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May 30th, 2007

08:24 pm

I can't believe I haven't done this in over 6 months. I could offer up a long winded explanation, but I don't really want to get into it and I'm not sure that it would make for good reading anyway. To make a long story relatively short, I had a hard time adjusting back to my normal life after I came home from the Carroll Center. It was much more of a shock than I expected and I had a lot of depression and stuff to work through. I think what happened is that from the time I decided to go to the Carroll Center up until the time I got home, I was totally focused on the practical problems of my blindness, like learning Braille, learning to get around with a cane, learning to use adaptive computer technology and learning all the daily living stuff like figuring out how to cook, match up my clothes, keep up with bills, etc. I think I basically suppressed the emotional issues and when I came home with all my new skills, I didn't have the learning process to distract me. I also came home just in time for Christmas which was really no help. All Christmas did for me was remind me of all the stuff I can't do anymore, namely video games. I was miserable and couldn't wait for Christmas to end. And through all this, my vision continued to get worse. Every time I told myself it couldn't get any worse, it did. Apparently there's some scar tissue building up that's causing the change. At this point it seems to have leveled off, but now I can only see blurry blobs of light. It's like looking through a windshield that's covered with frost. It's basically useless for navigational purposes and I can no longer read any print with any kind of magnification. It sucks ass. On top of that, I really missed all my buddies from the Carroll Center and I missed being in the Boston area with its bitchin' public transportation and overall blind friendliness. Oklahoma City is in the Dark Ages of disability awareness and accessibility so coming home was quite jarring. I became very bitter about the overall suckiness of OKC's transit system and the total lack of sidewalks which make pedestrian travel a challenge to say the least. But this is my home, I choose to live here and I have to take the good with the bad. It took me awhile to come to grips with that. So as you can guess, a large portion of my hiatus was spent dealing with the tidal wave of sadness, anger and self-pity that hit when I came home. It was brutal at times, but I kept plugging along and my family and friends have been supportive and kicked me in the ass when necessary. I am finally feeling more comfortable with myself and am getting back to my old self. This means it is time to
get back to writing too. To be honest, this is about the 10th attempt I
have made at doing an update. Every time I have tried before, I just ended up crying and generally feeling like I would never get over my issues. I think I'm finally ready to write this time. I've made it through the hardest part and so far, no tears. It's progress.

The biggest news that I have to report from my 6 month hiatus is that I am getting a Guide Dog. I was accepted by Guide Dogs for the Blind a few weeks ago and will be going to the 28 day training program in August. I am very excited and a little nervous too. I wasn't sure I'd get accepted because when I applied, I didn't really have any routes worked out for me to even be able to justify my need for a dog. I probably applied too soon, but at the time, I just felt like I had to do something to make things better for myself. Shortly after applying, I started working with my mobility instructor here and can now go to and from work on the bus and have several routes I can take from my house. The more I get out and use my cane, the more I hate it. I have to walk too slow and I'm always getting it caught in cracks and tripping people with it. I can't wait to get my dog. We're going to go all over the place. I know having a dog will get me out of the house more. It's going to be great. Guide Dogs are amazing and I can't believe someone is actually going to give me one. It's a total life changing development. I can't even begin to imagine how things are going to change but I am ready for it and I know it's going to be great.

My biggest concern about getting a guide dog is the effect it will have on Horatio. He's such a good dog and I can't imagine having to give him up. I don't really think it will come to that, but I am sure this will be hard for him. He's a total Mama's boy. He follows me everywhere and is always watching out for me. I hope he'll be able to adjust to me spending so much time with another dog. I have spoken to several people about my concern but they all tell me it will be fine. If Horatio were a normal dog, I wouldn't even think about it, but he's not like any other dog I've had before. He's so sensitive. But, he is smarter than any dog I've had before and I feel like he might understand that the new dog is helping. I think he'll get used to the arrangement and will enjoy having another dog to play with. I hope so.

My other big concern is that I'll get a dog with a totally wuss name like Princess or Peaches or some kind of flower. I need a name with attitude. I am sure I'll love the dog no matter what its name is. I'd just so much rather have a dog with a cool name. But it is what it is so it's not worth worrying about.

I guess at this point, the best way to handle my lengthy absence is to try to hit a few highlights from the past 6 months. A lot of that time was spent sleeping and crying and I barely remember some of it. It seems like things started to turn for the better around my birthday in February. Here's a rundown of the blog-worthy stuff that happened:

I went to Las Vegas with the Parents. They took me out there for my birthday. I wasn't sure I'd have as much fun as I used to, but I did. I'm really glad we went. It was kind of a turning point for me when I decided that I could get my life back to some kind of normalcy and actually have a good time. It was a great trip. I was there for 4 days and only lost forty bucks. Woo hoo! We were playing these penny machines that I had never played before and they were a blast. They made cool noises and I kept winning on them too, so I'm sure that attributed to the fun part.

We also went to see the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues while we were in Vegas. It was a great concert. The Murphys are a great band and are even better in person. The crowd was nuts. Everyone was screaming the words to every song and generally going bonkers. It was a very cool show.

