Tuesday, August 23, 2011


As I have reported previously, sleep has been a major problem for the past 18 months. Last month I was taking FIVE separate meds to help me sleep. I would take my meds as prescribed after dinner and then not fall asleep until about 7:00 AM. I was taking all these meds, enduring the side effects and still not sleeping like a normal human being. So last week I stopped taking the most powerful of the meds. Surprisingly, I am sleeping better and the adverse side effects are almost gone. I feel like a new man and Teri remarked that her Tom is back. (He was abducted by aliens.)
But the problem was two-fold; First, the meds were no longer effective. Second, I realized the real problem was not sleeping, it was being scared of going blind and not having the skills necessary for independence. I have been re-reading “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and began to understand the root of my problem. I was focusing on what I was losing, my eyesight, instead of considering the positive aspect of this trial; true independence. When a blind individual relies on residual vision, as I have, the person cannot be truly independent, much less effective in accomplishing what is necessary. However when a blind person masters available technology and Braille, the person can often times out perform sighted people.
In the interest of becoming truly independent and achieving my potential, I have decided to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind as soon as possible. I do not know how long my training will take. The required classes are Braille, technology, mobility, independent living and philosophy of blindness. (This is kind of a group therapy class.) There may be some obstacles in securing funding so I ask for your prayers and will keep you posted as events progress.

Monday, August 1, 2011


About two weeks ago I attended scout camp as a volunteer “adult” leader. I had also attended scout camp the previous two years but was not looking forward to this year’s expedition since the troop was going to a camp that did not have good bathroom facilities. (Fortunately, they had been somewhat upgraded from nasty to only disgusting.) The so-called trails weren’t really trails but paths of pain. The pain was provided by the rocks that inundated the rising and falling paths. The size of these rocks ranged from the size of a quarter to that of a box. After three days of traversing the paths of pain, my fiberglass cane got caught between two boulders and as I moved forward with the cane still stuck, it shattered. This was a problem for one who had no depth perception, poor eyesight compounded by the shadows of trees falling across the paths of pain.

Additionally, my right ankle was succumbing to the rigorous terrain and the pain was becoming considerable. (The disease that messed up my eyes also affects my ligaments. Aren’t I lucky !)
I asked the camp director if there was a walking staff left from previous weeks, two hours later he gave it to me at the Scoutmaster meeting. Unfortunately it was too short and I could not use it effectively or safely. I realized the more I walked around the more likely I was to slip, trip and fall while on the “trails”. With disappointment, I informed the real adult leaders that I would not be able to remain because I was concerned for my own safety. (HadI stayed, it was very possible I’d end up with a compound fracture from slipping, tripping and falling on the rocks.) Usually, I can overcome most obstacles and my mobility is fairly good but I also know my limitations and the chances of injuring myself were high. Moral of the story: Don’t go to Tom Hale scout camp in Oklahoma!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The White Cane

As many of you know, I use a white cane to prevent me from running into things that I do not see. The cane is an invaluable asset and affords a hight degree of indidpendence as opposed to not using one. It also signals to people that I have a visual problem and most people will clear out of my path when they see me walking around. In fact, some parents of younger children will quickly scoop up their children as I get closer. But using my cane has also created some humorous situations. For example, while standing in line at a local sports store, the cashier wanted to ring up my cane thinking it was a pool stick. At Wal-Mart, one cashier thought it was a curtain rod. But the most amusing experience took place at a different Wal-Mart. My son and I were in the aisle that displayed the various corn and potato chip products available for sale. While my son was looking for the product I wanted, I began to twirl the cane around my fingers and wrist. (Yes, I was showing off a bit.) I inadvertently hit the cane against something and it rolled underneath the shelves. I laid down on my stomach in an effort to reach it but could not. I then laid on my back hoping to extend my reach and retrieve my cane. While laying on my back an employee asked if I needed assistance. Fortunately as this occurred there were no other customers around to laugh at me as I lay on the floor. I asked the employee if he could get a broom and use it to push the cane within my reach. He quickly found a broom and I was able to get my cane. The moral of the story is to avoid doing things in public that make you look foolish.

