“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine
I walk the line” …… a song by the late Johnny Cash.
“I Walk the Line” an all time evergreen favourite of mine. This has literally taken on a new meaning and a new dimension in my life. This is particular so after having lost the battle fighting the Klebsiella bacteria infection a year ago. The severe attack of the bacteria caused me to lose my eyesight and it also nearly took away my life too. I was so close to Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door! It was and still is a very heavy and daunting task for me to try to walk straight or walk the line, so to speak. A simple task to the sighted but alas a big challenge for me now. At times, I really did wonder why there was the tendency or perhaps, an ‘affinity’ to walk into door edges, wall edges, and other protruding obstructions. This was particularly so, during the early days of my recovery after the operations whilst recuperating at home. Gosh! It really did hurt each time I walked into the ‘edges’ and I could feel the swelling on my forehead, knees and shin bones, too. So much so that I became very mindful of my walking, taking very slow and cautious steps each time to avoid the undue ‘collisions”. I almost took up the offer of a safety helmet, shin guards to protect myself! Due to this phobia, I dared not venture out initially, even within and around my house and garden area without my wife’s guidance. You cannot imagine my deep down frustration living in the world of darkness, cooped up at home without the guts to walk out of the house on my own. A living nightmare! My wife, too, was at loss and she had to be by my side at all times to take care of me and ensure that no undue accidents happened to me then.
It was later and on a friend’s suggestion that we contacted and went over to the MAB, Malaysia Association for the Blind for assistance and advice. My friends got me a white cane which indeed came in handy and enabled me to move about without hurting myself. It helped regain my confidence despite not knowing the proper techniques in using the white cane. Regrettably, I am still waiting to learn the proper orientation and mobility skills from the trained instructors at MAB. I am blessed to have met a fellow blind friend, Mano, who very unselfishly showed and guided me in using the white cane, mobility tips to his best knowledge and past experience learnt at MAB during his early days of losing his sight.
I move about in my house without the use of the white cane, exercising and improving my ‘mind mapping’ skill. I soon realized that I had to rely on my other senses, e.g. hearing and touch/feel, to help me to move around and get my bearings right. Mentally developing a ‘mind map’ enables me to maintain a sense of balance and alignment of directions. This is an extremely important skill to have that has enabled me to move about or walk towards to the intended destination or direction with confidence.
It is such a wonder that with modern technological advances vast educational information are readily available in the internet. I am happy to say I have learned and gained considerable useful tips and knowledge in coping with adult blindness from the internet the past several months. I came across a recent interesting article about an experiment carried out to gain more insight on the ‘sub conscious mind capability of blind and visually impaired persons. The particular blind person was able to maneuver about in a room without knocking or colliding into obstructions placed randomly in the room. Kudos! to all the doctors, scientists, technologists and engineers for their ever tireless efforts and commitments in their continuous pursuit of research and development to improve the quality of life for the blind and the visually impaired persons all over the world.
Challenging times ahead!