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Posts Tagged ‘DeafBlind Hope’


The Waterproof Bible on a dock overflowed by a lake. Be Inspired. Anywhere.

You probably haven’t thought about the notion of a waterproof Bible. Unless you have activities in your life where you want to take the Word with you into the world beyond Church, you probably are thinking, “Why on earth do you need it waterproof? You going to throw it in the river?” Well, I won’t purposely, but if I fall in crossing that river with my cloth backpack, everything in it including my Bible will get soaked. For that reason, I often left it home longing for it in those quiet moments seeing God’s glory displayed in the vistas surrounding me. Or, when I was Scoutmaster along with my husband of an active, high adventure type troop, I took it to always have it handy for an opportune moment on the trail to teach, and for those Sunday “A Scout is Reverent” moments of instruction, worship, and praise only to have ti torn, soaked, stained, and unreadable after several months on the trails. I hated to see God’s Word used well, but abused in the process. Bardin and Marsee Publishing thought the same and solved the problem with The Waterproof Bible.

I got to test one out recently. I have to admit that it wasn’t easy to put that Bible through the paces of seeming torture. It just doesn’t sit well with me to abuse the Word of the One, true God. This was for a good cause though, proving the claims of the company, so I could tell you whether it was worth buying this product if you are an outdoorsy, adventurous type or just want a Bible you can read while in the tub. Still, it wasn’t easy. In fact, I couldn’t do it myself. My son’s fiancé, Rachel, had to take over the reins for this little project. I am quite appreciative, too. We dunked the Bible in the pool, and it floated. Phew! I am glad because I sure didn’t want to dive in that cold water of March to retrieve it. I would have seriously regretted not thinking about trying it in the tub first. We retrieved it easily as it floated to the other side of the pool. The Bible was wet, but the pages weren’t soaked at all. The water just beaded up on it and were shook off with a good fan of the pages. Of course, that isn’t even close to what I could put a Bible through on the trail, so Rachel took that Bible and ground it into mud, Georgia red clay, mud, mind you, which is the archenemy of every mother in Georgia! It is almost impossible to get rid of those stains. Whew! The Waterproof Bible came through again! We just rinsed it off, and the mud came off from the cover, the edges, and the inside pages with ease. There were none of the stains we all know so well even from a quick, dunking in the wet muds of Georgia. Coke, grape juice, milk spills later were no match for the survival skills of this Bible. All washed away with not one even dim stain or ring. Then came the ultimate test. I put the again soaked with water Bible in a dark bag for a while as a Scout would have to do on a trail and left it for a long while. I got it out in a few days, and not only was it dry, but it wasn’t mildewed or stained in any way. You can’t beat that at all!

Rachel has thrown The Waterprroof Bible into the pool and waits to see if it floats. It does!

Rachel, with my husband looking on, gives The Waterproof Bible a good rubbing in the mud, inside and out.With the smaller, but clear, crisp font, The Waterproof Bible is just the right size to carry with you without adding a lot of extra weight or bulkiness. It truly is the perfect Bible for the trial and other outdoor activities. They have several Bible versions available: ESV-English Standard Version, KJV-King James, NIV-New International, NKJV-New King James, and NLT-New Living Translation. They have pink and blue pastel covers and a few outdoorsy camo-inspired covers, too. You also have a choice of the full Bible or just New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. You can also personalized the covers with names, too, for an additional fee. if you wish, or organizations cam imprint with name and/or logo also for an additional fee. Full Bibles are $44.95 and NT, Ps, and Pr. editions are $24.95. Now, my only request would be for a larger print version and even an extra large print version (for low vision readers) just so we don’t have to worry about carrying our Bibles in the rain, and yes, for reading in the tub!After a washing from the mud and storing wet  in a dark backpack for a week, The Waterproof Bible looks clean and beautiful as designed.The words are untouched and readable.

