Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Since my last entry, well..two days after my last entry I received a letter from the Association for the Blind in Exeter. It's the Greater Wilkes-Barre chapter. On my way back to my house, my dad told me I received a letter, but didn't tell me what it was. I had no idea and immediately said "I don't know what it could be. I don't think I did anything wrong..." My mind immedately goes to negative situations.

My dad leaves and goes to his house to pick up my mom. They both come back with the letter and I open it. My mom reads it to me and I start crying. The contents of the letter stating that I was nominated and selected for the 2012 Arline Philips Achievement Award for Greater Wilkes-Barre. The reason for my crying is because I was in shock and certainly did not expect anything like that.

I remember sitting at one of the award ceremonies years prior "Wouldn't it be cool if I were to win that one year? I don't think that would happen though." Low and behold! This year was my year.

The award letter states "This award is presented to a blind or visually impaired person whose lifestyle reflects a level of independence that serves as an example for others."

I am truly honored by the selection and the following day I called the Association to accept the nomination and talk about what happens next. I don't have much to do aside from picture taking with the sponsers once they have been selected.

The awards ceremony will be 12 Sept. It's a while away, but I'm still excited!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today was another eye doctor appointment. It went really well, and I'm really happy with the results. My eye pressures have been staying stable, which is great! However, I have to have another yag laser procedure to remove some more membrane from the capsule of the eye (lens of the eye). The procedure isn't painful and it's really quick. Immediately afterwards I see almost a rainbow effect and am a little dizzy, but other than that I'm good. The nurses help me back to the waiting room, where my dad and Teka are. Teka's usually insanely happy to see me.

This next part, though, is flattering. My doctor invited me to speak at a local Lion's Club meeting. Basically, he said that he'd like me to talk about my experiences before having a guide dog, the process of getting a dog, and my experience thus far with her.

I honestly wasn't expecting that. I accepted the offer and gave him my contact information. Once he gets more information, he will pass it on along to me. The presentation isn't until the end of January, so I have some time to prepare and figure out what I would like to say. I pretty much have a general idea, but there is going to be some fine tuning later on.

Looking back on previous public speaking events that I have done, I have noticed a change.

I'm not as shy as I used to be when presenting. I think it deals with the fact my eyes aren't as good as they used to be in high school and college. That's a plus. The downside to that is, I have to memorize my whole speech, but I don't foresee that being much of an issue. By nature, I am a very shy person, but certain situations and circumstances have broken that habit--at least a little bit.

I suppose that that's it for now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I have been wanting to write again. I used to write poetry a lot. None of it was any good and it was usually when I was a depressed teenager. However, the urge has struck me again. I've contemplated writing a book, but I'm not sure what it would be about...an autobiography? What have I done that's so spectacular? Nothing particular.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ToNGue tIEd

There's a lot that I want to say, but putting it into words is proving more difficult than originally anticipated.

So, I sit and stare at the blinking cursor on my computer screen, music and the hum of computer fans masking the silence of this house, while Teka lays peacefully at my feet.


There are some very significant things going on in my life, but at the same time I feel like there's nothing.

I took a taxi ride to Wal-mart. The ride was about 2.1 miles (roughly eight minutes) and cost $15. So, roundtrip would have cost me $30.. I cracked and called my parents for a ride home. I am proud of myself, though. At least I ventured out for a little while.  

Friday, October 7, 2011


A friend of mine posted a blog reflecting on the last few years of her life. It seemed to have sparked some reflection of my own, which may or may not end up being a mini autobiography of the last couple of years.

It was 2008, I had big plans to move to New York City to be in an apartment with two friends. I had just graduated college in May and began my search of what would probably be one of the most life-changing experiences of life--at least that's how I saw it at the time.

No luck on finding a job and then found out that one of the friends I'd be moving with bailed. So, my other friend and me continued our search. I still pursued job opportunities with the hopes of finding something and nothing..

August of that same year was a huge turning point in my life. I had been suffering from hemmorhages in my eyes throughout my final semester in college and it nearly cost me a part in a play (luckily it didn't, because I had a great time in that play). The retina in my right eye had detached.

Now as one would think it would be painful, it wasn't. Fright and uncertainty were the things I was more concerned about. I had a surgery to correct the detachment and had many, many follow-up visits; visits I am still going to at the present time.

I'll spare the gorey details of pre-, and post-surgery. The surgery was a success and I gained some vision back (maybe more than what was expected). I was happy how everything turned out in that regard.

Once I recovered from surgery I begame my job hunt again. Both in the area and NYC. Still, nothing. I decided to go for a CompTIA A+ certification. I took some classes on that and the exam.

A few weeks prior to the A+ exam, I had an interview for a job at my current employer. I had the interview and it seemed to go really well. Everyone was friendly and I got a small tour as well as see a few friends who worked with my dad in the Fire Department. I was told I would hear within a week if I was selected for the position. After only a few days, I received a phonecall asking if I want the position. Of course, I was overjoyed that I had finally landed a job, and without any thought accepted the offer.

