Hi everyone, My name is Dan Bigley. In 2003 after a stellar day of salmon fishing in Alaska, the last thing I ever saw was the grizzly bear that took my eyes. The mauling left me without sight or smell and with extensive injuries all over my body. Just the previous night I'd begun a relationship with an amazing woman who would later become my wife and mother of my two children. Ask me anything about the bear mauling, my immediate recovery and learning I had been blinded, earning my masters degree and learning to live as a blind man, writing the book 'Beyond the Bear', technologies for the blind, fishing in Alaska, my professional career with troubled children, my love story with my wife or about being a blind father.

Proof: http://danbigley.com/reddit-iama-ask-me-anything/

P.S. As someone new to Reddit, using a screen reader to do an AMA is a little challenging, so to expedite answering your questions a family member will help me find questions and respond; but all answers are written by me. I apologize in advance if it takes me a little longer than normal to get to your question.

P.P.S. If you're wondering how reddit looks to me, on a Mac just type Command + F5 and then close your eyes. :)

[UPDATE - 4PM EDT] Time flies when you’re having fun, and I am enjoying your great questions very much. I have to step away for about an hour, but will be back to answer more question soon. So, please keep the questions coming, and I’ll look forward to continuing our interaction on this very cool forum. If you’re planning on signing out in the meantime, please remember to live with love. :)

[UPDATE - 5PM EDT] Hey all, Just wanted to let you know I’m back now and will be responding to your questions again. Feel free to ask me anything. The questions so far have been great.

[UPDATE - 7:45PM EDT] Thanks all for the great questions. I'd better get back to work so I can be home in time for dinner with Amber and the kids. I'll come back tomorrow morning and check if there are any new popular questions. In the mean time, please checkout my Facebook page or BeyondTheBear's Facebook page (which I co-authored with Deb McKinney) and you can always follow me on Twitter.

Comments: 1953 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

Matny861 karma

If you could choose to see something one more time what would it be?

danbigley2271 karma

This is an interesting question as I have not thought about this before. I found myself wanting to cram a lot of things into the picture. I would want to see my children as I have never seen them before. I’d like to squeeze my wife into that picture as well, though then she wouldn’t look 23 to me any more.:) I’d like for them to be standing atop the Chugach Mountains here in Alaska looking out west to catch a beautiful sunset over the Cook Inlet and the Alaska Range beyond that. This would hold the most beautiful people in my life in the most beautiful scenery in the world in my humble opinion. If it was my lucky day perhaps there would be a goshawk flying in the scene as well.:)

unsubpolitics802 karma

What happened to the bear?

danbigley1637 karma

The bear wasn’t captured or shot. People often wonder whatever became of that bear, and we sometimes hear folks wonder if a trouble bear in that area may be the same bear. However, there would be no way to know.

I’ll add to this answer that what is crazy is that a good friend of mine happened to be in a nearby parking lot while I was getting mauled. After leaving me, the bear went chasing after my friend and his girl friend who were in this parking lot. They jumped into a vehicle that had a broken out window in the back hatch that they would later find out had been broken the previous night. They barely made it in time and when my friend looked back he saw the grizzly right behind him with mouth agape and my blood still dripping from the bear’s face. This was an experience that will haunt my friend’s mind indefinitely. We still fish together all the time and he is a good friend.

dddrgn778 karma

What was the most difficult part of coping with becoming blind? Are you able to remember/imagine what colors look like after not seeing them for so long?

danbigley2373 karma

There were several challenging aspects to cope with about becoming blind. The self doubt about being a worthy husband or bachelor and the fear of being alone. The obvious loss of autonomy resulting from not driving. Really becoming blind required a new sense of self, almost like a whole new identity. I had to relearn what I could do and what I couldn’t-what I liked to do, and what I didn’t like to do anymore, and these things really did change from before to after blindness. It is hard not being able to toss the baseball with my 5 year old son. So, I try to make up for these things by being the best parent I can in other areas.

