can have a profound impact on the life of another. I have also considered how we would all be enriched if more people shared with others the story of their lives. This can be difficult at times, especially when disclosing vulnerabilities or melancholy but we all have a lot to learn from each other.

And a special thanks to my international viewers. I was surprised to discover that my blog has viewers in the following countries-

Czech Republic
Burkina Faso (Africa)
United Kingdom (Hi Tony!)

Note: This list lists groups of viewers from largest to smallest, excluding the United States and Canada.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Human Behavior

Because of my blindness, I get treated differently by most people, sometimes it is for the better, sometimes not. (See my pos from July 8,, Race, Respect & Blindness) It is an interesting phenomena and raises questions in human behavior as to why people treat me differently. For instance, as I walk through a Wal-Mart, I have observed some parents will grab their children as I approach and pull them close. I’m not talking about toddlers who could be injured if I ran them over, I’m talking about kids that are 8 or 10 years old. I suspect that some people react with fear when they encounter something, or someone, in which they are unfamiliar with. In other words, in some cases, a lack of understanding breeds fear or mistrust. Or perhaps I just look really scary!

When I encounter another person with an obvious disability who may be struggling to open the door, I do not immediately assist them. I will wait a moment or two and then ask the individual if he or she needs help. I hate it when others try to assist me, especially when I do not require help and so I will only help if needed. If I do need help, I will ask. I may struggle for a moment or two, but since I value my independence I will try on my own. I do recognize that people are just trying to be nice and its better than someone trying to trip me or knock me down. This is just one of those things that I have to endure. However, sometimes it is more annoying then others. I attend school at the University of Central Oklahoma and like most college campuses, the majority of students are 18-22. Sometimes I will approach a door and some 20-year old girl will run up and open the door for me. I hate this. Knowing that she means well, I force a smile and say “thank you” and enter the building emasculated.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blindness & Technology: JAWS

Keep in mind that my videos are a work in progress. I actually hate how I look and sound on my video but I'll have to get over it. Anyhow... This video explains how I use a screen-reading program called JAWS, (Job Access With Speech) and is probably the best software in the market. And it should be, it costs a lot of money- over $1000 per license. Again, with the assistance of training and technology, most of the limitations from blindness can be overcome.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Blessing In Disguise, By Teri

Where the Lord has taken away in one area he has over compensated in another. One of the greatest blessings Tom and I have been given (besides each other) is 5 exceptional children. They have had the opportunity to spend more time with their Father than most children do in two life times because of lack of gainful employment (30% of blind adults are employed, as it is often very difficult to compete). As a result of our family’s life experiences, they have gained character, compassion, independence, knowledge, strength, faith, and so on. Another great blessing is Tom has his college education paid for, and the technology he needs to be successful through his degree program. The kids say one advantage is that “Dad can part the Red Sea ” in a crowd of people with his cane. Let me not forget the handicapped parking sticker during the holidays (although it will not be abused). Tom has never opted to have one, but I am asking him to apply in the near future. He will occasionally go into the store alone and get something and if I am parked up front, it’s easier for both of us. The good certainly out weighs the bad, and maybe it’s not bad but just a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why Braille?

Technology can overcome many of the challenges that blind people face. You have already seen how my cell phone can read documents to me by combining speech and OCR software with the built-in camera. (Blindness & Technology: KNFB Reader ) I use a screen-reading program called JAWS, Job Access With Speech, that enables me to read much faster that a sighted person. So if technology can do all this for me, why should I bother learning Braille? The answer is literacy. If a blind person uses audio only, they will become functionally illiterate. Without Braille a person is less likely to learn how to spell or master usage and syntax. Only 30% of all working –aged blind persons are employed. Of those who are working, 85% are literate in Braille.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cheeseburger

I love cheeseburgers! I especially enjoy them when they are grilled outside and I don’t have to pay for them. So when I was invited to bring my family to a cookout sponsored by my school’s disability support group, I happily accepted the invitation. After all, who would turn down an opportunity to enjoy feeding your family for free? Soon after arriving at the park, the person who was assigned the task of cooking the burgers began his work. My anticipation grew when I discovered the cook had formerly owned a catering company. These were going to be good burgers! The aroma tantalized my olfactory senses as Teri and I mingled and visited with others. Finally, they were done. Teri graciously prepared a plate for me and brought it to where I was sitting. I carefully placed the burger together and took a bite and suddenly stopped. The burger tasted odd, it tasted sweet. I thought that perhaps the cook put some brown sugar on the meat and took another bite. It was nasty. In addition to being sweet and had a funny texture. I removed the top bun off and asked Teri if she could see anything wrong. There was something wrong, it had a chocolate chip cookie inside it! Apparently , in my haste to devour my delicacy, I assembled the burger with the cookie Teri put on my plate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spectators Need Not Apply!

