Archive for Blind Blog

Discovering just how independent I can be

This post is probably the wrong way around.  But for me it seems only right that I write this bit first……

Today I am heading home after an amazing week away with my Guiding Girl Fizz.

Today I am realising that although this journey wasn’t the one I had originally planned for, it was the journey I needed to take.

And as much as I almost found myself not taking it …. I am grateful to my own stubborn nature and my ability to plan and organise.

And the fact that I would always have wondered ‘what if?’ Had I not at least tried.

So, try I did and I am so very grateful that I did.

 

…… TO BE CONTINUED


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HOO18 – Where Fizz got invested as a Cub Scout

Photo shows Fizz with her necked on and her left paw being held by the GSL as he said the Cub Scout promise

This past 5 days I have been wearing my scouting volunteer hat and been camping just outside Wareham with roughly 3,000 children and leaders for the Big Hampshire Event HOO18 which saw beavers, cubs, scouts and explorers from across the county come together to undertake a ‘Monster’ themed camp.

I volunteer within 1st Locks Heath Cubs and it was with my 1st Locks Heath Volunteer family that we had a ‘mini-camp’ within the bigger event.  We had cubs & scouts for most of the week and the smaller Beavers came for a sleep over and a day of activities too.  But we were contained within our own little area;  it is this one little detail that enabled me to go, to join in, to support and to enjoy 5 days and 4 nights at such an amazing event.

With the glorious weather we have been having it was only reasonable that we should arrive in rain on Sunday!  In fact, we had an impromptu stop at Nordon Mines because those leaders and support who had camped out on Saturday night had had to re-build part of our camp after strong winds brought some of it down.

Traveling with Fizz, I went in convoy with a fellow cub leader while the others were transported via minibuses.  When we did arrive to camp it was then that I was to set about pitching my tent. (Something I have done a few times now as you can see in A whole other challenge  ) only this time it was in the rain!

It was actually quite fun.  And having only replaced a dog chewed guy rope the week before I was grateful I had left my groundsheet and inner attached to the outer shell.

With a little help from another cub leader in getting my poles in I was quickly set up.  My tent having side doors was pitched on an angle (one to fit the space and two so the door faced the opposite tents where the children were sleeping) Our ‘mini’ camp was set up with a large marquee and kitchen tent, then children’s tents along one side, with leaders and support along the opposite, with each oth the top tents turned in slightly to create an almost enclosed horseshoe shape.

Each different group had an area like this to set up their own ‘mini’ camp within the camp although layouts varied.

As we had a large canvas marquee with just as large support ropes and guy ropes, an area around the marquee was fenced off with steaks and orange lattice style fencing.  This actually served an alternative purpose, this area gave Fizz an enclosed grass space where she could do her business and I was safe in the knowledge that should i miss picking up if it were dark, no child or fellow adult were going to stand in anything. (As it was she was very clever and kept alll that to daylight hours!)

First item on the agenda for camp is introductions.  We were each introduced to one another (children and adults) and then we went off to explore the bigger site, find our bearings and learn where the all important toilet and shower blocks were.

There was a designated disabled toilet and on our second walk out to if Fizz had it in her mind, knowing where the low tree branches were, where the tree stumps were and even where the boundaries of the camp beside us were.

She was doing so well.  Camp sites are not the easiest to navigate at the best of times; let alone for a guide dog.  A guide dog who is trained to walk on paths, to follow ‘shorelines’ or building lines and to work on clear commands.

I had the clear commands, but there were no buildings as such, I worked her to use the boundary of the camp beside us as a ‘shoreline’ but as for paths ….. It was a large grass field with some gravelled patches and wood chipped paths around the toilets, but very little ‘concrete’

Our ‘shorelines’ only failed when the camp beside us moved their boundaries.  This added to the fact that Fizz quickly came to realise that the camp beside us was one with whom we knew the leaders, we had previously camped out in their hut.  And she soon wanted to take me into their camp rather than around it !!  Teamed with the wonderful food smells that came from their shelter kitchen, I couldn’t completely blame her!

Being such a big camp, the activities were set for us.  There were different ‘zones’ with different activities laid out in each.  These zones were clear and easy to navigate.  The children within the section were sometimes put into teams, sometimes worked in pairs and on other occasions worked alone.  The activities included things like Zip-wire, Go-Ape, Zorbing, Spiderweb-climbing, crazy golf, escape room, dragon boat racing, water slides and even a type of ‘its a knock out’ inflatable arena to name a few.

The only downside was that the activities were for the kids only! I would have loved to have joined in.

