Perspective: Reflections on Social Isolation and Self-Quarantine
Right now, most of us are staying home, feeling the stress of adapting to our new work-from-home status, and are likely beyond frustrated trying to get the groceries our families need.
Imagine living in this chaotic state—for the rest of your life.
Some of us have self-quarantined our entire lives—without a pandemic forcing us inside. And we know all too well how this feels. Today, I’m talking about us folks who are blind and visually impaired.
Many who are blind or living with visual impairment stay in their home…a lot. I know this is true for veterans with disabilities, too. And for those of us with vision loss, it can be days on end before we can find reliable, affordable transportation. Getting groceries is a major challenge—finding a ride, shopping during slow hours at grocery stores (usually late at night), and having a clerk available to help us shop. Sure, I can opt for delivery service, but that can often mean that I don’t get the exact items I need, and the prices are higher, too.
As we all continue to shift and adapt in our daily lives, the perspective of folks who are blind or visually impaired is essential to consider.
I’m lucky. I have everything I need, especially Plum, my guide dog from Southeastern Guide Dogs. With Plum, no matter what’s going on in the world, I’m never alone. She’s part of me—like another limb—and I don’t know what I’d do without her. Because of my guide dog, I can walk 10 times faster than without her, and I’ve gained a huge level of independence. Plum gives me the freedom I didn’t have before. A new grocery store is opening in my neighborhood, and soon I’ll be able to walk there—something I never would have done without Plum. It’s incredible what guide dogs can do.
My daughters and I are social-distancing from others, but we are still running, playing ball, reading, painting, swimming, watching family movies, working in the barn, stacking wood into woodpiles…the list goes on. Country girls know how to survive. Especially with a dog like Plum in the family.
If you know someone who is not able to drive and depends on services like Uber, Lyft, Shipt, Instacart, etc., that, in some cases, are temporarily suspending their services or are not delivering for days, consider reaching out and offering a helping hand. In times of crisis, we need each other. And for those of us who rely on our guide dogs and service dogs to make it through, we’re thankful that someone was there for us.
About the author: Rachel Weeks was born with Usher Syndrome. This congenital disease causes hearing loss and robs her of her peripheral and night vision, leaving only a small amount of central vision. With two young, active daughters at home, this single mom and Ironman triathlete relies on her guide dog, Plum, for independence. Rachel and Plum are Southeastern Guide Dogs alumna and staff members serving our Admissions and Alumni Support Department.