I've been a white cane user for quite a few years now and, often, that's quite enough to get me around without calamitous mishap.
Most of the time, I like to think I get by pretty damned well and that a majority of people have no idea whatsoever how little I can actually see. It's a bit of source of pride.
But there have been a couple of occasions in the last few days when, despite being six foot something tall and moderately fit (although a bit larger around the middle than I'd like), I've felt quite vulnerable to my disability.
Leaving work the other evening all I had to do was walk to Dozybean's pad not far from Mutley Plain. That means heading along the very busy North Road East - loads of traffic, all bearing people in a hurry to get home who are feeling frustrated that they're not home already. Loads of students in gaggles taking up the whole pavement and completely wrapped up in their own world, seemingly all heading in the opposite direction to me.
I ended up being jostled, unintentionally and certainly not maliciously; I was simply in a place where there were lots of other people intent on their own purposes. And that place was a narrow pavement with lots of traffic moving past.
I was also nearly hit by a car as the driver simply turned into an adjoining road whilst I was crossing at the junction - it was my right of way, but had I been able to see I would have given way as that would be the safer option. I didn't see the car coming.
This whole episode only lasted a few minutes, but it started me thinking. . .
The next time was only last evening, walking from the top of the Cremyll Ferry slipway at Admiral's Hard to the boat. The tide was a quite a way out and I had to make my way along the slipway in the dark (lighting conditions do make a huge difference to my vision).
Again, it was only a minute or two and I came to no harm, but I felt distinctly unsafe. I needed someone with me to guide me - to make sure I didn't find the edge of the slipway and fall.
Which brings me to the momentous (to me, anyway) email that I sent off this morning - starting the application process for one of these:
I have no idea whether I'll get one. I might be considered unsuitable for a myriad reasons; I might decide it's not for me at all as we go through the application process. Even if it all works out, it'll be a year or more before I'm seen striding around Millbrook with a canine companion.
So there you go - the next stage in the exciting journey of trying not to bump into things is underway.
photo shamelessly nicked from
"students walking": chemistry.clemson.edu
"Admiral's Hard Slipway": by Martin Bodman from geolocation.ws
(both filtered by me in an attempt to mimic my vision)
"Guide Dog": petnet.co.uk