One Day At A Time. What It Is Like In My Shoes.

This is a post originally put on Facebook.  As I have had so many comments, phone calls and conversations about how helpful this has been, I thought I'd share it here for a better record.  I wrote this in response to being asked recently about how it is that I can need a cane and am still legally able to drive? As I am in the process of learning myself how disabilities are classified, I thought I might explain some of what I've learned and how it might help other's understanding. After you read this, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

1. The Low Vision Classification. 
Having low vision is unique for each person. Persons with low vision will have different areas of their vision which are impacted and different approaches to compensate.

2. What do I see?
My peripheral vision is impaired in both eyes. What is more, if you think of the eye as a circle, draw a line across the center and color the bottom half black. That is what I see. However, the top half of my vision is perfect and that is what I use. The signal my brain gets is a little tricky. The poor vision in the bottom half of my vision, is blended with my perfect upper vision, thus everything I see is somewhat blurred.

3. Why walking with a cane?
I have been walking without a cane for a while. But, I can tell you it isn't always easy. I have a bruise on my thigh from hitting the corner of a filing cabinet every day this week. I fear every Sunday running into a pew during the processional or falling down the stairs in the chancel. I trip over sticks and rocks regularly when hiking.  In working with a low vision specialist discovered that a cane helps me recover, to an extent, both some of my lower vision and peripheral vision as I walk. In the USA, it is a sign to other people that I have a disability.

4. You can drive?
Yep, I'm still legal. I don't determine this, the government does. Because I have that upper vision, I can still drive. So you know, I try not to drive at night or during bad weather conditions. I like right hand turns...a lot. And the speed limit? Yep, that is the limit for me.

5. Reading is work...period.
Remember how I've lost the bottom half of my vision? The bottom half of your vision is the vision used when reading. Even with the CCTV and magnification software on the computer, it takes longer for me to read. Do my eyes get tired? You bet.  I find that it takes me longer to do the work that once came quickly whether that is reading, research and writing.  To a degree, it takes me longer to collect my thoughts in general.

6. Are you giving up hunting?
Nope. For the principles of fair chase, my hope of taking up bow hunting is out and trying to hunt with a rifle doesn't seem much fair to animals so those are out. That keeps me in the game for upland bird, waterfowl and turkey for sure since I can use a shotgun. I can still see with the top half of my vision and that is where birds are flying.

7. Interdependence.
I appreciate the offers to help and to drive. Ask me first, don't assume I need it. Offer to help before extending a hand or let me bring it up.  Through the help of my Vision Rehab Specialist, I learned recently how others can lend an elbow and guide me in certain situations.  On Sunday, one of my fellow clergy helped out in this way during our processional and it was a huge help.  I am still the same person. I am not always aware of my limitations but like a child learning to walk, I need to fall sometimes to learn.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Whatever you do though, don't pity me, I am husband and a father, losing my vision doesn't take that away. I'm blessed to be given the title pastor too and I will continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. I don't have to see to know what love is, to experience it and share it. I pray you find this post helpful.

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