Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sense - Abilities #5 - Driving No More

Barks and bow-wows,

What's this briefcase doing here . . . keep reading!

Hearing about when Dad had to give up driving really gave me a sense of importance in the job that I now do for him.

Dad was 34 years old and in the prime of his life when he became a Sales Representative for Keith Distributing Company, his Uncle Walter's company. In the beginning, he was driving every day to make sales calls on his clients and customers.

He really needed to drive. How could he give it up?

After about six months the company’s auto insurance agent found out that he had RP just like his uncle, and even though his loss of vision was not as severe as Uncle Walter's, that was the end of his driving.

Uncle Walter was totally blind from RP and had been since the age of 25, he was 63 when Dad went to work for him. He could not drive even if he wanted to try it.

Uncle Walter had been using a guide dog from the Seeing Eye since the mid 50's.

Wow, Dad has known about guide dogs all his life! I wonder why he waited so long to get a guide dog? I bet he was just waiting for me!

He explained, "Going blind slowly requires many adjustments along the way."

Dad was 34 years old and in the prime of his life. Now, he had to adjust his life to a new reality.

What did he do? He hired someone to drive him around!

His new driver, Anthony, picked him up at home, drove him to work, drove him to his sales calls and then drove him home at the end of the day.

"Challenges just mean that we must be creative," said Dad.

As his guide dog, I find that I do that all day long, finding clear and level paths for Richard to have safe passage. I really get the picture here.

Anthony did a great job, especially considering that it had to be very boring for him. He eventually got promoted to warehouse manager when Dad took over the company. Starting in this position was a good thing after all!

“I was losing my peripheral vision and I could tell that it was difficult for me to walk into a variety of different company offices,” said Dad.

He knew that he had to learn their layout quickly and find the receptionist. This was his first real use of his other senses.

“I carried a hard sided leather brief case (like the one pictured at the beginning of this post) which was a great for carrying my three ring binder of sales information, samples of products that I sold, quotation sheets and other specialty advertising. But I also it to help me navigate people's offices.

"Here's how my briefcase played an important role. I held it in my left hand and it found the coffee tables and chairs that I could not see, preventing my shins from getting banged up. The case would also help me cross a somewhat dark office area and find the receptionist."

Dad's sense of touch was being employed big time!

"When you can't see so well in low light, your hands become like an antenna, and you feel your way around a room or through an office."

"Your sense of hearing also becomes very important," he said emphatically.

"You hear where people are talking and shift his direction to move that way, like I saw them, and I would say, 'Hello, how are you today?' "

Why is this so important? Because Dad had not yet begun to use a white cane! But that's a whole other story . . .

Dad talks about going to the Bonneville Salt Flats and driving like crazy one day . . .

Oh, if only all our dreams could be fulfilled. You see, there's this Poodle . . .

Lots of love, Zane


Emily, Suede, and Burgess said...

It must have been a very difficult adjustment, and I know he is so happy to have you Zane!! Can't wait to read more.

Zane Train said...


Dad really appreciates your sentiment about his adjustment. Yes, it was tough, but once he finally chose what he had and started using independence aids like the white cane, he really became stronger and more free.

Giving up driving was really tough, but it was reality and had to be done. I worried more about others who would be riding with me than my own health.

Thanks for staying up with Dad's story. I'm proud of him and he really NEEDS me!

Love, Zane