For more information, go to the Bardin Marsee Publishing web site.I have received a copy of the above product to help facilitate a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

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This month at Homeschool Mosaics I begin a three-part series on Cochlear Implants. I try to tell you the Good, the Bad, and the ugly of it all. I worked hard researching all the facts again to allow everyone to make their own choice. It doesn’t matter if you are Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, hearing and sighted. The more you know about things the better we can support one another when it comes to this controversial topic. Check it out! http://homeschoolmosaics.com/cochlear-implants-the-good-the-bad/

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It is my day on Homeschool Mosaics again. In fact, with all the reviews I have been working on lately, I missed posting here about my column last month, so check this one out about what is happening in the world of ASL interpreting. http://homeschoolmosaics.com/advances-in-asl-interpreting-good-or-bad/

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discovery-kitMany students struggle with learning to read. Many also learn to read despite poor teaching as more and more schools leave out phonics and reading fundamentals. Students who do well regardless of teaching seem to pick up on these basics naturally. They may not understand what they are doing completely, but the students sense these elements and use them to recognize words and meanings. Other students with and without learning difficulties may not fully sense these factors, and it hinders their reading development. What is needed is a a program that teaches reading basics well and in a multi-sensory method allowing it to be more beneficial for all types of students. One such program was sent to me a few months ago to review. I have been using it with several students since then with great success. One student is a five year old beginning reader. This student is fairly average in all ways except amazing cuteness. Another is a high schooler with learning disabilities including dyslexia who continues to struggle with reading. One is blind and hard of hearing and is nine. Two others are six and seven and have some mild learning issues. The program is Reading Horizons: Discovery. There is an online version. I won’t be reviewing it due to accessibility issues because I am DeafBlind. The website listed below has a page that lists reviews for their products from independent bloggers like myself. You can check out the other reviews for this program and the online program, too.

The introduction to Reading Horizons Discovery states, “Reading Horizons Discovery is an explicit, systematic, research-based phonics program based on the Reading Horizons method. Multi-sensory techniques are employed via direct instruction and the use of interactive computer software programs. The manuals and computer software are correlated to support each other, but each can be used independently of the other for instructional purposes. All students can benefit from using the explicit, sequential, direct instruction the Reading Horizons method has to offer.” The program is ideally suited for students with learning disabilities including those with dyslexia, but it is also very beneficial to all students because of its multi-sensory techniques and methods that integrates not only phonics, but also basic language arts skills. In addition, vocabulary development and spelling are integral parts of the program.

Providing posters, worksheets, software, online support, Reading Horizons’ method, in a nutshell attempt, involves using hand directions to dictate a letter, sound, or word, use hand directions to receive that letter, sound, or word repeated by the student. The letters, sounds, or words are dictated twice and the students repeat twice. The students will then write the letter, sound, or word once. These aspects helped the student to learn to focus and prepare to listen carefully. Another aspect of the method, is the markings and slide which are taught early on and used throughout the program. The program teaches 42 sounds of the alphabet. The vowel “a” is taught first. The consonant “b” is next. The slide is then introduced to teach, emphasize, and remind students to slide from the consonant to the vowel sound smoothly developing fluid pronunciation from the beginning. In word decoding as the students progress, students learn to mark the vowel first. Then slide through pronunciation of the consonant and vowels before adding the ending sound. The program teaches not only phonics, but also phonological awareness besides just phonemes, all of which is imperative for developing good reading skills for all students including dyslexics. The well-designed program of Reading Horizons ensures that these skills are not only learned, but mastered. The thorough teacher’s manual including complete, scripted lesson plans helps the busy teacher with lots of Reading experience and the less experienced teacher in the classroom or home.

