Observations from the Blind Side


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These comments have been percolating for quite awhile. Please excuse if some of them strike you as a bit snarky (acerbic and smart-alecky).

  1. Blindness ain't for sissies! Apologies to late actress Helen Hayes who originally said "getting old ain't for sissies", but this is true. It takes a special sort of mental, emotional and spiritual toughness to deal with suddenly being blind. Not that it doesn't take a similar toughness to deal with being born blind, of course. We live in a world designed for the sighted and able-bodied. It's not easy, but it can be done.
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  3. Blindness takes a lot of concentration. I admit it freely that I was born an airhead, and I suspect I'll die an airhead. I was also born a visual learner; I learned best by reading. Of course, that was in my life B. C. (before the crash). In my life A. D. (after the disaster) without much vision left, I now rely mostly on my senses of hearing, smell, taste, touch and of course, my memory. It can be downright exhausting! It sometimes makes it difficult to multi-task, too. I miss multitasking.
  4. I have to speak for myself. Along with having been born an airhead, I was born a "mouse." That is, I was born shy. Thanks to my experiences these past eight years, though, I know I won't die a "mouse." My time in the hospital away from everyone who could and did speak for me, forced me into a new pattern. It was then that I realized, no one knows what I need or want better than I do, and no one can express my thoughts and feelings better than I can. How liberating is that?
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  6. My blindness makes people nervous. I still recall the evening my family attended an event at my former high school. My five children had also attended this school, so I'd memorized much of the layout; especially the area around the auditorium where I'd spent a lot of time as a drama and choir mom. However I created a small panic, simply by attempting to walk to the ladies' room unattended. What did they think I'd do, run for home? In the past couple of years I've learned not to go too far without an attendant, just to spare my family and friends that sort of scare. I don't like it, but I do it.
  7. Toying with obnoxious "normies" heads can be fun. Last Mother's Day, my older daughter took me shopping. I was daydreaming a little while as I waited for her to find something. Suddenly I realized a stranger was literally in my face, repeating "excuse me, excuse me" in a nasty tone. My daughter pointed out something the woman apparently hadn't noticed, my blindness.

    Then I gave in to the impulse to reinforce my daughter's message by showing the white cane that had been folded, and put into the front of the cart. My daughter told me later, the shock on the woman's face was priceless. Boy, did she beat a hasty retreat!
  8. My sense of humor still catches people off-guard. Sorry, folks, it's just that I was raised to laugh, rather than cry at every opportunity. My blindness is no exception. Many times when people say something like "I can't see (whatever)." I say in my best Ben Stein impersonation, "That's okay, neither can I?". The shocked silence that often follows such a remark is too funny!
  9. It's okay to use "sight" words around me. You don't have to walk on eggshells or apologize if you use a "sight" word in my presence. My pal Eleanore once joked about "sneaking in and robbing us blind." Of course, I cracked up. She was mortified when she realized what she'd said. That only made me laugh harder. Sorry, Eleanore!
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  11. It's okay if you forget I'm blind. Actually, I consider it a compliment when people forget my vision loss. That means I'm doing a good job compensating!
  12. "Over there" is a foreign concept to the blind. I recently read (well, listened to) a hilarious commentary on the concept of "over there." The author wrote that his long white cane could find many things, but not "over there." Even my hubby does it; and I can never decide whether to smack him or laugh and ask him to be more specific! Please, please tell me the chair is a couple of feet to my left and ahead, not "over there!"
  13. Waiting for sighted assistance is a pain! I can't count the number of times when I've asked one of my sighted family or friends to help me solve a "vision-critical" problem or drive me somewhere; only to hear, "Does it have to be done right now?" Since I hate inconveniencing anyone, I often just cancel the request. That's limiting and extremely frustrating, but has only strengthened my resolve to learn to independently do everything I can. I may never be 100% independent, but hey, I can try!
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      There's a lot more I could say, but I'll keep to my "rule of ten." I hope I've enlightened someone today!

      By Lelia Jo Cordell from Springfield, OH

A blind man walking a path with a white cane.

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Jo, it's been awhile since you've posted but it was well worth the wait. Once again I've been"enlightened" as you put it.

Thumbs up again.Thanks for sharing your humorous side.

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Great to hear from you again, Jo.
Marg from England.

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Jo, this may just be "your best one yet". It's funny that so often, these things are just what a subject needs to "see" (pun intended) in order to understand blindness.


