I felt compelled to share this with all of you with a hope of bringing awareness to distracted drivers.
I’ve been legally blind for nearly 3 years. Today was the first day that I sucked up my pride, grabbed my walking stick (you know the thing that screams, “I’m blind!”) and headed to one of the busiest streets near my home. This came after months of walking through my neighborhood for both exercise and a reclamation of my independence.
I’ve learned a few things on my daily walks. Never go on the weekends, sidewalks are extra busy on the weekends. This includes both people and dogs. Never let your best friend know what you’re doing… they’ll think it’s funny to pull over, jump out, and scare you! Finally, you must get use to the sounds of nature because headphones can sabotage a peaceful walk quicker than anything.
Today I worked up enough courage to cross Kirby into Lincolnshire Fields Subdivision to visit my grandparents. I stood there with great anticipation, kinda how you feel when you’re learning to drive or when you’re up to bat in a big game. I stood there listening for a solid 2 minutes. I looked both ways…yah, I know that doesn’t help when your blind…held my cane out to make it visible, said a prayer, and went for it!
I knew that I was clear one way because I could see a car in my peripheral vision that came to a stop to let me go. Next thing I knew, a car from the opposite direction flew into sight and literally missed me by 2 feet! If there was ever a time to shit your pants, NOW was the time. If there was ever a time to feel defeated by a physical limitation, NOW was the time. if there was ever a time to spread the word on the importance of being a cautious/proactive driver, it’s NOW!
I regained my composure, made it to my grandparents and patiently waited for a ride home. This incident controlled my thoughts the rest of the day. I haven’t given an update lately on my situation, but I feel compelled to share this with all of you with a hope of bringing awareness. I feel strongly that the person who nearly made a hood ornament of me was distracted.
Neil Cox lives in Champaign, Illinois and was affected by LHON a few year ago. He is a loving husband and father to two young boys.