I’m not going to apologise for being a shit blogger anymore, it clearly doesn’t work. I’m just going to accept myself as the lazy fucker I am.
Anyway, it’s been several months since I did some mobility training for my long cane, and I’ve had to start using the thing all the time as of about a month ago, so I am massively overdue to write something about it.
I had three sessions in total with the one and only mobility officer in my borough of London (fuck you austerity, you have improved exactly nothing and I will fight anyone who says otherwise). I was pretty apprehensive beforehand because not all people who work with the visually challenged actually seem to know what in the name of arse it is like – as I am sure many other VI people can attest to. This coupled with the fact that my borough is made up of like 99.9% old people had me convinced that I was going to be dealing with someone whose knowledge was lacking and who couldn’t relate to anyone under the age of 50.
I will hold my hands up here and admit I was being a grumpy bitch. My mobility officer was absolutely brilliant, they listened to everything I had to say and really got what I needed help with and what I wanted to use my cane for. On our first meeting we had a long chat about what I had been struggling with mobility-wise, and they helped me familiarise myself with the different ways you can use a cane and which methods would be best for me. The only slight snag during our first session was that my parents were having a new kitchen fitted and having to scream over drilling to a person you have just met is never ideal.
On our second meeting we just went fo a walk so I could get used to using my cane. I remember it vividly because it was at this point I realised that I would need to swap the marshmallow tip of my cane for a roller ball if I didn’t want to end up with a dislocated shoulder from all the pissing jarring. Pavements are really bumpy, has anyone else noticed??
For out third and final session we went out in the dark. This was what I had been waiting for as at this point I still didn’t need my cane when it was light but really had no confidence using it in the dark. We mostly just wandered around and I got to whack a lot of stuff with my stick, it was pretty hard work but I started to get the hang of it after a short while.
Since my vision has got worse I have found that the best way to stop myself from chickening out of doing things is to put myself into situations where I have to. Not sure about getting around in the dark? Well, go out when it’s light and then stay out until you have no choice but to use your cane and learn! Can’t read that bus number? Well, if you want to get home you’re just going to have to ask someone!
Obviously this method might not work for everyone but I have found it really useful. The more situations I realise I can navigate successfully in the less I worry about doing new things. I hated the idea of using a cane at first, and then when I started using it I was mostly just concentrating, so I didn’t have time to worry about what other people thought. After using it a couple of times and getting more comfortable with the practical side, I realised that I was a lot less self conscious about what people might be thinking. At the moment I have to use my cane all the time as my vision has got worse and I am waiting for surgery to (hopefully) improve it. I thought I would be really annoyed about this but actually all I really care about is being able to get about on my own, and my cane lets me do this. In a way, having to use it all the time helped me get more confident with it. I have also noticed that poeple are so much more helpful, it has really helped me get over my stubbornness about asking for help.
Sometimes when you have a disability, it is being able to do the little things that make you feel more like yourself. For me, using a cane means that I don’t have to slow down when I am walking and can enjoy racing along at quite a decent speed.
I will also never stop enjoying the people who don’t see me until they are almost falling over me and then have to leap out of the way. It is never not funny. I think it confuses them when I wander off laughing to myself.