Friday, August 3, 2012

Personal Update

Personal Update

I will be meeting a new healthcare aide today, to find out if I can hear and understand her and to try and figure out if we can work together.  It is scary, without Ann here as a back up, but such is life.

During the weeks I have nine or ten hour TASL sessions I'm usually fried for the week.  My understanding from those who teach visual, rather than tactile ASL is that a three to four hour lesson, an hour to one and a half hours  of vocabulary and grammar plus an hour or 2 of conversation is ideal.  But those 9 hour  or longer sessions kind of blow the week.  Part of the reason is that I end up with a lot of words which were shown me but which I can't remember how to sign.  I have to get the help of a sighted person to look them up for me and manually demonstrate them so I can feel how they are made.  Then I write down Braille directions about:  which way each palm faces, which way fingers point, and how the sign is made.  This is Extremely time consuming.

I was advised by someone to go to the Dept. of Vocational Rehab. And they would pay for a sign language class for me.  WRONG!

The Dept. of Voc. Rehab. Does Not deal with blind people.  There is a separate Dept. for Rehab. Of blind people.  And as I am "not deaf enough yet" they aren't going to pay for ASL or TASL instruction either.  Our regional Rep. for the Helen Keller National Center says I am at the right place to learn TASL.  I can hear enough in a one to one situation to understand English explanations of grammar and instructions about how to make signs.  This makes learning much faster.  But in an era of budget cuts it ain't gonna happen.

I am more tired than usual this week and it's my own fault.  Sometimes inner upset builds up inside and I escape it by staying up late reading.  At the moment I'm reading three books.  One is a book of short stories by Kazuo Ishiguro, about music and nightfall.  It is interesting because each story is a truly completed piece.  Also, the conclusions are unexpected.  I am also reading a "Harry Bosh" mystery by Michael Conelly, (sorry if I spelled his name wrong, have only Heard it, not Read it in Braille.) which is interesting because a main character is a criminal defense lawyer who has to work with the detective in an uneasy relationship, and a book called, "Ten Thousand Sisters" by Lisa Shannon, about her relationships with women in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the organization Women for Women.

Usually I only read one or two books at a time.  But I bought a blind person's version of an IPods or Kindle, which, of course, cost more. The volume isn't loud enough without a pair of small external speakers, and even then I have to sit close.  Headphones won't make it loud enough either, so I had to buy a separate volume control to plug into the machine, into which I plug headphones to increase the volume.  I did research on the Kindle with a keyboard and found the volume even lower on that.  Everyone seems to think that a touch pad should solve the problem of a blind person.  But you usually have to See well enough to Know What you are touching!  And in most cases the machine will Not Tell you.  Yes, it reads out loud, but if you can't give it the right Commands to read out loud because you can't See the touch pad, what good is that to a blind person?

I like my new machine which enables me to take a book or music anywhere. I can also read Microsoft text files with it and record my own notes.  It is called a Victor Reader Stream and is on sale in the U.S. and Canada this Summer.  But I still had to save up for it.  It has great audio feedback on what each control does, tactile markings for important keys and jacks, and an audio user guide built into the machine.

I do not know what is built up inside me to deal with.  Sometimes it is feelings about Ann's death, sometimes it's just fear of the constant change we all go through, and sometimes it's something about myself which needs acknowledging or dealing with.  But I've been staying up late, when it's cool, watering the garden, doing laundry, or cooking.  Also, just Reading books.  I don't think I've gone to bed earlier than 12:30 AM. This week.  That's fine, except I have been working with a healthcare aide who needs to be here in the morning and on TASL day I got up at 4:40 AM. So I would be ready when my instructor arrived at 6:30 AM.

I have been doing All of the things guaranteed to make a person gain weight or become ill.  Not enough sleep, running on sugar and caffeine, then switching to Nutrasweet and caffeine, a typical American life style.  So this weekend I will sleep And spend quiet time letting whatever I am running from surface.

It's hard to put down the book about Eastern Congo.  I have always wanted to assist disabled people in other countries to achieve more independence.  When I was younger I tried to join the Peace Core, (probably spelled wrong) to work with blind people in other countries, teaching Braille, English, safe cane travel where possible, etc. 

But I am a bit closer to an online store becoming a reality.  I think I have found a web site designer who will work with me and possibly a web host.  I have found a volunteer web master, until I begin to earn enough money, (probably a year or two) to pay her or someone.

Things are moving so slowly that I usually say "nothing new" when people ask what is happening.  But that doesn't mean I am not still Working at making things happen, the garden, learning TASL, sorting out inner turmoil, and housework.  I also am still sewing, though more slowly.

I feel very isolated.  I am blessed with two or three kind friends whom  I see on a regular basis.  But I try to limit sharing about frustrations and fears to a minimum when talking with them.  It is amazing how Things truly cannot fill your life in the way People connections can.  

One of my friends is going to a one hour ASL free class with me on Aug. 15, to see how it goes.  She will have to see what the teacher does and show me.  I am hoping this will help.  There is a weekly meeting at a pizza parlor where people from the class and their families practice ASL together.  I would like to make a friend in this group.  But gasoline prices are rising again and I will have to take a taxi plus ordering at least tea.  I'll just have to see where the pizza place is and see if I can afford to cab it there.  If this works out it could be fun.

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