Night Travel

I have lost most of my sight. However, during the day I am able to use what little residual vision I have left. At night or in dim environments, my nightblindness kicks in and I am totally blind. That can be a little intimidating. 

When I was a cane user, I felt at risk at night, not safe, and I felt more of a target. Whether that is true or not, I’m not sure but that’s how I felt. I didn’t like to travel independently at night if I didn’t have to and I was always a little on edge. 

This pictures below mean a lot to me:

Makiko, a black Labrador guide dog, is laying down briefly. She is wearing her harness but it is hard to see with no flash and the outside environment is almost pitch black.
No Flash: Makiko is laying down momentarily while we wait for our ride. It is hard to see her because it is almost pitch black outside.
This picture is with flash. You can almost pretty much just see Makiko's harness, especially with the reflective strips, and you can see a little bit of Makiko but since she is black it is hard to see her. Outside is almost completely pitch black.
Flash: Makiko is laying down. You can see her a little better with the flash, especially the reflective strips on her harness, but you can also see how dark it is outside.

Why do they mean a lot to me? Because with her, I love getting out at night. I love traveling independently. Sure I still have a little anxiety now and again, but I am happy. I am confident. I am free. 
Last night I caught a LYFT to go out with friends. I waited outside for the driver, then he drove me to my destination, and I independently got out of the car and made my way walking to where we were going. 

As I said before, I am not able to use any residual vision at night so it’s ALL her. And she takes her responsibility very seriously and guide’s me safely. 

She is my rock star. 

Major Breakdown: Just a Night with RP

I’m coming to realize that most of my breakdowns are at night. This might be partially because by the end of the day, I am exhausted because I go to school full-time, work part-time, and have a lot of other things to deal with. But this is also because, at my new school, I have to negotiate traveling campus by myself. I haven’t used my cane in about a year. (It got lost when I moved.) I didn’t use it as much as I should anyways because I was afraid of what people would think since I’m not fully sighted (obviously) but I’m not completely blind either. That story is for another post though.

Last night, I was traveling from a student organization meeting to the bus stop and then from the bus stop into my dorm. Normally, this isn’t that bad of a process. The first time I did it however, I had the other “major breakdown” I recently blogged about. The buses are not very well lit, so once I get onto the bus it is very hard for me to identify seats which are empty and seats which are taken. The fact that different buses have different seating arrangements too is difficult. I might think about talking to them about putting a little brighter bulb in their lights because they are pretty much useless, in my opinion. I got to the bus stop fine, had a little issue getting seated, and then managed to get off (after bumping somebody, of course). I arrived in my dorm room and then just kind of broke down.

I started texting one of my best friends, Patrick, who is a lifelong friend. His father is also blind. He bluntly said, “You wouldn’t have this problem if you carried your cane, you know.” And then that’s when it suddenly hit me. He is so right. I need to get over my problems with carrying a cane and carry it. Another friend, Skylar, who is in a wheelchair said, “You not carrying your cane is like me not using my wheelchair.” Again, very true. These are both assistive devices which help us so much that we really should use them. She had to overcome her wheelchair and now I’m going to work on overcoming my cane. (Like I said, that story is for another post)

The cane would help me in many ways. For one, it would be something that others could physically see to identify that they may need to watch out as I don’t have full vision. A lot of other individuals would also take this as to maybe help. While I want to maintain my independence, I will admit that sometimes just a little help in some of these situations would be quite nice. It would also help alert me of various obstacles that I might encounter ahead. It would avoid a lot of situations as I wouldn’t bump into somebody, my cane would. I have a feeling many would be more understanding to this.

Since I lost my current cane, I talked to my Orientation and Mobility Specialist and she told me the right cane to order. I’ve ordered it and so now i”m anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. I never thought I would be so excited for a cane to come in the mail.