As far as remembering colors from before- Yes. Every sunset stems from the most vivid sunsets in my memory. Every ocean as beautiful as the most beautiful of my memory. Every car has no dents or rust, and they will always appear in my mind as they did in 2003 even 20 years from now. My wife will always appear 23 to me as this was the last time I saw her. For that matter, people in general are pretty good looking in my world view. Not many are out of shape or over weight.:)

Luthalis414 karma

Have your disabilities influenced the traits your children tried to mock as toddlers? For example, my son sees me put product in my hair every morning and so, as a 2-year-old, he puts any liquid he finds in his hair and tries to style, and any spray bottle is automatically hairspray.

danbigley1187 karma

Well, not exactly sure how to answer this question. It’s a really good thing that children love to be useful and helpful, because my children are constantly helping out with little things like helping me find a phone in the house or my shoes at the door. They also love to guide me around outside and take me on adventures. They are very aware of my blindness. They know that when they want to show me something that they actually need to bring it over to me and place it in my hands for me to see it. They also seem to understand how my worldview works. One day my son dropped something from our bed and couldn’t find it. I said, “Alden, it dropped right there between the night stand and the bed.” He went and found it, and then said,” Wow dad! You have really good ear-sight.” They also do like to take my white cane and pretend to be blind while walking around tapping the cane. I always half joke that my son will be a lucky 16 year old because he is going to have a nice truck and a drift boat. The only condition is that he’ll half to take his old man fishing.:) OK, I guess I’m not really joking about that.

acalpaca387 karma

After the incident, how far have you senses heightened, if at all, to combat the loss of your sight and taste? Also, I'm curious to know how your then-girlfriend, now-wife took the news?

danbigley1275 karma

Well, if we were to be in a sound booth doing a hearing test, my hearing would show no difference than before and would likely be no better than yours. However, it’s the way that that audible information gets processed that makes such a difference. Our brains use a lot of power and circuitry to process visual information gleamed through our eyes. For me, since those neural pathways are not being used to process visual information any more, they can now be used for other types of information such as information gleamed through touch and hearing. I am really tuned into the soundscape around me. Based on this information a worldview is assembled. I love floating down a river on a drift boat where there are many sounds such as the water under the aluminum drift boat, arctic terns and eagles chattering above, the river below, the wind in the tree tops around, the occasional hooting and hollering of fishermen as they net a large king salmon, and my kids asking endlessly if we are almost there yet.:)

As for how Amber took the news. Well, she waited and waited for my phone call I’d promised after returning from fishing and the call never came. How lame she thought of me-another typical guy. The next night she received a call from a friend who’d seen the story on the 10 o’clock news and it was like having the rug pulled out from beneath her universe- where everything that had been safe and wonderful a moment ago was not any more. Perhaps we need to request that Amber have an AMA at some point. She is one of the greatest heroes in the story from my point of view. Her stability and steadiness has anchored me to the brighter side of life. She has inspired me to not just stay alive, but to be someone who she would want to be with, to be someone worthy of fathering her children.

Ilikebeerandgirls341 karma

I'm sure you get this all the time, but what do you see? Is it pure blackness, or does your imagination kind of take over considering that you at one point had sight? Thanks for doing this AMA, you're an inspiration.

danbigley1040 karma

No, its not just blackness. First there are two answers to this question. In my worldview, I have a vivid image of what’s around me and what things look like in my minds eye. It may not be accurate, but its my world view and helps me move about and operate in the world. Its how I know where things are and how to interact with the environment. Most people are good looking and in good shape in this world view.:) I can see the room I’m in and its place in the larger building, where the doors are and so on. When fishing I see the river, the trees on either side of the river back just beyond the flood plain where the cranes nest. I see the mountains around us and the volcanoes across the Cook Inlet. I see the Eagles over head perched on the tree tops waiting for their meal to show itself and so on. One image I frequently think of is from a river kayaking trip on the Kenai river. I kayaked within feet of an eagle who was perched on a rock drying out its wings. As I kayaked past the eagle, it stood taller than I and stared at me suspiciously as I floated quietly past.

