Trying to Keep Up

February 5, 2017


I am trying to keep up but the problem is that I am not as quick and fast as I used to be. This past week, I really miss my vision. I have been struggling trying to go through vocational rehab to relearn everything for life skills, learning braille, learning how to use technology in a new way. I am not sure of the statistics but the most commonly known; there is a 75 percent unemployment rate of individuals that have a visual impairment. I could not find any statistics (not saying that it is not in the inter-webs, I just have not been successful in finding it) of people that become legally blind or blind while they were employed; and those that successfully complete vocational rehab while also working at the same time. Whatever the percentage is, I am part of that group in the US. And it is HARD!!!!!! I feel like I do not have time to fully comprehend what I am doing and I am feeling the anxiety and pressure of "performing" these new shiny learned tasks are getting worse. This is more than likely in my mind but I am having one hell of a mind fuck right now. My comprehension of understanding my screen reader is getting crazy, I spend so much time trying to understand what it is saying, and then I have to listen multiple times more to understand what it is asking me, if it needs a response. Then after all that, I have to remember the context of the email and also dictate a response that makes some sense and that does not make me look like a total idiot. The quick keys to navigate my screen reader within the different applications on my computer....I forget or get confused on what is used for what. The thing is practice does make it better, but my "practice" is in actual work time where mistakes really cannot happen. Let me give you an example.....a email takes me about 5-10 minutes to listen, comprehend and understand what I need to do or how to answer. Then I dictate and answer it, and have to then proceed to listen to that response to ensure that it is clear and concise. One email right now in my novice experience (mind you I am still in vocational rehab, I have not finished it yet) takes me about 15-20 mins from start to finish. I average about 20 something emails a DAY!!!! I try not to do the math, and go down that rabbit hole. I am also learning how to use my phone, how to live and do things at home, and how to navigate around me. I am overwhelmed and scared. How can I do this? How do I not come across as a failure? I fought so hard to stay employed and not have a break in my work history or go onto disability because I believed in my own rhetoric. What is that rhetoric? I am capable, I can do anything. The truth is, I am able with the assistance of things or others. I lean very heavily on my husband, to describe things, to read things to interpret things for me. Because of that, I feel better working from home and going into the office I have so much anxiety that I freeze up, my words slur, and I am starting to have a really bad stutter. I have to make it somehow. This is hard but I am not going to give up. I have to stay positive. Frustration and depression is just part of this incredible journey and I have been crossing every adversity so far. I am not going to stop now, but I am reaching out for others like did you do it? Please tell me it gets easier and better? I have a braille display that cost my company over 2,000.00 that I cannot use, because I am not proficient enough in braille.......I know letters and some numbers but my vocational rehab plan cannot authorize that one on one interaction for more intensive learning. GO to school for months? Sure, that is a great theory but I cannot take off work for months and months and still be able to take care of myself. Take FMLA for the time you say? Cannot, because training is not a medical event for FMLA. I feel like I am becoming illiterate....everybody has to read things to me. Is this what independence looks like for me now? Technology to read for me, technology to tell me where to go, technology letting me know if I am able to get a ride? I am setting the rhetoric aside and saying it bluntly, this fucking sucks. My posture is all messed up because I am hunched over to hear things, my stride is a shuffle without my guide dog....I always have my head at a weird side angle when I need to use some of my peripheral vision and I am nose to nose to my phone or computer screen because I am trying to figure out where the fuck my screen reader cursor is at so I can figure out where on the page it is reading. I feel alone, I want to find someone like me at work so I can ask.....and have that over the pod wall banter..."hey, how did you access such and such". I am trying so hard to keep up, but the more I try, I feel like the more I am being left behind. So right now, I am threading water....I will either drown or swim but only time and failures in the future will tell.


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