Blindness With Other Conditions


Blindness With Other Conditions

     "No, nothing else," answered Bill in response to my question- "Do you have any other major physical or emotional or life style considerations that you are concerned that your oncoming blindness will negatively impact or in reverse, will make your adjustment to blindness difficult?"

     I am a VR Counselor, this was my first visit with Bill. He is thirty, rapidly going blind due to RP and had just lost his job as a truck driver. My question reflected a major principle in achieving a successful outcome in adjusting to any major loss- you have to deal with the whole person.

     The strain in Bill's voice, the rubbing of sweating hands on his thighs told me my question had this guy reacting to something that he was unwilling to share. In my mind, I couldn't help but speculate, was he an alcoholic or an AIDS victim, or...? And so to plant the seed, an opportunity for later, I said, "Okay. And as we get to know one another, if in the future after you get a sense of how the rehabilitation process works, please don't hesitate to bring up any thing you'd like to talk about."

     Bill didn't wait very long and said, "Like I was saying, I've learned over the years that for me to...ah, manage my life, I've had to become a control freak. And I'm afraid blindness will...make me lose control."

     Finished, I walked Bill out to the reception area, where luck was with me. Randy, my next appointment was early. "Bill, meet Randy. He also has a form of RP, along with being deaf. And hey, he runs his own vending business."

     Out in the hallway walking to the elevator, I still felt good that Bill had met Randy, a guy that had another obviously serious condition in life to contend with and was doing well. At the open elevator doors, I shook Bill's hand. "I'll see you next week, at your place and we can talk more..." And I would have said more, but we were interrupted.

     "Bill, let's go," interjected a male voice with very "no-nonsense" tone.

     "Richard!" I could tell Bill wasn't happy with this intrusion. Then to me, "This is my brother. Excuse me a moment." And taking Richard off to one side, they talked.

     Back at the elevator, Richard said, "I didn't want Bill to come to you. We take care of our own. I'll be…"

     "Richard, stop!" Bill cut off his brother. "I'll meet you at the car." Then to me, he said, "Robert, I apologize for my brother. We are a very close and protective family. But ah, I don't mean to scare you, but if Richard comes to your office or wherever, don't ask him in. He'll settle down." And with that he was gone.

     I did not see Bill again for two months. We had four rescheduled appointments, bill calling in the day of each to cancel. Initially I thought denial was the major factor, but each successive call felt more like escalating stress and near panic. It is interesting to note, at some point in each conversation, he would refer to the "control" issue. Until, unexpectedly Bill showed up.

     "I was going to stay away. But I remember you said blindness can be managed even if you have other ah, issues, that you can still control your life. And I can't allow myself to lose control..." A deep breath. "I want to explain. My brother and I both have...ah, are..." Another deep breath, then in a rush, "I've not hurt anyone --- I've kept control --- fear I'm losing it --- I don't want to be like my brother."

     I had listened closely, was again puzzled, but excited to have Bill opening up. I thought, "Great, now we can get at those other key issues and work with them along side his blindness. Now we can have the best chance to get his life in balance; help him to get that control back that he speaks of as being so critical." In a sense holding my breath, I asked, "This is great, Bill. So help me to help you. Tell me what you are dealing with?"

     He said, "I am a vampire."


e-mail responses to

**1. Vampire or mental health or chronic medical issues, mobility or what ever.... We all carry some baggage with us into all that life has to offer. Some have more than others. Adjustment to blindness has to be built around these other issues.

From a "non-counselor", "non-rehab" person, it seems to me that failure to address these other issues is a recipe for an unsuccessful conclusion.

I'm a blinded Veteran and am involved in a blinded veterans group. This comes up often in casual conversation with others wondering why things for older vets don't seem to be the corrective center for those younger blinded veterans. Just as an observation from an "old goat" would be to place into the rehab or counseling things that are pertinent and centered in a younger persons needs or disabilities.

Do our counseling or rehab programs have that ability to "change with the generation gap" or "do they know what a blinded vampire needs"?

Sometimes, I think not. We all place the failure on the government or the system, if that's a better word. Do we have a big slice of that blame to deal with ourselves? I think so.

Max in SC ACB-L listserv

**2. I wanted to be one of the first to respond because you're raising more than one issue here. On one hand, you're raising the issue of blindness and other conditions. On the other hand, you're raising an identity issue.

First and foremost, I take it that I'm supposed to infer that Bill has a mental illness, thus his identification as a vampire. Yes, blindness does not happen in a vacuum: we're a cross-section of society, and we're just as likely to experience mental illness as the sighted.
There's only one problem. One who identifies as a vampire is not necessarily mentally ill.

I don't know if you know this, but there are organizations of people who identify as a vampire in some fashion. Such an identification is as personal to the individual as is blindness or any other identity for that matter. Those I know who identify as vampires lead normal and well-adapted lives. Ironically, they manage their identity as vampires in much the same way as blind people manage our identities except to say that they are less likely to share their identity than we are for fear of being labeled as mentally ill. The needs and experience of vampires vary based on their type of vampirism: it isn't like those creepy vampire films we're all accustomed to. for some, it may be a matter of eating especially rare meat. For others, it may be more of an emotional/energetic thing. It's hard to explain, but do know that these people exist and are just as normal as you or I.

I guess what I'm saying is that you're not really dealing just with blindness and other conditions. You're dealing with the sharing of a stigmatized identity with a stranger. we blind people face that very experience from time to time, and I feel that we may be subjecting our hypothetical friend to possible ridicule since most people have less familiarity with vampires than I do.

As to your question of blindness and other conditions, vampirism can be managed as a blind person. I won't get too much into the details for everyone's sake, but it's reasonable to note that, just like any other endeavor that we as blind people may undergo, there is a way. If I am correct in assuming that you're inferring mental illness, then we're dealing with a whole other animal that has more to do with privacy laws and health care. naturally, blind people with mental illness can certainly lead full lives just as their peers do so long as they're doing what they need to do to stay healthy.


**3. I read your thought provoker and wished to have permission to repost it to a group I am affiliated with.

I am involved with a group known as V_I_N_E_ at yahoo groups. V_I_N_E is a list for followers of earth based spirituality and we also have a companion group at live journal. I was hoping to have your permission to post the thought provoker to the yahoo group and the live journal page.

Please let me know if I can post it, there are a few Vampires and Occultists that may find it interesting.


**4. OMG! That's a good one. I do wish more VR counselors had your attitude.
In my state, they already know what your problems are. They have a firmly established model, and their blind clients fit it. Or else!

So, like, they had a heck of a time with my assessment, since I was interested in receiving an individualized assessment, services, training, employment plan... Individualized to me, I mean -- not to the model blind person in question.

My individualized assessment is quite lengthy and describes me almost not at all, except for making a couple of my quirks -- which can admittedly annoy some people a bit -- into horribly sinister character defects.

