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The Bumpy Road of Injury and Come Back

Few of you know the bumpy road that I have traveled in my athletic career over the past 12-15 months.   Compiling this road of injury and come back of course has also included the birth of our first child Kennan Wade and of course working 40+ hours per week to keep us afloat financially.  I very rarely speak publically about injury or my health but I thought it would be good to share with those that  follow, support and continue cheering me on from far away.  

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It was a cold and wet mid morning in March 2017 and I was  out for one of my last harder long runs in preparation for the Boston Marathon. The workout was 20 miles  with the first 8 miles as a warm up and building into a steady 6:30 pace. I then would run to a track and do 3X2miles at my expected race pace 6:00 or just under.  The workout was going well but I was beginning to fatigue when I got to the track and did the first 2 miles in 11:45.  As I jogged 400m before the second 2mile it began to drizzle as it often does in Seattle.  The next 2-mile was more difficult and I began feeling my groin muscle twinge and tighten a bit but I still came in right at 12:00.  As I did my recovery jog following this repeat I began to have a dull ache in my groin that progressively intensified.  I still proceeded toward the third 2-mile repeatdespite feeling weakness and discomfort in the left groin and leg.  The last 2-mile repeat was definitely a struggle to complete the distance rather than do it at any blistering pace.  I came in at 12:30 but was definitely hobbling a bit. I was also soaked from head to tow.  The track was 1.5 miles from my home and so I very slowly jogged home with a lingering groin pain that I assumed was some sore of muscle strain.  

After getting home and warming up my body temperature the discomfort went away for the most part except at times climbing stairs, deep squats or any sort of running motion when bring my left leg forward in swing phase.  I reduced my running for a bit and although I didn’t feel real strong going into the Boston Marathon I didn’t have any pain on race day. Following the race, I again had some of the discomfort that I had during the long track workout but it subsided after time off from running.  

 HANGING OUT BEFORE THE 2017 BOSTON MARATHON WITH CLIF BAR TEAMMATE AND ULTRA RUNNING LEGEND SCOTT JUREK AND HIS NEW BABY.

HANGING OUT BEFORE THE 2017 BOSTON MARATHON WITH CLIF BAR TEAMMATE AND ULTRA RUNNING LEGEND SCOTT JUREK AND HIS NEW BABY.

Two weeks following the Boston Marathon, I was set to do the US ParaCyling National Championships in Grand Junction, CO with a friend and strong cyclist Paul Thomas.  My legs were still lethargic leading up to and in the time trial but we had a good race winning by just over 1 minute in the Time Trial.  My left leg didn’t bother me for the most part during cycling but if I tried to stand and pull up with my left leg with any force I often noticed the same pain in my groin area.  A day after the time trial was the road race which was quite challenging with over 4,000ft of climbing in 60 miles.  When riding tandem it can get uncomfortable to stay in one position for a long time but standing also requires a great deal of energy so you want to minimize it as much as possible.  With the long climbs of the road race we stood multiple times.  During the race I didn’t really feel much in my left side but with the massive adrenaline and my mind in the race I didn’t really notice any discomfort until after the race.  Again, the pain was dull but began to linger longer and I began noticing it throughout the entire day.  

 Finishing the time trial at the 2017 ParaCycling National Championships with Paul Thomas as pilot.

Finishing the time trial at the 2017 ParaCycling National Championships with Paul Thomas as pilot.

In June 2017, I saw a sports medicine MD in Seattle and got Xrays but these turned out negative which I expected.  I then got an MRI of my left hip and pelvis.  Fortunately my hip joint looked perfect with surprisingly no beginnings of arthritis.  The area around the adductor longus tendon origin where it  attaches to the pelvic bone did light up with inflammation and a fairly severe stress reaction.  With the location being a spot that typically has good healing I was told to avoid running but cycling and swimming were fine.  For the next four months I did not run other than doing two sprint triathlons, one of which was the Paratriathlon World Championships in Rotterdam, NED. Although I came in second, losing by just ten seconds at World’s.  Considering I had run only 2-3 times in three months, I was fairly happy with the result. The male visually impaired class is getting much more competitive and showing up injured with the expectation of winning is no longer a reasonable mindset.  Following the World Championships much of my focus was spent on getting ready for the birth of Kennan and then spending many nights getting up throughout the night getting the little man back to sleep.  

