COVID 19 greeted the first quarter of 2020 hard. 2019 was hard with unemployment and I was trying to find my new identity and career with a visually impairment that I wished 2019 to end. I was wishing for time to pass quickly and could not wait for 2020 to start; a new fresh page, a new beginning. Be careful what you ask for.
2020 started with me transitioning to a different department with my employer that could give me the assistive tools that I need. (That is another story that I may do a separate blog entry on). Then in February, my beautiful boxer Ike, got very sick and passed away and I am still grieving his passing to the rainbow bridge. Then March.....we all know what happened. Coronavirus hit the world (literally). People getting sick, people dying. Nations and states to prevent the fast spread of COVID19; everything had to shut down with stay at home orders, social distancing, wearing masks, gloves and toilet paper scarcity, and distilleries/breweries making hand sanitizer instead of booze.
We are still fighting this and it is scary. So what does this and blindness have to do with each other. I interpret and understand my world with auditory and touch. Obviously with social distancing and no touching makes sighted guide and touching the items around me a huge NO NO. With non essential businesses closing their doors also included sight centers, support groups and my eye doctor office all closed; pushing me further into insolation.
It is also hard for me to understand if I am indeed six feet away from people and my anxiety has risen 10 fold with that knowledge that I just cannot tell and Roxy my guide dog does not understand that either.
So I felt like I lost another important sense, the sense of touch along with my sight and I am struggling with trying to understand the world in this new reality. I do not want this to be all doom and gloom. I want to share how I am navigating during this pandemic being a visually impaired woman.
1. TRULY MENTAL MAP AND COUNT STEPS USING YOUR WHITE CANE
The good thing about this pandemic, I only go to a few select places. To work, grocery store and pharmacy. I make sure I go to the same stores and do not venture to different. I use my white cane to mental map these areas, by listening to different terrain to know where I am. Initially you will need someone to help you orient where things are so you can count steps to a certain aisle, to the check out counter.
2 ROXY IS ON FURLOUGH:)
My white cane is my main navigation tool right now and Roxy is on furlough with he dad. I was scared about the possibility of animals getting COVID19. And I rather be safe than sorry so Roxy is relaxing during this time until the stay at home order is lifted.
3. USE YOUR CANE AS A SIX FEET GAUGE FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING
I have a new sighted guide way, Instead of using a sighted guide shoulder or elbow, I wipe the end of my cane with a clorex wipe from the guide to hold while I am on the other end to help guide me. It works.
4. USING TECHNOLOGY MORE
Blindsquare, ARIA, SEEING AI, and apps like these that deal with navigation is helping a lot! It also shows the opportunity/ gap/need for internal navigation as well.
5. DEALING WITH TENDER AND PAYING AT STORES
Apple pay will save you during those awkward times when you have a hard time using a credit card. Have someone help you load your cards into Apple pay and you just have to wave your phone to pay. Easy:)
6. STAY CONNECTED
I am using social media a lot more to stay connected with family and friends. Texting and calling just to hear human voices other than my own.
7. ENJOYING MY HOBBIES
I have been writing, and diving into my hobbies more and it eats up chucks of time and I am enjoying it and it is helping my mental health.
I hope these few tips help. Remember stay safe and healthy. I learned my lesson, even though I feel that wish that 2021 was here adn this year will end. I am going to stop wishing time away. I am going with teh flow of this current new normal.