There is a particularly amusing section in which she seems to be laying out a strong case that I am -- you guessed it -- a vampire! At least, that's what the evidence all points to from my reading of it.

So, apparently vampirism can be an issue in voc rehab!

Tami Smith-Kinney STYLEST, NFB Writers' Division

**5. Okay, the "surprise ending" threw me for a loop.
At first, I thought this would be a simple story, with simple issues. I had recently
been talking with some blind people about various conditions that exist alongside it.
If blindness is caused by some disease, such as diabetes, RP, Usher's, or glaucoma,
then each category comes with its own set of baggage. You would handle a diabetic
a little differently than one with RP. And, if blindness is caused by disease, there are
often other symptoms to go with it (hypertension, obesity, kidney failure, etc.)

In cases where blindness is caused by injury, there may not be anything else to go
with it; or, if there is, it is a coincidence, thus requiring a different approach to the
therapy. But this "vampire" thing? Oh, man. I wouldn't know what to do with that.
People don't just pop out of coffins, prowl the night for victims, bare their fangs,
and take a bite! "Vampirism," however, IS a genuine mental disorder, in which people
(without fangs) actually do drink blood. (This is often done by punk rock musicians and
their fans, as well as in Satanic cults. I expect to see this practice increase.)

Oh, man. People who are caught off-guard by an eye disease have a lot of emotional
issues to deal with as it is. But this blood-drinking wacko had already been far worse
off than any disabled person could be. Fix his soul first, then get on with orientation
and mobility!

David Lafleche Rhode Island

**6. Isn't this an insult to those of us who really do deal with disabilities along with blindness?

Abby ACB-L listserv

**7. Abby, can you explain what you mean in saying that this is an insult for those of us dealing with other disabilities?

As I read this Thought Provoker, I was thinking of the challenge put before the VR Counselors and Rehab Teachers when they are funded to "work with the blind", as if being blind was a single issue in the persons life. Most all of us have some other issues that interfere with our ability to live life to its fullest. And if we don't have any right now, just wait a few years.
Aging takes its toll on all of us.

As I told Robert, I've never met a Vampire, but I've seen just about everything else you can imagine. Often it comes out of left field. Just about the time you believe that you and your client are making progress, Wham! you get blind sided.
My job, in working with older blind and vision impaired people is to assist them to acquire the tools, training, information and desire to live full, independent, meaningful lives. Personally, I believe that a team approach would be more effective. But we place more money and effort on defending America than we do in saving it. The dollars will always be too limited to do more than put Band-Aids on open wounds.

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**8. Abby Vincent wrote: > Isn't this an insult to those of us who really do deal with
> disabilities along with our blindness?

Well, now, that depends on where you're sitting when you read the provoker. Communication is always, always, always most important from the receiver's point of view. It doesn't matter what you said, what you meant, or what your intent was. The important thing is how your communicatee or reader in this case, received and perceived your communication.

I'd be interested in hearing Abby's take on this. I believe I know why she thinks it's insulting, but I want to hear it from her.

Now, from where I was sitting, I saw it as an attempt to communicate that the whole person is what is being helped, not just the blindness. The writer chose humor as his vehicle. I'm not sure I would have used this device, but I'm not Robert Newman. I laughed, as I was supposed to do, and I understood that the hyperbole of having him say he was a vampire was there to make a point.

Again, I want to hear from Abby because she is the one who was insulted. I can empathize, but hearing it from her will make her point of view valid for Robert.

Ann Parsons ACB[L listserv

**9. I would say no, it isn't. In fiction, most people are not vampires by choice. Either they are forced into it or are a victim of supernatural circumstances. There are of course some exceptions, but I don't think it was meant as an insult. On the other hand, you do have the very negative stereotypes associated with vampires and people who dedicate their lives to killing them, such as Buffy and others. In an odd way, there are paralels between vampires and the blind because both have often been feared, frowned upon, and generally avoided or eliminated.
The most famous vampire stories are considered horror and many would consider going blind to be just as much of a horror situation, especially if they are uneducated. So, I guess it all depends on how you look at it.

Tony Baechler ACB-L listserv

**10. I got a kick out of this provoker. Then I started wondering; Is Vampirism a serious problem? Or is it just something you find on TV? I realize you won't find the magical element, but what about people who believe they have to drink blood? We have a friend who used to believe he had to drink 15 Pepsies a night, until he developed diabetes.

I'm sure there are things in my life I don't like to talk about. Writing about them is another matter. But there are things I won't even write about!

Lori Stayer Merrick NY

**11. I think every blind person could be said to have "other conditions". They may not be other physical conditions, but there are societal and attitudinal conditions which must be overcome.

Families, especially parents with blind children, tend to try to control the blind person. Children are often sheltered and not encouraged to do things, which the sighted parent might believe impossible or unsafe for a blind child. Blind adults have spouses or family who would rather do things for them than to allow them to learn for themselves.

Society, as we all know, can be the most difficult "other condition".
Despite all the information which has been made available through recent years, many employers are still unwilling to hire the blind applicant. Oh Sure, they know that blind people can do all kinds of things, but just not the job they have available. Even service organizations may be willing to raise money to "help" blind people. But, if a blind person joins their club, providing transportation or other assistance is another story.

So, I think all these things are "other conditions", which all blind people have to deal with, whether they're newly blind or not.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pa.

**12. There are blind people in all walks of life. A vampire is a corpse that rises at night to drink the blood of the living. Most people with advanced RP, have little night vision. Bill was likely having increasing difficulty finding his next bite, and was likely lacking the "juice" and inspiration needed to keep going effectively.

Initially, vampire Bill probably did not want his brother's help, but saw no alternative to survive, as his vision got worse. The biggest problem with Richard is that he takes care of his needs first, like most parasites do. Bill was just getting whatever was left over, and only biting those that were too weak to get away. If only Bill could see the advantages of learning alternative blind skills, he could efficiently maneuver about in the dark of night by himself.

I like VR Counselor Robert's approach, and agree with the need to understand the peripheral issues that Bill, and others new to blindness carry with them. The "First Step to Beyond" should simply begin the journey direction selection process, not start a race to a final predetermined destination package deal. If whole person Bill does not get his most immediate needs satisfied first, he will likely not survive independently, and will be incapable of reaching his blind independence potential.

Too often, there is just one first step chance, and only one first impression opportunity. A narrow, one size fits all blind rehabilitation plan does not allow enough people to fit the mold. Like vampire Bill, many adults carry other "baggage" that may be physical, educational, vocational, emotional, chronological, spiritual, relational, and/or financial. All I am trying to say is that unless this other stuff is identified, sized up, and checked in, the blind rehabilitation plan will not fit well and the journey will not be very successful.

