THOUGHT PROVOKER 79
Restriction or Freedom
Last Updated February 27, 2004
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
“Restrictions, restrictions, more restrictions.” the man said, his sad face showing more of what he felt as he went out the kitchen door to the side yard.
“Dad’s appointment with the eye doctor must not have given him any new hope.” said Marcy to her mother. She had stopped by to check up on her aging parents.
“No. The doctor said his sight is about the same, but I think your father feels it’s gotten a little worse.” Poring a little milk into her coffee, collecting her thoughts. “Since your father had to take early retirement because of his eyes, he’s had to give up so much.”
“Yeah, I know. The reduced vision has been bad, but it’s how he has to not strain himself and cause further loss that has really depressed him.” said the daughter, now standing at the window watching her father’s movements. “He so used to love to take care of the yard and house. And now he’s got to rely on others to do it for him and you can tell he doesn’t think its as good as he used to do it. Remember how all the neighbors used to call him, ‘Mister John Home Beautiful?’”
“Yes, he took so much pride in his ability.”
“Oh look....who is that with the white cane?” said the daughter. A blind man had just walked across the street and come down the block to talk to her father.
Beside her daughter at the window, the mother answered, “Oh, he is that rehabilitation counselor I told you that stopped by last week.”
“What are they doing at the flower bed?” said the daughter. The two men were kneeling, the blind man was pulling up weeds, grasses and having her father feel them. Next out in the yard, the blind man first pointed north-south, then east-west, then with cane held horizontal from one fist to the other he mimicked a pushing motion, cupped a hand around his ear as in listening and moved his feet like he was feeling for something.
“Now what are they doing at the side of the house?” said the mother. The blind man was gesticulating, movements of scraping, dipping into a bucket, stroking, cupping his hand around his ear as in listening, feeling the siding and stroking again. Next pointing up to the roof, he made movements like climbing a latter and then demonstrated the use of the cane.
“What are they doing with the car?” said the daughter. With the hood up, the two men were reaching into the engine compartment, passing tools back and forth, several times the blind man made a movement of covering his eyes with his hand.
“Now he’s leaving.” said the daughter, referring to the blind man.
“Yes, but where’d your Father go?”
Hearing the sound of a lawn mower starting up, the two women ran outside. “Dad!” “John! What are you doing?”
“I’ve learned what is possible and I realize what is more important to me. I’m taking back my life, my freedom.”
**1. I think John is starting to do what each of us must do if we want any feeling of self worth, take back as much independence as we can. But every time we try to regain some lost independence we must not let others, thinking they know better, stop us. How many well wishers have become upset because I prune the fruit trees, Lay across the kiwi arbor to prune it or climb up a ladder. How about the time I used my skill saw? I can still hear someone asking, "you used a hammer? How many fingers did you bang up?” But John will find, if his wife & daughter allow him , just how much he can still do for himself! He will find the feeling of accomplishment and become tired from work again and not tired from being depressed! Go, John! You will find problems but in the end you will be more happy!
Ernie Jones Walla Walla, Washington USA
**2. Actually I've known for sometime that most restrictions are in the mind and part of one's attitude. Even with something like driving that seems impossible now, it will only remain so until someone discovers how to do it in a non-visual way.
**3. Bravo! This is a wonderful subject to explore. It is definitely timely for all who are losing their sight, but it is also appropriate for
others who are blind or only partially sighted who also feel that their
lives are over or haven't even had a chance to begin. So many times this is simply due to misinformation and well-meaning family members who are overly protective of us without sight. Therefore, for us who have learned to "overcome" the obstacles particular to our world without sight, it behooves us to assist any blind individuals with whom we may come into contact to realize that life is not over. It is just beginning anew with a special challenge to develop new skills and to continue to make and hold our niche in the world. We all have many beneficial things to contribute and if we just persist in learning and living we can still make our mark and even leave a lasting impression that "we" have been here! So now I say, Go for making your yard the "jewel" of the neighborhood Mr. John Home Beautiful!
