Last Updated on: January 27th, 2015
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be blind?
Do you know anyone with limited sight?
What would you do if you lost your vision?
Stop and think about these questions for a minute. Being able to see is something most of us take for granted, isn’t it?
A Touching Video
I recently watched a video that brought tears to my eyes.
I’m going to describe it to you, but I’d prefer if you just watched it because I’m not actually describing it for you, but for Max, one of my blind readers, and the guy who inspired me to write this.
He’s also the guy who is featured in today’s inspirational story, Interview with a Blind Man. (I’d embed the video here if I could, but I can’t because it is not a YouTube video.)
It’s less than two minutes long, and I hope you watch it, to see if it touches you the same way it touched me. It’s also important to today’s post, because it’s about a blind man.
You can find the video RIGHT HERE.
What this video is about
This video shows a blind man sitting on the street in front of a building on a piece of cardboard with a tin can and a sign that reads, “I’m blind. Please help.”
A few people who pass by throw a few coins on the ground for him. A young woman wearing sunglasses passes him, stops, and turns around. She approaches the man, takes his sign, flips it over, and writes something on it, and leaves. He feels her shoes when she stops. Viewers can clearly see this.
After she walks away, everyone who passes this man starts throwing their coins – many coins – on the ground for him. The woman later returns and the guy asks her what she did. She said that she wrote the same thing on his sign, but in different words.
What she wrote was this: “It’s a beautiful day and I CAN’T see it.”
How This Video Affected Me
Once, I had to do an experiment for a course I took in aging. I had to blindfold myself and try to live as a blind person. It was a lot harder than I imagined it to be, even though I knew the layout of my apartment like the back of my hand and could navigate in the dark very well. The only thing that I found easy was going to the bathroom. Everything else was really hard, and I can still remember what a learning experience that was!
I was moved (not quite to tears, but nearly, as my eyes moistened and my heart swelled) when I was done watching the aforementioned video, for a couple of reasons. The first is obvious; I am a sighted person, and I’m grateful for this. The second is that it made me think of one of my new blogging friends, Maxwell Ivey, who will never be able to see what I see because he is blind, too.
I thought this video would be a great way to introduce you all to Max. A while back, I promised him I’d feature him on my blog one day. Today, I’m keeping that promise.
Max is an amazing person. In my eyes, anyways. And no, there was no pun intended there.
Let me tell you about the way I met him.
How I Met Max
I met Max when I guest posted on Ashley’s blog, Mad Lemmings, offering advice on how to help readers edit their blog posts. Max left me a comment and knocked my socks off when he told me that he is a blind blogger. Geez. I thought I had blogging troubles! Humph. Not compared to Max, I don’t!
I can SEE, and Max can’t.
This sure puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
At first, I’ll admit I was a bit uncomfortable at having to reply to a blind person in the comment section. I was also a bit taken aback at his bluntness.
However, I was intrigued.
I’ve seen a couple of blind people in the city where I live, but I’ve never befriended or even spoken to any of them. Mostly, I’ve seen them use public transportation. Some had white canes and some had seeing-eye dogs that sported a sign that said “Working dog – please don’t touch!”
So when I encountered Max, I thought to myself, “Now here’s an opportunity I should not waste.”
And waste it, I didn’t.
My Communications with Max
I took the time to start emailing Max and get to know him. I was surprised at the many different things I learned, too. I wanted to tell Max’s story. I wanted the world to know about him.
I was thrilled when Max granted me permission to write about being blind. I was equally pleased when he agreed to an interview. It turns out that Max is a very nice guy.
Some of you may know Max already. He belongs to several groups and is active on various social media platforms. In fact, he hangs out online quite a bit, especially on his website, The Midway Marketplace, a place where he helps others buy, sell, and trade new and used quality amusement rides, games, food trailers, inflatables, etc. He and his family have been in the amusement park business for years.
And yes, he does all of this despite the fact that he has no sight!
This is flabbergasting to me. Honestly, it is. I couldn’t imagine running a business while being unable to see!
Now, I know that there are a lot of resources available to the blind, but I’ve always wondered about a few things – like how blind people know what to wear without mismatching their clothes, how they cook and shop for themselves, and what they do for fun, to name a few.
How do you go about asking a complete stranger these things?