Despite, taking time off of training with the birth of Kennan and literally running five times in six months, I continued to have lingering discomfort in my groin and also noticed pain had begun in my left lower abdominal area just inside my left pelvic bone (ASIS to be exact).  I noticed it when cycling but the discomfort for the most part subsided with a proper warm up.  The pain was definitely very bothersome and lingering in daily living but it did not really stop me from doing much other than running.  It did however limit me significantly in training to maximize my athletic performance.  If I was going to compete to win I had to figure out and solve this injury.  

Together with the sports medicine MD we explored my options as I had already tried the rest option and that didn’t work.  The next two treatments that seemed promising were either Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) or a Cortisone injection.  PRP is a newer procedure in which your blood is taken, centrifuged to separate only the platelets into a concentrated solution and then injected back into you at the location of the injury to promote healing.  The cortisone is often more of a quick fix and doesn’t typically resolve the problem directly. Cortisone also can have serious side effects that include tendon rupture.  I chose to go the PRP route.  For the next four weeks I did little to nothing for training but did not notice any change in the symptoms.  I then went back to the sports MD and he recommended 4 weeks of non-weight bearing in a wheelchair to ensure that the stress fracture would heel properly.  I was lucky in that I currently had a physical therapy student at the time and I was able to continue working while in a wheelchair and supervise the student.  The time in the wheelchair was extremely difficult and frustrating as it was the time Kennan was two months old and getting up to make a bottle and rocking a child in a wheelchair when they want you to stand is not exactly easy to do or cope with psychologically.   Parents are a great thin to have in these circumstances and thankfully I was able to get some support in this way.  

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Coming off of the four weeks confined to a wheelchair (December 2017), I gradually built back into walking and full weight bearing activity.  I began some training but continued to have the lingering discomfort.  I then began working with the USOC medical network out of Pittsburgh, PA and I was flown to see a specialist who had a hip and a pelvis specialist look at me before deciding that they really thought that the issue was arising from the pelvis. I was whisked over to the pelvic specialist who assessed me for a sports hernia and then sent me back to the general sports medicine MD who decided to do a Cortisone injection to the adductor tendon/muscle junction.  I then immediately boarded a plane back to Seattle.  

Two weeks went by and I continued to work at my job and stick only to light activity with progression back towards more vigorous to see whether the injection resolved the symptoms.  Although there was some relief it was definitely not completely resolved and I decided to continue this long exhaustive journey and follow back up with the MD in Pittsburgh.  In March 2018 I would race the CAMTRI Paratriathlon Championships as the points from this race were important for maintaining my national team status and keeping world rankings high.  Just a few weeks later I was scheduled for sports hernia surgery in Pittsburgh, PA.  Just my luck that week I got sick with a cold and the surgery was pushed back until the beginning of April. 

On the first Friday of April 2018 I underwent laparoscopic sports hernia surgery in Pittsburgh, PA.   The sports hernia path was kind of a last ditch effort to resolve the problem as this diagnosis is often one of exclusion.  The diagnosis of sports hernia is a patchwork diagnosis that can be associated to multiple different impairments.  Most commonly it is seen as a weakening in the walls in one’s lower abdomen and pelvis.  The surgeon reported that the procedure went well and he reinforced the area where the rectus abdominus meet up with the adductor  (groin) muscles on my left side.   The first week following the surgery was slightly rough as I basically felt as though I was kicked in the groin/abdomen by a donkey, but I managed to avoid taking any pain medications other than Ibuprofen.  Four days after the surgery I flew back to Seattle with light to no exercise and no lifting greater than fifteen pounds for 6-8weeks.  This is nearly impossible when you have a seven month old baby that weighs 15-17lbs.  I did my best to follow MD orders as I am the one every day at work reinforcing the importance to my patient’s of following their own personal precautions.  I will say I did pick up my child a few times in those first six weeks but that would nearly be a crime not to have done so.   Luckily, my employer allowed me to return to week a week after my surgery on light duty as financially I don’t know if we could take the hit for me not to work.  

