Sunday, February 2, 2014

Daily Life

Some of my friends have told me that they forget about my eye problem. I think sometimes I do too...
Well, not exactly forget.. But go about my daily life the way I do, using tools to help me see. It is just habit to have my ipad or iphone handy to magnify text on labels, bills, etc.  I know I miss lots of details on TV and in my surroundings but it is what I know.  I have accepted it and understand my limitations. 

A few days ago, I had  a Peapod grocery delivery scheduled from 7 - 9 am.  At 7:15, I noticed the delivery driver coming down the driveway. I went out to the mudroom to open the door for him and he said "I'm right here." My assumption is that it looked to him like I was looking around for him or not looking directly at him.

It got me thinking of how people with visual disabilities(or any other impairment) get used to doing things a certain way, establishing our routines, living our lives. Our family and friends know us and are used to seeing these routines, or they instinctively help us with certain things. For instance, my friends will read aloud the flavors at the frozen yogurt shop or my mom will help me complete forms for my daughter's school.

When we come across people we don't know, the dynamic of the interaction is quite different. We might get strange looks from the post office counter attendant when we whip out a magnifier to check an address. Or when we mess up the debit card transaction at a store because we are unfamiliar with that particular keypad . (Personally I wish they were all the same!)

I do like meeting people and making new friends but there is often a fear of what they might be thinking of me. Although I am legally blind, I can sense when someone is looking at me and I start to wonder things like "Does it look like I am not looking at them?" "Am I taking too long to fill out this form?"

I don't blame people for the double take or their curiousity. Its not everyday that you see a 30- ish looking person with such bad vision. And as I have mentioned in the pasr, not using a cane or guide dog makes it even more surprising.

Simple things we do can cause anxiety. I remember when I worked in Boston and took a bus every day, I would feel so much more relaxed if the bus stop was only for that bus. If several buses stopped there, I had to figure out which one was the one I needed. Often I would ask the driver as I got on and I was definitely  met with some annoyance. Some would tell me to look at the sign. Again, as this would be my first interaction with another person that day, it would often sour my mood. At work, I had my computer screen zoomed to a pretty huge font and would often get comments from people about that if they came to see me in my cubicle. Going through the day like this can get exhausting!

Nowadays, the setting and circumstances are different, but they are still there and still cause some anxiety.   Grabbing donuts, crossing the street, shopping for clothes... These are seemingly simple actions. But not necessarily for people like me.

OK enough about things that cause anxiety.  Life's important things outweigh any of this. I can't let a small insignificant encounter affect my mood. I do fluff things off much easier than I did before having kids. They need me to be strong and confident in my abilities as a mom, and that I will always strive to be!


Mary Jane's Playcare said...

Wow, Heather, this one will help so many others feel less alone. It breaks my heart that everyday you encounter some negativity , but I have watched you shake it off and move on. Seriously not an easy thing to do. I am so proud of you. Having children does change your perspective. Life becomes less about you and more about the kids. You've done a great job of embracing that. And that those little girls are proof of that. But, the responsibilities of 2 children can make life overwhelming for a non- disabled( personally I think we all have some kind of disability) person. But, you and some of the people you have become friends with amaze me!
So, as I said at first, this blog will help others know that they are not alone in their daily struggles. That others feel the same frustrations and ,yes, embarrassment. Hopefully, you all will come to understand that the people who embarrass you are not important. Mostly, they don't understand, but some are just plain rude. It's your own community, the ones that know, forget, remember again, the ones that care about you. The ones who love you and want you to accept their help without embarrassment or frustration, they are the ones who count and will always be with you.
Your children will be stronger and more empathetic....they already are. They will always be able to accept people who are "different".
You are strong. Stay strong. Understand that you are amazing! And you are so loved, Ma.

Kerry said...

Heather, this post is a good reminder to everyone to be kind to everyone they meet, because you never know what challenges they have! A great post!