Obviously, you can’t. But if you have a bit of guts and add a touch of ingenuity, it seems like you can do almost anything using technology these days. 😉
I broached the subject of having Max tell his story on my blog and was extremely happy when he said I could ask him anything I wanted!
Through emails, Max revealed a lot. I didn’t interview him per se, but I did ask a ton of questions, which he answered. I then asked him if I could write up my questions and answers in a mock interview, and he said yes. I also shared the post with him prior to publishing it for all the world to see.
I just hope I do him justice and tell his story to his satisfaction!
My Interview with Max
ME: Have you always been blind?
MAX: No, but I am almost totally blind now, having only light perception. My vision cannot be measured. I have RP (Retinitis pigmentosa), which is a degenerative eye disease. It is generally thought to be carried on the mother’s side and is known to skip generations. I started off with perfect vision, was diagnosed at age four, and had a large loss of vision when I was about 12 or 13. It’s pretty common to lose a lot of sight during puberty. I used to joke with people that about the time I would have wanted to look at girls I couldn’t see them anymore! (Max laughs)
ME: Do you know how to read Braille? If so, when did you learn it?
MAX: Yes, I know Braille. I learned it after school when I was in junior high. I studied about an hour a day, three days a week, for a year. I haven’t used it much. But Braille is making a comeback mainly because of electronic Braille displays that allow you to read books in Braille without having to have huge piles of Braille paper.
And Braille has actually had a resurgence thanks to the digital Braille displays. You can download the ASCII code for a braille book from the national library service for the blind and read them on your portable electronic braille devices.
I’d like to get one of those displays, but they are very expensive. However, they do make surfing some parts of the web much easier.
ME: Is that what you like to do for fun – read?
MAX: One of my favorite things growing up was reading. I read at a very early age. As my vision got worse, I’d had to change first to thicker and thicker glasses then to large print and eventually to records and tapes. I still enjoyed the stories but it was frustrating and I had to learn to adapt. Now, I prefer listening to audio books and absolutely love old time radio shows. Theaters of the Mind was made for blind people. (Note: For generations, fans and critics have characterized classic American radio drama as a “theater of the mind.”)
I read a lot all books downloaded from the national library service for the blind. We used to have cassettes and before that records but now it’s all done with a digital audio player. They even now have Smartphone apps for listening to your books. I read just about anything with recent requests being more biographies, autobiographies, religious and inspirational, but I also enjoy mystery, science-fiction, thrillers, westerns, short stories, classics, and romance. I know it’s not often a guy will admit this, but my favorites in that last category are the historical romances with Stephanie Laurels being my favorite. Some other favorites are Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Tony Hillerman, Mary Higgins Clark, John and Faye Kellerman, Tammy Hogue, John Sandford, Robert B. Parker, Steven King, Dean Koontz, and the various Star Trek and Star Wars novels.
ME: I love reading, too, and read some of the same authors as you! I’m a big lover of murder mysteries. I also like watching television, which brings me to my next question. . . Do you watch TV, and if so, how?
MAX: I like to watch TV or listen to it. Usually it’s with family, telling me what’s on. There is a service called Described Audio that has narrators that will tell you what’s going on when there isn’t dialogue. But the law that requires the service only requires it on 50 hours a quarter and only in the top 50 markets.
I don’t use Netflix but some of their shows come with the described audio. If you want to check it out press the SAP secondary-audio button on your TV. If there are descriptions, you will get English; if there isn’t, then you will get Spanish. And a recent law now requires that, starting next year, all TVs and TV-like devices will have to have audio controls.
I spent a lot of time one day, not long ago, watching the NFL playoffs. I prefer sports on radio to TV because radio announcers have far less time to fill with irrelevant information. I got a Serius radio for Christmas, so am looking forward to listening to more games broadcast by the home team’s announcers. I follow the Houston Texans, Rockets, Astros, and the Dynamo during the playoffs. My hockey team is the Washington Capitals and my brother, Patrick, is a Philadelphia Eagles fan. He is a very passionate fan and it’s more fun here when the Eagles win. (Max smiles and winks.)
ME: What else do you like to do for entertainment?
MAX: I like musical theatre and other performing arts but haven’t been in a long time because I don’t have anyone to go with. I enjoy the symphony but not opera. And because of the music, I like ballet even though I can’t see it.
I like swimming, bowling, fishing, camping, etc. Like lots of people, there are lots of things I enjoy, but the problems lie in finding the time and someone to go with.