Over the eight weeks of limited activity, I continued to have discomfort in my lower abdomen but it was different than prior to surgery and I attributed it all to the healing process and scar tissue being tugged on.   At eight weeks I began getting myofascial work done on my abdomen and training on recruiting the deep muscles of my core.  I also began some strengthening my gluteus and quads to prevent my adductor muscles from overworking.  I began physical therapy but the chaotic life of working full time, an eight month old boy and the inability to drive it was too difficult to find available appointments.   I did begin to swim which may have been the most effective thing I could do to begin engaging the lower abdominal muscles and relaxing the tissue to allow gradual stretching.   Swimming also made me very aware that I had seemingly lost total control of my left side core stabilization and neural firing to rotate my hips.  I felt like a log that just wanted to continue to float on its right side only.  

At the beginning of June 2018,  I returned to light cycling on the trainer.  It was somewhat odd as I didn’t feel much of any discomfort from the surgery when first returning to cycling but then went through periods of intermittent discomfort. This kind of messed with my head as I kind of questioned whether the surgery was effective.  The surgeon reassured me to be patient and not make any judgments until 12 weeks post surgery.  This didn’t give me a lot of reassurance as I had scheduled my return to racing 14 weeks post surgery on July 28that the ITU WTS Edmonton race. 

It was mid June when I ran for the first time in nearly four months.  I began by doing multiple run/walk cycles starting 3min on/1min off for up to 20minutes.  The first few times I ran I didn’t have any discomfort at my surgical site but boy was I out of run shape and were my legs lethargic the next day.  My coach Mark Sortino  and I began increasing the intensity in all areas in the swim, bike and run but as I began including high intensity efforts especially in the swim and run I began to again have pain in my lower abdomen.  The preparation and return to racing truly was a puzzle in which the pieces were constantly being moved to find the exact combination.  

By the middle of July I was still only running a few times per week but was incorporating some tempo and speed on the run.  Multiple times though I had set backs where I either began to have pain near the end of a faster run or have lingering discomfort for a few days following. This meant more juggling around and limitation to the discipline that needed the most focus.  

Despite knowing that I was probably only 60%of maximal fitness, I stuck to my plan to return to racing at the ITU WTS Edmonton race.  This race includes a challenging hill that we normally complete four times over the 20K bike course but this year as a result of road work and unforeseen events the course was modified to six times up and down the large hill.  This meant that the bike course was literally six hill repeats.  The run course was not a challenging course but after six times up the hill you definitely feel it in the legs.  

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The Edmonton race is one of the five major series races on the international level but the field was not as strong as some of the international races where the Europeans comprise the bulk of the top competitors.  There were however a few good athletes in my category and when you are out of racing for many months you can never know how much better your competition has gotten.

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Many of you probably know the result of my return in Edmonton.  It was not Gold but the race kind of went how I expected it to go.  I went out in the swim and blew up on the second half as I lacked the endurance. The hill on the bike zapped my energy more so then ever before and I never felt as though I got into a rhythm over top of my pedals.  The run was just a survival fest  as my legs were heavy and sloppy and I felt as though I have no power to drive my left leg forward.  I was passed on the second lap of the run by a great runner from Australia Jonathon Goralach who surprised me out of nowhere with his improvements in the swim and bike. This result was humbling as it is difficult  knowing psychologically you are present but physically your body just won’t respond. I was not happy with Silver in Edmonton but it was at least a good start to my come back.    The next race was the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Gold Coast Australia and I would have to have a much beter performance and be much more fit than at the race in Edmonton as all of the top guys would be there.  