Note: This posting is a rare exception to my theme of coping with blindness.

Do you want to shape our nation’s history, or are you satisfied with merely being a spectator? If you are too busy playing with your Wii, texting your friends with insignificant messages that they don’t really care about, or if “Dancing with the Stars” is important to you, stop reading. On the other hand, if God, family and country mean something to you, then you might be able to make a difference. But this job is not for everyone and wanting is not enough, you must be willing to act. So what is the job?

Defending the Constitution.

Job Title- Patriot

Qualifications- Applicants must be a US citizen, (or working to be one) and want to be free.

Job Description- The successful candidate is willing to become familiar with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the difference between a republic and democracy and understand there are others opposing your work. The truly successful candidate will also teach others these concepts, and other concepts deemed necessary and appropriate to freedom.

Supervisor: Your conscience.

Compensation: The blessings of liberty.

Suggested training material: Bearing the Title of Liberty in the Latter Days, an e-book authored by Thomas Taylor, which can be found at

Does this job interest you? Keep in mind that the position is not easy and too few will apply. But also remember the words of Samuel Adams. “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in the people’s minds.”

If you decide to accept the position I promise two things. First, I will lead by example. Second, I will not waste your valuable time. The blogosphere has enough litter as it is.

Thank you for your interest in the position.

P.S. Please visit the blog regularly as I will post at least once a week. Also, please tell a friend about this exciting, challenging and rewarding position!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One of a Kind

While visiting with my eye doctor on Monday I learned something new. I learned that my doctor, who is one of the best specialists in the state, has no other patients like myself. While discussing treatment options (the lack thereof) he indicated that he had a few Styklers patients (Styklers syndrome is the condition that affected my eyes.) and had treated hundreds of patients with macular edema, (The condition that is currently causing my remaining vision to deteriorate.) he has never treated anyone with both problems. This means he has nothing to compare treatments too. The situation is further complicated by his inability to take an accurate picture of my retina. (Since the central part of my vision is messed up, I cannot focus on the “crosshairs” while looking into the machine that photographs my retina.) The bottom line is that the one possible treatment, not covered by my insurance, probably would not suppress the fluid leaking underneath my retina and definitely would not reverse the damage already done. He advised us to go home and discuss our options. I didn’t bother scheduling a return appointment. The upside is that I asked my doctor to send me some pictures of my retina taken during my previous visit. He has to print and mail them to me. He can’t just email them because of HIPA. I will post them on the blog when I get them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I am so very sad right now. Tom had an eye appointment yesterday, with one of the best retina specialists in our state, his doctor. Neither of us went with big expectations, but we were both hoping….. The appointment was basically a recap of the appointment in February, but this time we were not in shock, the doctor was more together (how difficult it must have been for him to tell us), I didn’t cry, and we did not make another appointment. Afterwards to drown our sorrow we went and got ice cream, I felt better after a hot fudge sundae and Tom his chocolate shake. It was painful to watch him deep in thought, and imagine how he was feeling. We talked about how it could be so much worse, and the great life that we have. Tom seems to be handling this experience well, even slept better last night. Not sure why yesterday/today is such a trauma, we have been dealing with this since February. One thing that stood out in my mind was the little children we saw at the doctor's office. The waiting room was mostly full of elderly people, Tom and then occasionally a child. I told Tom he knew how those little children felt (because his eye problems started when he was a child), and he could talk to them or anyone and share his experience and hope.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tough Week

As you can imagine, going blind is a frustrating experience and this has been a tough week because the distortion in my eye (I can only see out of my right eye.) is slowly but surely getting worse. I used to wonder what was more difficult, going blind all at once or slowly. To some, this may seem like a strange statement. But my visual distortion is a constant reminder that my eyesight is diminishing and there have been times I wanted to just get it over with. I prefer to take my pain quickly rather than have it dragged out. But my vision loss does not only affect me, it impacts my family as well. However, I have concluded that it is better to go blind slowly rather than all at once. The slow deterioration gives me more time to develop necessary skills that will enable me to function as I want. Specifically, braille and my computer screen-reading software, JAWS. (Job Access With Speech) On Monday I will see my eye doctor for the first time since he told me there was nothing to be done to prevent my vision from diminishing. But I do not need him to tell me it is getting worse, that is obvious to me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Bit of Humor

First, the bad jokes.