It takes more than the blind leading the blind. How about rather than ignoring all the other stuff newly blind adults carry with them, we alter the blind rehabilitation mold for each person? I know that sounds scary to the people that are too blind to see it any other way. It takes desire and a variety of assessment and teaching skills, to get to know and serve each clients' issues, needs, capabilities, and desires.

The future is bright for Bill as a result of VR Robert treating the whole person. Bill is flourishing because he has learned alternative skills, and is getting more bites than before his vision loss. Bill now operates a successful, highly paid consulting business, teaching darkness navigation techniques to struggling vampires, not just the blind ones . Richard is now employed as a driver by his brother. Bill tells Richard when and where to go, pays him well, and treats his brother with dignity.

Mark in Omaha, NE

**13. Absolutely the best punch line I've seen.

Mike Bullis NFBtalk Mailing list

**14. Wow! Are you serious?

Tom Cramer

**15. Okay then, now how does that work exactly? I'd want to know if he is allergic to sunlight, has to have a liquid diet, is gifted with extra sensitive hearing, unusually sensitive sense of smell? Seriously though, is he a Goth? I personally feel that we adjust to vision loss in our own unique manner. I was always an animal person, so a guide dog fit my personal style. I was physically active, so balance, a sense of direction and an enjoyment of moving freely is also part of who I am. I am a person who multi tasks. All of these characteristics help me operate as a blind person. Physically cognitively, I have an edge with this blindness gig. It doesn't make me smarter, or even better than another blind person, simply makes my blindness skills easier to learn and use. So, I guess I would wonder if this young man needed psychiatric treatment, or exactly what made him make such a statement. Then I would adjust my suggestions to fit his needs. I have a young friend who has dealt with depression for years, vision loss complicated it a bit for her, but in some ways it gave her a focus for her emotional issues. She had them before blindness, and they aren't responsible for her ups and downs, but perhaps having something tangible to blame does help her realize that there are things she can do about how she feels. At least that is how it appears to me. I think it is harder to deal with depression when you don't have a reason you can blame for it and are judged for not coping better.

Deanna quietwater MO

**16. I've read this article numerous times, and have written two answers to what I have interpreted. Then before sending out what I wrote, I once again read Roberts article, then deleted my reaction to this story.

In this article we learned a few facets of Bills life. However I feel that what we are subjected to is incomplete.

Yes Bill is losing his vision, thus his livelihood. We have been told Bill is a truck driver. OK what type of truck does he drive? Long distance hauling? This I have reservations about. Perhaps driving a truck where he doesn't leave the area. The latter is the one I prefer to believe.

We are introduced to Bill who is losing his vision do to RP. A very important ingredient which directly impacts the fundamental narrative of this essay. We are also shown that Bill is worried about losing control. My question was losing control of what? Perhaps a better and more precise question to ask is, what is he afraid of that will control him?

I have posed a few questions which I'd like to submit to the readers.

I haven't forgotten about Bills brother who I sense this account is about.

We have been enlightened that Bill is losing his sight; and that he is a truck driver. We have also been introduced to his terror of losing control. Perhaps being controlled is a better explanation to what he is terrified of.

Bill is a blue collar worker. Did the author just decide to pick an occupation, or conceivably did the writer of this article tell us his occupation for a reason? Bill is not a white collar employee. I feel this was told to us to allude to Bills education. It would be narrow minded of me to presume that truck drivers, or any blue collar workers are uneducated. However don't allow me to stray from what I believe.

Even though we aren't schooled to where this story is taking place, I see Bill living in a pastoral community.

We meet Randy who is in a wheelchair and who is deaf. We could have been exposed to a number of diverse disabilities; however whoever we are introduced to isn't relevant to the story. However the actuality that Bill has missed, or perhaps wasn't permitted to keep his appointment is a crucial ingredient of this narrative.

One of the characterizations of control is having power over. Who has power over Bill? His brother Richard, absolutely. Others in this cult, again I will say absolutely.

Where did I conclude a cult is the primary focus of this story?

Bill said he doesn't want to be like his brother. We the reader is subjected to the word vampire. Is this a Steven King short story, hardly?

Lets hypothesize what I have concluded from this article is accurate. To encourage each of you to join me on my belief I will conclude with my reasoning's.

Bill is losing his sight, and is terrified. Is terrified to strong of a word? I don't believe so. With no eyesight he will depend on others. A truck driver in his community, why do I suggest this? So he can be watched, and controlled. A vampire, how ridiculous, however what about blood sacrifices?

Did I turn this narrative into something demonic? Absolutely, and I will go one step further, I believe Richard is straying into the occult, a devil worshiper; and bill is terrified he will become like his brother with the loss of his sight, thus losing control of his life.


**17I can understand that newly experiencing RP as a vampire would be quite devastating. After all, it's the night sight which goes first. And, what O and M instructor is going to want to work between the hours of midnight and 5 A.M.? The poor guy is going to starve!

Barry Levine ACB-L listserv

**18. Not to make light of what is I'm sure intended to be a serious Thought Provoker, but if the guy is professing to be a vampire, why not get him some good rehabilitative services--adjustment training, computer skills, etc., and then help place him in an appropriate profession--like the financial services industry or perhaps as a phlebotomist?

Ron Brooks Phoenix, AZ ACB-L listserv


**19. This made me laugh. Especially with the Twilight books and the Charlaine Harris books it is really a craze to be a vampire. I find it more hilarious than funny. It's true though that many disabilities people find an embarrassment and they don't want to talk about them. I think this thought provoker demonstrates that keeping things secret from a rehab professional doesn't help us. Also though, is this rehab counselor trained to deal with vampires? Will this rehab agency serve vampires? I know that in some states where blindness is usually the primary disability and blind people are served by a commission, sometimes not all of their disability needs are met well, such as if they are deaf blind, or use a wheelchair. That is what I have heard anyway.

Sarah L. Gales
AdLib Center for Independent Living
Advocate/Peer Counselor

**20. Poor Robert, the VRC in this Vampire Tale. Just about the time he was patting himself on the back for his ability to put his client at ease and get him to open up, the fellow did. But not the way Robert had it figured. The client didn't just throw him a curve, he tossed a knuckle ball.
Perhaps the client had a very unique sense of humor and wanted to see how Robert would respond to something as strange as being confronted by a Vampire. But more likely, the client was declaring that he was mentally ill. If he truly believed that he was a Vampire, then Robert had really done his job well. Most Vampires will do everything possible to conceal their identity. Notice that the client was not concerned that this might be seen as mental illness. He was opening up and sharing his secret with Robert.
So the question is, how do we in Rehab for the Blind proceed when confronted by someone who is not only blind but also displaying mental issues?
In all my years in Rehab I've never been broadsided in the manner described by Robert, but I certainly have had many clients who were mentally ill.
Usually it became apparent over a number of visits. The most tragic situation was a client who could not deal with becoming blind. He would not even stay in the room with us while we discussed our services. He would dash in and out of the room, finally asking us to leave. He agreed to meet with us again, but his wife called a week later and said he had over dosed and died during the night.
While this was the extreme, many times we see clients who are very miserable
due to their mental illness. When we are able to do so, we refer them to
the local mental health programs. But many people resist help, even to the point of denying that there is a problem.
Fortunately, the incidence of mental illness is no greater among the blind than it is in the general population.