I love the movies too, but we often wait until they come out on DVD and watch them on our projector. Then I can listen with audio descriptions. My brother, Patrick, has a projector, so we have movie nights. I guess I should mention I am the oldest of three kids – all boys. I’m 47, Michael is 46, and Patrick is 41.
ME: Is that who you live with?
MAX: I share the home with my mom, Patrick, his teen son, Seth, and my crazy dog, Penny. I tell people Penny is crazy but not dangerous, unless you have cheese, and then all bets are off!
(Max and I both laugh.)
ME: Speaking of cheese, how do blind people go grocery shopping? And how do you buy things using money and not get ripped off?
MAX: When I lived on my own, I called the store and asked them to have someone available to help me. Then I made a list in my head of what I wanted. Sometimes I printed it out. Now that I’m living with the family, we sit down and make the list and then a couple of the family members will go to the store and do the actual shopping.
Since having gastric surgery, I eat four to five small meals a day now, and the whole family has gotten a lot healthier. It’s important for the shopper to be able to read those labels. I don’t have one, but a lot of blind people now have their own bar-code readers to help with shopping. You can connect one of them to your Smartphone and they will read everything, right down to the cooking directions if the manufacturer included that in the code.
With money, you fold it different ways or keep it in separate parts of your wallet. And they make bill identifiers. I have one of those and used to use it all the time when I still worked with my family’s carnival. However, the Smartphones are quickly replacing these electronic bill readers. You can now download an app that will use the Smartphone’s camera to scan and identify the number of a bill.
ME: That’s amazing! Technology is not my strong suit. It constantly amazes me, though. Do you use a lot of technology?
MAX: Yes, there is a lot of new technology out there! I fear that I don’t use as much of it because I am kind of used to how I am already doing it. I know so many blind people who use iPhones like it’s nothing. I had to go with a dumber Smartphone because the speech on the android choices from Sprint weren’t that great and I was kind of afraid to get an iPhone.
Almost any phone now can be made to talk by installing a program called Mobile Access available in the apps centers. There are also talking GPS devices. There are a lot of video cameras – especially the flip ones where a blind person can do self-videos. The Perkins school in Massachusetts now offers a regular course in video-making for their students. One of my favorites is the lanyard that Disney offers its blind customers that will give you an audio description of the ride while you are riding it along with help get you around the park. I sell rides but have never been much for riding them, but I want to go to Disneyland to ride some just for the video descriptions!
A lot of TV shows and movies have audio descriptions on the secondary audio. There are more in the UK, Europe, and Australia because the TV networks and film studios have fought the passage of more expansive laws. But just a couple weeks ago the FCC approved rules for future TVs well may have the agency wrong but the point is starting next year all TVs and TV-like devices will have to have spoken menus on them. In the UK they recently started installing talking set-top boxes in most blind people’s homes.
ME: Wow. How do use your computer?
MAX: I was one of the early converts to Mac computers mainly because of the fact that the voice and screen-reading software on the Mac are an integrated part of the software instead of a 3rd party application add-on like when you use a Windows computer. Also I was having trouble finding a laptop that would stand up to the strain of running a screen-reader. That was before the dual-core processors, but once I was happy with my Mac and got used to the differences in approach, I decided to stay with my Mac. Now a lot of state agencies are coming around to the Mac because you can get a Mac with speech for less than the cost of adding screen-reading software to a Windows computer. And it’s great to be able to walk up to any Mac computer, press command F5 and have it start talking. With a Windows computer, if it breaks you have no computer until it’s fixed.
ME: Yeah, no kidding. I don’t know what I would do if something ever happened to my computer! Now, I’d really like to know how you know what to wear; a purple shirt and orange pants don’t really go well together . . . especially if you have green shoes! How do you cope with this aspect of your life?
MAX: Since having gastric surgery, I have given away all my old clothes. I only have a few outfits right now. I will have to get back in the habit of labeling them. You can purchase metal tags that you can sew into your clothes that tell you the color, or you can use differently shaped pins to determine the color. Or you can mark the hangers. Right now, my four favorite shirts all have distinct features I can feel. The black long-sleeved shirt is long-sleeved and has embroidery. The green pullover has a button on the back of the collar to hold it in place, and the red and purple pullovers have unusual collar designs. There are also clips you can use to keep your socks together in the laundry so you don’t have to figure out how to mate them when they are through.