Why can't Helen Keller drive? (If you don't know who Helen Keller is, skip to the next joke.)
Because she is a woman.

Why did the orange go blind?
Because it didn't have enough vitamin see.

Last week I woke up late for class and Teri offered to drive me to school so I hurriedly got ready . She drops me off and I almost ran to class. (Imagine you are on the campus of University of Central Oklahoma and you see this blind guy rushing past you as he taps his cane back and forth!) I get to the building, go up the stairs and discover that the students are just then entering the room. As I enter the room, I place my cane in the corner by the door, walk to a desk, sit down and begin to prepare for the lecture. And then I notice the professor is a lot younger. I muse to myself "Perhaps he is a substitute". Then he asks me if I was a new student in the class. I was in the wrong classroom! My embarrassment was tempered with the knowledge that the students would see me retreiv my cane as I left and would think "That poor blind guy entered the wrong class." In my career as a college student, I had never before gone to the wrong classroom. Three days later I get to class early, take my seat and then leave for the men's room. I return to the class and again place my cane in the corner as I entered. But someone was sitting in my seat. Unfortunately it was not my seat because I had once again entered the wrong classroom. It was the same class that I had accidentally entered a few days earlier. I couldn't help notice the snickering as I once again retrieved my cane and made a hasty exit from the classroom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Someone Please Knock Me Out!

The last couple of weeks have been challenging. As you know, my eyesight is not that great. What you don’t know is it is affecting my ability to sleep. In fact, I have gone days when I averaged three hours of sleep per day, sometimes less. Teri (my wife) did some research and discovered that blindness can mess up a person’s sleep cycles. As I told Teri, I can handle going blind but the sleep depravation is killing me. But what do you do when life gives you a lemon? You make lemonade. (Please, no more lemonade.) Sometimes I will sit on my couch at 2:00 am and practice my braille. In fact, I have been able to practice my braille so much lately that I might be able to finish Grade 1 braille in less than two weeks. I can only practice Braille for about two hours at a time. After that, I am unable to concentrate effectively. The down side to the lack of sleep is it is affecting my schooling. By the way, since my last posting, I have returned to school so I can finish my prerequisites for my Masters in History.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Going Back

Two years ago I became a charter member for the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, (NFB) serving as vice president for the fledgling chapter. I enjoyed attending the meetings (even when it was just four or five of us) and worked to help the chapter grow. But after I got the official word that my bad eyesight was getting worse, I stopped going to the meetings. I didn’t want to be around others who were dealing with the same challenge. Crazy, huh. Last Friday I finally went back. Not only did I attend the regular business meeting, I went early to participate in the monthly Braille class. I experienced a couple of surprises. First, my ability to read Braille was a lot better than expected, especially considering I have not practiced since June. Second, there were 28 people at the meeting, including five or six first-timers.All sharing a common thread of blindness. I was glad to be there. As I introduced myself to one of the new-comers, I couldn’t help but notice the desperation in his voice as he explained why he was there for the first time. In essence he was there for the same reason I was, for strength and hope.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Irony of Being Blind and Having School Paid For

I have decided to go back to school in January to pursue a Masters in history. (But first I will have to take a couple of undergrad history classes since my BS was not in history.) It will be somewhat difficult to convince Rehab to pay for this but I think I can eventually get them to do it. Although Rehab may pay for my education there will still be difficulties. For instance, accessing textbooks. More and more publishers are moving to electronic textbooks. Unfortunately most of these are not accessible to the blind. The new Kindle Reader, iPad and other devices are not configured to allow access with screen reading software. But the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is working to encourage various institutions to make their products accessible to the blind. Most of the time the NFB contacts the institution and explains how easy it is to rectify the problem and then it gets fixed. However the “carrot” approach hasn’t always worked, especially in the business of electronic textbooks and higher education and so the NFB had to play hardball and enlisted the support of the Department of Justice. The battle for equal access is a constant struggle but we are making solid gains. If you think about it, its ironic. In my efforts to continue my education the challenge of paying for school is removed because I am blind. But then I get to school and can’t read the book, all because someone doesn’t want to implement a simple remedy to their product.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Blind Comedian