**4. First of all, I think it's really fortunate that the blind guy is as handy in the yard. Our brothers and sisters all married sighted spouses who don't have those talents. Second, I wish every newly-blinded individual's turn-around was as quick as the father's, and that every rehab instructor was as handy as the one in the story. It illustrated the point very well. It's amazing how the instructor "happened" to come along at the right time. Curious, are these stories true or written?
FROM ME: Some of these stories are true, however most are basically written around an issue that is, truly real.
**5. This is so great! So many times I see people with minor disabilities or some vision loss just give up and almost ask to be put out to pasture. It is so amazing how an inner passion can get people up and moving again. I worked with a man once who lost all usable vision. He resided in bed 22 hours out of the day and never even tried to learn to navigate his house independently. He didn't try to learn how to operate his radio. He was miserable! I was
designated to prepare a meal for him, and he called to find out what was for dinner. I was given a tremendous list of demands about the food, its presentation on the plate, variety and types of deserts. When I explained that I was also heavily involved with the local fair going on that day, he requested that I try to understand what it is like to be blind. I lost any hint of patience and told him he most certainly did not need to explain blindness to me. He then explained how my usable vision was better than his complete blindness. I described my complete blindness and how I chose not to place restrictions on myself. He really made a few minor changes after that conversation. He began to work with counselors a bit more. He didn't get as far as starting a lawn mower, but he did begin to make phone calls occasionally. Medical restrictions are confining enough, it won't help if we keep restrictions with them.
Marcia Beare Martin, Michigan USA
**6. Dear Thought Provoker, Thank you. I have a question. Is this Protected material, or may I copy it to pass on, with your name of course. I am presently doing my internship at a low vision clinic working mostly with older people with macular degeneration.
FROM ME: Yes share any THOUGHT PROVOKERS you wish with any one! And, yes please do credit it back to this forum, its respondents, the authors.
**7. I think that Marcy's dad is doing the right thing of being open to techniques he's had to give up. In other words, he
is learning new ways of doing what he used to do as a newly blind man rather than allowing the depression at losing his sight and the visual things and took the bull by the horns and steered it rather than let the bull run away with him or run over him. Moreover, while the dad admitted that his eyesight is rapidly going, the eye doctor,
on the other hand, didn't want to believe that his patient's eyesight is rapidly going, thus, telling the dad that his eyesight is no different now than before. More often than not, despite being told by doctors that we as patients are fully included in our medical treatment, we're often left at the mercy of our doctors' assessment and decisions because our view of our medical situation is being failed to be heard or regarded as the reality. More often than
not, those in the health and medical profession forget the motto that "we know our bodies more than anybody else does because we live in them". Of course, there are those cases when the situation is the reverse--the patient refusing to believe that what the doctor is saying is true--but that is not the case here. The case seems to be the former rather than the latter. Not only should the dad continue to do what he's doing--taking control of the situation at home--but he should either be more forthright with the doctor in getting the doctor to admit that blindness is inevitable. If he has, but the eye doctor is still adamant, then this is when it's time to switch to
a different doctor until he finds one who will admit that there's a problem and will help certify the need for cane travel and alternative techniques training.
Linda Minnesota USA
**8. Losing ones sight isn't easy. First it's denial that anything is wrong, then bit by bit you're adapting your life style to fit the sight lost. It might seem that your freedom is restricted, but we do have control on this - first is acceptance and then you find ways to work around your "restrictions" and find what works best for you to perform a tasks. This is an everyday thing for me and I'm still learning to do different things. One step at a time,
one day at a time. Being restricted in some things, doesn't have to mean lost of freedom. We're only restricted if we allow ourselves to feel that way. Adapting in our daily life is the key, I think. We all different, so we'll approach this situation in different ways.