Carl Jarvis Washington

**21. Before looking at this (04 6, 2009)I had figured that "other conditions" meant something a little different. What I had supposed, was that it meant, vision-impairment or blindness, with other "neutral" conditions, or perhaps disabilities, would be a better word. What then? Can the rehabilitation teachers deal with those? Say like, vision-impairment/blindness with a balance problem, visual impairment/blindness with a sense of direction problem. (I was to later learn that this is called a "cognitive mapping dysfunction). Two separate disabilities, (a little different from conditions but this 0406 TP is fine as well), and I guess what I am asking, (let's provoke some thought, I love it), is, can those rehab personnel handle it? I have a friend who is totally blind, with mild cerebral-palsy. up to recently, teachers couldn't handle her problems. She has had to endure scolding, chastising, verbal and emotional abuse and neglect, by the "blindness system". What gives?

Sincerely, Lucia Marett

**22. Vampires? Leeches?
Both are blood sucking entities. And, just as physical blood can be drawn, often against the will of the host, so can the societal blood be drawn from the "system", draining out the resources, the life.
And, what of the life of the host, the agency to which the vampiric enterprise is directed?

I'm ranging far afield here, I know. At the beginning of the story, I was reminded of so many families who would wish us to leave a child alone, to bask in the warmth of the family circle but not be administered to by state agencies. I suppose it's the same everywhere. If the formula is tampered with, it's wrong; if it's left alone, it's likewise flawed.

I wonder how much into the life of a client an agency representative should delve. How many secrets are best left alone? How many, when brought to light, would enhance the sought after services.

I wonder what the next question of the counselor will be, once having heard the word, "vampire."
Anyone here named Buffy?

kat Guam

**23. In the most recent Thought Provoker, #144, Blindness With Other conditions, the final line read: He said, "I am a vampire."

That's nothing unusual these days. There are lots of vampires out there, and most of them have very good jobs in politics. Just about all of our elected officials are blood-suckers, and New York's Governor is even a legally-blind blood-sucker as well. So what's the problem with this guy, Bill, being a vampire? He's just another blood-sucker, and God knows, we're certainly not allowed to discriminate against anyone or anything these days.

I think that a career in the IRS would be most appropriate for Bill though. Those guys can suck blood out of a turnip!

George Cassell RPlist

**24. so, "VR," stands for Vampirism rehabilitation?" very funny ending Robert! good job.

speaking as one who has other issues beyond blindness, the funny thing is people understand blindness and overestimate its impairments, compared to the congestive heart failure from which I have been healing.
as a student therapist I found though that if a client came in with an appearance issue or some impairment, that client felt more comfortable with me than with others.
I can overcome many things which would present a blind person with hardship, in the minds of sighted people. but congenital heart failure gives you an amazing fatigue, mental and physical. and for the first few years, I was under strict doctor's orders not to exercise, exert or encounter stress.
I would far rather have blindness than congestive heart failure.

also, my blindness won't kill me. an autoimmune disorder I now have has that capacity in several avenues.

Good Job Robert!

Jim Canaday Kansas

**25. Unless you are trying to imply that this client has psychiatric issues, I think you've lost your mind or been reading too many Twilight books. I do understand there are many coping issues that come up when dealing with blindness, we all face them and at some times in our lives we feel "out of control" or "controlled by others." However, when we face our fears and learn alternative techniques that show both us and the world that there is a way to do anything we want to accomplish, we regain that control and confidence that we once felt lacking. The key is to accept there is a learning curve to everything and to not let impatience get the better of us. However, when one has psychiatric issues, they truly believe in their fantasy so they must be treated as believable and not belittled. Were I the V.R. counselor I don't know how I would handle this issue but I think I would get Bill involved in some kind of group interaction as well as individual therapy. I still think his blindness issues must be treated as foremost because he still needs to be self-sufficient no matter what his psychological issues might be. I always look at V.R. work as treating the blindness related issues, not treatment of the total man.

Betty Rains Mabank Texas

Ah; a dire warning for those who would be vampires out there--make sure to screen your victims, otherwise you might go blind ... ?

Seriously: When blindness is viewed as the worst possible scenario, often worse than death itself, any other conditions, physical or mental, is deemed trivial. It's not worth looking into a child's motor issues; he's blind, what can be worse than that? This has the down side of adding to the stereotypes that burden blind people's path in life: people whose only disability is blindness do not, for example, need any of the handicaps that are associated with motor disabilities or cognitive delays. It's a symptom of the uneasy, guilt- driven truce that the blind and sighted maintain.

Mark BurningHawk

**27. One piece of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor's job is to make appropriate referrals to other services and programs which may aid and support the individual's rehabilitation. So Robert, did you refer Bill to the Blood Bank?

Actually, this story points to a serious concern in the field of work for the blind.
VR Counselors and Teachers are trained to work on issues around blindness.
Sure, we can bring other resources and experts to the table, but it is limited because of the Counselor's/Teacher's budget. And while some agencies do a better job of seeking out and training such support services, many times no such effort has been made, and the support services may actually undermine the work of the VR Counselor/Teacher.
In work with older blind, we are constantly faced with this problem. Family members, such as Bill's brother, interject themselves into the Plan and prevent any meaningful progress.

While we've never run into a Vampire, Cathy and I have seen just about everything else. Once we knocked on the door of a retired Major. I had spoken with him on the phone and he seemed very together, mentally. We had to modify our initial plan when he flung open the door and stood naked before us, inviting us to enter.

Many older people believe that, "someone" is planning to "put them away" if they learn that they are blind.
We feel a rush of relief when we meet a person whose only disability is blindness. The aging process is not always kind. Most of the people we work with have a number of health issues.

In my opinion the most devastating disability is the loss of memory. For many of the health and mental issues, we have developed a network of professionals upon whom we can draw. But we lack the funds and the great amount of time needed to train people who are unable to remember that you saw them last week.
But when we do have the time, we have made progress. People whose families were ready to put them in adult group homes were amazed when we demonstrated that their loved one could follow a safe routine and do their daily activities with only minimal support.
But those are rare exceptions because the Federal Dollars are too scarce and too dedicated to allow us to actually provide services to the most needy.

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**28. What a surprise twist!
Yes, he has more things than blindness to worry about.
I'll be even more careful NOT to annoy speeding semi truck drivers on the road at night now. You never know.

