I first read this blog post, by Sassy Wyatt, several months ago and I absolutely loved it. It was genuine, honest, and REAL. I could relate to it in a million different ways. I recently reread it, and I still feel the same way. Love it. In the past, I have featured several brilliant blog posts, written by other bloggers, reflecting on their experiences of accepting and using the white cane. When I came across this post again, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to feature this one too!
I first had cane training lessons when I attended a specialised college for the blind. My sight was deteriorating, and after speaking with my Mum about it, she suggested getting in touch with the mobility department and asking for cane training encase I needed to use one in the future.
And that’s what I did.
In my free periods, I would have cane training with a mobility teacher, she was very patient with me; knowing how much I despised the thought of using a cane, I saw it as an embarrassment, and a way to draw unwanted attention to myself.
I used to cringe when having to use the cane on campus, and about in public.
The specialist college that I went to had a large number of visually impaired people who were mainstreamed in high school, and they didn’t use a cane, the majority of these people, like myself, felt confident without a cane and just saw it as a nuisance. So for the whole time of my college years myself and others who were visually impaired did not use a cane. And as horrible as it sounds, I actually believed that I would get mocked and sneered at if I were to admit I was taking these lessons.
I was in a juxtaposition with myself; I didn’t want to learn to use a cane, because that meant there was a possibility I would need to actually use it, but when I was out with my mobility teacher and it was just she and I, I felt more relaxed and wanted to conquer it. I was eager to learn and get things right, and would constantly chastise myself when my swing was out of time with my footing. (I am a left handed cane user; so as I step out with my right foot, my cane swings across my body to protect that side from being caught by an obstacle).She taught me how to swing in step, how to go up and down stairs and how to cross a road safely and properly as a cane user. By the time I left the college, I felt confident that I could actually use a cane if ever I needed to.
The first time I used the cane was about a month before I lost my sight completely. Again, I admitted to my Mum how hard it was to get around, how I felt scared a lot of the time and would ask people to come with me somewhere, or guide me whenever we were together.
I would see bollards or wheelie bins at the last possible second, and on a few occasions, it was too late and I got a bruising from inanimate objects. Likewise, I would jump out of my skin and sop dead thinking there was an obstacle in my path, but there was nothing there.
I was constantly nervous leaving my home, and avoiding doing so at all costs unless I was assisted. I was losing my independence and I hated it.
I said to my Mum that when I came home for the summer, I would conquer my embarrassment of the cane and use it, because I knew it was time I used it. I was becoming a danger to myself, and potentially others.
Note to self: don’t tell Mum anything!
Mum tells the entire family i’ve decided to use my cane after all these years! “Even though she should have been using it years ago!”!
Every time I went to leave the house: “Sassy are you going to take your cane?”
*Hates self for telling Mother about the cane*
“No, I don’t need to., it’s really sunny out and I know this town like the back of my hand.”
A few days of this conversation happening…… Mother had asked me to go to the shop and get some bits, knowing I would struggle finding the items and the stress of it all I waited until my Sister got home from school and asked her to come with me.
“Yes. But only if you take your cane.”
“Francis don’t tell me what to do, i’ll use my cane when I need to!”
“Well i’m not taking you to the shops then, Sassy you said to Mum weeks ago that you know your sight is too bad to not use it, and that you know it’ll help you not only get around safely, but it will allow people to see that you can see them and not just being ignorant!”
*Fuming at my little Sister for telling me what to do, and showing sense*
“Fine! Let me go change.”
“Go change? It’s really warm outside Sassy, what are you on about?”
I’ll be back in a second!””
“Why the hell are you wearing a hoody?”
“So I can wear my hood up.”
“So people can’t see me.”
“Sassy you’re wearing a bright pink jumper with your hood up in summer, people are going to notice you, regardless of the cane!”
“Just shut up and let me do what I want!”
*All the way down to the shops*
*Oh god this is so embarrassing, see I knew people would be staring. I hate this so much*
“Sassy you look so stupid. Put your hood down.”
“Put your hood down and your head up, everyone knows you’re blind anyway. It’s pretty obvious who you are !”
By the time we got home Mother was already back.
“Why are you wearing a jumper, and with the hood up?”
“So I can hide.”
*Mother just laughs and listens to Francis retail the scenario. While I stalk off*
From then it became a bit more of a frequent occurrence, if I left the house I would take it. Still under duress I will say! But I used it more often, still deliberately leaving it behind if I could get away with it!
The day I lost my sight, and actually realised I couldn’t see I kept thinking thank god I brought the cane!
I left the hospital with my Parents and embraced this ugly duckling, that had transformed into the beautiful white Swan before my eyes. Figuratively speaking of course! 😉
In the strangest of ways losing my sight, opened my eyes to the independence I could now have with this ugly white metal object.
Because I couldn’t see people watching me, or staring, they didn’t exist.
The cane became MY cane: my aid, my ally and an extension of me.
And from then, on I’ve never looked back! 🙂
I hope you liked my story 🙂
This blog was originally published on Thinking Out Loud – April 10, 2016
Sassy Wyatt is 26 years old, and lost her sight a little over 3 years ago. She lives near London with her Handsome and hilarious fiancé Gary, and her gorgeous Guide Dog Ida! 🐾 Sassy started writing her blog Thinking Out Loud in October 2015, and it is where she shares her ramblings and anecdotes of a girl with a disability. Be sure to check out her entire collection of blogs!!
Thank you for reposting this – I am now following both of you. I just finished my O&M training and I can totally relate. https://floweringink.wordpress.com
I totally understand this. Especially the cringing feeling of this HIDEOUS thing I had to take everywhere with me. I tried to convince myself it was like carrying a long umbrella but it didn’t work. Mine is a guide cane so not quite as long and obvious as yours. For ages I just held it across the front of me but never actually used it. I had to get myself used to it being around I suppose. Eventually I noticed I had started using it to help me off the bus. And I do use it properly now.
I can’t say I love it and it’s my new best friend like some people do. But it helps and the bitterness has gone. I am a lot more confident with it.
Glad you managed it in the end. 🙂 xx