Angelica Freeman Phoenix area, Arizona USA
**9. Thank you for putting up such a positive Thought Provoker. I enjoyed It.
Nancy Coffman Lincoln Nebraska, USA
**10. I really see this as a problem that is coming from 4 major areas. a. The doctors are thinking only of trying to help this man not go blind. so they have him restricted from any kind of stress to his eye. This cuts out all the choices the man has that he normally liked doing like taking care of his lawn and house. So the doctor sees sight as being more important then quality of life or is it that he feels sight is necessary for the quality of life.
b. The man has bought into the sight saving measures. But he is not happy. It is like a catch 22 or worse; don’t stress himself so don’t do work like lawn care and home maintenance or you will go blind; and he felt that if he were blind he’d not be capable of his beloved lawn or home care.
c. His wife and daughter are supporting him in the following out of the lawn care, because they don’t want him to be blind.
d. The neighborhood I bet is supporting his restrictions. After all, who wants to be blind?
John Bee USA
**11. This is a short short story that you can see what is happening from afar. A great perspective because you can see enough of what is being said that you can fill in the blanks. It also shows a man that obviously has hat that old light bulb pop on and he gets it. Good for him.
Spike Joneson United Kingdom
**12. Robert the problem here is people are confusing him with the old your blind you can't do that let me do that for you how many times do blind persons hear that! The councilor being blind himself is able to convince him to at least try. Well meaning sighted folk cause newly blind individuals to lose all their confidence. I was happy to hear the counselor in this story show him how to use his ears. This will help him gain back his dignity and accept his new disability!
Thank you for another interesting "thought provoker"
Diane Dobson Victoria British Columbia Canada
**13. Blindness is not a tragedy: it is not like losing your mind. Now, that is a real tragedy!
Jessica Nebraska USA
**14. One of the most difficult problems faced by a person who is experiencing significant vision loss is that the people around him/her will tend to expect little or nothing from him/her. Family, friends, associates believe that a blind or visually impaired person is, by definition severely limited in what they
can do. Therefore, the characters in this story are, unfortunately, believable. The question is, how do you fight against those who, presumably, love and care about you even when you know they are dead wrong on some issues? How will you attempt to take back your life when the ones who you have spent so much of it with don't believe that you can? I wonder what would have happened had this story gone on a bit further? Would the family of this man come to realize that he didn't have to give up yard work, didn't have to give up working on his car, that he in fact could go on living a good life once he had the tools and techniques to do so? I have my doubts. Time and time again, I have seen people who have gone to good orientation centers where they were given the knowledge and skills they needed to go on with life despite vision loss go home to their protecting families and loved ones and languish in helplessness. The cause is complex. First, if you are new to blindness, you are just beginning yourself to believe that perhaps you can still live a meaningful productive life. You do not have years of positive experience, you may have never encountered a blind or visually impaired individual before you became one. What would you base your feelings on? Of course, you would base them on what you believed to be true prior to your own sight loss. You
would, therefore, in all probability have a rather dim (oops, bad pun) view of your own future. So you go to an orientation center where, hopefully, you are not only shown the skills and techniques you need but also given as positive a view of blindness as possible. You are taking the tentative steps that could lead you into a better future, one where your sight loss would not have to be the end of your life, and suddenly, you go home. Home, where your family will feel that it is their job to love you in spite of your handicap, where they will in many cases interpret love as meaning protection. But protection can come between you and your future growth if it means that your family will not allow you to do things for yourself and that they will discourage,
all in the name of love, your first attempts at regaining your independence. And you, well you've gone through this great change. You have lost a great deal of your vision, and in all likelihood, a great deal of your self-confidence. And, if you are like most people, the opinions of those who love you will matter a good deal. So, what do you do? How do you assert your basic right to attempt to live your life with independence and dignity without doing harm to the relationships that you need most? I am not sure it can be done without breaking a few eggs. The problem is, can you do it? Can a person who is only just beginning to learn that life can be lived without sight going to be prepared to avoid being smothered by people who truly mean no harm, but who honestly believe that a blind or visually impaired person cannot resume their former roles? I believe that the only way that a person whose family and friends are not allowing him/her to be independent is to draw lines. They must assert themselves yet try to maintain a positive outlook. This task
is so difficult without any support. This task is so lonely without anyone around you who believes as you do that you must try to live an independent and productive life. This task would be far easier if you had some successful blind or visually impaired friends who could lend their support and help you to continue to grow and achieve the goal of being a confident and independent blind or visually impaired person. I believe that this is where the organized blind movement can do some of its best work. This is where the organized blind movement can truly make a difference. Because, when you are
newly blind, you need to keep in mind that others have gone before you, you need to know that although the road you travel seems forbidding and filled with uncertainty, that you can take back your life. I know that in so many cases, people who have recently found themselves facing vision loss also find themselves alone. It's not that family and friends cannot be supportive, of course they can! But in so many cases, they are not. They simply don't understand
that a blind or visually impaired individual can achieve many goals. Those goals could include returning to the work force, being a good parent, or mowing the lawn. It doesn't matter what they are, so long as one is given the training and has the opportunity to attain them.
