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First of all, I want to thank everyone so much for their replies to… - The Caneprints Connection [My People Filter] [My LJ Community Filter] [My Syndicated Feeds Filter]
May 6th, 2008
05:44 am

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First of all, I want to thank everyone so much for their replies to my posts. I have good news! Yesterday, I received lots of compliments at work, some of which concerned the particular outfit I was wearing, but the one I want to remember and celebrate the most is the one from a supervisor in charge of QA. About the middle of the afternoon or so, she tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I was doing a great job and that they were very impressed. Her job as QA editor is to find mistakes, so this was particularly significant. She has sent me a few E-mail messages with little things that I've gotten wrong, which I actually appreciate very much, but I have been surprised at how few mistakes she picks up in my reports since so much of the material was unfamiliar to me. I swear, after all I've been through, all the uncertainty, sleepless nights, problems with busses, getting lost, trying not to forget any steps with the new computer systems and being so uncertain about the future, I was so happy to get a compliment like that that I nearly started crying with joy. I can say one thing for sure. I have worked my ass off for the past month trying to make this all work. There have been days where the stress level has driven me to almost total exhaustion and made my head feel like it was going to blow off. Since the beginning, I have always wondered how I was actually doing. I didn't think I was doing too badly considering the fact that I came from an ambulatory care background for which you don't need as much of a medical terminology knowledge base. I have, of course, been concerned about my line counts, and yesterday was particularly worrisome because it seemed I was spending an inordinate amount of time looking things up at the beginning of the day. I also was unusually sleepy because I had not slept well Sunday night. Also, there are many times when I wonder if I'm doing things right or how the hell I ever got this job in the first place. The thing is, I never think I'm doing well, or at least I doubt myself all the time. I mean, it would feel strange to me to say, hey, I'm really good at this, because I don't think I really have the right to say that when I know full well there are people out there who are much better than me. That's why the compliment comes as such a surprise, and also why I want to remember it, to hold onto it as something very valuable. All of a sudden, the landscape is changing for the better, and I feel much more positive about the future. Good news is very often in short supply, so when I get some, I just have to document it for myself and for the whole world.

I am still getting lost, but not nearly as much. The problem seems to happen when I pass through halls that are open on both sides. When there are walls close by, I can hear the sound bouncing off as I pass, which gives me a sense of direction, but when I pass through big open spaces, I tend to veer a little left or right, just enough so that I end up in the wrong place. This is especially problematic in the lobby, where there aren't many landmarks and where there is constant activity to distract me. I have heard that many blind people will veer like this, but they are aware that they are doing it so that they can correct. Unfortunately for me, I don't seem to be aware when I am veering, and many times, veering even a little either way can mean that you end up walking through a totally different hallway than you wanted. I don't know what to do about this problem. I have an orientation and mobility specialist coming out Friday to work with me, and I will ask him if he has any suggestions. I know that a guide dog would help in this situation, but I'm not sure I want to go that route because you have to take off for a whole month for the training, which I cannot do yet having just started a new job. Also, although I love dogs very much, I'm honestly not sure I want the responsibility of caring for one, and I'm not sure it would be fair for the poor dog to have to lie under my desk all day while I work. I haven't totally ruled this out though.

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From:read2781
Date:May 6th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)

Your O&M issue and thoughts on dog guides

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I'm so happy that your new job is working out so well. Congratulations!

You're right in that veering is not uncommon. I forget if you have any vision or none at all. If you have some vision, my advice is to look for visual landmarks. If you don't have vision or if there are few visual landmarks to find, then getting an O&M person out there is a wise move. I can pretty much guess that he will teach you direct routes to the places you need to go using auditory or tactile landmarks. I hope he's a good one.

I have a dog guide as you might know from reading my LJ, and it is so wonderful! I'm not just saying this as a stupid PR move to get you to consider a dog. I truly mean it. Julia has changed my life so much and given me so much confidence that I didn't have with the cane. In addition, she is a fuzzy being with which to spend time with and share a small dorm room at grad school. And if the class lectures get too boring, she will let me know by her snoring. LOL Other people hear it, and we joke about it later.

On the serious side, you're right in that having a dog guide is more responsibility than a cane. Honestly though, what you have to do for a dog is such a small addition to your daily routine. It adds maybe 15 or 20 minutes to your morning routine.

In terms of orientation, you do have to have good orientation skills; however, you do not have to be super blind traveller. Heck, I'm not super blind traveller, and they gave me a dog. LOL You do have to know how to get from point A to B and be able to problem solve if you get lost. I'm slowly working on that, but it is a very slow process.

The very cool thing about a dog is that you can pattern him or her to your frequent destinations or destinations that you're struggling to learn. For instance, if you need to go to a particular room all the time, you can associate that room with a key word. If I was a TVI in a school, for example, I could say "Julia, vision," and she would take me right to my vision room after I had trained her to find the location. It is absolutely wonderful in my grad school building because I trained her to find tricky places, i.e. the bathroom, and she will find them.

The schools will note your lifestyle information when matching you with a dog so since you work at a desk for 8 hours a day, they won't give you a dog that can't handle that environment. I'm told German shepard dogs are not the best for people who have this type of job. Labs, golden retrievers, and crosses are the best. I'm very partial to crosses because my Julia is a lab/golden cross.

Good luck with the O&M stuff on Friday, and if you ever want to talk about this further, don't hesitate to find me on MSN or drop me an e-mail. Both are in my profile. hugs
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