The second answer is I think more what you were asking about. When I try to see what I would have seen through my eyes and those neural pathways that use to be my eyes, I see what looks like the imagery you might see through the Hubble telescope. Its like looking into deep space and seeing galaxies, and billions of stars, and a super nova or something. I see billions of white specks on a black back drop with concentric circular shapes of iridescent blue and pink light on the foreground. Its actually quite beautiful itself when I take the time to focus on this which is usually not in the front of my attention any more.

spockrocker522254 karma

What is your job, and what sort of technology or accommodations allow you to do it?

danbigley569 karma

I’m now the clinical director at Denali Family Services in Anchorage, Alaska. We are a family services agency that provides a range of psychological and behavioral health treatments and support services to youth and families who have experienced trauma, loss, or who experience any of a broad range of emotional, mental, or behavioral health challenges. My role is to oversee the implementation of all our clinical services which include individual, family, and group therapy, in-school and after-school skill development and behavioral support to youth, therapeutic foster care for some, psychiatry, and case management services. Our organization has over 150 employees and we serve over 350 youth and families.

I have a cell which talks and has a navigable directory for contacts and a user friendly text format. I also use Window-Eyes screen reader on my computer which enables me to navigate the web, Windows, Outlook, and so on. All of our medical records are electronic which is a good thing for me in terms of accessibility. Then, I use a good old fashioned guide dog-my co-therapist.:) He is a yellow lab named Anderson. Often the youth I work with are friendly and opening up to him long before I have a chance at getting them to open up in therapy. He works wonders.

flicking_tuna240 karma

do you have any nightmares of the attack?

danbigley637 karma

Yes. Lots of nightmares. :( At first, the nightmares were there every time I closed my eyes. Bears, reliving the mauling, seeing the last thing I would ever see with my eyes which was her massive head as she grew closer on the trail, eyes burning yellow with fury. There were also dreams which weren’t bears, but encompassed the same themes of helplessness, powerlessness, and trauma as the bear attack. I had dreams of being chased by armies of people who were shooting me over and over. Dreams of being beaten by thugs. As time passed the dreams changed. I had more power in these dreams. Perhaps I could run faster than them, or had a gun of my own to shoot back, or even had super jumping power and was hard to catch. The bears in my dreams became more and more harmless. First, they were mauling me like dogs instead of bears, then they were no longer mauling me. They were just there. Then, they would be there at a distance that felt safer. One dream that stands out is one where they were on an empty baseball field out in the out field, and I was laying safely atop the backstop fence watching them. The grazed harmlessly and somewhat beautifully on dandelions in the outfield as I watched in awe.

I still have occasional nightmares, but fortunately with each and every year, they are less intense and fewer and further between. Its been a while now since I’ve woken up in totally soaked sheets feeling panicked thank goodness.

kunderthunt165 karma


danbigley241 karma

This is a good question. The best answer is likely that blind people still use all the same figures of speech even if not literally accurate. I still say things like its nice to see you, or I’ll tell my wife that she is beautiful. I still say that I was watching TV the other night rather than saying that I listened to it and so on. So, when I said close my eyes, what I literally meant was every time I fell asleep there were nightmares.

To answer your question though, I don’t have my eyes any more at all. I have two prosthetic eyes which are not functional except to fill the space and to make me a little less scary looking to children.:) I don’t see any light or anything and I have no control over my eye lids. They are open all the time.

anglinjay218 karma

First off, as a fellow angler, I hope you're still landing those salmon! It's a bit hard to understand how a peaceful, fun sport like fishing can involve such incident. Can you describe the setting before the attack? Were you alone or with others? Were aware/prepare for any wild animals roaming? Thanks for your time and congratulations on your success.

danbigley397 karma

The other day, I was on a radio show and was asked a question about the love of my life. I had to clarify with the host if they were asking about my wife Amber or fishing.:) I still fish every chance I get as this is deeply a part of who I am. I’ve joked in the past that I would find a way to fish even if I lost both arms as well. Just one year after the bear, I floated the Kasilof River with the same friends I had fished with the previous year, and I landed a 45 pound king salmon. I now refer to that trip as my victory lap. As far as describing the scene prior to the bear, it was really near a trail head at the Russian River in Cooper Landing Alaska. This is a couple hours south of Anchorage. We had finished fishing and were nearly back to the car after a 20 minute walk. The area is highly travelled and fished by both humans and bears. It was late, but the Alaska sun in the summer time shines tirelessly and so there was still light when it happened, and still plenty of other anglers nearby. I’d had many other encounters all of which ended much more favorably to this one. I’d had near 20 encounters with bears previously. This bear was different. She was angry from the moment we saw her. She turned to face us, would not back down, and was huffing, puffing, stomping her foot with hair raised on end.