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Blind Baby Daddy Blog 5: The Sounds and Scents of Babyhood 

 Kennan is working on being the next Target model.  Now he just needs a publicist to market him :) 

Kennan is working on being the next Target model.  Now he just needs a publicist to market him :) 

Well, I know its been way too long for this blog to come out and I apologize but I have been trying to figure out this daddy job.  Without sight, it involves quite a bit more trial and error as well as attention.  There is no glancing over the shoulder from the room next door to see what he has in his hands or mouth or how far he has moved from in just the past few seconds.  The use of facial expressions to determine what he is trying to convey is off the table unless of course I get right up in his grill like the college football coach after making a bonehead play.   With this said, I expect in a year or two that Kennan will ask, “Daddy, why are you always up in my face?”  As my vision continues to decline, I am beginning to rely more on the sounds and scents of babyhood.

As I mentioned, Kennan likes to let his emotions known through his expression of excitement. He loves to pounce on the ball pit balls like a lion going after their prey.

Baby Kennan is a kid with a personality and that is good.   He lets you know how he is thinking.  He grunts, moans, cackles, giggles, babbles, thumps on occasion and pitter patters.  Before placing him down in any room I make sure that I know what toys are in the room as I often use the sounds from the toys to know where he is.  If I am out of sight for too long I often hear a pitter patter on the hard wood floors followed by an eager drawn out groan of excitement.  If for some reason I don’t  get the above cues that Kennan is vigorously attempting to get to his daddy than I can just walk in his direction and I am sure to feel  the trail  of newly excreted drool on the floor.  There is a reason that we have nicknamed him “Bulldog” and its not because he’s fat and pudgy.  

The noises of Kennan bashing his baby walker into anything in this path. These are just some of the familiar noises that I hear on a daily basis.

It seems that just when I learn his little routine it changes and I start over again.  The typical pattern is I am awaken each morning at 6 AM on the dot either by screaming from Kennan in his crib most likely because he is hungry or by our furry family “Grouchy Old Man” Retina barking/wining because he wants fed or Gunther thumping around  like a bunny  in an  XXXL size body.  Immediately, I rescue Kennan from the inprisonment of the baby crib, walk through the grenade field of toys and other trash that he likes better than his toys and attempt to put the puzzle pieces of a baby bottle together all while holding the recently woken bear.   Raised dots on the side of his bottle mark the 6oz mark as I am unable to read any of the labels and I use the old drop of milk on the wrist technique for temperature.  Once the little kiddo either drinks the whole bottle or decides he doesn’t want it and starts blowing raspberries I know he is done and then it is time to go to the war zone (aka. play area).  My normal routine is to leave him in the war zone with some of his favorite trash (boxes, foam, bubble wrap and newspapers) while I make my breakfast  and a pot of coffee.  As I do this I often here drum-like pounding or bashing of toys together followed by excited babbling. On occasion I hear the thump of Kennan’s head or bottom knocking the floor which is followed by either laughing because he thinks that hitting his head is funny or crying.  Within 15 minutes of playing I go and smell his bottom and typically there is a nice scent of vinegar and its time to change the diaper.  

Kennan loves playing with the foam roller while dressed in his hippie hat and clothes. This is a great video to depict the many noises and excitement that makes on a daily basis.

One of my favorite things to do with Kennan is sit in front of him and make the sounds of barn yard animals.  I may not see the exact facial expression that he is making but I know when I hear his little giggles he has a huge smile on his face and those are his favorites.  At this point  he loves the Oink of the pig and the croaking frog the best.  Much of the time when I am making these animal noises  there is silence in the room as I am sure he is wondering what the heck his daddy is doing.  It is my hope that in the near future I will have a little friend to oink and croak along with me and we can make some good tunes.  

 I have made it one of my goals in his life to everyday do something that makes him totally start cracking up in laughter.  Not just make him smile but rather billow into a continuous flurry of giggles that he seems to be unable to control.  As you can imagine that this involves a little bit of work and creativity as the same trick that worked yesterday is probably not going to work again today.  Lately, I have begun to get down next to him in the starting blocks for the 50yd crawl dash and we have been racing.  I typically get out of the blocks faster than him but let me tell you that kid can get moving when he gets excited.  He initially thought this was very funny when I got down next to him in the blocks but now he doesn’t giggle as much.  I just attribute this to the fact that he is now seeing it as a competition.  As drool comes rushing out of his mouth he is now saying, “bring it on daddy!”  