Oh, and the nice people at Robert Graham clothing said that in honor of my weight loss that they are sending me a free shirt.
ME: Very cool. Congratulations! I had no idea how the blind dealt with the clothing issue. Thanks for clearing that up. Now, let’s talk about getting around. Do you use a cane and/or a seeing-eye dog?
MAX: I use a cane. I have never had a dog or really considered getting one. I have read the stories of many blind people with dogs and I understand they can be a big help.
ME: There is one person who I have seen in my city that uses a seeing-eye dog. I’ve encountered her on the bus – public transportation. I don’t think she’s married, either; she’s always alone, with her dog. Are you married, single, divorced, or is your situation “complicated”? (She asks mischievously with a grin.)
MAX: (laughs for a moment before replying) I’m single. I’ve never married and have no kids. I’ve had several serious girlfriends but just hasn’t worked out to this point. I have a friend named Marie who lives about 40 miles from here. She is nice, but we don’t get to be in the same room often enough, I think. And when people ask me what I’m looking for, I tell them a sweet voice, an even temper and a valid license! I’m 6’5, 256 pounds so being tall would be good, but not a necessity. I like most accents but British and Australian are my favorites.
ME: How did you cope with losing your sight?
MAX: When it comes to my emotional response, I think there were two different ones. While I never got so bad as to contemplate suicide like some, I did have some bad days where I would suffer from depression. I also ate. I know that, because of my blindness, my younger brothers were allowed more freedom. There were a lot of things I was told not to do, or was discouraged from doing. My brothers spent more time outdoors and I spent more of it with my mom and grand mom. I always thought I ate as a result of not having enough to keep me entertained, but I think I also used it as a coping mechanism.
And back then there wasn’t as much technology. This was about the time I learned Braille. Before that I had been reading large print books and then later reading with a closed circuit camera stem that enlarged the text and put it on a TV screen. The device was huge. This was before PC computers and way before any of them could talk. I did dislike the fact that the only way I could play video games was to set the difficulty level to “B” on our old Atari system. I was the only one my grandmother would let hook the games up to her larger TV. I think being part of troop 962 a scouting troop for blind people in Houston back then for the four years I was in high school was a big help in avoiding depression. Plus I was part of a large family. My mom had five brothers and sisters and we all lived on one large piece of property; so there were lots of kids who grew up with me and my lack of vision. One thing I will say about losing so much vision is that with RP you lose your peripheral vision, night vision, and depth perception.
ME: Do you ever try to “see” someone with your hands, to compensate for your vision loss?
MAX: I wasn’t confident enough then to try the feel their face like some blind people have done in the movies. I generally don’t ask to feel peoples’ faces. I have done it with some people who I have known for a while or with those who have asked me. The funny thing is the one time I ever did it is part of one of those regret stories.
ME: Do tell!
MAX: Okay. I went to a junior college out of high school. After two years there, I transferred to Texas A & I University. I got involved in student government there and didn’t apply myself enough to my studies. I then transferred to Corpus Christi state which was changed to Texas A & M Corpus Christi by the time I graduated. My first semester there I was what they call a transient student so I had no money for readers. They found me volunteers. One of them was named Diane. I don’t know why I never got her last name because she read several tests for me. I was commuting from my home that first semester. Well, when things go bad, most of us go home. She used to sit on a bench and wait with me for my ride. If I had been more alert to signs I might have done something, but I was focusing on my studies. All I knew about her was that she was a microbiology major. She had volunteered for the art department posing for a sculpture and she told me she was a coppery blonde. Well I was trying to get into law school at that time mainly because my family thought it was a good idea. So I went back to Texas A & I in the summer to retake some of my courses and get grade reconsiderations that would improve my GPA. Diane showed up there saying she needed a chemistry class that wasn’t offered at CCSU so she could graduate early and take a job. I thought this is something so I asked her if I could feel her face. She agreed, and it was enjoyable. I also felt her hands shoulders and neck. When we parted, I wished I had pushed to see more.
She gave me her number and I called a couple of times. I got her roommate who promised to give her my messages. Guess she never got them; because she didn’t return my call. I guess I should have tried harder! Since then, I only do the “feel their face thing” – or other parts – after I’ve known them a while and I’ve never asked or consented to feel a guy’s face. I think it’s a “guy thing” -we just don’t do that.
