As it has for many, the meaning of the 4th of July has changed tremendously for me from the time I was a nerdy kid in San Jose to a writer in San Francisco. Images of barbecues and city parks have been replaced by feelings of patriotism when I listen for the mechanical bird to sing at an intersection when crossing a major street. Ironically, the biggest change in the definition of Independence Day occurred when I lost my sight. Within days of going blind, I was contacted by social workers and representatives from city programs and non-profits that were eager to help out. As I assimilated into my world of darkness, the Department of Rehabilitation purchased blind technology that otherwise I would have not been able to afford on my own.
Archive for the ‘Mobility/ Disability’ Category
I buckled my seatbelt and reached toward the floor to caress Madge’s velvety ears. The flight attendants began to voice the emergency exits and I could feel the plane slightly glide up and down, reminding me we were actually moving. The ticket agent instantly fell in love with Madge and bumped us up to first class; something I felt a little guilty about accepting, but got over quickly once I rested my tired limbs on the plush seat. (more…)
I had been walking for about five minutes up and down the numerous hallways when I heard a man offer me help. I told him where I needed to be and he asked, “No problem! Should I write the directions down for your dog?” A loud laugh tumbled out of my mouth and I realized the stranger was not kidding when he began to talk to Madge, “Ok puppy, just go down this hallway and make a left at the elevator.” (more…)
I arrived at the Yoga studio where I was welcomed by serene music, possibly Enya, and asked the room, “Where do I sign up?” A calm voice answered, “Hi there, I’m so happy you’re here. Will your dog be showing you the movements?” Assuming the woman was joking, I replied, “Absolutely! Her favorite pose is the downward facing dog.” I chuckled and was startled when I heard the same woman cry, “Wow, that is great that she can do that for you.” Before I could think of anything to say I heard the woman shout, (more…)
Madge and I walked through the automatic doors and were greeted by an air conditioned gust of wind. Like most blind people, I depend on store clerks to help me with my shopping. Some clerks really get into the “helping mood” and even suggest deals and products, while other clerks channel their first school dance experience, making us both feel like a pair of seventh graders. I called out, “Can I get some help please?” and Madge lay down on the floor, almost as if she knew the service was going to be slow. A few more seconds went by and I called for help again. It was my first time visiting this particular pharmacy near school, and I began to grow restless. (more…)
I hate my white cane and although I had given it a name to help me bond with it, Raising Cane was getting on my nerves. He refused to walk a straight line and insisted on greeting all the cracks and bumps along 14th Street. However, I reminded myself about how much my beloved guide dog Madge deserved the monthly visit to the doggie spa to reward her hard work. I squeezed the rubber grip on the white stick and mentally told Raising Cane that in a few hours, he would go back in the closet. A place I was unfamiliar with, but heard really sucked.
I was preparing to cross the street and paused to listen to the traffic for a few minutes. I was about to take a step forward when I heard a man shout, “Wait! I gotcha!” I smelled citrus cologne and was stunned to feel a pair of very strong arms lift and throw me over a muscular shoulder. (more…)