Every day is a new day as a Blind Baby Daddy and I am sure that the sounds and smells are only going to grow and become even louder in the near future.  I hope you will continue to join along in my Blind Baby Daddy journey and please chime in on Facebook or via message if there are any specific topics that you would like to hear more about with respect to being a daddy while also being blind.  In the meantime, I will try to become more frequent in sharing my Blind Baby Daddy moments. 

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Blind Baby Daddy Blog 4: Blind Man Coming Through

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Last blog I spoke about some of the thoughts that went through my mind in the planning for the baby.  Now that baby Kennan is alive and growing faster than those weeds in the garden.  One milestone event in every parent's life is traveling with the baby for the first time.  Baby Kennan has now become a seasoned traveler and along with that has come a little chaos.  

The first time we traveled with Kennan, I thought we were moving.  We had the normals including car seat, stroller, car seat back, stroller bag, diaper bag, breast milk pump and a few articles of our own personal clothing but just enough to avoid being in the nude.  We also traveled with our small dog Retina who is very attached to Brittney.  This creates a problem when the dog wants to be on mommy's lap just as much as baby.  So we had Blind Baby Daddy (me), Retina the dog, baby Kennan and Brittney.  The picture of me with the baby carrier and my white stick  is a classic one.  

The first trip with Kennan went without too many memorable moments except that Brittney and I were unable to get seats together which created a bit of a problem when I had to return Kennan to Brittney to eat but couldn't find her.  Its a little awkward when a guy  is  pacing back in forth in the aisle trying to use some sort of visual cue  to recognize mommy.  I felt kind of awkward stopping at a random person and saying, "Hey, I'm looking for the mom to this child.  Its my kid but I can't find my wife."  Instead of doing this, I just started saying, "Brittney" multiple times hoping for a response.  It was kind of like playing my own game of Marco Polo. 

 Baby Kennan and Mommy hanging out in LA getting ready to head to LAX.  This is TOO cute!!!

Baby Kennan and Mommy hanging out in LA getting ready to head to LAX.  This is TOO cute!!!

Our most recent trip was to my sports manager Carie Goldberg's wedding outside Los Angeles.  This time Brittney's mom, also known as Gigi, came out to take care of baby Kennan during the wedding and then came back with us to Seattle to be grandma for a little longer.  The return flight home brought a little chaos.  Our flight was at 12:30pm and we were running a little late.  We left for the airport a few minutes before 11am but unusual Sunday morning traffic and long lines at the airport left us scrambling to make our flight.  I first went to the customer service desk with Kennan and my white cane knowing that  we would need some extra time and this was the only option I could think of to make sure we made our flight.  As we are trying to multi task putting the 5 pieces of luggage  we had to check, Kennan of course decides this was a good time to drop a deuce in his diaper but that one was going to have to wait.  

It took 15 minutes but we got all our boarding passes and scurried to security.  With Gigi being of age for a  senior she got premier access.  I quickly passed Kennan off to Gigi to take through with her premier access.  Brittney and I went through regular security and with new regulations they are now asking that all food items be removed from bags. We probably had 5 bins of stuff and the clock was ticking. At this point it was 30minutes before departure and Gigi was through security and headed to the gate as I recommended she do.  As our luggage went through security of course my stuff was picked for special check.  The clock was ticking and i told Brittney to just go to the gate and if I don't make it than at least they will get on the plane.  It was the definition of frustrating as there must have been 25 TSA workers  on the back side of security but most of which were just standing around chatting and conversing.  I feel like TSA officers have become the formerly stereotyped police officers all hanging out on the corner  but using five people to do one man's work.  There was now a back up of bags that needed checked but only one person doing the checks and passengers were getting restless.  Finally they pulled aside my stuff  and I had no idea what was suspicious to them.

