Archive for September 23, 2016

Raw Emotions

I have tried to think of a witty title, something to grab your attention …. Words really are failing me on this post though, so just going with the simple choice.

I have been struggling for a while, I have been fortunate to be able to talk to close friends, able to ‘gauge’ the reaction.  There are a few more I wanted to tell, but time and my own worry has stopped me.

Keeping it simple …… Not babbling on.  So, do excuse me if this sounds unemotional.  I don’t know how else to say it.

I am loosing my hearing.

So, it is said, those 5 little words and it is out there…… I have known now for a little while, it isn’t easy and I am not writing this for sympathy.

I’m writing this because it is getting harder and harder to hide it.  Saying “Pardon” sometimes three or four times, not being able to hold a conversation easily as a passenger in friends’ cars.

Its confusing, I can still pick up a conversation across the room, yet not hear the person beside me.  And the prognosis …. It will only get worse.

I am still awaiting my hearing aid appointment from the nhs, it could take upto another THREE months for them to book me in, I have however spoken with my consultants and they are putting appointments in place for me to confirm exactly the kind of deafness I have.

All early indications push towards it being a form of Ushers Sydrome, a condition that is part of the RP spectrum; Retinitis Pigmentosa Is the family that my eye conditions stems from.  And hearing loss or ‘Deafblind’ is another strand.

Those with ushers are either born with hearing loss or sight loss and the other sensory loss occurs later.

As someone who was only categorised as ‘severely sight impaired’ 8 years ago, having been born with the condition …. I am feeling quite numb about it all at the moment.

Those close to me have noticed something is up, but I haven’t been able to tell them all in person, either because of Busy diaries or because I haven’t been able to find the words.

(which anyone who knows me, knows I am not often stuck for words!)

Just like my sight loss, I am not going to let my hearing loss take away my sense of humour or change the friend I am, it’s just not an easy time right now and it’s all a bit of a struggle.

Thank you for taking the time to read, I appreciates it.


Touch, but don’t Look

Read more

Are chains REALLY a bad thing ?

Read more

The lengths I go to for a swim…

Last weeks climb is nothing in comparison to today’s challenge.

Today though was a very different type of challenge, this one was more of an anxiety, need for preparation and gaining some control over a situation.

I explain my WHY in What does ……  Today was one of those days; the kind of day where something out of my control was happening, something I couldn’t hide away from and something I didn’t want to hide from.

Because if I did, I would be disappointing and letting my son down.

So, time for a plan…..

My son was invited to a swim party!  A party where I was required to be in the water with him, something we had done before…. But never like this!

This was different, it was in a pool I had never been to, it was in a party environment, so I didn’t know if there would be lights, music or inflatables.  Oh and it was with many of the mums and dads from the school playground!

I set to work, I had a plan…. I was not going to let my son down, I WAS NOT going to let his friend and her family down by bailing out (I have paid for numerous birthday parties and know just how much they cost)

The pool and leisure centre was one that I had actually used before….. All be it 19 Years ago, before it was fully refurbished and renovated though.

This was a positive though …. The wonders of the Internet and EVERYTHING being online I was able to find a floor plan of the new building, a ‘street view’ of the exterior and images from the centres website to put together enough information to make me feel like I knew where I was going.  A virtual walk through if you like.

Then came my next worry, when in the pool, would I be able to see my son? Short answer is obvious….. No!

I didn’t want to ask another parent to look after him, I wanted to enjoy the party with him, but without keeping him all to myself and stopping him playing with his friends.

So, with his help I got from the changing rooms (where my cane was locked away) and into the pool.  I headed for a space at the side as to not get in anyone’s way.

I initially heard him playing, but soon the noise increased and it was hard to make him out.

A casual  “Hey, is Lawremce playing nicely?”  Gave me a conversation starter to find out roughly where he was in the pool, so I could focus in.  It was then a friend and fellow school mum said that she was keeping a look out for him as she knew I would find it tricky.  And as he was playing with her son it wasn’t difficult !!

Lawrence is a confident paddler, the party was in the training pool and I wanted him to enjoy his time at the party, hence another WHY I had to be there…. Knowing that everyone in the pool was known by the party hosts enabled me to relax my fear of stranger danger.