As you have noticed, there have been fewer postings as of late. For the past week I have been focusing on preparing to launch another blog that discusses issues relating to my soon to be released e-book, “Bearing the Title of Liberty in the Latter-Days”. However, I stumbled upon a video of a man who uses comedy as a way to change people’s perceptions of blindness. I found it to be humorous, interesting and inspiring. I hope you will too.

Note: Since this is not from my YouTube account, I cannot imbed the video.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crossing the Street, Without Being Hit

After my last post, you may be thinking, “That darn fool needs to be careful”. And maybe he does. You may also wonder how someone who is blind gets around anyway. Although I utilize my residual vision for mobility, I have been trained to do so without any sight. (I confess that I prefer using eyesight but am capable of getting around without it.) The video demonstrates me crossing a busy intersection (much busier than the one where I almost got hit) and I briefly discuss why crosswalk beepers are not effective. Although I am grateful the city is mindful of the needs of the disabled, it is unlikely anyone asked us if this was a good idea. (The issue of beeping crosswalks is controversial among the blind community with people supporting them and others not. After watching the video you will understand why I am not a fan of them.)

Natalie was afraid that while videoing me crossing the street, she might witness me getting hit and would be forever traumatized. I have been legally blind since 1985(ish) and have been hit only once. And that was intentional.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Smacking the BMW!

Can you imagine almost hitting someone with your car, someone using a white cane, and then telling him he should stay indoors? As I crossed the intersection a BMW decided to make a left turn, missing me by less than a foot. As the car drove by, my cat-like reflexes instinctively kicked in and my 63-inch, metal-tipped fiberglass cane smacked the driver’s door. After getting to the other side of the intersection I indicated to the driver that I was going to a near-by bus stop and suggested we discuss the situation there. The car went to the parking lot next to the bus stop. (Yes, I realize this was not the best way to deal with the situation and I was somewhat concerned that a person the size of Hulk Hogan would emerge.) Out stepped a short, middle-aged blonde who threatened to call the police. I encouraged her to do so, informing her she would have a difficult time explaining to the police how it was my fault that she almost hit me. After a few minutes of fuming she started to get back in her car and as a parting shot, remarked that blind people should be indoors. At this point I had to just walk away to avoid losing my temper.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blindness & Technology- KNFB Reader Phone

This posting is the first in a series that will demonstrate how many of the challenges of blindness can be overcome, or at least minimized, through technology. The KNFB reader combines Optical character Recognition software (OCR) with a high quality camera/cell phone. I can scan a bill, book cover, correspondence, or most print material and have the phone read it to me audibly. If I want to get fancy, I can email the images or documents to myself. Although it is very useful for reading menus, bills or letters, it is not practical for reading materials that are more than a few pages, such as a book. Vocational Rehab purchased it so I could read handouts that would be given to me while in class. Here is the viedeo.

Here is the blooper video.

Note: My use of video is a work in progress. In the future I will limit videos to two or three minutes. Also, a special thanks to my daughter Natalie who is my photographer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm not dead!

The last couple of weeks have been eventful. I attended Scout camp in southern Oklahoma from July 5th through the 9th. The next day, Teri and I signed a lease for a house in Edmond OK. That’s when the fun really started. We moved into the house on the 13th and have been dealing with various challenges since. Additionally, I am preparing to give a talk at church this Sunday. My topic is gratitude. This is ironic since I am having a difficult time being grateful for the many things going wrong at this time. But I did not want to bore you with a travelogue or complain. I want you to know that I am still alive and will soon return to working on this blog. Additionally, I will soon publish another blog that focuses on issues and topics relating to my book. More on that later. In the meantime, thank you for your interest and comments.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Race, Respect & Blindness