Janice AERnet listserv

**29. That's weird. Vampires and blindness. Good one, but here's the reality I've seen:

1. I've seen people who are blind with asthma, seizures, and diabetes type 1.

2. I've known someone who has all of those but the diabetes, but she has mild CP.

3. I've seen people who are blind who have endocrinal disorders who don't have a chance to have children. That's what I've seen.


**30. Robert, I often find your stories outlandish, but this one has reached the height of outlandish. Are you going for shock value or actually trying to get people to think about managing blindness with other conditions? If you're trying to get people to think about managing blindness with other conditions, you are completely missing the mark with this story. As a person who manages multiple medical conditions in addition to blindness and full-time life as a Master of Divinity student, I cannot even begin to dialogue with you in response to this scenario.

Sarah J. Blake

**31. I also keep secrets about my blindness; and especially on how I gather information, and how I am able to know something. I don't usually tell how I am able to learn about my environment around me, and what cues I pick up on. I don't usually care if they know how much I can see; for it is not much; and it serves to merely confuse them all the more when I know something that they don't. They equate sight with intelligence.

Justin Williams STYLIST, NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**32. As an RN, I was taught to diagnose my patients RESPONSE to their conditions. It does not take long to realize that the condition that brought us together initially, often may not be the only mitigating factor. If you are not willing, are unable to or ultimately not trained to, recognize and manage their deeper issues, especially issues that many would rather remain hidden, such as mental illness, you may not be able to meet the clients needs. Unfortunately, mental illness is still an illness people wish to hide. It is getting better, but slowly.

As times get harder in the world, people on edge will struggle to keep themselves together. A person living with multiple diagnoses will find it harder to encounter the help and assistance and resources they truly need.

There are many specialties in the medical profession. Just as there are blind people with cancer who go to the appropriate medical doctor, so there are appropriate physicians for the people who have issues relating to the one in the story. I don't expect my VR person to treat my cancer. Therefore, referrals to the proper service would benefit this person.


**33. This reminds me of a book I read called 'sweet blood'. About this girl with Diabetes. She had a theory that the original Vampire myths were based on people with diabetes.

Helene STYLIST, NFB Writers' division Mailing list

**34. You sound like a great counselor: Please keep up the good work, and don't allow political correctness to keep you from telling it like it is.
This blind musician appreciates honesty. Lately, I have been devoting my services to the disabled. If you need me, just get in touch.


**35. Well, Bill's story is anything but unique. I just wish that real life rehab counseling involved people who care enough and understand vampires to address their concerns.

I could have fun with it and continue calling the issues those of a vampire, but how much can counselors put up with and address problems related to alcoholism, brain disorders, psychiatric disorders, and the like? What about confidence issues? There are things out of the realm of what a blindness rehab professional can do, but she or he can always find a proper referral.

Some blindness circles thrive on the confident blind person, and to tell the truth, confident people, blind or sighted, are the ones who will benefit from the chances offered in life. Now, how does a blind person get taught to live as a depressed blind, epileptic blind, alcoholic blind, below average intelligence blind, and so on?

One might be quick to point out that an NFB center might be good, if not the best place. Let me point out as some one who attended one of these centers, that they are not equipped to treat people who might need psychiatric or counseling services.

So the vampires need to find support, appropriate services, and confidence. Mentoring from blind people, and contact with blind friends can help. Referral to needed services by the rehab counselor can be a life-saver, but in the end the vampire will need to come to understand what makes them a vampire, and how to live as a vampire in a dominantly "normal" world. The vampire will find that there are many other vampires in the world, and, since vampirism is not the norm, and can at times be destructive, said vampire will need her or his coping mechanisms.

Since vampire is really a code word for any unfortunate condition that could happen to any one of us, you can rest assured that whatever makes you a vampire is not so unique to be a complete mystery. You can be resourceful in coming up with ways to cope and live as well as you can, even as a vampire.

Antonio Guimaraes East Providence RI

**36. Two possibilities on the vampire story:

1. You're getting really desperate for new TP scenarios.

2. Happy (late) April Fool to you as well!

Carolyn Brock Portland, Oregon

**37. This is really traumatic! As I remember, Dracula could only come out at night, and we all know that one of the symptoms of RP is night blindness! What is this guy to do!? One thing one can always say about you: You do have a sense of humor.

Humor aside, we all do have to cope with our complete self. My major problem has not been blindness. It has been throughout my life, the need to control. This led in a major way to the dissolution of my first marriage and it was then, after realizing how controlling my spouse had become, that I began to realize that control should not have to be absolute. Letting go is very frustrating, and yes, very difficult. I am dealing much better with this problem in my second marriage, and my current wife is very understanding and is helping me to deal with the problem. A couple of years ago, I chopped off two fingers and seriously injured a third, on a woodworking project. I now have to deal with neuropathy in that hand. Not an easy issue for a blind guy. My woodworking passion has not subsided, but my ability is seriously diminished. Top all of that off with the beginning of serious loss of hearing (I too, am an RP victim, and I suspect I have Usher Syndrome Type 3) and have no light perception. I have balance problems, and I am beginning to lose confidence in my ability to move about freely without a sighted guide. I no longer trust my mobility skills and I am currently desperate about the drastic change all of this brings into my life. But life does go on. I am coping and trying not to whine and my lovely bride is my strength. I will adjust, thanks to people like you. Wish us luck and keep the TP's coming.

Jim Theall, Longmont, CO

**38. You're kidding, right? You should have saved this one for Halloween. Or is it a late April fools joke?

Nancy Lynn

**39. For gosh sakes. A vampire. Will someone please send out a search party for the real Robert Newman and get Thought Provoker back on the right path again. I think the state legislature there must have legalized drugs in its early session and the streets are flowing with crack, coke, and maryjane. Surely there must be a actually reason as to why Thought Provoker has stepped over the edge and fallen down the rabbit's hatch. Alice in Wonderland makes sense but these Thought Provokers are as loony as a waving one-arm man in a tree. The field of blindness probably has many vampires, for in Arizona, at least, each and every single one of the Blind Services counselors must suck certain amounts of clients blood each month or they are fired. Blindness is enough without vampires, mad dogs, Mad Max's, death rays, and nukes. Give me a break on Palm Sunday, OK?

Dr. Scott Bray Transylvania Station, Count Dracula's Castle
Twenty minutes to midnight

**40. Robert, I often find your stories outlandish, but this one has reached the height of outlandish. Are you going for shock value or actually trying to get people to think about managing blindness with other conditions? If you're trying to get people to think about managing blindness with other conditions, you are completely missing the mark with this story. As a person who manages multiple medical conditions in addition to blindness and full-time life as a Master of Divinity student, I cannot even begin to dialogue with you in response to this scenario.