At one point. He came over to me and asked if I wanted to play, we had a real laugh, he was guiding me, without guiding me (if that makes any sense)

The one hour swim part of the party was over too soon and not only had Lawrence had a fabulous time, I too had had the chance to relax and enjoy the party fun.

Please take a moment to answer in the comments below; a few little question for me…

1. Would you, previously have thought this was a bit obsessive?

2.  Would you fear the opinion of your peers if you asked for support?


What does depression look like?

Depression is a ‘hidden’ disability.  And yes it is a disability, anyone who has ever suffered with it, medicated or not will explain how on a ‘low’ day, even getting up to go to the loo is unbearable. Therefore, disabling….

So, if depression is a hidden disability; what does it look like?

it looks like this ……

Headshot of me, my hair is down, I am smiling and am chewing on the end of my glasses leg

Yup, it looks like me!

I don’t often put up the bits about me, but my depression is part of my sight loss, it is part of me and it isn’t something that can be fixed quickly with medication and ‘telling someone how you feel’.

As a trainee counsellor I more than most understand where my depression stems from and it isn’t just one thing, it is a lot of little things, some from my past, many of my present and also fears of my future.

Just because I know the WHY, doesn’t me I can fix it.  Depression is partly an imbalance of chemicals and to support me I take medication, but this isn’t the cure.

Just like knowing how your car works; it doesn’t mean you would know how to fix it if it broke….. I am not finished with my training yet, a good counsellor NEVER is.

We don’t always know what is going on on the inside, a reminder to be kind and understanding.  What may seem protective, controlling or even shying away may have a hidden meaning.

I wanted to share this, I do all I can to smile and ‘put a brave face on it’ but it doesn’t always work, also I have a really annoying best friend who knows me TOOOOOOOO well and he won’t always let me hide away.

Fun with Fizz

Today we (me & Fizz) found ourselves faced with a very different challenge.

Our local coop currently has one of its outer shutters down, so we have a slightly odd turn at the top of the steps by the door.  The door is set at a 45* degree angle to the corner of the building, meaning that when both shutters are down, the building looks square, yet with them both open, you can access from either side through the same entrance. (With one down, we have to walk around to the other, which isn’t at all an issue of difficult to do)

So, we did the turn & Fizz stopped dead and sat down.  This is a very odd thing for her to do.

She doesn’t just sit down like this if there is an obstacle, if there were an obstacle she would remain standing and then guide me around.  If she couldn’t guide me around it, she would turn me around to indicate the way was blocked.

Today she just sat, nothing would move her!

I focused in on a bull dog type dog sat by the railings a little way up, it’s tail was wagging and it wasn’t barking.

This is normally all the invitation Fizz would need to rush me over to say hello; yet she still sat.  So it wasn’t the dog!
Maybe it was a bike laid on the ground, I scanned but saw nothing….

A man came out the shop but before I could ask him, he rushed past and away.

Curious !!
Then out came a lady with a trolley and my mystery was solved

sorry dear, my cat has come out for a walk with me and my dog, he is sitting between you and the door.

So I scanned, I was able to work out another animal, about the same size as the bull dog and also similar colouring.

It was a cat!

It was a very HUGE cat, and he was happily sitting licking his paw with his tail wagging, just like the dog !!
Knowing now the situation I asked Fizz to walk on; nothing!

She did move eventually, but only then cower behind me until the cat had walked past !!

My clever.  Highly trained.  Intelligent. Problem solving guide dog is officially a WIMP.

Positivity breeds Positivity


I wanted to take a moment to share some of the comments I have received  from my posts over the weekend.

Many of them I have read and re-read, it isn’t easy to accept a compliment…. I want to thank you all for your words, for sharing my blog and for believing in me.  I held off telling you all about the competition as my anxiety and fear was screaming at me.  I almost pulled out; but someone wouldn’t let me!  Even with what amounted to over 20 hours of driving in 3 days …

Maybe I should

imageimage image image image image Comments from Facebook

So….. Today, this happened !!