Reading Horizons Discovery program is suitable for many types of students because it is multi-sensory and that phonics and phonological awareness are emphasized. What about other Special Needs besides Learning Disabled or developmentally delayed, for example? In my case, that question would be, “is it Deaf, Blind, and DeafBlind suitable?” Obviously, there are some that the program or any program based on auditory alone or visual alone would not work. With modifications, it could work for those who are hard of hearing, hearing blind, low vision, and DeafBlind who have some residual sight and hearing. As always, if you wish to try this program with these populations, you must focus on modifying the material and the methods emphasizing the primary mode of communication. Use ASL or a visual communication mode to go along with the hand motions of the program to ensure that the student understands the letters and words being taught. For low vision students, use larger print. For braille users after tactile readiness has been developed, you might think that there is no point, but many braille courses for young learners puts little focus on phonics or phonological awareness. Braille is still reading, but recognizing letters and words by feel, so the need for phonics and phonological awareness is still there and should be emphasized more to improve reading skills. Also, homeschoolers, who are an audience of my blog, often find that braille curriculum is too expensive for them and their blind students to use. Therefore, it is often necessary to modify regular programs for braille learners. Using the auditory cues of dictate and repeat either with or without tactile hand motions (DeafBlind, especially need), the student will still be taught to focus and prepare to listen carefully. Marking can be done verbally to note aspects such as finding and identifying the vowel sound first as can “slide” where the vocal or tactile motions are the reminder for the steps to help the students decode the words they feeling with their fingers. For those with less sight and hearing, we were using these signals both verbally and with hand motions that the student could feel with their hands as we spoke the reminders. At first, you would think this must be frivolous additions, but we have been finding these techniques are useful for helping students decode regardless of their learning issue. It was an easy task, too, understanding what the markings and motions were intended for to modify the techniques as needed while working with our students who have varying degrees of hearing and vision loss. For those who use less speech, their comprehension was occasionally gauged more on their signs and fingerspelling, though most had some ability to speak and/or receiving speech therapy time. Even the braille learner used the techniques while reading with fingers. We did the steps after the student read the individual letters first and indicated what the letter was. Then used the steps to indicate what the sounds were followed by using a motion of the hand forward to indicate the slide (the word “slide” was also spoken)  as the slide of the sounds (ex. fa) was then pronounced verbally. As with anything, some of our initial modifications were cumbersome or ineffective, but we recognized that the system can be useful if we are thoughtful of the purposes of the techniques and adjust as needed. The best educational research always goes on in the grassroots of  the individual classroom.

This has been a description of Reading Horizons Discovery in a nutshell. There is no way to cover it well here or cover the many types of students and how the program can be modified to help these special populations. I also know that there is no one program, text-based or software, that is suitable for all students. I can say that Reading Horizons Discovery does work for those I am working with and can for many others. As in my own case, I always have to be creative when using some product, but it is often worth the effort. Reading Horizons Discovery was worth the effort for me and several of my students.

Pricing information for the Discovery at Home reading set is as follows:

Discovery Product      Pricing 

Discovery Online Software     $  199.00

Discovery Instructor Materials     $  299.00

Discovery Software and Instructor Material Bundle     $  439.00

Discovery Little Books Grades 1-3     $  159.00

Discovery Little Books Kindergarten     $    29.99

To learn more about Reading Horizons Discovery program, go to http://www.readinghorizons.com.

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Today, I write about ASL interpreters, the heroes to me and many other Deaf and DeafBlind individuals. They train to provide the best interpretation of information in the form of words to the beautiful images found only on the hands and in the minds of those who understand the language of the hands. There are many kinds of heroes in this world. I share how ASL interpreters are true heroes to me. I hope you will read today’s post on Homeschool Mosaics and understand just how special these hard-working people are and how they contribute so much to many. http://homeschoolmosaics.com/interpreters-a-special-kind-of-hero/

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There are a lot of awesome things on Homeschool Mosaics this month about the holidays in regards to giving, remembering the importance of family, and including the Special Needs members. My column is all about how to include them in the upcoming festivities including the DeafBlind, so please check it out and think about those you may need to think about and how you need to do that to have the best holiday season for everyone!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/include-your-special-needs-family-friends-in-your-holiday-gatherings/

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Check out Homeschool Mosaics today, and better yet, follow the site, so you always know when the great articles are posted including mine. Today, I tell you a little about how I am able to be Principal of an accredited private school that serves homeschoolers. You don’t want to miss it! My Life as a DeafBlind Teacher should give you some insight into what I do, how I do it, and most importantly who deserves the credit. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it because I got to show my appreciation to some truly special people. Check it out!

