I wanted to do something a little different, so once a month Im hoping to have a guest post from one of my friends who have different disabilities. The purpose of this series is to show that we have lives like everyone else and to get people who dont have disabilities to maybe think about us a little differently. This is post number three, and I am so excited to have had three out of three excellent posts to share!
As Reba sings, I was born three months too early/The doctor gave methirty days. Like her narrator, however, I’ve out-lived thatprediction, by thirty years or so. My premature birth was not withoutcomplications, though, and lasting side effects.
Due to being born so early, I was given massive amounts of oxygen, inorder to keep me alive. Obviously, that treatment did what it wassupposed to. But it also induced retinopathy of prematurity, where anovergrowth of blood vessels produces large amounts of scarring on theretinas. In extreme cases this can cause compete retinal detachment,and total blindness.
I am not totally blind, but I am legally blind; my vision isat or worse than 20/200 (depending on the lighting conditions, how I’mfeeling, and other variables). I use a white cane at night, incrowded situations (malls, airports, public transit, etc.), and whenI’m finding my way somewhere I’ve never been before. The font on mye-reader (a Kobo; for me it’s not just a luxury item, but anassistive/accessibility device) is on the largest setting. I getlarge print books, when I can find and afford them. And I listen to
audiobooks, despite severe auditory processing difficulties, now thatI have a quality pair of headphones.
But I didn’t grow up with any of those items. I got my white canetwo years ago, after the husband took me down to CNIB when he had torenew his CNIB card (as he is also legally blind). I startedlistening to audiobooks around the same time. As a child, I only hadone large print book (The Grey King, by Susan Cooper), and thatonly because I’d gotten it used for $1.50 when I couldn’t afford themass market new.
Why didn’t I grow up with access to audiobooks, large print books, awhite cane? Simple. Though I am disabled by my vision issues (andmore so than the husband, despite not having a CNIB cardhave to go tothe eye doctor for proof of my vision, whereas a medical doctor wasgood enough for the disability tax credit, and I have major issueswith eye doctors), I was raised as though I had no problems glassescouldn’t cure. My parents were told that I’d be totally blind bythe time I was seven or eight. I wasn’t, and at that point the eyedoctors said I wouldn’t even have any depth perception issues, so myparents figured glasses would solve everything.
I wish. Most of the time I have no depth perception, though it doesfluctuate from time to time. (I’ve taught myself how perspectiveworks, due to drawing and painting classes, but that’s an intellectualunderstanding, not a visual/perceptual one.) I cannot drive (though Iwas forced to learn how, as my parents did not want to ferry me aroundour transit-unfriendly town). Reading anything smaller than 24pt fontis a pain, when it’s even possible, and there’s times even 24pt is toosmall.
Yet, despite all of that, and more, it is a fight with myself everytime I get out my white cane, every time I put on my headphones tolisten to an audiobook, or dig out one of my few large print books, orturn on my Kobo. I am disabled, but I was raised as though I wasn’t,and fighting that programing, even when my cane, my audiobooks, largeprint books, and my Kobo make things so very much easier for me, is sovery hard.
Society has a difficult time accepting those of us with disabilities,visible or otherwise. Not as hard of a time as I have acceptingmyself, though.
If you would like to contact Finny privately, she is finnyb on LiveJournal, or you can e-mail her at finvic AT gmail.com. Of course, you are always welcome to comment to the post below.