Me & Fizz outside EICA

It’s almost 11.00 o’clock, 12 hours after this crazy day started. The climbing arena was nothing like I had ever seen before and no matter how much I had researched and looked at photo after photo I was not prepared for the quarry that I had just stepped in to.

Not only was the area large but it sounded very busy. Descending the staircase in to the climbing area seemed to reduce the noise and although there were hundreds of children around for a competition of their own I suddenly felt like I was the only one there.

Having never competed before, I was blind to what was about to happen. (More so than usual)


Registration was completed and score cards handed out and it was at that point, more than yesterday, the realisation of what was about to happen hit home.

Fizz seemed to sense all this and although I hadn’t moved, she gently nuzzled her nose against my leg as if to say “You’ve got this mum.”

The three climb routes for my category were explained and it was time to get started. The judges were also the ones who belayed on each of the routes; which was where I lost my climbing partner. As he donned a yellow ‘Climb Scotland’ tabbard and became a belay/judge on what would be my second climb.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account but to give you an idea, at each climb I had one attempt to get as high as possible. Maximum points were awarded if you topped out (go to the top of the climb) and worked backwards from there.

First climb was pretty straight forward and short. The second climb started in a pitched crag which in itself is the sort of climb that I would avoid doing and that is before you add in; that these are walls I have never seen, never felt and most certainly have never climbed.

My one fear in the competition, was that I would be disqualified for touching the wrong colour hold on a climb, but each of the climbs that I tackled today were set in such a way that the colour I had to climb was the only one I could.

I faced my fear and got myself out of the crag and without even realising it, managed to get my body length above it; it wasn’t the top but it felt ten times better to me.

The third climb just seemed to be a non starter, there were hand holds that I could reach from the ground but no where to put my feet so relying on the wall that was at a 90 degree angle to the one I was climbing, I managed to get my feet to where my hands had started.

This was pipped as the hardest of the three climbs and again was a personal achievement for me, I managed to climb about a third of the wall. This may not sound much but when the wall tops out at around twenty five meters, I think you will agree that’s pretty good.

View of me on a grey wall with green holds, using my left foot to balance on the wall beside me

At this point I was tired and sore and a little bit battered from my climbs. But it wasn’t time to go home, it was time to tackle three bouldering problems.

Those who know me will tell you the struggles that bouldering brings. Usually there is no rope for this type of climb and just a squigy mat to break your fall. Being under competition rules, even the bouldering was top roped which helped me to feel safer on the wall and able to move without restriction; because if I went for a hold and missed, I wouldn’t hit the mat. I was safe on my rope and so was able to push a little further.

Saying that, I am not too proud to admit that the bouldering was the most challenging part for me. One of the problems wrapped around a knife edge style three dimensional surface and all I was able to see was the tip of the wall in front of me.

My final bouldering problem was hell. Just like my final climb, there were no holds for my feet, just features on the wall and the route I was to follow was set no more than one meter from the ground, it was set in such a way that I was to traverse (move across the wall sideways) until a point that the holds went beneath and overhang and had I got this far, I would have found myself upside down with my back parallel to the floor.

I was done, in more ways than one;

My fingers hurt….

My palm were blistered…..

And I had been so tense that standing up straight made my leg shake.

My scorecard went in and it was time to wait…..

The younger climbers I had mentioned earlier were competing in a speed climb, with two climbers on the same wall. The aim was to get to the top not just first but also in the quickest time. With everyone else having stopped, or cooling down, the speed climbers had everyone’s attention. It sounded amazing and the cheers and applause rang around the arena.

It was now time to announce the winners. Within paraclimbing there are seven categories, my category is listed as PC4. The male PC4 winners were announced first and up each of them went to be awarded first, second and third.

The PC4 female category was announced and it felt like a thick fog had filled the room.  The hosts words seemed to come out in slow motion as he announced “first place goes to Theresa Osborne-Bell…” I didn’t hear anything after this yet found myself stepping up on the podium along with my faithful friend Fizz and being presented with a certificate, a glass trophy and some climb Scotland goodies.