I know that if I were to face vision loss, I would need people around me who would believe in my ability to succeed and my right to an independent life. Again, this is where the organized blind movement could truly work wonders toward a positive outcome.
Rich Ring USA
**15. This is beautiful, though the father's turnaround is a bit too quickly for it to be realistic.
**16. that was a great thought provoker!!! So true.
**17. I am curious to know how a blind man can mow a complicated yard layout without it looking well, like a blind man did it? Anyone who wants to try feel free to contact me but it better be a good job otherwise the wife will be really upset.
**18. Randy, For many years I mowed a rather complex yard. My house sat on a steep hill and the back yard was tiered in three levels. Each level had a series of gardens and flowering trees. I devised a method of using stakes and light rope to assist me in covering the entire grassed area. While it did take me about half again as long to do the job as it took my teenaged son, I actually did a much cleaner job. Also, we had about 120 rose bushes. My wife normally did the rose trimming, but when she was recovering from cancer surgery I took on the task. I learned that roses do not know the difference between friend and foe. The first several attempts on my part proved to be a rather bloody event. But I did get better, and actually learned to do a proper job of trimming.
Out here in the forest I no longer have a lawn.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L
**19. I had a similar reaction to that story. How would the blind rehab counselor know the layout of the lawn and garden? I don't question that a blind person can take care of his/her lawn or garden, though you'll never catch me doing it. I'd rather clean ceilings. The story would be more realistic if there were an account of how the blind rehab counselor learned the layout, and how ht taught the newly-blinded man to do the many separate tasks involved in taking care of a garden and lawn. By the way, even I know that when you take care of roses, you're supposed to wear gloves.
**20. My problem with wearing gloves is that it is sort of like a sighted person wearing sleep shades. I put on the gloves and can't feel a thing. I never got used to them.
carl Jarvis ACB-L
**21. Randy I do know of people who have done it and quite well at that! Now, as for me, I'd rather work at my profession and pay a yard man, but if I were into the "lawn and garden" thing I'd sure learn how to do it right.
**22. Hi Randy, I once read in, I believe, the Braille Monitor, how a blind guy mows his lawn, using a series of long strips of wood as guides.
**23. I have read all the testimony on those who mow their own lawns. I thought of doing it myself and figure I could, but the measure of how well it is done is visual to those who can see. Hence the likelihood of measuring up to that standard is lessened by the lack of site irrespective of all the alternative techniques. I am sure some lawns come out fine, but I am not sure that is a predictable outcome.
**24. A lot of people who are losing their sight just cling to it until the last moment, even when doing so endangers them, guess they're in denial. Having always seen this same amount since I was born, not very much but enough to help, I can well imagine that it would be really traumatic to know that you were losing your sight. I don't think it's a wise thing to deny something that is happening like that, or anything else for that matter, but I could where losing your sight.
**25. I wish elderly people would catch on and start adjusting that quickly. I work with the elderly and find them pretty reluctant to believe in themselves enough to work on the skills of blindness. A big problem is that they often have other problems as well. It is one thing to be blind, and quite another to be blind and have to use a walker, making it so you can't use a cane or your hands. They, of course, think I am amazing, which we all know I’m not. Some of them think that I can't understand how it is for them because I have been blind all my life. I am lucky if I can get them to make some small changes around the house.