Make sure you come back here soon, too, because now that school has started back I have some posts coming on a couple of curriculums that I have been looking to use, and I have a few on some my musings about certain educational topics like labels. You might get a slightly different perspective on some things when I am finished, so come back soon to read these new posts.

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Laura Dewey Bridgeman

This week is DeafBlind Awareness Week! Helen Keller’s birthday was June 27th. She and her predecessor, Laura Bridgman, made advancements for all DeafBlind people. Both worked hard to overcome their disabilities to become educated. They both wrote and spoke about the needs of the disabled.
Today, there are approximately 100,000 DeafBlind children and adults. We all work hard to overcome the obstacles in our life. We all want to be as independent as possible. We all want to contribute to society and make the world a better place. We are capable of learning and doing many things. We prove that every day.
Sometimes, though, we need help. Education, training, assessable technology, support service providers, etc. are all expensive. There is also a lot of medical research going on to help improve our lives and even one day to provide cures for the causes of DeafBlindness. There are a few organizations that help the DeafBlind. Your support would be appreciated.
Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults in Sands Point, NY is the largest by far. They provide intensive training in all areas of a DeafBlind adult’s life. You can learn more about them at http://www.hknc.org.
The American Association for The DeafBlind is another. It is an organization run by the DeafBlind to help educate the public, government, etc. about the needs of the DeafBlind. They also work to provide support to the DeafBlind. You can learn more about them at http://www.aadb.org.
Another organization that helps to provide training and accessible technology to DeafBlind children and adults is DeafBlind Hope. DeafBlind Hope is a small non-profit, but over 99% of the donations go straight to the DeafBlind clients of DeafBlind Hope. We assist parents in learning how to teach their DeafBlind children and raise funds to provide training for adults. We provide technology to children and adults that is suitable for the individual needs. We also work to teach the public that the DeafBlind can do if given the tools they need to become independent. DeafBlind Hope is another organization operated by the DeafBlind for the DeafBlind. The CEO is Renée K. Walker who is DeafBlind and writes this blog. Yes, I am talking about me. I sincerely work every day to make the lives of the DeafBlind easier and more productive. We all just want to become as independent as possible and do our part in making the world a better place. You can find out more about us at http://deafblindhope.org
Please learn more about deafblindness and how it affects these children and adults. Consider helping one of these organizations. You will be bringing Hope to the DeafBlind!

