A DIFFERENT VIEW - Choose to live a full life

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You have just returned home from your yearly visit to see the eye doctor and as you sit in your favorite recliner, you consider his words: "Your eyes have worsened. You are now legally blind. You better put your driver's license away."

At this point there are choices you can make.

First you must realize that life doesn't end with blindness but just changes.

Will you seek help so you can keep your independence or will you refuse to get out of that chair? You can have a great pity party as you convince yourself and those around you that you are no longer able to do anything but sit and mope.

So you allow, or maybe demand others to do for you what really you should do for yourself.

But maybe you refuse to give in, and decide a pity party is not for you.

One of the first choices to make is to check into getting orientation and mobility training (O & M). There are organizations that will come to your place free of charge and help you make the adjustment from using eyesight to relying on other senses.

You will be taught how to continue to care for household duties such as yard work, cleaning the house, doing laundry or cooking/baking.

Do you like to use the computer? You still can, but this will once again take some change, such as using a voice-activated computer program.

Also included is mobility training with the long, white cane. If you are like many of us, you may drag your feet in agreeing to do this for you don't want to "look" blind.

But this training is important and my suggestion is to get right out and start it, as it will open up many opportunities for regaining independence.

You can navigate almost anywhere with this cane. With proper use, the cane will warn you of problems ahead and alert you to obstacles in your way. It requires almost no upkeep, but in time it may break and will need to be replaced.

One day you may be asked, "Why don't you get a guide dog?"

You like dogs but a guide dog?

The long white cane requires no feeding or grooming nor does it need to be taken out for relieving. When you don't need the cane it can just lean in a corner or be folded up.

Guide dogs need to be fed, watered, groomed properly and relieved several times a day. They don't live on cheap brands of dog food but want the best, so there will be monthly upkeep, including vet care.

When off duty in the house, they may lie in the middle of the floor and allow you to stumble over them. Like all living things they will grow old and you may have to part with them one day.

But aside from the care of a guide dog, you also get unlimited love. He will strive to please you and want to be with you all the time. He is always full of kisses, often gaining a spot on your face when you are not expecting it.

He wants first place in your heart with only your spouse being closer. He will happily rest next to you and if you get down on the floor to play with him, his joy will know no bounds.

The guide dog is allowed to travel with you and can go into any building you go into or ride on any public transportation. Also, they are not expensive to obtain.

It is up to you. Not every blind person wants a guide dog but neither does every blind person want to use the cane. One isn't better than the other.

As for me, I want the dog.

Don't allow blindness to rob you of life, for being blind does not end life but starts a new chapter.

Have a good day.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse, retired early due to vision loss. Contact him at theolcrow@charter.net or 529-9252.

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