Life is about the every day changes
My transmission jolted as I drove down that country road somewhere in Karnes County. The minivan was dying, and I was ignoring it.
Not today. Today was a day for traveling the hinterlands of South Texas. I had a little talk with my van about how we were all going to keep it together today no matter what.
I know I shouldn't tell you, but this was one of my favorite home visits. I tried not to think about the transmission I would replace. I put my brain onto the task at hand. I needed to help this patient keep his benefits and to get him help to live independently while visually impaired.
His name is on the gate before the cattle guard. It's the way you find his place off the road. Chickens ran around, and I thanked them loudly for their eggs. I imagined his life before when he could still see perfectly. I knew he had always worked with cattle, and I had heard some rodeo stories, too. He waved at me as I drove up.
"Come in, Katie. Let's do our work, and then we'll talk rodeo," he said. I'd been working with him off and on for a while, and he knew my girls were all cowgirls. I watched his horse grazing in the pasture. I asked him if he could see her, and he said he could a little. He told me the cattle grazing looked lumpy, but he could make them out.
He pushed the egg carton into my hands to take with me. We gathered the information needed for him to keep his benefits, and then I checked at the Blind Division at the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.
Sulima Aguillion works with the Independent Living Program, and she coordinates help for people to function independently as visually impaired persons. I'm so thankful for this program. We tried out his digital book device TDARS had provided.
Then we talked rodeo, as he said. He laid out some old photos of himself riding broncs and bulls. He asked if my daughter, Maile, had caught her calf in a rodeo yet. "She'll get it," he said smiling. I asked him to continue to think about his long-term care plan for when his vision gets worse.
I asked if he would consider moving to town or with family. He shook his head. Honestly, I couldn't imagine him anywhere but out here. He could still see some. He could hear the sounds and smell the smells that he had always heard and smelled. How could anyone ask him to consider something different? But I know from experience that needs change at times.
As he grabbed his cowboy hat to go outside, my face brightened. Not yet. Not today. Not with our home health staff helping him and Sulima and the Department of Aging and Disability.
We are all rounded up today helping him stay at home. I turned the key, and suddenly I was filled with gratitude for my sight, this patient, for resources to connect with peoples' needs and even for this fussy van.
Katie Sciba is a writer, a licensed social worker, a pastor's wife and a mother from Victoria. She works for AARN Health Services and blogs online at Always Simply Begin.