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Touch Points
By Renée K. Walker
It is a new year as I write this column. I am thankful for so many blessings in my life and the ability to find ways to still be productive despite being deaf and blind. I think we all want that for ourselves. The New Year coming also gives us time for reflecting on what we want to change about ourselves and our lives. Often, we keep our reflections to beneficial but more surface aspects such as losing a few pounds or starting a new hobby or learning to lead a less busy life. After a hectic year of fighting some of the usual DeafBlind issues such as needing interpreters for doctor visits and being included in social and family events, I couldn’t help but remember the many comments made to me from readers of this column and comments from others in other DeafBlind venues on forums or Facebook. The common thread I heard was about negative attitudes among not just the hearing/sighted members but also those of other disabled people even DeafBlind people. That saddens me. I, too, have felt the negative attitudes and had hoped my experiences were isolated. For these reasons, my reflections this year turned more outward than inward with the desire of change being for all of us.
The comments seem to relate similar incidents as my own, so I will mention just a few here. I am sure you can relate to a few and add your own. I have encountered the usual hearing/sighted issues that you have read about even here before, but the ones that distress me the most come from other disabled especially other DeafBlind. Many Deaf will not socialize with me except through an interpreter. They actually fear the touch of tactile ASL. A few have even expressed their displeasure that ASL is even used by the DeafBlind at all since these few think it should only be a visual language. Then there are the blind and other disabled who also have disabled parking permits as I do complain that I don’t look handicapped, so I should walk like everyone else. I have my reasons and have had a permit longer than I have been both deaf and blind. It had nothing to do with vision or hearing issues. I do still prefer to use it even for those reasons because of my safety and the safety of my guide dog as I try to harness him and often have almost been hit just trying to get us both out of the vehicle. There are also the few totally blind who feel that those who have some vision shouldn’t be considered part of their group because the ones with some vision still don’t know what it is like to have no sight. Then there are the few Deaf and some DeafBlind who are culturally Deaf and feel that only native ASL signers can be culturally Deaf. I have been deaf since a young child, but I learned to speak and the oral method was the only method available to me because there was no Deaf community near me in the places that we lived as I grew up. You can’t learn what isn’t there, but that doesn’t make my experiences as a deaf child that much different from others except possibly more difficult, since I didn’t have a visual language to build on or a family or community in which I could full participate. Now that I know ASL and wish to practice it more to fluency, I find it disheartening when a DeafBlind person literally pushes my hands away because they realize I am not a native speaker, and they decide they do not wish to have further contact with me. The DeafBlind community is already very small and widely dispersed. When we often don’t fit in with the Deaf community, you would think that we would be happy to share with any other DeafBlind person, since many of us claim that isolation and loneliness are friends we have that we prefer not to have.
My experiences are similar to many others. These experiences are like walls being placed around me keeping me contained in room that seems to grow smaller. Truthfully, I have referred to these experiences as being with negative attitudes, but they are actually nothing more than outright prejudices. A person can be more than just racially prejudiced. Prejudice doesn’t have limitations. Anyone can be prejudiced, and they can be prejudiced about many different things and people. These prejudices against people who don’t sign or didn’t sign until later, who are not totally blind, who don’t look disabled, or others are dividing a small group into even smaller groups and causing even more pain than the society as a whole that tends to ignore us at best. It is often easier to cope with pain from outsiders than from those who are the same or similar. You would also expect that people who have been hurt by others because they are different would have more compassion for others who are different. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. Humans are capable of much pain to each other, and sometimes those who have been hurt can inflict even more on the ones around them.
In addition to the pain caused and the barriers of further isolation that are created, the disabled group that could stand together as one and have a louder and stronger voice is weakened to the point of being inaudible and useless. The good we could achieve for everyone as a whole is diminished to nothing. The one group is broken into so many small slivers that there are too few fighting for a specific issue. As one, we could fight with a strong, loud voice for many issues that would benefit us all. But, no, we can’t do that because we are too full of anger at another who is slightly different to recognize that the other is actually more like us that we could be the same.
Damage caused to our voice by these prejudices is great, and the good we could achieve will continue to be weak and slow. The pain that we cause each other will continue to isolate us more and more until we each stand alone. Does that sound like a future that anyone of us would want? Do we even really want to wish that on someone else just because they are a little different from us?
Reflect on your own attitudes as this year begins to move into Spring, the season of newness. You may not be one of the few are among the ones mentioned here. It is good that I can say it is the “few,” but unfortunately, the few can cause much dissension and create enough chaos amongst the many that little can be achieved. If the few can see that their attitudes are no different and no less harmful than the prejudices of racism to our society and work toward new and positive attitudes toward others, change for good can happen. If the many can be willing to lovingly stand against the prejudices of the few to show that there is a better way, the disabled can come together and work for a brighter future filled with the ability to be independent and productive. I am only one person, but it can start with one. Who will join me?
If you have comments about this topic, you may write a letter in braille or print to Renée Walker, 143 Williamson Dr, Macon, GA 31210; or you may email me at rkwalker@wynfieldca.org. You can also read and comment on my blog at http://www.deafblindhope.wordpress.com. You can also check me out at http://www.facebook.com/reneekwalker.