As my bag was checked, Brittney was calling to tell me that they were closing the gates.  Despite  Brittney explaining to the gate agent that her husband is blind and is stuck at security, the agent wanted no part of that.  While on the phone the woman at TSA returned and said, "You are all set to go sir.  Your Goldfish looked like explosives."  Without fully taking in what she said I said to Brittney, "Okay, I'm running.  Where is the gate?"  I whipped out my white cane and started just running.  As I was running I was kind of laughing to myself  about what others were thinking as they saw a man running through the airport with a white cane.  Just as I was thinking about this I was running down a slight ramp  and hit a small flat landing and almost took a nose dive.  Brittney saw me and started yelling, "Aaron over here.." Luckily, they had not closed the doors and as I said hello to Kennan he started to giggle as though he knew what was going on and thought it was funny.  

 WATCH OUT for those Goldfish snacks when traveling :p

WATCH OUT for those Goldfish snacks when traveling :p

As we walked on the plane I was still shocked that my bags got pulled out because the goldfish snacks that I had pulled out into the bin was the alert to flag my bag for further search as it was perceived as an explosive.  There may need to be further security training if the goldfish snacks were signaling explosives or maybe I need to further check what the ingredients of the cheesy goldfish snacks I have been eating.  If I was plotting something, I also don't think I would put my explosive Goldfish out in the bin.  Regardless of the hold up, the bright side was that it paid off to use my white can as a warning sign to, "Watch Out, blind man coming through."

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Blind Baby Daddy Blog 3: A Look Inside My Head Pre Baby

Preparing mentally to have one’s first child is nerve racking for even the most put together and organized person.  Add  in the fact that I am not one of those organized  people and when you are blind the first time for everything is always interesting made even the thought of having a child a little overwhelming.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the type of guy that would run out of the room if asked to hold a baby, but I am the type that picks up little kids and swings them around for hours until they are so beat they pass out in the living room and look like the boxer that just got TKO.

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I wouldn’t say I was the most educated on baby stuff prior to Brittney getting pregnant.  To be honest I had never even been to a baby shower.  I had been known to take a box housing a diaper cake from off the porch and put it in the fridge if that gives you a little idea of my baby knowledge.  This also may have been a reason that I was told I need to start reading some books on babies and fatherhood after we found out Brittney was pregnant.  No use going to the bookstore for me though as that is equivalent to going to the nearby dried out forest and setting a match to it.  I found a few on Audible that seemed to get good reviews and started listening.  One of the books I read was The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott which is a sixteen chapter journey meant to guide expectant fathers through the emotions and stages of pregnancy and through early childhood. The book partially served its purpose but in reality it just created more questions in my head of what the heck I was going to do as a new daddy that is blind, working full time, trying to compete as an athlete and living across the country from family.  The added dimension of being blind and living in an uncertain world is what is of interest to all of you.  I know what you all want and that is to get into my head of what I am thinking and so that is what I will do in this blog.  

As I listened to The Expectant Father, it of course talked about all of the stages of pregnancy and the importance of being involved such as attending MD appointments and providing for the pregnant and often uncomfortable wife.  This is not as easy when you are blind.  Where a sighted individual can jump in a car to drive 30 minutes and back, this is less convenient and comes at a much higher price when you are blind.  Besides becoming expensive, this also brings up another aspect of being blind and living in an uncertain world. There is a constant internal and sometimes external struggle to keep a job and prove to your employer that you are just as valuable as your sighted counterpart.  Thus, the mental battle of deciding which  appointment and which situation is important enough to leave work and be present was very difficult.  Along with comes the added stress of keeping your job, knowing that a baby is on the way and your income and benefits are essential to support the family.  These were just a few of the thoughts that lingered in my head while reading the book and going through my daily life. 

One more thing that the book did was make the nine month journey more real.  Just like being the man in a relationship, being the father in a family comes with societal and implied expectations.  It is when confronted with these expectations where the path gets more opaque and a different path may be best.  Let’s take a look at some of the mind boggling conversations   that I had with myself as my mind drifted reading the book. 