As the days went on we moved around different zones, which added a new challenge.

By Tuesday the temperature had risen dramatically, we had erected additional shelters on our camp to ensure everyone had plenty of shade.

This meant Fizz too.

Before heading away I had sought advice from Guide Dogs and with some handy tips and ideas I knew the time had come to leave her ‘benched’ in camp while I used my all-terrain cane to accompany the children and leaders to their activities.

This made the kids laugh, my all-terrain cane has a large red disk on the bottom of a heavier set cane.  This makes it look a bit like a metal detector; but what it means for me is that it will glide effortlessly over rough paving and grass, indicating to me the divots and tree roots, but not getting caught on them.

Unlike Fizz, my cane can only tell me about the ground.  It can not tell me about tree branches and it can’t correct for a group of oncoming children.  So to say I caught a few of those low bracnvhes and bumped some (not many) of the on-coming children would be an understatement.

But this minor inconveniences to me meant that Fizz was safe, she was in shade, had a breeze, plenty of fresh water and no direct sun on her.

The kids within 1st Locks Heath quickly took to ‘looking out’ for me.  My own Pack of cubs were aware of me, but for some of the other groups cubs, beavers, scouts and even some of the leaders I was new and I imagine at times I was also confusing to them.  But without me asking they walked infront of me, they warned me of tree branches and they explained if there were any major tree roots or stumps coming up.  This was a very pleasant surprise to me, it made me feel at ease and as regular readers will know, anxiety goes hand in hand with my sight and hearing loss.

On Wednesday 01.08.2018 at 14:00 as a group we celebrated the 111th anniversary that General Baden-Powell held his first camp for boy scouts on Brownsea Island.  And in the evening at 18:00 we gathered together again as a group and this was when The Group Scout Leader invested Fizz into the Cub pack. Kieth the GSL took Fizz’s left paw in his left hand and read out the promise to her.  He did this with agreement and permission from the County Commisioner and District Commisioner who both believe that this is the 1st ever Guide Dog to be invested into a pack.

As it was felt by all that Fizz was an important part of the team and should be recognised as such.  She was even awarded her own necker, which I am to sew her badges from camp onto.

I managed to keep smiling during the investiture, but when it was over I found myself crying with pride and happiness at the way in which not only Fizz, but also how I had been accepted into the group.

Yes I have been an assistant leader within my Cub pack for just over a year, but I have always felt a little on the outside with regards to the other leaders because of my disabilities. (not intentionally, but just in how there have to be additional measures taken)

I saw a very different side to my fellow leaders and I felt that they respected me for being me and didn’t feel I was a burden to their camp, but rather a benefit. (Given the nature of my sight I am not able to count directly in the ratios for adults to children on camp-so they could have simply left me behind, but my knowledge of the kids, my perseption with the kids was felt to be important, so I was very much included)

The group I went away with made for a great experience.  I have never camped for more than 2 nights together, but barring the odd guy rope incident I managed to survive the 5 nights and 4 days I was away.

Taking my tent back down in glorious summer sun meant I knew it was dry, but it took three times as long to do.  For a tent on a hot day is no place to be; so I took it down in sections.  Resting and rehydrating in between each set.

Other cubs and leaders offered to help me, but I am a creature of habit and like to do things in my own way (but that’s for another blog!)

For now I am feeling tired and I am suffering with eye strain, but at the same time I am feeling happy.  I am finally feeling like part of a scouting family (which so many others talk of)

And I am a very proud guide dog mum.

Photo shows Fizz with her necked on and her left paw being held by the GSL as he said the Cub Scout promise

 

 


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Hybrids are great … BUT

…. When your visually impaired even good hearing wouldn’t have helped.

This beautifully hot summer that is killing the grass and creating havoc with everyone’s sleep is also creating issues for us guide dog owners, I am seeing friends arrive at work for 6am and getting taxis home as they must have their dogs with them.  I have been taking Fizz out early morning or late evening.

But I still have things to do.  Appointments to attend and meetings to sit in on.

Today was one such day.

Today’s meeting was at 10am, by which time temperature was already mid-twenties, knowing that I would be travelling home again by lunch.  Fizz was left with daytime tv and a cool house (all my curtains were drawn-the neighbours must thing I am sleeping all day!)

Anyway.  With my faithful hound limited to her work, I too have been limited to how much I have been walking also ….. And it’s starting to annoy me!

So today on my way home after my meeting I decided to get off the bus earlier and walk the 25 minutes home (instead of getting a second bus)

Using my cane I am walking slower, taking more time crossing the road and ‘scanning’ my route more; which is creating eye strain issues as-well.