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Well, this post is a look back, but it is written in more of a now time-frame. The last post at HKNC never got written. You see, I spent my last two weeks in New York in the hospital. I came home and was sick with pneumonia yet again. I was still recovering from pneumonia in early February when I had the worse case of vertigo that I have ever had in my life. The doctors were unsure what happened at that time, but evaluations in March with both ENT/audiologist and Retinal Specialist showed that I had significantly lost more hearing and vision. My audiogram showed that I needed more than 120 db of sound to even register that I might have heard something. The line on the graph ran along the bottom of the graph and at times below the graph. In other words, I had been profoundly deaf, now I was even more so to the point of almost hearing nothing. Vision-wise, I had had a 5 degree field at HKNC. I now had 1 degree field with acuity in the remaining field very poor. My life was changing again. What I had feared had now happened. I would never be the same again.

How did this all happen? Well, again we aren’t sure what led to the additional surge of loss in February except possibly extended illness. My last few days at HKNC were spent learning more ASL vocabulary and practicing braille reading fluency. I had already mastered all of contracted braille and could read about 50 words/minute. I needed more practice to improve that. My print reading had been more like speed reading levels, so this is slow and annoying to me, but it is what I will have to deal with and improve as much as possible. On Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, I had a late appointment with my pulmonologist as a follow-up to my previous hospital stay. I left the doctor’s office at 5:45 pm with a clear lung X-ray having been taken and reassurance that I was well and good. After stopping to get something to eat on the way back to HKNC, I arrived at the residence hall at 7:00 or so. I headed down the hall to check in with the nurse, but she was still on break. There were a lot of people in the hall, so I meandered through them and then back through them speaking to anyone I could. I went into my room and booted up the X-Box for some video time and game play with husband and friends. I noticed that I began coughing, but I had no clue what was up. I used my inhaler a few times. I finally went out in the hallway and being able to talk still I asked one of the hearing staff if there was anything going on because I was having a little trouble breathing. They said everything was normal, but then offhandedly said the lounge is closed because they refinished the floors again. I couldn’t smell anything, but I knew that was bad. I said that is it. HKNC maintenance had tried to use the odorless glue, but that doesn’t help those with asthma. I had specifically told the Resident Directors that I could not be around when the floor was refinished again regardless. The odorless glues and paints just get rid of the smells they use to let people know that chemicals are being used. The harmful fumes are actually odorless. Natural Gas is actually odorless. They have to add chemicals with smell to signal gas leaks. I was angry, but I said I would go in my room, use my nebulizer, and keep the door close hoping that would help. The last place I wanted to go was the ER again. I tried these steps including nebulizing double doses twice. By nine, I was in full-blown attack. I called for the nurse signing “nurse” once again to the Path staff across the hall. Nurse came quickly and helped with the nebulizer, but she signed that I wasn’t getting any air. She signed for other staff to call 911. I was unconscious by the time the ambulance arrived. I vaguely remember falling to the bed and someone trying to hold me up. Later, I remember paramedics trying to put the airway tube down my throat. I went out again. They weren’t able to get the airway tube in at all. I had completely closed up. At the ER, I was put in the trauma section and was hooked to all of these monitors. I was listed as non-responsive. They told me later that I did scream when the staff hit a nerve in my wrist trying to get arterial blood to measure my blood gases. I was also later told that my oxygen level was very low and carbon dioxide and other gases that are supposed to be low were higher than normal. Pulmonologist said he had never had the same patient almost die in the span of just a couple of weeks or so. I was in the hospital until Christmas Eve. Doctor was not going to let me go back to HKNC until well after the first of the year. I was still very sick. Despite having a clear lung X-ray that same afternoon that I was admitted to the hospital, I developed pneumonia within less than 24. This was my second bout of pneumonia in a month.