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Conversation 1:   “Baby just pooped, or did he? I undo the diaper and I luckily have enough vision to tell if its poop or not but there is no way I will see the infamous blue line on all diapers.  I get the baby’s poopy diaper off and grab a new one.  I begin cleaning  what I see and like everything in life get down there right in the action to try to get it all.  It is probably pretty important to get him all cleaned right?  There is a chance I may miss some and God forbid he blew out his diaper and it squirted onto the onesie.  I wouldn’t want my child to get an infection because of my poor cleaning job.  They have bud-ays that people sit on for this reason as adults why can’t I just create one for the baby.  A good old hose job couldn’t hurt the little guy.” 

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Conversation 2:  “The book keeps talking about the importance of reading to the baby both in the womb and out.  Well this is all fine and dandy but I don’t think they mean having a computer synthesized voice read books out loud to the baby.  Granted, companies have definitely improved the quality of text readers from the old R2 D2 robot of ten years ago but I don’t think that Peter of Boris (a few of the computer voices) are close to matching my voice yet.  In addition, the visual pictures of the book are probably more important than anything else once the child is born so I least need the book. I don’t know Braille and it is kind of an outdated language anyways so Braille books are out of the question.  I guess I will just make up the text of the book and the book will change every time I read it to the baby.  This will work for the first year or so I am sure but babies aren’t dumb and at some point he is going to realize that daddy’s stories don’t make sense at all.”

Conversation 3:  “The baby needs fed and also needs his medication.  Do they make large print baby bottles or audible syringes to measure small amounts of medication?  I don’t think so and the  black lines for liquid ounces on the bottle that I drew in permanent marker washed off during cleaning the bottles.  There is plenty of milk but the bottle warmer has only tiny print and I have tried to memorize buttons but it keeps changing the time.  I know the old put it hot water trick but I have a screaming baby that wants to be fed now and a daddy that is taking pictures of the bottle warmer on the iPhone and blowing them up to read the screen.  This may be a solution to the problem but it is not milk and the baby is still screaming.”

Conversation 4: We have arrived at the time when mom is back to work and baby has to go to  child care.  I need to help out in getting the little one to and from the sitter.  I can’t drive so that option is out the door.  This means  the baby will learn to ride the bus early in life.  This also  means that I no longer will be able to roll out the door late and run frantically to catch the bus.  I can't imagine that running with the baby in the stroller down the sidewalk when its early in the AM and dark would be a smart thing to do when you don't see so well.  Next thing you know, the stroller hits a crack in the sidewalk and you go flying over the stroller and the baby gets shaken up and never wants to go in the stroller again.   If we make it to the bus, the question arises, "What happen when there is an older man with a walker sitting in the front seats for passengers and people with disabilities?"  I now have a baby stroller that needs to be belted in and I myself have a disability but don't outwardly show my blindness.  I don't want to kick the old man out of his seat but blind baby daddy has to sit somewhere!!!

Above are just some of the many conversations that have gone through my head while preparing  and having our first child.  There will be many more stories to come and I hope you all have enjoyed this read. 

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Blind Baby Daddy Blog #2: Prepping For More Than a Baby

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I'm assuming that all of you have read Blind Baby Daddy Blog 1 and know how baby Kennan was conceived, let's move on to the immediate aftermath after conception.  Immediately after  we found out about Brittney's pregnancy, the house shopping began.  As men, I think we like to tackle one of these major life changing experiences at a time.  Women however want to get the house, remodel it, deal with pregnancy and continue working all at one time.  I don't know if this was how it went for all of you reading this but this was how it went for us.  There seems to be a delay in reality for men and we may not snap into reality until reality hits us in the head.  