When I first moved to OKC, I did not use a white cane. I was still trying to function like a sighted person. When I rode the bus I was just another passenger using public transportation to get from point A to point B. Actually, that wasn't entirely true. Many times I was the only white person on the bus. Initially I was somewhat uncomfortable being so conspicuous but soon got over it. But two years ago I began using the cane as I travelled and observed some interesting changes. Most people were more courteous, or at least less discourteous, than when I didn’t use my cane. However it is not surprising since many people are likely to be more sympathetic to an individual with an obvious disability than someone without a disability. What is surprising is the difference of how I am treated by blacks and whites. Black people are more likely to address me as "Sir" or hold the door open for me than whites. I don't really want anyone to open a door for me as I am capable of doing so on my own. However, I do appreciate the concern and it sure beats somebody waving their hand in front of my face just to see if I'm really blind. (This actually happened to me and I used a great deal of restraint not knocking him out cold.) But I digress. My point is black people are more likely to demonstrate respect to me than whites. I have no idea why this happens but it does.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bonuses for Being Blind!

Note- Image of new digital audio book player from Library of Congress.

You probably didn’t know but there are some perks for being blind. The first has to do with the IRS. I get an extra exemption for being blind when filing a return. I can also earn more money than someone who is not blind and still keep my Social Security DisabilityInsurance payment. If I am self-employed I can earn even more without my SSDI being affected. This is probably to offset the absurdly-high cost of self-employment tax I would have to pay.

Another benefit is free education through Vocational Rehabilitation. Actually its not free since you and your grandchildren will be paying for it, so thanks. However I did take advantage of this and earned a BS in Speech Communication from the University of Utah. Just like SSDI, if yu are blind, you get better benefits than those with another disability. Everything for my degree was covered. I even tried to get my Rehab counselor to buy me a pistol for a marksmanship class. That didn’t fly. I am grateful for my education, and I have put it to good use. But Voc Rehab is a colossal waste of tax-payer dollars. But that’s another story for a different blog.

The other advantage for being blind is access to audio books from the Library of Congress. (Its ironic that a person who loves reading as much as I do, can’t read like I want too.) The LOC provides qualified individuals with audio books on tape or in a new, digital format. All narrators are professional readers and if the book has been translated into English, the narrator must be fluent in English and the book’s original language. So when I listened to Les Miserables, (Victor Hugo’s classic) I heard all the French phrases and names pronounced in perfect French. The new digital format allows me to accelerate the reading rate with almost no audio distortion. This means I can listen to a book with a nine-hour reading time in less than six hours!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Steps!

Last year I began a half hearted attempt at braille. I sort of, kind of practiced while commuting to school in Edmond but would soon replace my braille manual for the sounds of FM radio. But today was the first time I practiced braille knowing that I had to learn it and I was actually a little nervous. It took a high degree of concentration. I spent over an hour reading two pages whose words were limited to the first five letters of the alphabet. And so begins my first steps into the world of braille literacy and independence.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Glen Beck

Note: This email was sent to Glen Beck. Mr. Beck’s comment reflects the greatest challenge to blindness, perceptions.

Yesterday, June 28th,part of your show’s conversation centered on an unusual topic: If you had to choose one of the body’s senses to lose, which would it be. You mentioned that losing your sight would be the least desirable as you love to read. Like you, I share your passion for reading despite being legally blind. However, I have read almost 20 books this year, so far, by using audio books from the National Library for the Blind. However, I am not limited to reading what the NLB provides. I can use a screen-reading program (JAWS) to read information from my computer, such as your website, or I can scan pages into the computer and use another program that performs Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and then reads the entire file audibly. One advantage of using JAWS or Open Book is I can change the reading rate to fit my needs. I usually read at 300 words per minute. Can you do that? Additionally, if I am out and about I can use my cell phone (KNFB Reader phone) to read a menu or other item. The phone takes the picture and then performs OCR on the document and then it reads it audibly.

My blog, may interest you. I am losing my residual vision and the blog is my therapy. It describes my journey into blindness, the good, the bad, and sometimes, the funny.

