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Long Time, No See

Long Time, No See

Beth Finke
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Long Time, No See
    Book Description:

    Long Time, No See is certainly an inspiring story, but Beth Finke does not aim to inspire. Eschewing reassuring platitudes and sensational pleas for sympathy, she charts her struggles with juvenile diabetes, blindness, and a host of other hardships, sharing her feelings of despair and frustration as well as her hard-won triumphs. Rejecting the label courageous,? she prefers to describe herself using the phrase her mother invoked in times of difficulty: She did what she had to do.? _x000B_With unflinching candor and acerbic wit, Finke chronicles the progress of the juvenile diabetes that left her blind at the age of twenty-six as well as the seemingly endless spiral of adversity that followed. First she was forced out of her professional job. Then she bore a multiply handicapped son. But she kept moving forward, confronting marital and financial problems and persevering through a rocky training period with a seeing-eye dog._x000B_Finkes life story and her commanding knowledge of her situation give readers a clear understanding of diabetes, blindness, and the issues faced by parents of children with significant disabilities. Because she has taken care to include accurate medical information as well as personal memoir, Long Time, No See serves as an excellent resource for others in similar situations and for professionals who deal with disabled adults or children.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09121-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Prologue: The Lights Go Out
    (pp. 1-20)

    “How’s yourrighteye doing?” Dr. Ernest asked as he rolled his stool from the examination chair.

    When I lifted my head to respond, amoeba-like blobs swirled in front of me, as if I was peering out from inside a Christmas snow globe. I had learned to keep my head still, working around these floaters whenever I really wanted to see. Waiting for them to settle, I considered my answer.

    My walking stick had become a regular accessory. I used it like a white cane to judge steps and curbs on my walk to work. Just a few days earlier...

  4. 1 My Two Companions
    (pp. 21-43)

    I was seven years old in 1966, when I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. My lasting memories of that period have mainly to do with urine: constantly going to the bathroom, wetting myself every night and almost every day. Although I went to Girl Scout day camp that summer, my recollections do not involve making a pair of beaded moccasins or swimming or learning clever campfire songs. All I remember is that the camp had outhouses, smelly outhouses.

    My situation worsened until I rarely managed the entire bus ride home from camp without an “accident.” I sat in the back,...

  5. 2 Braille Jail
    (pp. 44-58)

    “Rehabilitation” is a funny word. It brings to mind the Betty Ford Clinic, prisons and parole boards, shabby old houses. It means fixing something that’s not right. I never liked thinking of myself that way, but rehabilitation was what I needed after the eye surgeon told me I would never see again.

    My official rehabilitation began with a visit to the local office of the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). It was in the summer of 1985; Mike and I had been married for a year. Mike had been doing freelance technical writing for different companies while I was...

  6. 3 Blind Christmas
    (pp. 59-72)

    At Christmas 1985 I made my blind debut at a major family event. Neither my hospitalizations nor ongoing rehab exempted me from our ritual of drawing a name from a hat and crafting a gift for that person. Pleased with myself, I held out the present I’d built and wrapped myself: a wooden box I’d designed and assembled in my home maintenance class.

    “But someone else cut the wood for you, right?” a handy brother-in-law asked.

    No, I told him, indignant.

    “Really? How did you measure the wood? How did you cut it? You didn’t use a saw, I know...

  7. 4 Gus
    (pp. 73-99)

    Since our wedding, what with eye surgeries and Braille Jail, Mike and I had slept apart more than we’d slept together. We shared responsibility for birth control. One time he’d be in charge; the next time I would. More often than not, we both used something. Diabetics are better off avoiding the pill, so when it was my turn, I used a diaphragm. Mike, of course, used a condom. That evening was Mike’s turn. As a welcome-home present, he’d bought an extra-special type, advertised as “so much like your own skin, you can hardly tell you have it on.”


  8. 5 Another Sort of Trouble
    (pp. 100-117)

    We spent Labor Day 1989 at a picnic. I’d lain on a blanket with Gus; Mike played volleyball, fixed me a plate of food, visited with Anne while Billy tended the grill or changed the tap on the beer keg. It was a perfect day, the sun still summery enough to warm our skin, the air cool enough to hint that leaves would fall soon. We’d taken the tandem bicycle, with Gus behind us in a trailer.

    Gus was asleep when we arrived home. I put him to bed, leaving Mike to put the tandem in the shed. It seemed...

  9. 6 Pandora
    (pp. 118-130)

    I never really liked dogs much. I was afraid of them, actually. I had no idea what was involved in taking care of a dog—we’d never had pets when I was a child—but it seemed like a lot of extra work. So the idea of a guide dog never appealed to me.

    But then I had two problems in one month, both on the same stretch of busy road. Once, walking along the sidewalk, I inadvertently veered down a driveway and into the street. The other time I had an insulin reaction while I was walking, so I...

  10. 7 Adventures with Gus
    (pp. 131-152)

    From the day he was born, the quality and availability of services for Gus were much better than they’d been for me. While he was still in intensive care—even before we knew about his genetic problem—the hospital contacted the local agency that serves kids with developmental disabilities. His traumatic birth, coupled with my blindness, suggested that we might need extra help. The Developmental Services Center immediately enrolled Gus in their program for children ages zero to three. There would eventually be plenty of paperwork, but it was treated as a formality, not a prerequisite. With Gus, it always...

  11. 8 How I Do It
    (pp. 153-176)

    Gus isn’t the only one who has changed and matured in the past fifteen years. My own life has evolved as well.

    I had given up writing in 1980, after graduating from college, moving away from a career that had attracted me since childhood. (As a kid, I composed stories and compiled them into a newspaper that I sold door to door for a nickel. Newspaper publishing was fun, but the profits weren’t good.Neighborhood Newsclosed up shop after nine issues.) In 1971 I landed a writing position on the junior high newspaper; my beat was Homeroom 107. The...

  12. 9 Looking for Work
    (pp. 177-192)

    I’ve learned to survive and even thrive as a blind person, but, like other disabled people, I still face an uphill battle with potential employers. The experience I had when I lost my university job proved typical: as I mentioned, my boss had, in essence, fired me without having to tell me to my face. I had taken time off when I was first losing my sight. Later, when I met with her to discuss my return, she was evasive, never indicating that I couldn’t return, but always suggesting that we wait a little longer. She put me off long...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 193-202)

    After I’d first returned home with Pandora, I twice phoned The Seeing Eye to send someone out to help us. The first time was after Pandora (nicknamed Dora by then) decided she didn’t want to work. On a sultry summer morning we had taken only one step out onto the porch when she crouched down, refusing to move. “You know, you’re right!” I told her. “It’s too hot for a walk.” We turned around and went back inside.

    From that day forward, whatever the weather, Dora tested me. I’d pick up her harness and command, “Forward!” She wouldn’t budge, crouching...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 203-204)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-206)