I did teach Braille to a 78 year old woman who was going blind, and she learned it well enough to keep her address book, and recipes in Braille, and Braille a shopping list.
Some people seem to be so visually oriented that they just don't seem to make the switch to taking in information with their ears and their hands.
Oh well. All we can do is keep encouraging them.
Sue Tillett Princeton, New Jersey
**26. That little story is quite interesting. Yes even if you have lost some sight or all of it you can take charge of your life. Here in Massachusetts we have a rehab center The Carroll Center. It helps newly blind people and blind people in general to do things in a different way and become independent. I went there for computer training in September. You were shown the dorm building and expected to figure it out, where the stairs were and all that. At the cafeteria you carried your own tray to the table. You went to the technology building independently, after being shown where
it was. After a few days you were expected to get around the campus independently. I liked that and was able to help a friend of mine out. I found the campus easy to get around. Carrying trays was not troublesome either. Older blind people can definitely "take back their lives." I am attending a class on blindness issues, many of the people there are newly blind. There are three of us who have been blind most of our lives. We are examples to the others, of what a fulfilling life you can have. I have talked about learning on my computer, and I have had people come to me asking how they can get training, or a computer. I refer them to the commission or to the Memorial foundation for the blind that is where I got my
computer. The internet and email have opened up a whole new world to me. I will be going now. Thank you for the article. Until I see you on the net.
God bless you.
Sincerely yours Karen Crowder USA
**27. You won't catch me with the bush cutter or mower as you say - equality only goes so far with me.
but the guys tell me they make a string and post grid and mow along the string lines of demarcation. don't know how particular she is but maybe this plan would work. (Randy)
**28. I don’t know how other people mow, but I wear sandals so I can feel the grass and I pull the machine behind me. My method works for me.
Chaarles Michigan USA
**28. At first I thought the story was too quick, too unrealistic on how people ajdjst. But after second thought it made sense. It is written to make a point. One point is that there are some inportant things in life that are more important to us than sight. Another is sight is not always some thing to die for. Another is being blind is not all that bad. Another is doctors don’t know it all. Another is we can help each other. Another is family has to adjust to blindness too. And I bet there are more points here too. thanks
Mick McBride New York USA
**29. Is it really this easy?? I for one am really afraid. But I have to admit
that it is much easier for someone to show you first, then you do it
Doris in Nebraska
**30. A message of hope - that's super.
Clearwater, Florida USA
**31. It must have been a great thing for this man to suddenly realize that he could do things that he used to do when he had sight. Of course, people who aren't in this situation will be apprehensive but it could be an eye opener and a confidence boost to someone who has just gone blind. Learning the blindness skills and getting the confidence to know that you can do it is the first step to accepting your blindness.
Mary Jo partyka USA
**32. A respondent asked how the blind counselor knew the layout of the blind client's yard. Because the narrative is only a glimpse into the situation as
opposed to the whole life story or background of all the eye appointments, we don't know how many eye appointments the guy has had. Nor do we know whether
the blind counselor was showed around the yard previous to the narrative itself. It is possible that the family and/or the client, himself, showed the
blind counselor around before the actual narrative story started. Just because the guy may have been losing his sight doesn't mean that he's not able
to show the blind counselor around. Moreover, even if the guy was already totally blind by this point, I'm sure that he would not have forgotten the layout
of his yard because the image as he's always seen it would still be imprinted in his mind. Either way, there are ways in which the counselor could get
an idea of the yard's layout.
Another respondent was concerned about the appearance of the lawn when a blind person mows it vs. when a sighted person mows it. While I've never checked
out a lawn cut by a blind person, I do know a lot of sighted people who cut their lawn and it still looks very choppy--lots of remaining tall grass in
many places throughout the yard interspersed with nicely cut low grass. I think that, no matter blind or sighted, the appearance more has to do with the
person's accuracy and care or carelessness.
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