Thomas Taylor

P.S. I imagine some of your listeners might have been offended by the “Goldline” fake eye comment. I thought it was funny but a reference to the James Bond movie, “Golden Eye” would have been more appropriate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts from Teri

Our friends took us to see” Toy Story 3” today. It was bitter sweet as I sat by Tom, and realized that he could not see the screen as well as he used to. I try to imagine being him sometimes, and the emotions he must feel. My heart has ached thinking that he may not see his grandchildren, or see the beautiful sunsets that he loves. I imagine my world getting darker, and I just can’t imagine….. This has been a difficult week emotionally for the whole family, as we all see changes in Tom’s sight. One thought I keep thinking is that we are truly blessed as Tom is not dealing with cancer, or any life threatening illness (and we have friends and family that are). Though an incredible challenge at times, Tom will learn to be successful in whatever lies ahead. I wish you could know him as I do, and know of his greatness. I have no doubt that through his life experiences he will be able to strengthen those who know him and show love and compassion where others cannot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Inner Nebula

Nebulae are some of the most spectacular images found in the universe. They are clouds of ionized hydrogen gas that reflect light from nearby stars. They are also the most accurate way to visually depict part of the distortion I experience every minute of my life, even when my eyes are closed and I am trying to sleep. Imagine this image inside of your minds eye. Now imagine the image constantly fluctuating in shape and intensity. Unfortunately my inner nebula has become larger in the last few days. But the nebula is not the only distortion I see. Every couple of days another distortion occurs in addition to the ever-present nebula. Imagine a translucent, amber colored waviness set behind the nebula, on the top part of my field of vision. This is where my eyesight has completely gone. The waviness typically lasts for a couple of days, subsides and then returns.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stress Relief, Martial Arts and Long Curly Hair

When I decided to create my blog, I wanted to have a blog that was unique, candid and interesting. So this post will include a short video clip of me showing off.

I have been practicing nunchaku for over 20 years. Generally speaking, if you stick with anything that long you are bound to get fairly good. But I must give credit where credit is due. I owe my expertise to Teri. (If you know my wife Teri, you are probably scratching your head right now!) When we were first married, she had long curly hair- high maintenance hair and it was not uncommon for her to take an hour and a half to get ready to go out. I took advantage of this time by practicing my martial arts and over the years have used it as an outlet for stress relief.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lost Treasure

Words are inadequate to describe the grandeur of the changing hues of the early morning sky, a majestic backdrop to the passing, scattered clouds. As the sun ascends to take its place, the darkness has no choice but to relinquish its hold and give way to the greater power of the ruling light. I never grow tired of watching the waxing and waning of our solar system’s star. If my eyesight fades completely, I will consider not being able to witness the rising and setting of the sun as a lost treasure. Note- This is not the sunrise I saw this morning in OKC.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To the Circus!

Going to Wal-Mart is always an interesting experience even when vision is normal. I like to think of Wal-Mart as a human circus. There is always someone with an outlandish hairdo, someone on the verge of beating their small child in public or the individual who feels compelled to leave their cart blocking the aisle and totally oblivious that others might need to pass. Occasionally there is the lady who wants everyone to know she is the next singing sensation and shares her talent with everyone in the store. And my personal favorite is the person driving the electric scooter who nearly runs me down. This morning I had a new experience. My good eye was almost impaled by a fishing rod that was left in a cart. A cart in the middle of the checkout aisle used to hold items that needed to be returned to their proper location. Can you imagine the lawsuit? Blind man sues WalMart after having eye impaled by misplaced fishing rod. Later, I will share with you some interesting phenomena that I have noticed as I travel to various places.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reality Check

Recently I had lunch with a (sighted) friend who asked me what I was doing to prepare for the loss of my eyesight. I told him that I was working on improving my proficiency with some computer skills and needed to get better at braille. But the truth is I am not doing much at all. In reality, I'm doing nothing. I am slowly but surely going blind and I'm doing almost nothing. And as Teri pointed out, I am not prepared. I owe it to my family and myself to face the challenge and not avoid it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fading Out

I don't want to go blind. But then again, who would want to? My eyesight is deteriorating because of fluid seeping into my retina. Now I know what you are thinking. At least you have your other eye. But that is not true. My other eye is totally blind. In essence, I am blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other. In addition to going blind, I don't sleep well. Those who are visually impaired or blind suffer from disrupted sleep cycles and my situation is compounded by the distortions that I see 24/7 and even when my eyes are closed. The most frustrating aspect of my current situation is that I cannot really function as I would like. But as I told my father, it could be worse. I could be smitten with a condition that makes life unbearable. Since I enjoy writing and need a positive way to deal with going blind, I decided to share my experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope you will find value in reading my blog just as I will be strengthened in sharing my life with you. In short, this is my therapy.