I was to start work on my birthday, but with some paperwork mix up I wasn't able to start until the following pay period, which was fine by me, since I didn't really want to start a new job on my birthday.

By this point, I was saving money and still living at home with my parents. I was also going to Connecticut every other weekend. I do appreciate certain aspects for the reason I was going out there. I probably wouldn't have gotten up the courage to travel alone to unfamiliar places. So, thanks for that.

The first few months of work flew by and then I found out that the cataracts I had in my eyes had gotten worse and would require surgeries. I had both surgeries done (one in September of 2009 and the other in February 2010). Those surgeries were also successful.

I had moved out of my parents house and into a small apartment down the street. It was a basement apartment with hardly any sunlight and a noisy neighbor above me. I was happy--for the most part--doing my own thing and being more independant. However, things didn't feel quite right.

There was a development of glaucoma in my better eye... I tried multiple sets and variations of eyedrops to lower the pressure, but those didn't seem to help. Another surgery (or two) was required.

The first surgery required an artificial duct be put i n to relieve the amount of fluid in my eye due to the blockage of the real duct from abnormal blood vessels (this is from Retinopathy of Prematurity). This surgery seemed to help for about three weeks.. Until I began experiencing dibilitating pain in the eye. So, in I went for the second surgery to laser a part of the "faucet" (I don't know the technical term) and remove some of the blood vessels blocking the artifical duct.

That surgery seemed to have some more success. I was prescribed a few more eyedrops to help control the eye pressue and things seemed to be looking up again!

Prior to the glaucoma surgeries I had put an application in for a Guide Dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind. I did a phone interview and then a home interview a few months later. I was on pins and needles waiting to find out if I had been accepted to the program or not. And then the phonecall I had been waiting for! Acceptance!

I was told that I would be attending class in March of 2011. Very exciting, although I had also been trying to plan a tripp to Japan for that same exact time. I decided to go with the Guide Dog, since it would silly of me, because Japan wasn't going anywhere.

March comes and I leave Avoca in a snow storm for sunny San Franscico, California. I couldn't have been more wrong. It rained nearly the entire time I was there. I really did enjoy my time there, despite the rain. I met some really awesome people (students, staff, instructors) and went to some really awesome places and vintage shops.

I'm sure I've written about those experiences to some extent in previous entries (along with whatever else I wrote above) or have talked about it in person to friends/IMs/texts/email/social media. If I haven't and you're curious, just ask me... But anyway!

About a week or so after I came back with Teka, I found out the retina in my left eye detached. Same surgery as with the right, however I can only see hand movements and blobs out of that eye now. The best way to describe it is like looking through a toilet paper roll covered with wax paper. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain what I can see with my right eye. When I get that, I'll let you know. All I can see is the big E on the eye chart and even that's somewhat blurry.

Moving on...

I needed a bigger place once I got home with my beloved four-legged black Lab. So, house-hunting... House-hunting and no dice. No dice, no dice.. AND FINALLY! I bid on a nice house and was accepted!

Paperwork was all filed out and had the house turned over to me. I moved in mid-July. Teka and I really like it!

Then about a month after I moved in, more good things happened--unexpectedly.--which I am very much pleased with the way they are turning out.

I just realized I didn't even mention... I had an abrasion (scratch) on my cornea that took five months to heal to a point where I didn't have to wear a bandage contact and put a crazy regiment of eyedrops in. I still have a very, very small abrasion, but nothing near as bad as it was. Apparently, a 1mm abrasion can cripple a grown man. I am stronger than a grown man, since my abrasion was 1.9mm by 2.1mm after 4 months of healing. Haha.

There's plenty of other things I can think of as good and bad, but then I would just start rambling moreso than I already have.

I'll keep going just a little longer...

My cat, Whiskers, who I have had for over 15 years had to be put to sleep. His health was declining and he might have had a stroke. From what my dad told me, he was unable to use his back legs. As much as I didn't want him to go, it was for the best. Making him suffer would be cruel and I didn't want to see or make him suffer. He didn't deserve to suffer. He lived a full, healthy, and happy life as my pet, friend and family member. It still hurts just thinking about him. It was heartbreaking when I went over to my parents house, expecting to see him outside, running over to greet us as we got out of the car... To not see his food and water bowls on the floor in the kitchen... To not hear his paws clicking against the flooring...was...is still really hard. One day, we will meet again, in one life or another.

Despite all the bad that I've endured, there's definitely been a lot of good. I'm not quite sure if one outweighs the other and quite frankly, I don't want to know. As long as I keep up with a fighting spirit, I'll be okay.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From the Beginning

Usually I find myself thinking "This will be okay," but whatever that "this" is doesn't turn out as how I expected. A good majority of the time it ends in failure or letdowns for one or all parties involved.

