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Thursday, May 19, 2011

All Choked Up

One hazard of being deaf-blind is that I am startled quite
easily. It's unnerving that people can approach, and I will
have no idea that they are there. If I'm lucky, I will feel the
displacement of air as they come near, or notice the vibrations
of their feet, or even smell them as they approach. But if my
attention is too focused on something, I will usually miss these
subtle clues.

When people tap me in order to get my attention, I often jump in
surprise. Most people feel bad about this and apologize for
scaring me. I tell them it's okay. It happens all the time. I
know there was no harm intended.

A light touch can be as startling as a heavy touch. Tapping
isn't any worse than laying one's hand on my arm. It's not how
the person is touching me. It's just that they are suddenly
there, and I never heard or saw them coming. I imagine many
deaf-blind people experience the same kind of reaction in these

The other night, I was reading a book on my Braille Note and
drinking lemonade. It was almost time for JD to go to bed. I
wasn't paying attention to the time. I was too absorbed in my

I took a sip of my drink and was just about to swallow it when JD
tapped me. I was startled and began choking on my lemonade. I
probably would have spit it out in front of me, but I didn't want
to soak my machine.

I fought to swallow the lemonade and regain composure. JD was
caught somewhere between laughter and sincere apology. He really
didn't mean to make me choke on my drink. He just wanted to
tell me it was time for bed.

I told him to head up stairs. I said, "I'm going to take another
sip and no one touch me this time!"

I took a sip. JD jumped forward and tapped me again. This time
I started laughing and ended up spraying lemonade all over my
lap and BRaille Note.

JD said, "I'm sorry... I just couldn't resist."

He's lucky I have such a good sense of humor. I appreciated the
joke, so he didn't get into any trouble. Luckily, wipes and
"exercise" cleaned off the braille display so there was no
lasting damage.

What can I say? Sometimes I get all chocked up about being

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