dfmarch185 karma

how do you know the various dollar bill values?

danbigley554 karma

The larger the value of a bill, the sweeter they smell... :) OK seriously now, most blind people have a system of folding bills in particular ways in there wallets, and I also use a different compartment for larger bills. When we get change, we ask for larger bills to be placed on the bottom to make it easier to sort. If we need to identify a bill, most accessible cell phones including I-phones can identify bills by snapping a photo of the bill and using an app to identify its value. They also have apps for identifying colors, a talking GPS for pedestrians, and all kinds of crazy stuff.

I also routinely ask my son Alden or my wife Amber if that is the most convenient in the moment.

foobarak173 karma

What should reddit do to make itself more friendly to the blind?

Seriously reddit. Do this, its the right thing to do.

danbigley199 karma

Well, I’m not going to pick on Readit right now since I’m having a lot of fun interacting with you all, but I can speak to the internet in general. First, for a blind person, less is often more, so I personally prefer to use mobile sites sometimes even when on my computer because its often less busy. Formatting is really important. In other words, having lots of structure such as headings, tables, and frames that are well labeled is helpful. Its really not very helpful when you open a site that just has 300 links and no other structure. Its amazing how many sites are like this. Many will have links that are not properly labeled so a screen reader will just announce “link” which is not helpful. I also like when sites label their graphics and illustrations with a brief description. With all of this said, its also fair to say that like most things, there is a broad range of computer literacy among blind people just like sighted people, and I likely fall near the median of that range and am not the most sophisticated user by any means. I use the computer daily for emails, radio streaming This American Life at night, and for trading stocks online.

K-Dogggg170 karma

A question and a comment.

Your wife is amazing.

What made her stay loyal to you after the attack, after only being in a relationship with you for 24hrs? I can't imagine it was easy for her.

danbigley512 karma

My wife is amazing, and really I think if she wrote her own memoir that her sales would far out perform my own.:) I cannot say enough good things about her without sounding completely cheesy like some 80’s power ballad or something. She is a graceful human being.

Truth is no one would have blamed her for slipping quietly from my life. It would have likely been the more sane thing to do, and at first, we did split ways. When I left Alaska to get surgeries that weren’t available in Alaska, we said our good-byes. We knew that I was in no shape for a relationship. However, she remained a good friend. We would talk on the phone. I can’t recap the entire love story here because I don’t have the time to re-write the whole thing here, but we started to fall for each other all over again over the telephone. What was so perfect about that is that my disfigured face, and my disability were not factors at all on the phone. We were just two people talking into the night. She would often fall asleep while we were still on the phone, and I would imagine myself there beside her.

lottesometimes165 karma

At what time did you realise what just happened and how did you deal with it?

And how did you find help?

danbigley472 karma

When the bear came flying around the corner like a missile and was on us during our second encounter with her it was clear this was not a bluff charge. My brain was processing this unbelievable experience. I could hear myself telling myself, “This is really happening. This is really happening…”Then I was drug off into the woods and mauled in several waves of consciousness and unconsciousness. When I woke up from the near-death experience where I saw the bright light and all that, I could tell the bear had finally gone. The forest was quiet once again and only the sounds of chickadees, wind in the leaves, and the river nearby were heard. I could feel my waders filling with blood and could feel it pooling under my head. I knew there was nothing I could do but lay still and try to save every bit of energy I had to fight for life. I knew I was on a thin thread of life versus death. It would be approximately 2 hours before the EMT’s would arrive and over 4 hours before the helicopter would arrive to fly me to a hospital in Anchorage. My dog and the friend I was with were among the first to return to me. I remember telling them, “I need pressure on my head and on my leg to help control the bleeding.

I was told later that I kept asking people, “What happened to my dog? Is she OK? How come I can hear you, but I can’t see you? My girlfriend is going to kill me.” It was also reported to me that I stopped breathing at one point, then gasped for air just prior to them beginning chest compressions.