My husband had been trying to get information about my health repeatedly during my hospital stays, but due to privacy laws, the hospital refused to give much information to him over the phone and only told my HKNC case manager that I was doing fine. HKNC staff never did realize how bad off I was either time, I don’t think. I even signed a form specifically stating that I wanted my husband and caseworker to be given full details of my status and treatment. With my husband being in Georgia and not having a home phone (only a school phone), I knew it might be hard for the hospital to get my husband regularly. My case manager would be able to pass on the information if she knew it. I have no idea what happened with that form. I signed it using an interpreter, but it was never put into force. The day before Christmas Eve, I finally got an HKNC staff member visiting me for a while. She helped me call my husband who being worried out of his mind wanted to know if I wanted him to come. I said yes. He quickly packed, got my younger son to stay with the dogs, and drove the rest of the day and evening. The doctor did decide to let me go home to Georgia if my husband was going to take me. I wouldn’t not have been allowed to fly. I was given enough meds and emergency nebulizer equipment to make the trip home and get through the Christmas Day and day after, and copies of all of my hospital and doctor records while in NY. Pulmonologist wanted my home doctors to know just how serious and dangerous my condition was to avoid future issues. My husband took me to HKNC where we packed up all of my belongings including computer and monitors and X-Box that still were not packed, since I had not been there. We slept a few hours and left just before the sun rose. I said good bye to the few residents and staff who were still there for Christmas. I was unable to talk well and didn’t feel well, but I did have a little surge of energy due to the excitement of seeing my husband after six months, being back with my Little Joe who had spent much of his days alone in the dark of my room, and the knowing that I was going home for good having accomplished what I had come to do.

The excitement quickly left me tired and drained as we began driving toward home. I slept all day and evening as Scott drove only stopping to eat, take bathroom breaks for us and Joey, and get gas. I remember very little. Scott seemed terrified. He told me that he was afraid that I would get worse during the trip and not know where to get me help. I just told him that God was with us, so everything would work out. It did. We arrived home after midnight early Christmas Day. After hugging my two sons and being happily greeted by my Hartley Girl, my black lab, Scott and I slept until noon.

I awoke to the smell of Christmas trimmings that my mom had made sure we had and a Christmas tree surrounded by presents. My chest hurt, and I felt like I could sleep for a hundred years, but I was so happy to be home that none of that mattered. Christmas that year couldn’t have been any more perfect. Nothing had changed other than me. No one else knew braille or ASL or even fingerspelling. Communication was still the main issue, but at the moment, all was fine. I just enjoyed the feelings of Love.

Now, of course, the feelings of love and peace at Christmas are wonderful, and you hope that it will last all year round, but reality usually does seep in eventually. By March, after my illnesses and loss of more hearing and vision, I found that now that I knew life could be better for me if people signed and adapted for my needs that I was even more frustrated when they refused or couldn’t. Depression hit me and hit me hard. I withdrew even from my beloved students and staff, and the newly founded DeafBlind Hope seem to almost languish before it even got started other than helping an initial three clients. Family issues grew even worse because I quit trying. Sitting in the chair suddenly sounded good to me, so that is mostly what I did for a while. It was over a year before I began to see a light as God worked within me and sent his earthly angels to lift my soul out of its depths of self-pity.

Arise slowly, I did. I haven’t looked back. There is too much to do.

Now as I finish my look back at HKNC. I hope many that I met there will see this somehow and know that what you did for me there was tremendous, and I will always appreciate your help and friendship. There were way more people that touched me than I could ever mention in my blog, and some didn’t wish to be mentioned at all, but you did touch my heart and will never be forgotten. God bless you all.

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