When I lost my sight, I knew my life had changed forever and that I would have to relearn some of the most basic things again. One of these things was walking. I mean I could still walk physically; one foot in front of the other still worked but I tended to keep walking into things. I had lost my confidence in the simplest of journeys. I knew that if I were to regain any sense of normality, I would have to seek help.
My son was the fire in my belly to move forward. I wanted to be the mum that Dylan knew, so I decided to go for rehabilitation mobility training so I could continue to walk Dylan to school.
This was not as easy as I had imagined. Naively I thought all I’ll have to do is move a stick in front of me and I will be walking to school in a few weeks. Wow, was I wrong! My training began with an introduction to the different types of canes and tips. I had no idea there were so many variations. Then from there we started training inside. When my Rehab Officer told me the first thing I had to master was walking up and down a corridor like a catwalk I was frustrated. I just wanted to walk Dylan to school! But as time went on, I realised why we had to go through the process.
That first walk along the corridor was so difficult and emotional. When I got to the other side I burst into tears. It was like I had learnt to walk for the first time again. It was the first time I walked in over a year without holding onto to someone. The feeling of power, independence, and pride in myself was a new added drive to finish this training. After lots of indoor practice we eventually went outside and again that presented another moment of joy and success. Being outside was totally different. All the sounds and different senses of proximity to objects moving and stationary was little over whelming but it felt amazing. Every time I completed another target we performed a happy dance; clapping and cheering. People probably thought “what is she doing” but I didn’t care, I felt empowered!
I completed routes around the training centre and then went on to my chosen routes. My first one was to walk to Dylan’s school. This is only a 5-minute walk but takes me at least 10. I didn’t think about all the possible obstacles. Wheelie bins, hedges, curbs, small children whizzing along on scooters! With these challenges it took about 6 weeks to smash this route and I walked Dylan to school every day. Now he is walking himself because he is older and wants to be independent. I can’t blame him; it is a great feeling!
I am now on my final route, after my second one was to get into Manchester City Centre. This one is to walk to my mum’s shop which is about 30-minutes away. There are many obstacles and challenges to face but I am gradually building my confidence. And now because I’ve learnt this route, I can make my way to yoga class too! The great thing about the rehab training I have received is that they go at your pace; it is tailored to you. It slowly grows your confidence and with this come the greatest reward; independence and control.
My rehabilitation training and holistic practice combined, has given me the confidence to own my space and not to take mishaps to heart. I highly recommend a cane and I have never looked back – I even have a cane collection! I have a rainbow cane, a black one with Manchester bees and gems on. That one is my party cane. I have now come to think of my cane as an extension of me and my personality. I use it to see, and people can see me with it!
There are different places you can receive rehabilitation mobility training, some being local charities or your local council sensory team. I highly recommend it. If you have any questions, you can contact me through my blog at www.blindbutsound.co.uk or contact Sightline for more information.
Thank you for reading.
If, like Nina, you are on your own sight loss journey and would benefit from a telephone befriending relationship, please get in touch.
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For anyone wishing to find out more information about eye conditions, the RNIB website has lots of useful information.