BridgetteBane136 karma

How has not seeing, tasting, or smelling food affected your diet?

danbigley323 karma

Well, not too much I suppose. I do really enjoy foods with strong flavors and with lots of spice. Unfortunately, due to not having any smell, I have on 2 occasions had to taste milk before I realized it had gone bad. That was not a pleasant experience.

mechanical_bullshit95 karma

This may be a strange question, but do you find it easier to eat healthy due to the lack of smell/taste? Like, since you can't taste it, you might as well just eat plain brown rice and steamed veggies all the time? Or is it the other way around, where you seek out really fatty foods because of the texture?

danbigley158 karma

Well, perhaps I should explain a little more about taste versus flavor and all that. Its actually not that I cannot taste the basic tastes such as sweet, salty, savory, etc…. I can. These are tasted on the tongue. However, my sinuses have been “totally obliterated” per my doctor which means that I miss out on those flavors that interact with the olfactory membrane in our sinuses. So, I miss out on some of the finer subtleties of flavor. I’m not supposed to be able to smell at all is what my doctor says, but strangely I have been able to regain some basic smells as well which is a mystery. At first after the bear there was no smell at all. Over the years since, I’ve regained the ability to detect the smell of coffee, bacon, cigarette smoke, and really heavy smells like that. However, I often can’t smell a fart in a car, or the skunk on the road side. So, it kind of strange what I can and can’t smell. As for your question about eating healthy, I don’t think that these changes have helped me eat healthier. Being middle aged and more susceptible to a widening waist line has motivated me to eat healthier. On the other hand, having a stressful job and the occasional ups and downs of everyday life motivate me to want chocolate cake jus like the rest of us.:)

My favorite meals are the freshest though-like fresh caught salmon and a salad from the garden. MMMmmm

cerberus_181 karma

Have your dreams changed, meaning do you still dream with vision and smell?

danbigley179 karma

You know what is funny about this is that I often have dreams where I’m seeing and then I realize I’m blind and shouldn’t be seeing. This clues me in to the fact that it is a dream. I do still see in most all of my dreams. However, I’ll have dreams like the one where I was walking down the road fully sighted, and then I realized that I was using my white cane. Then it hits me like, “Wait a second! I can see! I’m not supposed to be able to see! I’m blind!” Then I realized I was dreaming. In one of these dreams I even ditched my white cane. I’ve had other dreams where was tele-skiing in the backcountry when it dawned on me that I wasn’t blind and must be dreaming. I really love it when this happens because this is the only way I get to rip up tele turns the way I used to. These are the times when I still get to enjoy the aesthetics of a beautiful mountain and its untouched snow. Same thing when I dream about my beautiful wife. When I dream about my children, I dream of them in the way I see them in my mind which is probably not what they really look like to anyone else.

coconutcake79 karma

What lead to being attacked? You said you were fishing and then the bear. Did you have no warning?

There was a woman who did an AMA (within the last month, I think?) who also got attacked by a bear. It took off most of her face and she drove herself to get help after.

danbigley90 karma

We first had an encounter with the grizzly wherein she was clearly angry and not interested in backing down. My friend and I discussed and decided to back away slowly, then head up river to get away from the bear and take an alternate route back to the car. After backing away and starting the trek up river, it seemed we had been cut off by the bear as evidenced by some alders shaking vigorously on the trail in front of us. We turned and started walking quickly back down river towards the closest trail head near where our initial encounter had occurred. Within moments of turning around, the grizzly came tearing around the corner at missile speed and was on us in a flash. My dog and friend were in front of me at this point leaving me the closest to the shaking alders behind us. In hindsight we realize the shaking alders must have been her cubs that we didn’t know she had. There was no evidence of cubs during our initial encounter, but they were seen shortly after the attack by others who were in the parking lot and subsequently chased by the same bear that still had my blood on her face.