ME: Yep. I get that. Goes against some kind of “guy code” or something. (I smile.) Max, can you tell me more about you, your education, the kinds of jobs you’ve done, and your website?
MAX: Sure. After graduating from Texas A & M Corpus Christi in 1990 with a degree in Political Science I was unable to gain admission to any of the law schools on my list. I went through the Lyons World Services for the blind training course to become a worker in the IRS automated collection site. I went to work in Oklahoma City in January of 1991. I worked in the Oklahoma City office until October of 1992. The callers finally got to me and I decided to go home and work with the family in our small traveling carnival.
I helped with the bookings and had a couple of kids’ games – a duck pond and a balloon dart. Things were pretty good until my father died of lung cancer at an early age, and three years later we were pretty much out of the carnival business. We still have some fair contracts and we maintain them by having our relatives who are still in the business provide the rides, games, and food. People like doing business with us because of all the years they have known us.
Six years ago I filed for the domain name and started working to establish myself as a full time amusement equipment re-seller or what some would call a broker. In the beginning, my only rides belonged to friends and family and I didn’t have a website for quite a while. My friend Pattie Moore (who I met online) put a page on her site for me. At that time, she was trying to launch a custom jewelry line so our products couldn’t have been more different, but she took a liking to me and wanted to help.
I seem to be lucky that way or blessed finding people to help. Robin Hallett helped with the header and my business cards. Kelly Corbin from Anarchy Entertainment helped by creating the logo. Adrienne Smith told me about CommentLuv and helped me install it. She also did the blog post on me being one of the five bloggers she admires. Now Ashley from Mad Lemmings has improved my home page added the “Follow Me” buttons, and is working on migrating the remaining pages from my old html site to the new WordPress site and he is going to try to help me add banner ads.
Someone has suggested – and I think it’s a good idea – that instead of trying to recruit 3rd-party ads, I should use the banners to promote my own ads. For example, say someone is looking at the trade publication or party rentals pages. They would see one of my ads for something I have for sale on the site – like a hot dog cart or a Ferris wheel or something.
There are still a lot of people who refuse to use my site because it is commission-based, but this actually works for me because it keeps a lot of the real junky equipment off of my site. It probably keeps me from having to say “no” or having to write descriptions that are brutally honest about the condition of the equipment offered.
I send out email newsletters once a week if I have new equipment to mention. You know about the blog. I am on all the major social media networks and have made several sales because of them. All my quick sales have come because someone on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter share a link with a friend of theirs.
I’m hoping to someday start a YouTube show about the amusement industry but I need two things: one more sale or a sponsor to pay the bills because traveling even for work is expensive and someone to go with. I need that partner-in-crime to do the driving, run the camera, help plan the trips, do the paperwork, help with editing, and help with the blog posts.
ME: I also would like to know if or how “smiley faces,” otherwise known as “emoticons,” are translated for you. Or do you even know? This might be a tough question, since you cannot see what I mean, and I’m not sure if I’m getting my question across to you correctly. Also, can I write “LOL” and have you know what that means? Or do I have to say “laughing out loud”? Does your translator translate short forms?
MAX: I’ll start with emoticons. I know what they are but don’t have a way to see or hear them on my computer. There is a way you can label graphics but you have to locate the image and then tell your screen reader what that image should be called. There are so many emoticons and even the same ones can be different sizes so I haven’t bothered. I am happy that so many people will actually type the word “smile” or “smiley” or “wink” or “grin” in their emails or social media posts.
Yes, you can say “lol” but that is a good question. I do get emails from people where everything is spelled out. Basically, if it’s something that everybody knows, then I am usually fine. But if it’s one of those codes that only the hard-core texters know, then spelling it out is probably good.
ME: Your honesty and candidness is amazing. I’m so happy you’re open to talking about yourself and your situation.
MAX: I’ve gotten much more confident about telling people I’m blind and sharing about it in posts where applicable. I will say up front that I am not one of the most outgoing blind people in person. I have had the training and can do just fine in a lot of situations but I’ve been hanging back as I have been working on myself getting healthier physically and developing my website site and blog.
ME: Do you have any regrets or resentments, or is there anything about your life that you don’t particularly like?
