Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

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Independence? Interdependence?

Part of the reason I went into a creative slump was my procrastination. I had several pieces I wanted to write and hadn't yet because I didn't feel I could do them justice (I might write on procrastination later.) The other part was that for safety reasons, I didn't want to reveal what I'd been doing. See, my parents went on a mission trip for ten days or so, so I was home alone for much of that time. And while I'm not aware of any creeps reading my blog, I don't think a creap would exactly make him/herself known.

So, even though I wanted to write about handling things as independently as possible, I didn't do it. Now, though, Mom and Dad are back, so I feel safe writing about this experience.

I didn't really think I'd gained enough skills after a year away to succeed in the home environment. For one thing, our home is very different from a dorm. It's quieter, for one, and there aren't people living less than ten feet away to ask for visual help. Add to that that there's no cafeteria where I can get dinner prepared and I was afraid. But I didn't want to have a babysitter, and I couldn't go to some of the normal places I'd go since it's a challenge to get up and down stairs. So, we arranged for someone to hang out at our place for a few nights, I went to friends' for two other nights and the rest was me on my own. Since it's still challenging to walk with Julio (balancing a walker and dog is challenging), and we have stairs covered by a ramp that helps, but is challenging to navigate safely with a walker, dog and visual impairment, we got yet another friend to come relieve Julio. Mom and I bought frozen meals for when I was home alone, and I learned to use a microwave and toaster from a wheelchair in a pretty inaccessible kitchen.

I, of course, knew who to call if I needed any help, and thankfully, just checking in with the friend who relieved Julio when she came was sufficient to answer questions I might have. Surprisingly to me, it wasn't that bad. The worst was trying to navigate with the walker or wheelchair, but I think I learned a lot about spacial orientation.

Mom helped me by labeling meals and writing directions for the meals so that I could cook them without guessing. This worked well, and I'm proud to say that I never went hungry. I got good at organizing myself, and didn't have any health crises. The worst thing that happened was a small burn when the inside of my forearm came into contact with the toaster.

This confirmed several things to me. First, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how perfectly or horribly you complete a task, as long as you complete it to the best of your ability and you find a way to complete it ethically. It didn't matter that I used frozen meals and leftovers to feed myself, nor did it matter that I had to practice backing up and re-entering just to get into the kitchen. In the end, I ate well enough to make it through the day without getting more hungry than normal and I still got into the kitchen. I also had it reenforced to me that it is okay to ask for help. Having help to relieve Julio was not the end of the world. If I'd tried to prove thatI could do it, it would have been foolish, dangerous and possibly resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

This isn't to say that I didn't get frustrated or experience cabin feaver. Given the choice, I would have preferred spending the week on both feet and in a house or apartment in a city with a bus line near by. And I wish I were a better cook. But truthfully, everyone experiences these frustrations. Not all college students can cook wonderfully. People who can see sometimes don't have all of the tools they'd like to have at their disposal. Most importantly, everyone needs help. It was most important that I remain safe, not try to prove that I can do everything under the sun.

It may sound like I'm saying independence isn't a good thing. It is, and I strongly advocate for it. But how independent would I be if I'd fallen and gotten hurt or chosen to attempt cooking and failed. Either could land me in the hospital. Using frozen dinners is not a sign of failure. Choosing not to use the tools that are out there would be much more difficult. Also, by asking for the help I needed in a polite way, it opened doors that may not have been opened. I got to spend time talking to friends in new ways. I got to stretch myself and see just what I'm capable of. I got to try new things.

I'm really grateful this was such a positive experience. I'm glad I got to try this and see that I could, indeed, transfer the skills I learned at college this past year to our house. I'm glad I have parents who are willing to let me try. I'm glad I didn't clam up, but instead gave it a try. It ended up working better than I expected.

If you want, feel free to use the comments to tell me about a time when you stetched yourself, or write about it on your blog and tell me you did. I'd love to hear about it!

Tags: college, disability related, life milestones, stories with a point
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