In an ideal world, we would have everything we could ever want, hope, wish, and desire. However, this life certainly isn't ideal and yes, I've realized this a long, long time ago. I find myself in the mindset of  "never" being able to get where I want to go, do what I want to do, travel where I want to travel and be what I want to be. In due time, though, I suppose I will get to the point that I have accomplished every thing on my rather short bucket list.

I am still rather young, anyway--seeing as how 25 really isn't THAT old. Some days, I beg to differ.

Health-wise, I feel like I am deteriorating. With the near constant anxiety attacks I have been suffering, the constant visits to the eye doctor is rather draining. Yet, I chug along and keep going.

Work-wise isn't much better. I have been questioned on why I have been taking so much leave--yet, I have been hired under the authority for a people with a disability, so it is not like they hired me not knowing I am visually impaired. I was given the numbers of how much leave I have taken as well. And in my defence, in the last two years, I have had roughly nine or so eye surgeries, well over 100 visits to the eye doctors for follow-up exams and the issues that have come about. 

I am capable of doing my work properly and efficiently. I have proven that fact, however I do need to go to these appointments to keep what remaining vision I have intact. Otherwise, I would be needing more time off to rehabilitate, learn and cope.

I have been documenting everything and one of my four eye doctors has written letters to my organization stating the procedures done and requirements and limitations that may be encountered.

Graduate school is something I am still strongly considering,, but I have to consider my options of online schools compared to physical locations. I would love to do a program that I can travel to Japan and perhaps do some type of research project there. Although, I'm not entirely sure how to go about that. Also, I would need housing if I were to go to a physical location along with some type of job opportunity (work-study or part time job).

Honestly, I'm not even sure why I am thinking of these things... I want so much, yet here I am holding myself back because I am scared of being judged for whatever reason that may be. My eyesight plays a big role in it. I would absolutely love to go to Japan (and I know there are blind people who have), but I am terrified of getting lost. Then, there are all the requirements I will have to provide for AQS (Animal Quarintine Service), which I don't have an issue doing, but I'm afraid of access restrictions--not into the country, but into shops, restaurants, and the like. The worst that can be said is "no," and I know this, yet I'm still thinking too much.

My thoughts seem very scattered, even in this entry. I need to just sit back, take a few deep breaths, and relax.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This week has been something else...

I'll start off with last weekend, though. Friday, I ventured out to Queens to hang out with my friend Jessica -- she pretty much knows me better than anyone else, I'd say. We've known each other since 2nd grade, so..

We went to her apartment and hung out for a while, she packed and we went to bed. We woke up early on Saturday and got ready to head out to Boston to see Chris Hardwick's stand up show. I was pretty excited about it!

When we got to our hotel, it turned out the reservations didn't go through like Mariotte's website said.. And I couldn't find my confirmation email either, however we were able to get a room. The hotel was basically right across from the venue, so it wasn't bad at all!

We walked around Boston for a while before the show. We took Teka to a park, where EVERYONE was walking their dogs. All these little dogs swarmed her, it was so cute and really funny. She didn't pay much attention to them, so I praised her and gave her some kibble for her good deeds.

Priot to the park, we went to this burrito place called Boloco or something like that.. I had THE BEST burrito there. It was teriyaki sauce, broccoli, onions, carrots, chicken and brown rice in a whole wheat tortilla wrap. Fantastic! I miss it... And I had an oreo cookie smoothie with it.

Around 1830 (I'm going to use the 24 hour clock because I like it and it's easier for me, so that 6:30PM, for all you non-24 hour clock users). Jess, Teka, and myself headed over to the venue. I had our tickets ready and handed them to the ticket people when it was our turn in line. Everyone at the theatre was VERY nice and accommodating to us. They even removed a chair for Teka so she could lay down.

We were very close to the stage, so that was nice. I wasn't able to see too much of what was going on, but Jess helped me with that.

Overall, the show was great, I had a fantastic time! Afterward, we waited in line to meet Chris. Teka waddled in with her yellow raincoat. I put it on her because it was kind of dark in the building and I didn't want anyone to step on her or try to run her over outside. Anyway! Chris got to meet Teka (and me) and she was really happy to get some affection from someone that wasn't me. I think if she had it her way, she would have laid down and wanted her belly rubbed, but I didn't want to hold up the line! So, we after a few exchanges of "thank you," we parted ways and headed back to the hotel.

Sunday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and headed to the bus station back to NYC. The bus ride was okay.. Then I had to grab something quick to eat and head off to my next bus back home.

I was going to sit on a panel for Tech-dogs iPhone panel, but my phone didn't have reception in Port Authority and by the time I had reception, it was over. So, I truly apologize for that..