MAX: I did resent having to be in different classes in school. The teachers always made it feel like we were getting something the rest didn’t but I remember that in school everyone was nice to me and but I don’t recall having any close friends. The closest friends I made were in scouting. I still keep in touch with a couple of them and I’m on several groups for Eagle Scouts hoping I’ll find some of the others. (I was the first blind Eagle Scout in the Houston area council which covers most of southeast Texas. August 22, 1984 was a big day!)
But even when I was in Scouting, most of the time just I was just working hard to get by in classes. Thank goodness I was relatively bright and had built up a good reputation. I was in mostly regular classes but had at least one Special Ed class a day. Everyone knew me and talked to me in the halls. Same in college. Until my dad died, I was working hard at our business. I read at an early age, was into crafts, and have always comfortable with myself and quiet. I meet people pretty easily. I talk to people while waiting at doctor’s offices or buses – back when I took them. I have lots of good friends online, many of whom have asked me to visit them if ever in their area. Since losing weight, I find myself being more talkative and confident than before.
ME: You’ve mentioned gastric surgery a few times. I’d like for you to talk some more about that, if you would. I’ve read your story about this weight loss a bit on Real Into, but I’d like you to share more here, if you wouldn’t mind.
MAX: I have always been overweight. Back then, people still told kids to clean their plates and to grow up big and strong. In high school I put 300 pounds on my school ID but avoided scales. When I finally saw my gastric surgeon, Dr. Scarborough, I weighed 512 pounds. My brother has a picture from back when I was still working the kiddie high-striker on the family show that looks like I was even heavier than that before I quit traveling with the show. This morning I weighed 256.4 pounds, so if I say 256 that means I have lost 256 pounds or half my body weight.
I had what is called a duodenal switch. This is where they take out part of the stomach and part of the small intestine. You still have to keep a healthy diet and exercise regularly to get the full benefit of the surgery. There are people who lose a lot of weight and keep it off without really working the program but there are also people who think the surgery gives them a license to eat whatever, and so they don’t lose as much, and some even gain some weight. The procedure I had is relatively new. I didn’t want the lap band because it requires too much maintenance in my opinion. I didn’t want the bypass because it seems to be so much harder on the people that have it. I wanted what they call the “gastric sleeve” but my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. They would pay for the duodenal switch even though it is a more invasive surgery. I went through a clinic called the Texas Laparoscopy Consultants, or TLC for short. Talk about branding – when I posted those two videos I shared them on their FB page and mentioned that without the confidence that comes from the weight loss I may never have recorded them. I’m pretty impressed with the viewership of my videos so far. The Christmas message has had 101 views in about a month of being online, and the one I just posted with the carousel was up to 63 in a little over 3 days. People generally like the videos and, surprisingly enough, they like my singing!
For exercise, I ride a stationary bike, or as I call it, “the bike that doesn’t go anywhere.” My surgeon thinks I can lose about ten more pounds to get to my ideal weight. I figure it’s amazing because I never thought I’d ever be able to say I only need to lose ten pounds. So that would put me at 6 foot 4 and 250 pounds in my shoes. I weigh myself in bare feet here and there is about five pounds difference between what I weigh here and what I weigh in his office, but I can walk so much farther without getting tired or breathing hard. I can go up and down stairs more easily and, more importantly, my balance has improved a lot. For a while, I was avoiding ramps. As far as the diet part of it goes, I now eat about half protein, a quarter vegetable, and a quarter starch. I have to get 80 to 90 grams of protein a day. I also have to take 2500 to 3000 milligrams of calcium which I take in a chocolate-flavored chewable because they are more digestible. I also take 60 milligrams of iron a day. But I’m no longer taking any prescription meds.
I’m also no longer borderline diabetic, and they lowered by breathing mating for my sleep apnea from a BIPAP set at 18 to a CPAP set at 11. My ear, nose, and throat doctor says my windpipe is too narrow so I will always need to have the machine.
One of the best lessons I learned through the whole process is that it’s not about going without but it’s about making better choices. The first thing they pointed out to me is that I drink or was drinking a lot of milk and juice. You can take in more calories from liquid than you can from solids, so they got me to switch to fruit, dried fruit, low fat cheese slices, string cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt. I don’t drink caffeine because it leaches your water – and we all know the benefits of water. I go through a lot of Crystal Lite and other low-calorie drink mixers. My favorites are actually a store brand called Great Value.
ME: As someone who has struggled with her weight her entire lifetime, I’m simply astonished at how far you’ve come! Congratulations on your weight loss, Max!