It's so true that our world is made up in such a way as to expect all of us to be perfect. Perfect eyesight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and certainly the ability to move around physically without any limitations at all. I have some mobility short-comings now which have made me a lot slower to move than I used to be. When someone tells me to "Hurry up! ", I'd just like to gleefully choke them with my bare hands. I'm not sure I could "hurry up" if the house were on fire.

Growing old has its own set of limitations which correctly implies that our "parts" are beginning to wear out, and they either need a good shot of WD-40 or the proverbial Duct Tape. A drop or two of Super-Glue would also come in handy sometimes.

Thank you Jo, for your wonderfully stated article for (in my case), "The Blind Leading the Blind". As usual, you've offered us great insight into a life spent in darkness and the compensations one needs to make in order to just "keep on keeping on". You always teach me something new for which I'm very grateful and humbled.

A definite Thumbs Up. Pookarina

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Suddenly blind is a shock! I applaud your spirit and resolve! That you are doing so well, is a tribute to your strength. It's the "getting around" part and being put off by someone, that is a test of that resolve. Bravo!

I am facing slowly going blind. The ophthalmologist tells me that I have about 10 years until I will not be able to read anything. I have AMD, which I'm told is not reversible. I recently had cataract surgery, but that procedure does nothing to correct AMD. I'm told that certain supplements are valuable in maintaining the remaining sight, and even arresting AMD. Although, I have been taking these, the progression is noticeable.

Thankfully, I can still function and read on the computer and Kindle. And, I am still the editor of our local computer club's newsletter. But, the future is not as bright as I had hoped... driving a car is even more important to me than reading! However, I do plan to volunteer somewhere that does not require driving or reading and enjoy that - with or without sight.

Thanks for sharing! Your free spirit will hold and direct you.

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Nice article as usual, JPJ, and it's always good to share personal experience with folk. Oh, and I don't know anyone who doesn't get or sound snarky now and then ;-)

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Aww! It's nice to be missed. :D Simplify, dear, you're in my prayers! I know you'll enjoy driving every time you get behind the wheel, until the inevitable happens. If I'd had any warning, maybe I'd have appreciated my sight more. Our fate is in God's hands, though, not the doctors'. Just food for thought.

Pookarina, rather than strangling the impatient, I'd be more tempted to do a Tim Conway "little old man" impersonation. Laughter always seems to defuse tense situations. Deeli, the "snarky gene" must run in my family. My older daughter's 6th-grade home-room teacher even noticed it. She was the only one who understood his jokes!

BTW, it's been brought to my attention that my beginning quote was originated by Bette Davis, not Helen Hayes. I stand corrected! Many thanks to the beloved friend who pointed that out for me.

Thanks again. All your comments are a great morale booster!

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September 22, 20110 found this helpful

Don't apologize for your acerbic comments, if people don't understand that's there problem. I am very outspoken with this strange sense of humour and fortunately have passed it on to my daughter. Tho' i am not blind i do have a mobility problem. Why do people think because we are in a wheelchair we are retarded? Stupid (or deaf which gets to me the worst). I loved the article, take care jo.

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September 23, 20110 found this helpful

Hi Jo.
Just sending you a hug.

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September 24, 20110 found this helpful

Caliph, you're right - all too often, I've had people talk to my escort as if I couldn't hear, either. My friend and NFB mentor, Debbie, told me how she was out with a friend in a wheelchair and another who was deaf. The store clerk took one look at the three people - one in that obvious wheelchair, another with that obvious white cane - and chose to speak to the deaf person, since that's an "invisible disability." Too funny!
Suzanne, thanks for the hug - I love hugs! :)

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September 24, 20110 found this helpful

Sorry... cailifouhnofthemist. I tried to remember instead of copying the name.

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November 3, 20140 found this helpful

Do you have a blog? If not, you should really consider creating one! You write wonderfully and have a great perspective to share.

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February 18, 20170 found this helpful

we never knw why some things happen but you certainly have made God proud.... your attitude is an ispiration to anyone... Blessings

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January 17, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you this is exactly how I feel....I am glad I am NOT alone...

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January 20, 20190 found this helpful

Leila Jo Cordell would you happen to have a smartphone? If so there is an app called Be My Eyes for blind, and visually impaired people. I have signed up to be a helper. Essentially what it is for is blind people needing help with the tasks that your family doesnt seem to want to help with. The things that they ask does it need to be done right now? Say you want to bake something, but nobody is around to read the box to you, and help assure you have the oven on the right temperature. You would essentially use the app to request assistance, then be video connected to a volunteer willing to help. You would explain what youre needing help with, and theyll use your camera on your cell phone to read the box and oven dial. It may take some trial and error to get the camera pointed in the right directions, but I think it could prove beneficial to you.

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