Another birthday related turning point in my attitude came thanks to Randy. He gave me a Milestone 311. It is an accessible voice recorder/mp3 player for the blind. It is about the size of a credit card and has a very nice feel to it. It is easy to use and has good sound as well. In my opinion, it is seriously over-priced for the features you get, but I do really enjoy having an mp3 player that I can use. My biggest gripe with it is that it only supports the mp3 format. I'd rather use wma files which are smaller and sound better, but otherwise the Milestone is a nice little player. It has voice output instead of a little screen so I can get to a particular album or artist that I want to hear with no problem. It's really cool and although I never would have spent that much money on it for myself, it made for a very pleasant gift and made me realize that getting gifts could still be fun. I got some great stuff for Christmas, but I was too depressed to really enjoy it at the time. But Randy's gift was fun and I spent days on the computer tinkering with it and loading it with music. I use it every day
and carry it everywhere. It's great. It was a well-timed extravagance and
I am very grateful to Randy for making it happen. He's the best.

A few weeks after my birthday, we went to see another legendary Irish punk band, Flogging Molly, at the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. Flogging Molly is my favorite of the Irish punk bands and as great as the Murphys were, Flogging Molly was so much better. Best. Concert. Ever!!! I could not sit still. It was just amazing and the crowd was wild. The Cain's is such a cool venue. The old wood floor has springs beneath it so it bounces when people get to jumping up and down. I have seen several shows at the Cain's, but I have never come close to feeling the floor bounce that much. It felt like the whole building was shaking. It was so cool. I must see Flogging Molly again. I can't begin to describe my love for this band. I might even love them more than Cake and that is hard to do because you all know that I love me some Cake.

I've been dieting again. Not surprisingly, you gain a lot of weight when you do nothing but sleep in a recliner for 3 months. I maxed out at about 196 lbs. Now I'm down to 179 and counting. I'm basically doing Weight Watchers again, but I'm doing it on my own. I remember all the stuff from the last time I did it so I didn't feel the need to give them my money again. It's working out just fine. I'd like to drop at least another 15 pounds or so before I go to Guide Dog training. I'll be doing a lot of walking while I'm there so I'd rather not have to drag around a bunch of excess weight. I think it's a realistic goal. I've got 3 months to get it done. I'd bee thrilled if I could get to 160 by the time I leave. My ultimate goal is 140, but that'll take a little more time I think.

The only down side to the weight loss is that I am having to retire my favorite pair of jeans. Don't get me wrong. I am glad to lose the weight and really needed too, but I LOVE these jeans. I bought them at a Marshall's in Watertown while I was at the Carroll Center. Ironically, I bought these fabulous jeans because I had gotten too fat to fit in the ones that I had taken with me to the Carroll Center. A friend helped me pick them out and I never would have picked them out for myself. But they are so comfy and slimming. I have never been so attached to a pair of pants before. It's kind of creepy. Hopefully I'll find them again in a smaller size. The ones I have are so big now that I can get them on and off without unbuttoning or unzipping them. It's exciting but also sad. I am very conflicted about it. I am already searching for a replacement though so hopefully I won't be conflicted for long.

On a sad note, we had to put my cat Emma to sleep. She started mysteriously losing weight while I was at the Carroll Center but I thought it was related to a bad tooth that we had to have removed. But after the tooth came out, the weight continued to drop. She still seemed pretty perky though so I didn't really clue in that something was wrong. Finally, I could tell that she felt terrible and I got her to the vet. Unfortunately, she had a tumor in her stomach and there was nothing we could do. It was hard to say good-bye but it was the only option. So now both my cats are gone. It's hard to believe. I think I'm done with cats. I enjoyed my cat experience and I had two fun and interesting animals that I loved, but they couldn't change the fact that I am a dog person.

And all that now brings us to Memorial Day weekend. I was going to go to the lake with Randy, but I had been having some migraine issues the night before we were supposed to leave and I just didn't feel like dealing with the lake. Randy was very understanding and suggested that I stay home and relax. I'm so glad I did. I spent a lot of time hanging out at my parents' house. It was cloudy and rainy all weekend but we still had fun lounging by the pool. I got in once, but it was crazy cold. I did manage to get a little sun and we had a lot of fun joking around and chatting all weekend. We went to the casino Friday night and Saturday night. I won thirty bucks the first night and lost ten on Saturday. Still, I'm up twenty for the weekend. That's fine with me. I also fixed Mom and Dad's two broken toilets. This is my first attempt at toilet repair without vision, but I did just fine. It was a breeze and I didn't even have to ask for help. It was great to learn that I haven't lost my toilet repair mojo. Randy had a good weekend too. He went to the lake and caught a ton of fish. He also got the boat launched and everything worked perfectly. .

Well, I think this has been a pretty good start. I'll keep at it and will hopefully get back into a good rhythm with this crap. Sorry for the disappearing act. I'll try not to let it happen again.