My Book is Now on Talking Books

This post is primarily for my friends who are blind, but my sighted friends are also welcome to read on.

For almost a year, I’ve been trying to make my book available on talking book, a service of the National Library for the Blind. And today, I am thrilled to announce that it has finally made it to the list of from which books you can choose. The DB number on BARD is 91261.

Here’s the back story. I should have called a friend who works there in the first place, but when I called the NLS, they told me I had to first have it recorded by the Ohio Library for the Blind. Will Reed, who runs that program said they wouldn’t do it, and he named several reasons, all of which I turned around and told him they were the very reasons it should be recorded. He didn’t budge, but in this process, I learned to argue and stick up for what I thought was right. It was important to me to have my book available on talking book, so my friends who are blind could borrow it, just like my sighted friends who can borrow it from their local library. Of course there is only one copy available in the whole Columbus system, and that’s the one I donated, but again, it was more important to me to have people read it than to make a couple of dollars.

Next, I forwarded Reed’s letter and my response to my contact at NLS, and she made sure a copy got into the right hands for decision-making. It’s been a long struggle, but I feel like celebrating, because it’s now accessible to everyone. Thanks for spreading the word. And if you need more information about the talking book program, write to me off line, and I’ll be glad to tell you all about it.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at or

Good Citizen Meets Jerk Neighbor

In all my years of walking my Seeing Eye ® dogs around my neighborhood, I have never had any trouble with a neighbor until yesterday. Oh, I’ve had to scold a couple for letting there dogs run free when they would race up to my dog with barking, growling, or just wanting to play, but usually, they either would make no reply or would apologize.

but yesterday, this woman, who lives on Deerwood, a couple of streets away was downright rude. We were walking along, when suddenly, Dora felt a need to urinate. She pulled over near the street and squatted. No harm. Urine from a dog cannot be detected, smelled, or seen once it seeps into the ground. I knew that she had only urinated and not defecated, because I had been taught by the Seeing Eye instructors how to tell which form of elimination is happening. It’s a little secret that not many people know about, unless you’re a guide dog handler. I put my hand on her back, and if she’s defecating, her back will be humped. If she is merely urinating, her back will be straight, like a ski slope.

On this particular walk, she chose to squat very near a driveway, where the owner of this driveway was just pulling in at that very moment. She stopped the car, jumped out and screamed, “You’re going to pick that up, aren’t you.” I replied, “I’d be glad to pick it up, but it’s only pee.”

“Oh no it isn’t,” she argued. “I saw her do something else.” Again, I said, “I’d be glad to pick it up, but you’ll have to show me where it is.” I was confident there was nothing to pick up, but I waited. I waited while she took some packages into the house, returned for more packages, went back into the house, and then closed the garage door. I waited some more, expecting her to come charging out, but after several minutes, I realized that she was not coming out. My guess is that she looked again, saw nothing to pick up, and chose to let me stand there waiting for her. She did not have the you know what to say to me, “You’re right.” I wanted to give her all the time she needed to do so, but no acknowledgement, let alone an apology was forthcoming. Finally, I moved on. I always pick up after my dog, and I proudly carry that little plastic bag down the street as a badge of good citizenship. Not all dog guide users are so considerate, just like not all sighted people are jerks, so I encourage anyone reading this blog to give us the benefit of the doubt. If you see a blind person waiting for her dog to finish her elimination, wait before you scream at her. It might take a few seconds to get the bag out of her pocket and unfold it, but give her a chance to be the good neighbor and citizen that she most probably is.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at

Be Smart. Get a Mammogram

Because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am inspired to write my own opinions and experiences on the subject. It’s not very dramatic, so you can skip this one if you want, but I celebrate the fact that it’s not dramatic at all.

Years ago, I received a kit that demonstrated exactly how a woman should examine her breasts. It included a cassette tape with instructions and a lifelike model of a female breast. What made it different from mine was that it contained 3 or 4 lumps that were firmer than the rest of the breast, so I could detect them and identify them as cancerous lumps. Often, when you’re doing a self-examination, you’re not sure what you’re looking for, so I found this to be very helpful.

Some controversy has been brought forth over the efficacy of this annual procedure, especially in older women, but I prefer to go with whatever is available to me. Not doing so could result in breast cancer. Because my insurance makes it free, and it only takes a few minutes, it’s foolish not to take advantage of this simple test that might save my life.

Yes, it is uncomfortable, but only for a few seconds, and I’ve had blood pressure readings that hurt more than this. Yes, it’s a little uncomfortable to stand in front of another woman with your full breast exposed, but we must remember that in this setting, it’s only tissue, something that needs a thorough look with the help of a machine that has no sexual feelings.

I sat on a panel a few years ago with some other women with disabilities, and our audience was a group of mammogram technicians, although they had a fancier title than that. They asked what they could do to make our exams more comfortable. Other than telling them not to squish our breasts, we had some practical advice that varied with each disability. Here was mine.

I think it’s silly and time consuming to have to go into a little room, take off my top and bra and stow it in a locker along with my purse, lock the door, put on a gown that opens in the front and return to another waiting room. When I go into the room where they do the exam, I have to take the gown off just one shoulder, so it exposes only one breast. All this rigmarole is unnecessary and time consuming, so when I get to the little room for the disrobing, I always say, “Just let me take off my top in the exam room. It’s a lot simpler.” I have never had a technician argue with me, because it makes so much sense. when I’m done, my clothes are right there on the chair, and so is my purse.

When I did this last week, I asked if I should still be getting a mammogram every year at my age. She recommended continuing until I was 80 or so. Looks like I have a few more years to take about 20 minutes out of my day to do something smart that could save my life.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at