Friday, May 8, 2009

Profound Revelation

You never know what an online conversation will lead to. Last night, I was in a chatroom with a few other blind people discussing life. I explained to them about the documentary and personal mobility quest I'm embarking on and my hopes for a breakthrough with my mobility difficulties. One of the guests in the room was an old acquaintance. Geoff Eden used to work in the technical aids department of the CNIB. I've been using technical aids of one sort or another since a very early age so he's known my parents and I off and on over most of my life. He therefore knew what caused my blindness. He grew up with the generation of blind people where the practice of giving premature infants too much oxygen was most prevalent. I had always believed that the only things possibly effected by this well-intensionned attempt to preserve my life were my eyes. In particular, the oxygen destroyed my retinas. Apparently though, it also changes how blood vessels grow in the brain. They don't grow as much when you have tons of oxygen and they don't need to. Then, when you're taken out of the incubater and deprived of that extra oxygen, they have to grow quickly to compensate.

Being smart enough to have attained a university degree, I never would have thought that my brain may have been effected in any way. Apparently though, it's quite common for people with retinopathy of prematurity to have the kind of profound difficulty with navigation and spacial concepts that I have over the years. All that struggle with geometry in Finite Math; That simple puzzle of only a few pieces which I couldn't solve for the life of me during my IQ testing which turned out to be a damned horse; And most profoundly, the endless trouble I have with learning routes and forming mental maps of large areas. There's an actual biological reason for that.

I've had a sense my whole life that I've always had far more difficulty with orientation than most of my fellow blind people. However, since most of them attributed it strictly to my lack of motivation and easy circumstances as they saw it, I've frankly taken a lot of undeserved crap from people over the years. That damned well stops today. I can't very well hold people's eronious judgements of me against them. They had even less reason to conceive why I might have so much difficulty and be as disinclined to try to learn routes to places. It's funny. I've read Braille all my life and would never have connected the dots between my condition and mobility difficulty in a million years. At least I can stop beeting myself up about that.

So what does knowing this ultimately change? Quite a lot on a psychological level. It helps tremendously to finally understand the source of so much frustration over the years. It really isn't all my fault and I can at last explain this to people. I can give them a reason. That could make a whole lot of difference going forward. At least I won't let peoples' misjudgements hurt as much as they have previously. Also, I won't go into this next while with the fool's hope I had dared to entertain that with enough sustained effort, I would have some sort of orientational epiphony. I'll do my best to learn the routes to Symposia's, Adam's house, and Ron's apartment over the next five or six months and see where I am with this at that point. It'll be enough to give me a solid idea of how much the Trekkor Breeze and digital recorder can improve things for me in general. That in turn will give me a proper perspective going ahead when it comes to deciding what is reasonable to invest so much time and effort into learning how to get to on my own.

Yesterday, I signed up to a dating site for people with disabilities. It takes quite a different approach than Plenty of Fish. Sadly, its chat client is absolutely inaccessible. Go figure. The email and searching work well though and it lets you post some audio files for people to listen to. We'll see how that goes over the next few months or so. Frankly, I have far more faith in Plenty of Fish. Between those two sites plus this new church, I've opened things up to finding a new special somebody as wide as I can. My digital recorder certainly makes it more comfortable to produce audio but I still have that nervous sense of talking to the inanimate. Perhaps, doing this documentary will eventually lessen that awkwardness. So damned frustrating starting over at square one again. The worst part of it is that there really isn't much I can fairly apply from my time in love with Janene to whoever comes along next persuming that anyone actually does. It doesn't seem right at all to rule out anybody who's going through particularly stressful times in life. I'm certainly not about to stop being open and honest about things from the word go. Also, I don't think it's right to go into a relationship with the assumption that it's just too good to be true and she'll suddenly decide she wants to be single somewhere down the road. You really have to be willing to risk the pain of love gone wrong in order to get anywhere. There were absolutely no deal-breakers on my end with Janene at all. Nothing I don't think I could have coped with over the long term. For the most part, I think my approach was correct overall. There were moments when I should have been more alert, thought farther ahead, been more patient, etc. However, I don't believe I did anything to deserve getting tossed aside. I know she didn't do it in order to punish me in any way but honestly, that's what it feels like. So much meaning is taken out of life. I've been pushed onto a long and lonely path. I'll certainly manage well enough with friends and family but things are just so much better when you have a companion who loves you who you've commited to share your life with.

This afternoon, my mother and I are off to Hamilton to have dinner with Dan, Ava and Amia. A sort of early Mother's Day dinner. Dad's going to be golfing and hopefully not rained on. It'll certainly be a good distraction from all this heavy thinking. Some time this weekend. Adam and I may be going to see the new Star Trek film. He's not as eager and hopeful as I am about how good the movie will be but there's nothing new about that. I haven't lost all my incurable optimism. God willing, I never will. We also have family friends coming over for a visit. Next Wednesday, I'll be going out on the route to Symposia's again with Ray. Hopefully, the Trekkor Breeze will perform a little better this time. If it takes ages to lock on to the satellites, I'll know to reset it rather than turn it on and off. The foam worked pretty well in the light wind conditions last week but I believe I'll turn on the low-cut filter again. That might improve things even more. If the foam ultimately doesn't work in high wind conditions, Geoff suggested an olympic sock as an alternative wind screen. That would be entirely too large for the small microphone I have but as with the foam, the material from one could be used to apparently good effect.

Well, that's pretty much where I'm at this Friday. I hope any readers who've made it this far have good weekends. You've earned them for trudging through all this self-examination.

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