MAX: Thank you, Lorraine. I want to add that, in our family, everything was about food. We celebrated success with family dinners or Chinese food. My dad used to be an expert at finding restaurants to stop at while traveling and knowing the places with the best buffets. When we were at events, he would say it was our duty to help support the local vendors by eating food from the independent food concessionaires. When you were bored, you ate. When you were nervous, you ate. When you were sad, you ate, and when you were tired, you ate to stay awake. Food was also used as a reward; if you did good, you got candy or ice cream.
Also it seems to me that when I was younger, meals were almost like a competition to see who could eat the most. It was almost like there was something wrong with you if you didn’t have at least two helpings. Eating was something I was good at. I was taller than all the other kids and put on weight faster than most of my nieces and nephews. Perhaps if I had gotten into sports or something to maintain my weight and build self-esteem, I might have been a wrestler or body-builder or something like that.
ME: Well, I think it’s great that you have made so many changes to your life and have improved your health. What are the things you struggle most with now?
MAX: I guess having to rely on others for help is one of my biggest problems. I have to work with a lot of photos and videos for my website. I had several videos I wanted my brother to help me with, and I have to wait for when he isn’t doing something for my mom or helping his son with school. It gets frustrating when others don’t seem to have time for me. Feelings of helplessness and dealing with them are still a big part of my life, but I think that they are just something that comes with being blind.
Then there are the opportunities to work on the site that I’m missing out on, because I don’t currently have that one person I can depend on. I’m actually in the market for a traveling companion. There are lots of fairs, festivals, carnivals, small amusement parks, and ride owners here in Texas and Louisiana that I could be visiting and doing shows on if I had a driver. There are many conventions and trade shows this time of year that I have yet to attend, as well. I don’t have a driver or the budget for air fare. Thank goodness I had the surgery and have been able to maintain a healthy diet, but I will admit to wondering what if I had had some candy or ice cream in the house last night? What if there had been a cold pizza? I may have been tempted to eat them! I’m just now realizing that there are many different reasons for why I used to eat, and coping with my frustrations is one of them.
I also believe that if I hadn’t been blind and could drive that the business my dad started might not have failed. I’ve always thought Patrick and Michael didn’t really want to be part of it, whereas it was all I really ever wanted.
ME: Max, before we end, I’d like to know a couple of other things. This one is kind of hard for me to ask, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Does being blind make you lonely? You seem to be an outgoing person, so I’m curious about how you go about making friends.
MAX: When it comes to socializing, blind people are just as varied as everyone else. I like to think of the line from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where he tells the follow-the-rules friend of his that life will go by too quick if you don’t stop every so often and look around. (Smile)
In junior high, I had to learn mobility – such as using a cane, how to ride a bus, how to cross streets, etc. Then I was learning braille. My family was doing the ride thing on the weekends.
In high school I was in Scouting and most of the time just working hard to get by in classes. Thank goodness I was relatively bright and had built up a good reputation. I was in mostly regular classes but had at least one Special Ed class a day. Everyone knew me and talked to me in the halls. Same in college. Until my dad died, I was working hard at our business. I read at an early age, was into crafts, and have always comfortable with myself and quiet. I meet people pretty easily. I talk to people while waiting at doctor’s offices or buses – back when I took them. I have lots of good friends online, many of whom have asked me to visit them if ever in their area. Since losing weight, I find myself being more talkative and confident than before.
ME: Yes, and I think that’s a good thing! Since meeting you, I’ve encountered you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a few other places online. Speaking of being online, I know that you are also on Pinterest. I’d really like to know how the heck a blind person uses Pinterest! Can you fill me in?
MAX: I use Pinterest the same way I use most of the other social media sites. I have an account and I post updates to it. I invite people that are in some form of the industry and then I invite their friends or get invited by them. I have about 435 followers there so far, and I’ve started getting a few likes and re-pins. Most of the social networks aren’t all that friendly to speech unless you are running a 3rd party app or using it on an iOS device or Smartphone. I have actually thought about getting a iPod with one of those little keyboards just for social media, but Pinterest is special because I have absolutely no way of reading other peoples posts.
ME: You know, the fact that you are on Pinterest at all – as well as other social media – simply amazes me. I’m in total awe. I don’t think I use social media enough, and here you are, on everything! You astound me, Max. Now, before we end this, is there anything else you’d like to say? I know you kind of wanted to ask the readers something. . .
