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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Construction Blues

I have been working on mobility training outside my home.
The plan was to finish that today and then do one lesson at
the nearby elementary school. However, with only two
sessions left, I realized I needed to learn the layout of
the Speech building on Campus. I'll soon be going there
for hearing therapy once a week.
The nice thing about plans is that you can always change
them. So today I met my mobility teacher at the Speech
building. I assumed this would be an easy lesson. I used
to go to this building all the time. I already have a
mental map of the layout. Piece of cake.... or so I
I wasn't prepared for the construction. This building is
used for all speech, music and theater related classes and
events. They are building a whole new wing. It's a mess of
construction chaos... with me in the middle of it all.
They have created a little tunnel through the construction
so people can safely approach the building. It's a little
tricky to navigate the slight incline of the temporary
walkway, but I can do it. I know i'm safe because my
teacher wouldn't let me do it if I wasn't. That gives me a
little confidence.
My concern is what would happen if they changed the area as
the construction progresses or ends. I've been told not
to worry about that yet. The project is long term so it
will be like this for quite awhile. If something does
happen, I can call the Hearing Clinic on my DBC and they
will send someone to get me. My teacher already talked to
them about this.
Once inside, I was fine. I was right that this would be
easy. The Hearing Clinic is close to the front doors so I
don't have to go far. It was just a matter of learning the
area by feel instead of sight.
It was easy but not perfect. This building has wide
hallways that I need to cross. No matter how hard I try, I
can't stay straight. Without something to shoreline, I
drift to one side. It's just like when I try to cross
driveways in my neighborhood.
On my second try, I stopped for a moment before crossing the
hall. I made sure my back was completely straight against
the wall so I'd get off to a good start. I took a deep
breath and stepped away from the wall. As my teacher
instructed, I used extra wide strokes with my cane to help
me find the rug on the other side that is right in front of
the door I need. Then I accidently whacked my teacher
with the cane and burst into laughter. I couldn't help it.
I had to regain my composure before I could try again. It
certainly was a funny moment.
I try so hard but I still end up drifting. My teacher
noticed something. I leave the one wall with a landmark
to my back that is directly across from the rug or the bench
that I am trying to reach on the other side. Every time,
however, I find myself to the left of my target. It's not
random drifting. It's always to the left. We think it's
because of my forearm crutch. I always hold the crutch in
my left arm and my guide cane in my right. It seems the
crutch is causing me to veer to the left.
Okay, we know the nature of the problem. That's the first
step in being able to solve it. My teacher isn't sure yet
what to do. she plans to think of some suggestions this
week. We will work in that building again next week.
Back to the main topic of this blog. I totally have the
construction blues. It's not just on campus. It seems like
there is construction every where right now.
Last week I was given permission to walk around my
neighborhood on my own. I can only go to the corner at this
point, but that's a start. Unfortunately, I haven't been
able to do it. Someone who lives near the corner is having
work done on their house. There are always trucks parked
across the sidewalk. I never know if the area is clear. I
really can't go out on my own unless I first ask a sighted
person to check for me. That's not the kind of independence
I'm looking for.
It's never so simple and easy. You think you know a place.
You think you know what you are doing. Then someone decides
it all has to be change. What was once the peaceful
safety of your known world is suddenly the chaotic mess of
construction. What can we do?

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