Today's mobility lesson took place outside in my neighborhood. I really want to be able to walk for pleasure and exercise. I admire some of my deaf-blind friends who do this. With all my many problems, I knew this won't be an easy task. But, as always, I am determined to try,
My mobility teacher says I can't cross streets since I can't hear traffic. That just about squashed all my hopes of walking. Without crossing streets, options are slim. Because of the nearby elementary school right by my house, we don't live on a normal square block. There's no way around the area without an intersection or dead end. Many roads don't even have sidewalks. What does that leave me?
There's only one route available so that's where we went today. Down the sidewalk in front of my house, turn at the corner and down another street until the sidewalk ends. Then I turn around and come back home. It's like a giant "L."
Oh, pathetic! I used to walk miles around this city. I was always on the go. Lack of a car never stopped me. I'd walk or bike. Now look at me. I'm limited to two little streets. It's sad.
The worst part is that I still had trouble making it through this little stroll. The sidewalks are bumpy and uneven. I must step carefully to keep balanced. That part is okay. I can do it. I'm up to the challenge.
It's the driveways that are bringing me down. Any time I lose the grass or something to shoreline, there's the possibility for trouble. It only takes me a few false steps to get really messed up. It's not just the danger of getting lost that is at issue. I could actually wander into the street. That can't ever happen.
When I* cross those driveways, I try so hard to stay straight. I have to probe around with my cane when I reach the grass again to make sure I'm still in place. I feel for grass on both the right and the left side. That tells me I'm okay to move ahead.
Sometimes, I reach a straight line of grass. There's no way forward. This indicates I drifted off to one side. I always explore first to the side away from the road. Sometimes I'll find my sidewalk again. If I hit a house, I know I went the wrong way. Hitting a house is a lot better than ending up in the street. And a house is a landmark that's pretty hard to miss.
I really messed up coming home. I was counting driveways but got confused and wasn't sure how many I had passed. Somehow, I made the turn onto my own street without even knowing it. I still thought I was on the other street. I missed my walkway. My teacher got me back on track. When I turned into my walkway, I thought I was turning into my street. I was so messed up that when I hit my front step, I didn't recognize where I was. I kept on walking toward the kennel. My mother stopped me when I walked through the flowers. "Where are you going?," she asked.
"I have no idea," I said.
It was so discouraging to fail like that. It should have been such a simple little walk and I couldn't do it. To add insult to injury, my teacher wouldn't let me walk to the elementary school for the rest of our training. It's right there near to my house. It's practically in my back yard. But you have to cross a street and that's a no-no.
My mom drove me the tiny little distance to the front of the school. If I want to go there by myself, I'll need to arrange transportation. Can you imagine what the transportation service will think when I book them to take me less than one block away? It sounds so comical. My mobility teacher, Deaf-blind Outreach trainer and my mother all insisted that if that's what I need for independence, that's what I have to do.
It was a rough session for me. Facing the reality of the situation is probably the hardest part. I'll be okay, though. I always am.
(Written on July 14, 2009)