Not a big step for humankind but a big step for me.
Two days back I traveled to London and returned safely. This was the first time since my stroke.
My low vision counsellor considers me a kind of pin-up for visual rehabilitation. She puts this down to courage and strength of character. But I’ve explained to her that in truth I’m a big species of coward. I just got lucky this time. Conquering a certain amount of vision loss is something I was emotionally equipped for. I already had some idea about the available technologies and it seemed to me as a problem to be solved, hard, but I work as problem solver anyway.
Still I have had a secret in my heart, known only to one or two people. I can read and talk and work and reason pretty well the same as before the stroke. And I can walk round the neighborhood I live in just fine. And I can travel by rail to towns close by. But I felt real scared of going very far.
This was simply loss of confidence. It’s very common after stroke though. You think “Suppose something goes wrong when I am a long way from home and I can’t get back and I just die alone and exhausted in a station waiting room somewhere?” When you are faced with a sudden loss of capacity, such as following a stroke, the boundaries between “can do” and “can’t do” are suddenly blurred. You never felt this before and it’s not rational but it still makes you timid about travel.
But I had to do it and I did and should have before. Perhaps I wasn’t ready. Anyhow I feel I’ve recovered all my confidence suddenly and can be an independent traveler again.
I am just mildly disabled. Think how many people there are for whom travel must be close to impossible. That’s why I take my hat off to everyone who tries in any way to make it more reassuring, such as TFL.