There was a mixture of applause and awwws echoing in my ears while me and Fizz stood for our photograph. Walking back to my seat I heard words of congratulations and well done from the people I walked past.

I am standing on top of a tall gold podium with Fizz sat in front of me, I am the only person on the podium, the other two, silver and bronze are empty to allow me to have my photo taken.          A close up photo of me holding my certificate

So what next?

I am now set to compete again to gain a ranking to climb as part of the 2017 Paraclimbing Team GB.

So watch this space….

Maybe I Should have said something before…..

Well, this is something new…….

I am sat in the passenger seat of my friends car doing 70+ MPH on the M6 Motorway travelling on my way to Edinburgh; while typing this blog.  My iPad is tethered to my phone for 4G and my voiceover is bluetoothed through the car stereo.  So I need to be careful with what I type, as my driver can hear EVERY word.

So, why am I travelling to Edinburgh?

After an already long car journey I am beginning to ask myself the very same question.

We are making this journey because through the powers of networking on Facebook, I was put in touch with a climber who has a visual impairment, like me. It just so happens that this climber is a member on the Paraclimbing team for Great Britain….

Can you see where I am going with this?



I am not just meeting with him for coffee, I am actually travelling all this way to take a chance; to take my opportunity to maybe, just maybe, be something much bigger than me.  Something that will show my children that my disability hasn’t stopped me from going after a dream.  That actually for the past two and a half years my climbing skills may actually get me somewhere.

If you haven’t guessed already, I shall explain.

I am travelling to Edinburgh, because tomorrow at 11am I shall be entering into the 2017 Paraclimbing team competition within the sensory loss category.  Which is taking place at The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena….

Hence the 440 odd mile drive!

And actually, as I type this, the realisation of what I am doing Has FINALLY dawned on me.

” Tomorrow I will be competing to join the GB Paraclimbing Team!”


WoW ….. Tomorrow, I WILL BE …..

Oh my DOG, I am actually doing this   ……


Should you ever go back?

What is it they say?

The past is just a memory and not a place to visit or change:

While traveling on this journey of sight loss I have stopped myself from ‘going back’ to many places, places I loved before my sight deteriorated, places like Nottingham; that I called home for three years, where I studied for my degree and more memorably; where I first encountered a real life police horse (but that is another story!)

I haven’t gone back, even though as I was leaving university the city was in the final stages of having its tram installed, so even without sight loss I know that it would look very different from the way it looked 13 Years ago, but with my sight changing so much in that time, I am scared.

Some would say I am very ‘lucky’ and ‘fortunate’ that my sight has reduced gradually and in such a way that I find myself adjusting to it on a daily basis and as such I haven’t  ‘noticed’ it so much.

I’m not sure I would call it luck or fortune …..

Especially when I go back, back to places of my past.  This is when I am able to see the differences, especially in those place where I can no longer ACTUALLY see.

Yesterday I caught myself in just such a moment.  Not in a physical place, but rather while watching an old movie.

Not an old movie as in black and white, or set in the Wild West, a movie that is now 18 years old, (even idiot realise it was not THAT OLD!) a movie that; as a book loving romantic I could recite pretty much word for word.  And more importantly (for me at least) and to help you understand its significance a film that was released Pre-Audio Descript !!

A film that until I thought about it, I probably hadn’t seen in the last 10 years, the very same ten years that I noticed my sight getting worse.

It isn’t one of The Great films of all time, no it is a silly, soppy, romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

A film that’s opening soundtrack is a computer connecting to a wired Internet connection !

yup, you may have guessed, The film was You’ve Got Mail.

The movie that found me crying my heart out, the movie that got me realising that even holding my iPad up to within an inch of my face, I could no longer make out the little details.

The little details like the lettering on the shop front, or the newspaper headlines or more importantly in the final scene, when they kiss, it just a jumbled mess of colours, no facial details, no contrast between them and the background in the scene.

And all those things about that I have described above are totally irrational, ridiculous ‘third-world’ issues and hold no bearing on my life today

It is JUST an old film.

It is JUST a silly teenagers memories of ideals.

And yet, it is JUST a smack in the face moment of recognition that I have actually lost so much.



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