Sarah J. Blake

FROM ME...My job is to get you to refine the thought. If I missed the point, then please by all means spell it out for me.

**41. Joe Otts I am going to ramble a lot here, but, I hope you can understand where I am coming from; and how other blind of people handle this situation.

I live in a rural area. We have demand-response transit from 8:00am-3:00pm or thereabouts; anytime after this, we are at the mercy of friends and relatives.

For the first 6 months, we lived out of the city, and this couple would give us a ride to church every Sunday morning and evening, no problem. It was mentioned several times, if we only lived in town, we could easily get a ride to church, because it is so close, less than a mile.

Two years later, we have an 866 year young lady with an invalid husband, picking us up each Sunday for Sunday School. Since she has to take care of her husband, we get a ride home with someone else.

Last Sunday and today, this lady has been visiting her son in Japan, and her daughter does not have time to haul us around because she is taking care of her Daddy, who is the husband who is an invalid. We didn't go to church last Sunday or today.

Our church has a Deacon who has transported people to and from church. He cannot do his job because his wife says they are ;loosing money carrying people back and forth to church. We have had several run ins with this woman, and will not deal with her or her husband anymore, therefore, it will be more and more difficult to get to church.

How do other blind/low vision people handle this? Or is this just happening where I live?

Joe Otts

**42. Well, this one had a startling ending. It could lead to all kinds of speculation about Bill's sanity but that's not what I really want to talk about.
Blindness can feel very disempowering because we who are blind are often in a position of needing a ride or being at the behest of other people and their schedules and life styles. We also are under the illusion that it is the ability to see that makes people intelligent.
We all know that with time and the acquisition of skills we blind people can overcome the lack of control and power in our life. Even if we aren't always in control we can be confident and we can order our lives instead of having other people order them for us.

Chris Coulter: Edmonds, Washington

**43. Huh a... a vampire? Where did this come from, Robert?

Well besides the questions, let's try: People who are newly blind along with other "issues" such as deafness, AIDS, ETC. Do find it hard to get over the fact of blindness. But with the right training they can become adjusted to blindness.

Sean More

**44. One of your readers wrote, "There is no single path to independence and quality of living with blindness. We are all uniquely different and so are our needs."

I am inclined to agree to a point, in so far as it is an individual choice as to how much independence one wishes, and how much that individual is subsequently able to learn. I am however also inclined to disagree as a number of skills have been identified, through personal experiences as well as the research of the organized blind, as basic to independence. Might one obtain independence without daily living skills, the ability to use adaptive technology, have basic literacy through Braille, and be able to travel with a cane? If so it is a definition of the term independence which I am unaware of, and question.

Another reader wrote, "I had the great misfortune to go to a training center run by the NFB. I won't go into the abuse and general mistreatment I had there, but I will say that the average time that people were there was about a year. .... What if I prefer to have sighted help? Obviously that might not always be possible, but I shouldn't be forced into using a piece of technology just so I can thump my chest and say that I did it myself."

I find it unfortunate that your reader seems to gather that because they had a poor experience at an NFB training center that it is therefore an invalid option of all blind people. I additionally find the terms "abuse and general mistreatment" unfortunate- as they seem to cause more heat then light. As for forcing one to do anything, do the blind police show up at this reader's door demanding they do what the police say with the threat of force? Does your reader truly find themselves forced into anything, or is it the case that they object so much to another's view on independence that they feel unable in comparison?

For myself I really really liked this. A show where individuals can have a focused time of being blind, learning the basic skills, rather like the Biggest Loser etc. is a super idea. I myself was able to complete a NFB training program in four months, so believe that with a real focus on the skills, which would happen if the prize were large enough, is extremely reasonable.

George McDermith

**45. I'm so glad that you wrote this tp because it's an issue I've given a lot of thought to recently. Our local NFB chapter secretary constantly challenges me to consider this point in all of our new member outreach. She and I Have had some great conversations about it, and I'll likely forward this story to her. She has CP, clinical depression, and diabetes in addition to blindness. All these things combine to make her experience vastly different from that of many other blind people who deal with vision loss alone. She once told me that the successes of most other NFB members make her feel really sad and discouraged because she doesn't feel like she's done as much as others. She told me that while she was growing up, her dad would read her articles from the Braille Monitor about high-achieving blind people and then ask her why she wasn't doing all those things. This made my friend feel terrible and inadequate as you can imagine.

I think that because the general public's expectations of blind people are so low, I often over-compensate by setting really high expectations for myself and others who are blind. I've also found that most blind people have bought into misconceptions about blindness and aren't doing all the things they could be because they don't have the necessary skills or confidence. However, I think it's important for us all to remember that even if this is the case for nine out of ten people, there will be some folks for which no amount of confidence or skills training will enable them to reach higher levels of success. And it's important for us not to make these people feel bad about themselves or think that we don't want them around.

I've been blind all my life, but five years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This additional disability totally through me for a loop and made me rethink my own beliefs about success and personal fulfillment. I've always surrounded myself with friends who are high-achieving, educated, goal-oriented people. But suddenly I had to realize that my own life's path may not be as much like theirs as I'd once thought. This was incredibly difficult to accept. I had gotten NFB center training, a college degree, and was on my way to having it all, when my world shattered around me in the form of a mind crushing depression. I watched as my blind and sighted friends all got masters degrees, marriages, high-powered jobs, their own houses, and so on, while I dropped out of grad school and moved back in with my parents. I had always been the type of person who refused to let blindness stand in the way of things I wanted to achieve, but suddenly I had something else stopping me. While blindness alone might be a manageable characteristic, bipolar is not at all that way. And the combination of the two nearly overwhelmed me.

In the past few years I've thankfully been able to put my life back together. I do have a full-time job that I love, good friends, and leadership positions in my state NFB affiliate. But my life is not at all what I'd once expected it to be. I've had to reshape my goals based on what I realistically feel I can manage with my bipolar. While I loved my NFB center training and don't at all regret doing it, I feel it gave me a belief that I have to be constantly challenging myself in order to be truly successful. Most of my blind friends, who had similar training experiences, seem to share this mindset. I think that for some of us, me especially, this lead to a belief that we should never ever settle for less than we're capable of. However, my reality is that I have had to settle somewhat in my
life. Meaning that I likely won't be achieving all the goals that I once
set for myself, or if I do, I'll have to work at them one at a time, perhaps more slowly. It's true that blindness isn't the main reason that I had to do this, but it is a part. And I often worry that my blind friends and NFB colleagues will believe that I'm letting blindness stop me from reaching my goals. But it's not blindness alone... or at least I think it's not. It's primarily bipolar that makes my life complicated and causes me to lower my personal expectations. I don't always love that fact, but it's my reality. And now I've learned that my personal success may be different from other people's, but that's okay. My main goal is to find happiness and peace with my life and with who I am as a person. And when I consider this further, I wonder if this isn't actually everyone's goal deep down?