MAX: Yes, and thanks, Lorraine, for bringing that up. What I’d like to know is this: If you know someone in the Houston area who may want to volunteer for a day trip or something to help me get started visiting local carnivals, festivals, parks, etc., please let me know! I’m also hoping to someday start a YouTube show about the amusement industry but I need two things: a sponsor to pay the bills (because traveling even for work is expensive) and someone to go with. I need that partner-in-crime to do the driving, run the camera, help plan the trips, do the paperwork, help with editing, and help with the blog posts.
ME: Well, hopefully someone will come through for you, Max. Maybe they know someone, somewhere, who can help you out. Maybe they’ll share this post on their social media accounts and maybe word will get around. You just never know what can happen.
MAX: I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best!
ME: Me, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions, Max. I really appreciate your honesty and I’m so glad I have gotten to know you.
MAX: You’re welcome, Lorraine. It was my pleasure. (Max smiles, I smile, and we exchange virtual hugs.)
Conclusion, and Max’s Plea
So there you have it folks, a real interview with a blind man who happens to be one helluva nice guy. I only wish I lived in the Houston area and could help Max find what he is looking for.
If you happen to know someone in the Houston area who may want to volunteer for a day trip or something to help Max get started visiting local carnivals, festivals, parks, etc., please let him know!
Or if you know someone who can help him get started with his YouTube show, or help him with any other aspect of his business, like run the camera, help plan the trips, do the paperwork, help with editing, and help with the blog posts, please give him a call at 979-215-1770 (his business cell phone) or connect with him somehow, on social media. I didn’t really want to mention this, but Max is also sending out a plea for donations and/or sponsors for his website, so if you would please make a small donation to his company, ask your company to sponsor his, or even share this post, he would appreciate it very much.
A Gentle Reminder
Remember the video from the beginning of this post? Well, what would you do if you saw a blind man on the street, begging, on a beautiful day? Would you ignore him, or would you help him? I know that I could not look the other way!
Now before you go jumping to conclusions and think that I’m trying to guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do – because I’m not! – take a moment to stop and think of all of the beautiful things you can see each day.
I know I would simply die if I could not look at colours; I love the colours of the rainbow and have things placed around my house in various locations just so I can find some kind of happiness when I look around. (Yes, I know I am weird. I have a pen fetish, too.)
But I can tell you one thing: I’m grateful for my sight. I’m grateful for being able to see where I’m going, the ability to see the smiles on my niece and nephew’s faces, and the privilege of seeing the expressions on their little faces when they are surprised, happy, upset, confused, or engaged in learning. I’m also happy that my little niece can see – even out of her bad eye, a little bit – and that her last two visits to the Cancer specialists reported that, for now, her Cancer is not acting up.
I’m also very grateful for my connection to Max. He is a man who is so many things, including brave and inspiring. And tough.
I know I couldn’t hack it if I were to go blind.
Yeah, I thought not.
So, I guess this brings us to the end of this post. What are you going to do now? Give Max a helping hand somehow, however you are able?
How You Can Help Max
If you happen to have a few extra bucks, perhaps you’d like to donate some money to Max (to assist him with paying for things like a driver). Or maybe you can help him by sharing this post on social media. You just never know who it might reach.
And wouldn’t YOU want to be the one who Max can thank in the future?
I look forward to the day when he says, “Hey, Lorraine. Guess what? Because of that post, I’ve found someone to help me.”
How You Can Connect with Max
Can you believe that Max is a Pinterest user? If you are wondering how the heck a blind man uses Pinterest, I’d advise reading his article that talks about a blind person’s experience with Pinterest. It’s enlightening!
For further information about Max and his amusement ride business, check out his YouTube channel and/or visit his website and blog, or simply ask him a question here; I know he will respond to all inquiries and comments!
I’ll also be responding to comments along with him, and I look forward to seeing some new names and faces, too!
And please share the crap out of this post so Max can find the help he needs.
A Special Announcement[UPDATE]
Max wrote an ebook as well, which can be purchased alone or as part of a coaching package. The ebook is called Leading You Out of Your Darkness Into the Light. At under $5, it’s a steal. I know; I edited it!
See you in the comment section.
FYI, related to this post is Interview With A Blind Woman, which is about blind writer and traveller, Kerry Kijewski.