Monday, July 11, 2011


If you have been fowling my blog for a while,, you know that I am not particularly patient with drivers that occupy the painted cross-walk. You know, the area with broad white bands approximately two feet in width that signal to the driver it is a cross-walk, not a parking zone. (see posting, Smacking the BMW) Inspite of stupid and inconsiderate drivers, I have been making an effort to avoid sharing my displeasure with the driver as I have to go around the front of the car occupying my pedestrian zone. Despite this attempt to be more patient, I occasionally revert to my aggressiveness and one day expressed my displeasure with another inconsiderate driver. But this time it was different and the driver reacted in a manner that literally stunned me. After I went around the car, a female voice said “I apologize”. She didn’t make excuses or hit the gas as I went in front of her vehicle, she simply took responsibility for her action. When I got to the other side of the intersection, I tipped my hat toward her and continued walking. There are two morals to this story. First, I still need to work on my patience with drivers who are probably occupied with everything except driving. The second moral is that there are still people willing to take responsibility for their actions and have the strength of character to apologize for a misdeed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Independence Day

Like millions of Americans, on July 4th, I spent the evening with my family watching an impressive fireworks display within walking distance of my house. In fact, we were so close that pieces of the detonated fireworks landed on us. As I gazed into the sky admiring the various shapes and colors, two thoughts occupied my mind. First, I was grateful that I could still watch the fireworks display, despite my diminishing eyesight. Second, and more importantly, I pondered upon the reason for the fireworks: the birth of this great nation and the Declaration of Independence. Of the 56 signers, not one recanted or capitulated to pressure and nine made the ultimate sacrifice. They pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. What are you willing to pledge?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How My Blindness Affects My Own Behavior

I have spent a great deal of time writing on how my loss of vision has impacted how other people interact with me but I have largely neglected how it changes my own behavior. Perhaps I have avoided it because I might not like what I find. Intraspection is never a pleasant process since it involves confronting my weaknesses and faults. I have observed that in many instances, primarily my first discussion with a new friend, I tend to focus my conversation on how ‘tough” I am. For example, I will share how even though I am legally blind, I can still kick some ass if necessary. (I used to be fairly good at martial arts.) In fact, I had an experience in which I actually taunted a man who got out of his car to express his displeasure with me flipping him off. (I was crossing a busy intersection and he almost ran into me while making a right turn.) When the man approached me, he asked if I was going to flip him off again. At first I didn’t realize who he was and after recognizing him I said, “Well, if your going to do something, let’s see what you got”. The man mumbled some inaudible remarks as he turned to walk away and I stated, “That’s the smartest thing you have done all day”. Yes, I probably would have had little difficulty in beating the crap out of him, but then what? In reality my attempts to portray myself as a “tough guy” are indicative of a lack of maturity and I doubt anybody really cares about my ability to defend myself, should the need arise. Instead of portraying myself as a “tough guy”, I was flaunting my own lack of maturity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Did You Say?

What did you say?
It almost always happens. I will meet someone for the first time and then they will ask, “So is your hearing better than other people’s hearing?” “What”? “Is your hearing better?” “What did you say? “I said, is your hearing better?” Usually by then the person realizes that I’m being a smart-ass and starts to laugh. Occasionally they DON’T get it and I just say yes. But the truth is my hearing isn’t better than yours. In fact, I have a slight hearing loss in my right ear from my junior year of high school when my friend and I skipped school on Friday the 13th and I ended up in the hospital because of a water skiing accident. And to make the situation even better, my parents were in Hawaii at the time. Back to the original topic, the perception that blind people have better hearing. It’s not that my hearing is inherently better than yours, it’s just been sharpened from relying on it more than most people. So the next time you meet someone who is blind, spare them the question.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle!

A lot has happened since my last posting. Unfortunately my eyesight is still slowly deteriorating but I am sleeping better. Nobody has let me drive their car lately. That’s probably a good thing. Up to this point many of my postings have focused on how my blindness affects other people’s behavior. My next posting or two will focus on how blindness affects my own behavior. Intra-spection can be somewhat disconcerting since I will be addressing my own behavior, good or bad, strange or normal. In the mean time, a hardy thanks to my viewers and a special thanks to Shannon for her comments and taking the time to read my blog.