**46. Wow! This is unreal! Once I new that I could do almost any thing as a blind person that a sighted person could do, blindness was a piece a cake!

Then comes being hard of hearing or is it hearing impair? Soon after came Osteo Arthritis of the joints! I went from being totally independent with just my long white cane, and Braille.

After my loss of hearing, I could no longer cross streets independently and safely. The sounds were coming at me from opposite directions.

As my OA deteriorated, I found my self using my LWC and a support cane. It was not long, when I needed a walker and or a wheel-chair, depending on the distances I had to go.

My mind is still all there! I am retired from work, but I still would like to go back to work. When I was just blind, I new where to go for help.
Now, I feel like a ball being tossed between DVR and Services for the blind!

The truth is, we need to do what ever we want, taking advantage of what ever help there is. However, it is up to us to do it for ourselves. Nun of the blood suckers that were describe are going to do it for us!

**47. After reading all of the responses, I can't help but comment again. I am not a VR Counselor, or any kind of medical professional. I come at this from the client view point.
I gather from the comments that many people are unhappy with NFB rehab practices. Others feel that they need to perform as a blind person, not to obtain a level of comfort for themselves, but instead to please the NFB or whatever counselor might be involved. I do believe that any counselor should endeavor to abolish those thought processes in the blind client. I don't know how, but I would like to comment on my rehab experience.

I was very fortunate to have been provided (and for that matter, continue to be provided) rehab services by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the last 35 years. I have also visited and spent a few days as an observer, an NFB facility in the South, and I agree with some of the comments above about how NFB approaches rehab. The NFB facility's approach was "one size fits all". They took away my 56" cane and gave me one that was 72" long, and insisted I use it, which resulted in my ending up in alleys and other places I didn't belong. Class rooms were several blocks from resident apartments, and some partially sighted people who chose to walk home with their cane on their shoulder instead of in use, were publicly ridiculed in the community gathering the next school day. I experienced young people crying in desperation, not because they were blind, but because they were being treated like something much less than a human being. I only spent a week at that facility!
Compare the VA program. You spend your first week in "appraisal" determining what your needs are. You meet with psychologists, medical doctors, and rehab specialists. who develop a rehab program tailored to fit your individual needs. Not necessary to learn Braille if you don't want it. Mobility skills are taught in a manner that prioritizes techniques you prefer and that you will need when you return to your home. You are taught to use what works for you, not necessarily what your rehab instructor might have his or her mind set on. All training and counseling is one on one. Most training is completed in a matter of six to eight weeks, and the rehab center is as near as your telephone when you return to your home. Local support groups like Blinded Veterans of America are encouraged for family members as well as for clients.
I have had very little interaction with state rehab organizations, as you well know, but what I did receive, I found to be excellent in Nebraska. I think that your office in particular, went above and beyond what a client might expect from a counseling service. I was fortunate and am grateful for having had access to a variety of formats for rehab, and I hesitate to be critical of either counselors or clients, but I must say this: You as a blind person must take responsibility for your life. You must seek out what works for you. You and only you can determine what makes you happy, and only by accepting what cannot be changed, and working around that, can you ever really achieve complete happiness in your life. I think if counselors use this approach in providing rehab, we could all benefit.
I think your TP's are great and just another example of your willingness to go above and beyond the scope of your responsibility, and it irks me to have people criticize your efforts. Keep 'em coming!

Jim Theall, Longmont, CO

**48. I would like to respond to the responses which have made negative comments about the NFB and especially its training centers. I am a graduate of one of them. And I’ll be the first to say, that that type of training isn't for everyone, just as any other different type of training philosophy that is out there in the world of blindness rehabilitation isn't for everyone. But think of this, it is the largest group of the blind who have come up with the NFB style of training method and it happened as a group effort based on what has worked the best for the largest number of blind people. And yes, the expectations by these training centers, by all the instructors are huge! And yes, if a student is not following the rules, they will talk to you about them and the benefits of doing so. And if you continue to not follow them, you are warned and one out come is that you can be asked to leave.

So yes, the NFB believes in this training. They believe in you. And if you ask them, they will agree with you, the structured method they use is not for everyone, but it is the best for most. This NFB bashing is actually good. It shows the strength of what the largest group of the blind has developed and the strength of what people feel about it. Thank you


**49. I'm wondering why things for older vets don't seem to be the corrective center for those younger blinded veterans. Just as an observation from an "old goat" would be to place into the rehab or counseling things that are pertinent and centered in a younger persons needs or disabilities.

Do our counseling or rehab programs have that ability to "change with the generation gap" or "do they know what a blinded vampire needs"? Sometimes, I think not. We all place the failure on the government or the system, if that's a better word. Do we have a big slice of that blame to deal with ours?

Rania ACB-L listserv

**50. I must say I am not sure if I am amused more by the TP, or by some of the reader's responses... First off, I would simply like to say I don't think you've lost it, or turned to drugs for inspiration. *smile* And I certainly don't think that this is a wrong form to address this. I've said before that disability is something that seems to have a heavy cloak of fog draped over it, one which those who are "normal," can not see through to understand. Understanding lies beneath the cloak, where the light shines... But sometimes, not even those of us with disabilities can see through that fog. And sometimes... when the disabilities increase in intensity or number, that cloak gets harder to see through. Without proper assistance, we may be stuck peering helplessly at a cloak of misery... It takes people to show us how to
lift that cloak, people to show us it's ok to open up and let others
in... People to teach us what to do when the darkness of stress and
fear takes over.

I think we're all vampires in a way. We all have secrets we'd rather not tell. We all have things we are ashamed of. And that is ok. It is
how we deal with them, and how others who we trust receive them that
matters... Bill obviously trusted Robert enough to expose himself.

Aziza. California

**51. To Mark in Omaha: Adjusting a clients rehabilitation program is an argument I have heard over and over and quite frankly it does not make sense. First, let me say that anyone dealing with a mental disability or serious health issue does not apply to any further statements I may make. These are concerns that do not allow an individual to learn and work at the same level or pace as those not dealing with such concerns. That aside, there is no reason for a person who is blind to not complete a training program in a facility promoting the proper skills and attitude.

Are drug addicts given a choice in their treatment? Are students told they can pick and choose what homework they do? Of course not because the steps one takes in these situations has proven successful and helpful. Why then can this argument not apply to blindness training? We are learning the skills and using the tools in a manner that have been successful and work for those who actually seek the instruction and work hard to utilize it. We can spout independence until we are blue in the face, but until we accept and utilize what is out there to make the blind successful, we have nothing to back those words up.

