My first trip as a person with impaired vision was a success, albeit not without some anxiety. Being able to see but not see is surreal . It’s not that I couldn’t see the highway and traffic on the way to the airport, but not clearly, and certainly not able to help navigate as Dianna drove. At the airport I wasn’t able to check myself in and being unable to see clearly, needed a paper boarding pass, rather than using my airline app with an electronic pass. The more crowded the airport got, the more difficult it became for me to discern where I was, or where I was going. My scope of vision changes with the amount of ambient lighting and background colors. Outside on a clear day, I can see most everything, if not anything in particular. Inside the airport concourse, my scope or field of near blindness expanded to cover all but peripheral edges. As long as I followed Dianna, all was well.
The first leg went well. Richmond’s airport is laid out in simple straight lines. COVID has limited the number of flights, and our early morning departure was one of the first. We flew to Newark for a change of planes. There is nothing simple or uncrowded about Newark, especially in one of the old concourses that end in tight circles of gates and waiting areas, with commercial kiosks in the middle. The airport’s interior is not well lighted. Gate numbers in black letters on large yellow background were all but invisible to me. We picked out a place to sit, and with a little instruction on where to look, I went off to the toilet. I found it OK by following the line of men walking into it. Finding Dianna on the return was more difficult. It began with the wrong gate number followed by moving along looking for the familiar landmark of silver hair. It wasn’t quite like a little kid having lost his mom in the super market, but not that different either. Anyway, there she was, right where I left her.
We made it. I don’t think I could do it on my own yet, but I’ve seen completely blind persons traveling on their own, and I’m not completely blind, just a bit impaired, so why not? Time with family was a delight. The return trip was not as anxiety producing as I knew, more or less, what to expect. Dianna led the way, checked us in, and we were off. Transferring again in Newark, I once more made it to the men’s room and back without mishap…
Traveling and moving about in unfamiliar locations, I have learned a bit more about the limits of my vision. After a long day of intense effort to “see” things, my eyes tire out. They refuse to do the hard work and beg for rest, after which they are willing and able to give it another go. So what’s next? In December, we are taking a train trip to New York and in January, the long flight to Maui. As long as it’s the two of us with Dianna in the lead, it should be a snap.