Blog Posts by Sue Wiygul Martin

Say It Out Loud, "Suicide"

S U I C I D E There, your computer didn’t blow up. Your phone didn’t burst into flames. I guess it’s no secret that people are afraid of blindness and, by extension, blind people. But what about suicide? If you want to empty a room in ten seconds flat, start talking about suicide! Towards the end of the first Harry Potter book Dumbledore says to Harry, The truth, it is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution. So, while I am honest and open about my own suicide attempt, I am keenly aware that this honesty might be difficult for you depending on your personal experience. Please stay with me. Because life

Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Sue with guide dog So a song by the American artist, Ella Fitzgerald, begins. I grew up in the American south. As a child the heat never really bothered me. We spent the summers outside, usually at summer camp. When not at camp, we were outside riding our ponies or playing physically demanding games. It’s quite different now! My day job is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I spend my days before a computer. It’s a fun job, and I enjoy my team and the work we do. But it’s a pretty sedentary job. Last February, I trained with my fifth

Surviving the Holidays and Vision Loss

What’s a picture of two people in love hugging on skis got to do with a piece about suicide? A suicide attempt is the cause of my blindness. Creating a life worth living from the apparent ashes of my life thirty something years ago took a lot of work. And I needed a lot of help. I had great teachers. I worked hard. And I had support. This piece is dedicated to the person who has supported me over a thirty year marriage, my husband, Jim. Thanks sweetie. I couldn’t have done it without you. Warning: This piece of writing takes an honest look at a difficult topic, suicide. Further warning: I’m not going to sugar-coat my story. If you’re depressed,

Stand Up! Advocacy Comes in Many Forms

Disability Rights Disability rights for people who are blind in this country started with actions that most states took decades before the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) passed. According to the National Association of Dog Guide Users, "The United States of America was the first country to pass laws protecting the right of blind individuals to enter public establishments, and to travel on all modes of public transportation accompanied by a guide dog. The first of these were passed in the middle part of the 20th Century." Over the years with federal legislation such as the ADA, whose 25th

Volunteering with Blinded Veterans Leads to a Fulfilling Career at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Editor's note: Here is another post related to volunteering and National Volunteer Week. However, peer advisor Sue Martin, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, also addresses another important theme this week Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Week. Volunteering at the Blind Rehabilitation Center My life with blindness began in my mid-twenties. I had to learn how to do almost everything all over again. I had great teachers and, less than a year after I became blind, my

Team Work and Practicality: What a Valentines Gift!

Steel Toe Boots and Helmet? This is my Valentines Day present? It turned out to be one of the best! My husband, Jim, and I live on 18 wooded acres in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau. We partially heat with wood that we harvest from our own property. It’s a three stage process which involves cutting the wood, splitting it, and then stacking it in the woodshed. I am blind from a suicide attempt when I was 26. Since then I have gone on to work in the field of vision rehabilitation for over 20

Technology Success Brings Renewed Self-Confidence

With the beginning of the new year, the peer advisors are enhancing the theme of independence on VisionAware. Be sure to read Audrey Demmitt's overview for the independence section, From Personal Loss to Personal Growth, the Road to Independence. I’ve had a really tough few months. When in the midst of it all I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was. And it was only when I began my emergence from what turned out to be a minor depressive episode that I could see clearly what had happened. Technology is a big part of my

Five Busy Workers,Three Buzzing Saws, Two Chugging Compressors, And A Partridge In A Pear Tree!

Editor's Note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter is Often the Best Medicine. Contributed by Sue Martin, Peer Advisor. Partridge in a Pear Tree or Something Like That! Three days before installation of our new floors, eighteen boxes of hardwood walked in the door. They had to be in the house for at least three days before installation so that the boards would be at the same temperature and humidity as the house. Who knew? I spent

My First Mobility Lessons Learning to Use A White Cane

Editor's note: This is our third post this week in our series celebrating White Cane Day and what it means. Be sure to go back and read Using a White Cane Gives Me Confidence and Safety and How I Accepted the White Cane. Tomorrow we will have one more post from a guest blogger to honor this important day. My Life with Blindness My life with blindness began in my mid-twenties. I had no idea what to expect. I had been blind for about a month when my orientation and mobility (O&M), instructor,

Two Innocent Canines

This week we mourn the passing of Robin Williams, who shared his extraordinary gift of humor with the world for many, many years in spite of his battle with depression. He taught us that laughter can be our best medicine. Two Innocent Canines by Peer Advisor Sue Wiygul Martin, herself a suicide attempt survivor For two years we got to live in a house on Frenchmans Bay in Maine. The house was nothing special but the location was magical. The sun and

Readers Want to Know: Part 3, How Soon Should I Look for Support Services?

Editor's Note: To answer questions posed by readers,we have started a “Readers Want to Know” section of the Peer Advisors Blog. This is the Part 3 in that series. Question "How soon after vision loss (already seeing physician) should I look at support services to meet my needs? I personally had a hard time getting my eye surgeon to admit that my vision wasn't coming back anytime soon and was trying to work for 3 months until I was finally given someone to talk to. When talking with the services personnel, they said that this is common." Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye Peer Advisor, Sue Martin,VRT, Provides Thoughtful

Readers Want to Know Part 2: Learning Materials for People with Visual Impairment

Editor's Note: To answer questions posed by readers,we have started a “Readers Want to Know” section of the Peer Advisors Blog. This is the second part of that series. Question "I am completely blind in left eye and now the right eye has decided it is tired also. I would like to see listings of learning materials for us "newbies" in being able to take care of myself at home, It is vital that I learn these things. Thank you for all I have learned already." Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye Peer Advisor, Sue Martin, Provides Thoughtful Insights VisionAware has loads and loads of resources and learning

Readers Want to Know Part 1: Peer Advisors Respond to Readers' Questions

Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye First Question of the Peer Advisor "Readers Want to Know" Series "What could a person with sudden vision loss expect for outcomes and how to manage their expectations?" Peer Advisor, Sue Martin,VRT, Provides Thoughtful Insights Based on questions visitors ask, it’s clear that readers want to know what to expect if they or a family member is losing vision. Ths, we are starting a “Readers Want to Know” section of the Peer Advisors Blog similar to the series Maureen Duffy has

Tribute to My Father

Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye In the first weeks and months after I became blind I struggled to find things to do, things that would interest and engage me. Even before my rehab teacher, now called a vision rehabilitation therapist, came to see me for the first time, I learned something infinitely precious from my father. Daddy had lots of hobbies, including doing needlepoint and crossword puzzles. One of his greatest passions was growing plants. As my sighted self, I had never taken too much interest in this hobby of my father's.

That Computes: Teaching Ways to Access the Computer

Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye Note from the editor: This month VisionAware is honoring vision rehabilitation therapists (VRTs). VisionAware peer advisor, Sue Wiygul Martin, VRT, has written a book, Out of the Whirlpool: A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation, about her experiences as a VRT, which will be published soon. This blog is an excerpt from Chapter 26, "Two Clients, One Goal," which will be posted soon on VisionAware in text and audio formatwith Sue's own voice! This excerpt is about Gordon, who has

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