So, without realizing there were cubs at all, we unknowingly placed ourselves between an angry sow and her cubs which is a worst case scenario. I don’t even want to get between my own wife and her kids when she is angry.:) Just kidding.

mandypandy4261 karma

What was the most difficult part of recovery? Was it harder heal physically or emotionally? Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? If so, what kept you going at the end of the day?

danbigley208 karma

From the place of the blue light which is where I had my death experience, it was the feeling of love that was evoked through the imagery of my mother that presented itself to me that filled me with the desire to continue living. I knew this was not the easier of the 2 options before me, and I promised myself I would never look back and question the decision to live. I would never allow myself to have any regret about this. There have been many a hard times since then both physically and emotionally, and there have been days or hours where I’m not doing well emotionally. However, when I catch myself allowing myself to wallow about in negative thought patterns and pity, I shift my thinking to think of the best thing I can think of worth living for besides fishing, which is love. I visualize the smiling faces of my beautiful children and there voices when they say, “I love you daddy.” I visualize the face of Amber and the tenderness of her embrace. I’m then filled with joyful tears of gratitude to have the things I have been blessed with in this life. There is no pity in love which is why my personal mantra has become, “Live with love.” It reminds me of something I heard about darkness which is that you don’t need to tell it to go away when you turn on the light, it is just gone in the presence of light. The same is true of negativity in the presence of love.

fucktheocean42 karma

Do you read braille now then? If so, how long did it take to get competent with it? I've always wondered how I would get by with reading if I went blind all of a sudden, it just seems like it would be such a difficult thing to get used to. Also, do you actually remember the bear attack happening/ the pain involved in it or did you black out? Thanks for the AMA; interesting stuff.

danbigley61 karma

I don’t read Braille very well. I read it well enough to create labels for things such as medicine bottles and for filing papers with Braille labels and stuff, but not well enough to enjoy a good book. For most reading my computer reads to me whether its something that is already in electronic format or if its something I scan in to be read. I also really enjoy audio books as well.

As far as my memory of the attack itself, yes unfortunately I remember far too much of it in the finest detail. I did lose consciousness several times during the mauling and would wake up, only to find the sow still there mauling me still. Once I woke and realized she had flipped me over so I was then face up. That wasn’t good. The mauling continued in waves like this between consciousness and unconsciousness. I remember most all of it.

the_seventh_note41 karma

Do you have any resentment towards the bear that did this?

danbigley134 karma

I do not have resentment towards the bear. My take on it is as follows. I knew moving to Alaska as a sort of backpacking, fishing, kayaking, backcountry wilderness wanderer that I was entering a very different place on the food chain than I had experienced in Arizona or California. I accepted the associated risks of travelling and recreating in bear habitat before the incident, and I still accept that risk after the incident. What happened is that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the bear was doing what mother bears do which is to protect her young. I was the closest threat to her cubs which made me the target. I found myself in the place I never wanted to find myself and tried hard to avoid-between grizzly sow and cubs. I’ve realized since surviving that letting myself wallow in bitterness has far more ability to destroy my life now than the bear or blindness do. So, I try hard not to allow myself to live with bitterness, anger, or the why me attitude.

iamclandestined29 karma

How hard did your blindness make grad school? And how did you push through to get that degree?

danbigley93 karma

Well, one of the things I was really scared of after surviving and trying to imagine what my life would be like as a blind person was a fear of only being able to have employment that was medial or meaningless to me. I didn’t want this, and I also wanted to be able to provide for my family a comfortable life. So, I figured I needed to get a masters so I could continue to work with people, only this time in an office setting rather than in the outdoors as I had previously. Done. After attending a school for 7 months where I learned the skills needed to be a thriving blind person, I applied to the Master’s in Social Work program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I’ll never forget when they informed me that I had been conditionally accepted into the program, but that my acceptance was contingent upon passing 2 courses, and one of them was statistics! I knew this would be a huge challenge with all the charts, graphs, and huge formulas to calculate the standard deviations, correlation coefficients, and so on. At first I was drowning. I couldn’t learn from the teacher at all as she worked through problem after problem on a board and over head I couldn’t see. I would literally have panic attacks in class where I felt like I was going to pass out with anxiety and worry. So, when one tutor wasn’t’ enough, I got two. When that wasn’t enough, I got three. Finally, about half way through the semester, I started to figure out ways to make it work. I recorded the equations in the order of operations into my voice recorder and would use a talking calculator to perform the calculations, and then I would show all my work and track for myself where I was in the equation on my computer with a screen reader. Slowly I began to refine better and better systems to be successful. At the end of the class, Amber and I waited anxiously for the grades to post on the internet. I’ll never forget the feeling of joy when my grade posted and it was an A. At this point I knew anything was possible. I knew I could be successful as a blind person. I had know idea how I was going to do much of anything, but this gave me the confidence I needed to just keep putting myself out there and to keep trying. 3 years later, I graduated from my MSW program with a 4.0 GPA and a job as a therapist for troubled youth and families waiting for me.