The bus ride back to PA was decent. I met the most brilliant older gent on the bus. We talked about movies and shared life experiences. He seemed to have lived a great life thus far despite his girlfriend and him splitting up recently. I told him not to regret a thing, because a life with regret isn't much of a life and to look at the positive things. He's learned a lot and experienced such great things! I think he seemed a bit surprised to hear that coming from a 25 year old. I've been through my fair share of bumpy roads, so that's where I've acquired that bit of wisdom.

I'm really, truly grateful to have met that man and to have talked to him for such a short time of an hour and a half.

Monday came and it was surgery day. This surgery was to re-attach my retina that sneakily detached itself without me doing anything. Good ol' Retinopathy of Prematurity. Just went things are going good, something like this comes along and kicks me in the ass.

The surgery went really well and the first post op exam also went really well. My doctor is fantastic. I've been going to him since I was about 10, I think. He genuinely cares about me and that's a great feeling too. The second post op went smoothly as well, so I was pleased about that. My doctor was pleasantly surprised to see how well I was doing after such a short time. My next exam will be Tuesday.

I am a little nervous and my eye seems to be leaking sangeneous (sp?) fluid. Although, I believe this has happened before with my right eye.

As for Teka's care and well-being. She is doing great with this whole process. My parents take her out to do her business and I continue to feed and do the rest with her. My dad has been concerned since she started following him around. I told him that it wasn't a big deal and she would start following me again in no time. Low and behold, I was right. We've stayed in my apartment together the last two nights and she has been by my side ever since.

Today, we went house-hunting sort of.. There is a house that's right up the street from my parents that is for sale. It's a ranch style and very nice inside. It's all hardwood floor, which is fantastic and it's a 3 bedroom with a carport and garage. It would be great for Teka to play in during the winter months. The only downside is the price.. It's rather expensive and I would definitely need a roommate or two to help with bills and such. As much as I like my privacy, I need a bigger place for me and Teka. Besides, I can sacrifice my privacy.. I did rather well in college, so I think I'd okay!

We shall see where this leads...

Until then!


Thursday, March 31, 2011


If you ever sit down and wonder "What would this be like if __________," then it's probably a good assumption that it's better left unknown. I do often wonder what it's like to be able to see, but I know I certainly wouldn't be the same person I am today. Perhaps I would have been more out-going, more courageous, more ambitious, less shy, less depressed, less scared. However, I have found a voice -- a small one, but a voice none the less.

I have conquered some of my fears and I have overcome difficult challenges, adversity, and pain with plenty of blood, sweat, and tears to go along with it. I don't and can't regret all that I've done.

But the best thing to walk it's way into my life is on four legs and after only a few short weeks, she has stolen my heart.

Teka has opened my eyes to so many different and new things in such a short time. The good, the bad, the annoying, the ignorant, but most of all -- the most important thing -- the beauty. Beauty of companionship, loyalty, and friendship -- as corny and cheesy, or cliche that may sound.  I already feel like we make an amazing team and I've never felt better. I've never felt so liberated and free. I don't have to try so hard to figure out what's in front of me or where that step or curb is, etc..

However, there's a tinge of loneliness still. Yes, she fills a giant hole, but there's still something missing. I know that there's no need to rush to find what I'm looking for, though. I'm young and have quite a while to find exactly what I need. And even though I feel hopeless and helpless at times, I get back up and continue forward. I've already started to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and I was triumphant with that push. I've flown cross-country and lived in an unfamiliar place (albeit for three weeks). I felt comfortable there.

I've connected with new people who have made a great impact. It's something I won't forget.

There's a novelty that is starting to wear off though. The happiness and joy I felt the last three weeks is starting to wear off. I'm not entirely sure what it's from. It could be just the general mood of NEPA and/or weather or work or lack of sleep..

Whatever it is, I'm sure I'll figure it out and find the answer to what is looming over my head. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome to Oblivion

It seems I'm following a trend -- although I should have started this earlier than I have. It's better late than never, I suppose.

Should I go into introductions? I'm not even sure, since everywhere I will be posting this blogs link will already know who I am -- but I suppose for the Internet's sake, I will go into a short intro.

I'm Caitlin, I'm a visually impaired guide dog user with a BS in Information Technology. I have many interests and hobbies, for example -- music. Music is and will always be important to me. I, for the most part, am rather quiet, but I can be really chatty and sociable when the situation calls for it. I prefer to sit back and listen rather than be the centre of attention. This is goes against my zodiac sign of Aries -- a born leader, who takes control and is spontaneous. Although, don't count me out of that, I do "man up" when necessary and am a tad spontaneous.

I know who I am and what I want in life, even though I am still trying to find my way. Teka is helping with that! She is my 2 year old black lab guide dog. She is absolutely precious and the love of my life along with my cat.

If you're curious about the URL "artbreaker-circus," well I mashed two songs together because I lacked inspiration.