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As someone that is blind, I would be lying if I said I was a researcher and planner.  The increased time required, lack of accessibility and limitations on transportations makes this less efficient than the sighted world.  Those that know me  also know that I live quite a busy life in general and so in order to make sure that all ends are met I often rely on others  and use strategies that I have learned to maximize time.   You will never find me going into a Home Depot with a list of items and attempt to use my magnifying glass and binoculars to find a two inch long screw.  I would be more successful finding a micro machine car in a corn field.  Instead, I would immediately find a worker, tell them I'm visually impaired, and have them help me find the two inch screw.  In this same way, Brittney did much of the research in finding houses that met our needs.  I pretty much gave her full reign with a few major requirements that were based upon my needs due to vision.  The house had to be in a walkable area and public transportation needed to be within close proximity as well.  I would never put the burden on Brittney to take Kennan and I everywhere nor would I allow my child and I to be stranded out in the countryside without a way to get food and go for morning runs in the Bob stroller safely.  Another requirement was that we have a yard for the dogs and baby Kennan.  Considering that outside of 10ft I could mistake my dog for a blanket or patch of dirt, it was important to have containment. The last thing that we were going to do was get a home that our dogs and our child had to be on a leash.  I mean, I probably will end up using a leash on Kennan but just not at my home. 

We were fortunate to find our future house on the first time out with the real estate agent.  With the cut throat housing market of Seattle, we did take a rare opportunity to use the blind card to persuade the owner why this home was perfect for us.  We were very fortunate to get a great home and we had a great team of landscapers, mom and mother-in-law (Mary and Becky) and a very inexpensive contractor (Dad Mike).  Well, we did have to hire quite a bit of help but we couldn't be more thankful for the help from family that we received.  Home remodels and using large power tools are also not one of my strong qualities.  Although there are many blind individuals that are very handy, I am not one of them.  I have still yet to find audible tape measures, audible drills  and electric saws that notify you before cutting appendages off.   Although having a home with slanted picture frames, walls with paint drips and door frames that creek would be so up my alley, it probably wouldn't fly with all the sighted folk that walk into the house nor would it help the resale value of our home.

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The remodel marathon began immediately after closing in early June and continued through our move in on September 1st.  Most of my work on the house came in the form of carrying tons of large boxes, hacking down a jungle of blackberry bushes and hauling over five tons worth of yard waste to the dump.  If you ever need a mover, I am your man.  I can go forever and Brittney gladly offers my services to all her friends that our moving. 

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Life never seems to give us a break as just one week after closing on the house I was walking around the wooded trails in our backyard and spotted a huge tree smashed into our already rickety fence.  My first instinct was that I would go find a chain saw and cut the tree up.  This idea was vetoed and right fully so by the wife.  I had never used a chain saw and the last time I saw a blind man with a chain saw was on the NBC TV series Growing Up Fisher where Mel Fisher told his family to stay well out of reach of a giant tree that he was about to saw down in his front yard.  I did not go get a chain saw however I did go in the old shed in our backyard and pulled out a hand saw.  As blind/VI individuals we are often seen intentionally or unintentionally as incapable of being independent and therefore we feel as though we always need to prove ourselves.  With a little bit of this  mindset as well as a little bit of my own competitive tenacity, I was going to find a way to hack that load of lumber off my fence.  So with an old hand saw that was probably bent and rusty I went to town.  I sawed and I sawed and about an hour later I had some results to show for it.  I split the nearly two foot  tree trunk and then proceeded to pull it off the fence.  I was pretty proud of myself.  There is one thing that I haven't mentioned yet and that is that the tree had split in multiple places and so there was another huge  tree trunk that extended 30ft over the fence into the neighbors yard  in addition to the part I had already shredded off.  Needless to say, I called a handy friend of ours to help me cut down the remaining trees and saw them up into pieces.  He was pretty impressed with my manual labor work on the large trunk I had done wit the rusty old blade.  This gives you a little insight into a few of the things that we had going on as Brittney went through her first six months of pregnancy.  Things got even more chaotic as baby Kennan came closer to his debut into the world.

In the next blog, I will share some of my concerns, expectations and even some of my brilliant ideas towards becoming a daddy while also being blind.  How much did I know about babies before actually having one?  What was my plan for doing the dirty work of changing diapers?  How would we transport baby Kennan around?  All of these things will be covered in the next episode of this ongoing blog series.  The next blog is sure to get you laughing as well as spur you to push the "share button"  to a friend.  Until then, so long.  I have to get back to making up stories while reading to baby Kennan.

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