There were many challenges. Even the simple task of getting to class. The campus was a large plasce with many rooms. It was full of trials that I had to endure and laugh at. Everyone was really supportive though, especially my wife Amber. I couldn’t have done it without her. I think she should be given an honorary MSW from the university. One of my favorite things is when Anderson my guide dog would snore in class and no one could tell if it was him or me. :)

_olando_26 karma


danbigley12 karma

Reddit_Swaq17 karma

What is one thing you wouldnt think would be effected by sight, but completly was. And vic-versa Sorry for spelling, im on my phone

danbigley34 karma

One of the things that struck me most was my enjoyment of music and how deeply this was changed. I was always a big music fan, but even more so afterward. If you have ever closed your eyes while listening to music, then you may know what I’m talking about. The music is different without the visual distraction. Now, every song is with my eyes closed so to speak. I found myself enjoying styles and types of music I hadn’t previously been open to. I really do miss aesthetic beauty a lot. Whether it’s the aesthetic beauty of nature, of art, or of a beautiful human being, I miss that visual experience a lot. Of course some of this beauty can be experienced through other senses, but its not quite the same. I still do enjoy many unlikely things though and can experience so many things not only in my own way, but also vicariously through the experience of others, especially my children. I have had some great times whale watching as a blind father with my kids, or even watching the northern lights. Its still really awesome to be there in those moments even though my experience is different than theirs.

alaskanfrog16 karma

Are you an Alaskan citizen? IF so what city? Im currently sitting in Central Middle schoolin anchorage AK,

How did you survive the attack? Did you have to fight? Did it work? What would you tell other people to do in case they ever are attacked? I work out at camp carlquist, and I have for the past 10 years. Ive had a ton of run ins with bears, but thankfully they were more interested in running away form us than attacking. Would you recommend people carry a gun, or mace? both?

danbigley12 karma

I live in Anchorage now, and love it. For being in the big city of 300,000 its pretty ideal for us. There is plenty of culture, activities for the kids, and music, but we still get to enjoy the Chugach Mountains and even have 5 acres of woods behind our home for the moose and bears to enjoy. :)

As far as keeping yourself safe and being prepared in bear country, I’d like to make a joke about how clearly I’m not the right person to ask. Just kidding. I think whatever makes you feel the safest being out there is the right choice for you. Our family carries bear spray when we travel in bear country for the most part. I have friend who carry fire arms, and on occasion we have carried road flares which is what the employees at the Russian River Ferry use to keep bears at a safe distance when a bear presents itself at the shore near the ferry. Some research I’ve recently seen suggests that bear spray is the most effective mitigation, though I’m well aware that many love their fire arms.

bonafriedx11 karma

Have/will you ever go fishing or enter the woods again? Or are the chances of a second attack just too unlikely to deter you?

danbigley19 karma

I will always go fishing. I grew up fishing with my grandfather, and as long as I’m able I will always fish. Besides, there are always bigger fish to catch, and more fish needed in the freezer. I have caught several kings in the 40 pound range in the rivers. These are magnificent fish. However, the largest caught on rod and reel was 97 pounds and over 120 pounds in a commercial net. So, as long as the possibility exists for fish like that to be in the rivers, I’ll be taking my chances to connect with one of those. I like to catch fish that weigh more than my children, but they keep getting bigger and bigger. More seriously, fishing isn’t even about catching. Its just about being out there. Being quiet, and taking it all in. That is where I feel most connected. Nothing like catching your own meal and feeling that connection to the land as well. As far as the bears, I think you nailed it. The chances of me getting mauled a second time, just from a statistical perspective are very, very low. I made a choice back at the river after being attacked not just to live, but to live fully a life worth living. So, for me that means I still need to get outside and be where I feel the most connected to something larger than myself.