Nothing in life is easy, at least nothing worth having. Joining all the organizations for the blind in the world can not make one independent or successful. And really, we can not speak against what we do not know. Until we have sought the training and stuck with it, we can not truly argue against it.

Bridget Pollpeter NFB Omaha NE

**52. First, Cindy (Resp. 11) commented on the fact that there are still many employers who won't hire a blind person for their position(s) even though they know that ind dpeople can do a lot. I can definitely relate to that. I went to college for four years and got my degree in counseling and diversity studies, yet I cannot find any place that will hire me let alone volunteer. Some of it is just plain not wanting to hire a blind person, but the other is race. VR counselors helping blind people, or others with some other kind of disability for that matter, shouldn't just address the mental and/or physical conditions accompanying the person's disability. Education, family background, and race have to be addressed as well. The blind client can be well-trained in numerous professional areas, but if he/she is not being hired because of his blindness and/or race, then that can certainly affect the client's psyche. Of course, the employers aren't going to indicate that race is a problem. They'll use the disability as an excuse more openly. But, the counselor has to address with the client that race is a possibility, and, thus, has to continue helping that client find the desired job he/she wants through constant encouragement and advocacy.

Second, some fourteen years ago, I met someone who was blind and had cerebral palsy. I don't know whether she'd been blind since birth or later in life, but with the independent-living training she received, she functioned very well on her own like anybody with just blindness to deal with as a physical disability. In fact, she moved into a nice apartment upon completion of the independent-living program. At the same time, I was dating a blind man who had balance problems. Since his parents sheltered him and often hand-caudled him, he expected everyone, including me, to weight on him hand and foot. He also often used his blindness and balance difficulties as an excuse for why he kept spilling his food in front of him and couldn't clean it up himself. While I understood that he had some major issues, I certainly didn't buy the balance problem as an excuse as to why he couldn't clean up his messes at the dinner table. So, I taught him how to take a simple wet rag and clean his eating area. I figured that, if the blind gal with cerebral palsy could learn to manage very well and move into her own apartment, then the guy I was dating could,eventually, accomplish the same thing. This brings to mind two other inspirational incidents.

At the same time that I met the blind gal with cerebral palsy, I met another blind gal who used a power (electric) wheelchair.

Though she had to move slow with her chair as she used her cane to navigate, I watched in admiration how she navigated flawlessly. I'm not saying that I thought that it couldn't be done because I've always believed that anything is possible if given a chance, but I'd always wondered how it could be done. When my husband, John, and I met almost fourteen years ago, he was wearing bifocals. Now he's wearing trifocals. John was also able to walk on a support cane. The condition of his spinal cord injury due to being attacked in 1994 also deteriorated to the point that he now uses a power wheelchair, and has been using it for five years now. About four or five years ago, John and I were outside doing some yard work. He'd parked his wheelchair by our back porch and decided to walk a little as he sprayed fertilizer on our grass; however, his legs became too tired to carry him from our front yard to the back. So, remembering how the gal I met maneuvered, I proceeded to drive John's wheelchair from around the back to the front with my cane in front of me. Not only did it surprise John, but there were other neighbors who happened to be watching this little show. This skill has also come in handy when John's been hospitalized and the ambulance couldn't bring his wheelchair with us. Upon being discharged, we had to ride the cab home. Then, I had to go into our house and drive his wheelchair out to him. It's a challenge, feeling the movement of the chair as it slightly tilts when going down the ramp, but I've carefully acquired the skill. John watching me drive his wheelchair while using my cane also assured him that, if he ever went blind, he wouldn't become a lost cause.

Another incident was about twenty-one years ago. I was working as a receptionist's assistant for the NFB chapter (BLIND Inc.) here in Minnesota. One day, the sighted receptionist suggested that I learn how to use my cane in my left hand someday just in case something ever happened to my right hand or arm. I didn't say anything, but I thought that she was shedding doom and gloom on me. Well, some few years later, I tried as suggested when I had to shift a bag of groceries from one arm to another. It wasn't easy, but I managed. Learning how to use my cane with my left hand has also come in handy when I started suffering from tennis elbow and excruciating pain in my right arm. I was able to let my right arm rest while going through the various treatment procedures for the pain.

Linda MN


**53. I hope that I'm not missing the point on this exercise, but, I have been blind all of my life, but now, in my middle 50s, I am having to deal with a
diabetic condition, which not only has sidelined me for about two years as I
have a diabetic ulcer on the big toe on my left foot. I have been active,
working a Seeing Eye dog for some 35 years, and it kills me to sit virtually
still, taking my dog out for airings and errands, knowing that he needs
more, but at this time, I can't do more because of my foot.

Fortunately, my foot Is healing, because I am back in NJ and going to a
great doctor. A Virginia foot doctor kept me coming back and he took my
bucks and Medicare's payments for a year and a half and I got little out of

Plus, the meds I'm taking for the diabetes have taken a toll on my kidneys.

I am basically a positive person, upbeat and I want to give to others rather
than take from others.

I hasten to add that diabetes can be managed better than ever with today's
technology and meds, but each med has a side effect, and those can be
devastating if not watched well.

I know many blind people who have secondary disabilities, some of which one
can't determine by looking at them, and most of us try and keep those

I fell down a flight of train station stairs in the rain, and there wasn't a railing on those stairs, and per an ADA regulation that didn't go into
effect until two years after my fall, I couldn't do anything about it, so I
do suffer with back problems. But, I hide that.

Bill's situation is one where I feel it might be better for him to deal with
a person who is reaching out to assist, but like most people, a lot of us
don't like to admit that there are other things going on in our lives and we
don't like to let others in to assist. We feel that it is infringing on our
space, even though those who are wishing to assist want to do so in good
faith, with no harm meant.

My admitting that I have problems navigating pained me at first, but, it is
quite evident, when one looks at me, that I'm making an attempt to hide
things, but the truth is clearly seen. Sometimes, we have to swallow our
prides and accept the assistance of others and not deny that we need to let
go and share. It's not a bad thing, you know. And, we may just benefit
from it.

Mike T in NJ with Seeing eye dog Brent

**54. I'm glad that we now have a TP dealing with this issue. I have been blind since birth. The cause of my blindness is Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. As most of you are probably aware, LCA can also lead to kidney problems in some people. I happen to be one of those people, and I was fortunate enough to have two transplants. Both were successful, and I thank God and certain family members for making them possible. I also highly commend the doctors and nurses for doing an outstanding job with me. In addition to being blind and having this kidney disease, I have a slight learning disability and low muscle tone. I am not in the least bit ashamed to admit it either, and as a matter of fact I am proud of the young man I've become. I have never been ashamed of my disabilities. That is all well and good. Where the problem lies is with so-called VR professionals who deal with the population of folks like myself who are both visually-impaired and have accompanying disabilities. They absolutely need to be trained better to meet our needs.

Jake Joehl IL