All was going well, I was even managing to navigate the bins left precariously after the bin-men had done their rounds.

Then before I knew what had happened I felt a sharp pain in my left thigh & hip.  The moments that followed are a bit blurred and also a time that seemed to last for too long.

I must add that I am ok.  I am after all writing my blog about this.

But today I was hit by a car.

It was low speed, the car was reversing off a driveway and as the title suggests….. it was a hybrid so at such low speed wasn’t omitting any sound.

The man driving the car was quickly by my side as I found myself falling down.  I suffered bad bruising and scratches to both my thighs (one from the car, the other from the pavement) and some soreness in my hand where I put it out to push against the car.

No lasting damage and thankfully no damage to my cane or the contents of my bag (which included my iPad) from being on the side of the impact.

Bruises will fade, grazes will heal and for now I won’t be wearing any short shorts! (Although my leg looks pretty colourful!)

But for me, my confidence has been knocked.

This evening as I headed out for another meeting I found myself fearful walking past houses with driveways.  I stopped at each and every one as if it were a road crossing.

I found myself doubting my ability to do this.

I found myself wanting to turn around and go back home….. But I didn’t.  I got the bus into town and sat in the sun with a cold glass of water, pottered about getting some shopping and found myself writing this.

Hybrid cars do have their place and I am very pro them.

However the law in the EU about them having a ‘white noise’ added doesn’t take affect on new built cars until July 2019 and retrospectively added to older models until 2021.  As detailed in many newspaper articles earlier this year.  Such as this one I have included below:

Daily Mail Article May 2018

 


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Comfort zones

Prolonged hot weather and guide dogs don’t mix.  So where I have been using my cane for all ‘ESSENTIAL’ journeys and cancelling those I could, the length of this heatwave is getting rediculous now!

I can’t keep cancelling things, I can’t keep letting people down.  I can’t keep letting myself down!

Then a very such event popped up in the diary.  An event that no-one would have judged me for for not attending; but one I really wanted to go to and be part of.  So with some extra planning I didn’t let myself cancel.

I even arranged a ‘puppy sitter’ for my faithful Fizz so she would have company and I could take my time….. Also as this event saw me travelling to London it wouldn’t have been fair on her just having the neighbour pop in every few hours.

Yup, you read that right…. I went to London; more so I went to London dogless!

The event was facilitating and supporting route setting for an informal para-comp being hosted by VauxWall Bouldering Centre and Paraclimbing London.

The wall wanted to run the competition to enable abled bodied, non-sensory-Impaired climbers to gain an understanding of how someone could climb with differing abilities.  The competition was also set up so that those with impairments could try out bouldering or improve on what they were already doing.

Being a very hot day meant that London would feel EVEN HOTTER to an outsider like me.  The event was also set to take place on the very same day that The Gay Pride Parade marched on London; and if that’s wasn’t enough, it was also the day that the England Football team got into the Quarter Finals of the World Cup for the first time in decades!

So, as the title suggests ….. Who needs a comfort zone anyway?

Maybe it was the heat beginning to take its toll.  Maybe it was the chance to climb.  Maybe it was simply the fact that I felt I needed to prove to MYSELF that I could do this….. Who knows.

Anyway,  train ticket bought, journey planned and even altered so I didn’t have to tube through London with my cane. (Vauxhall is just one change at Clapham Junction-a station I have regularly used) and I even (virtually) walked the route from the station to Starbucks and then onto VauxWall via Google Streetview.

I planned to arrive early, sadly delays due to network rail engineering works and cancelled trains changed that for me.  However it did mean that I arrived ON TIME!

Selfie photograph of me sat inside VauxWall with people climbing behind me and the signage for VauxWall behind me

The climbing was great fun, even though I sustained an injury to my left hip and right knee.  Paraclimbing London and VauxWall had a brilliant turn out (despite the weather, pride and football) And I found myself only leaving 30 minutes before I had originally planned; in case there were similar issues on the way home.

It wasn’t easy to navigate major (or even minor) railway stations with my cane.  It wasn’t easy navigating where the door to Starbucks was and it most certainly wasn’t easy to navigate finding a seat (or even assistance) on the train.

But I did do it.

Big tick to me.

Although I wouldn’t do it again out of choice!

Its good to challenge yourself some times, it’s good to know that barring the odd ‘rib-jab’ my cane akills are still pretty good.

 

Panoramic photograph of the room hosting the competition in VauxWall with people stood around and some climbing


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When my disability felt disabling

This weekend I had a real wobble; anxiety, panic, fear and upset all rolled into one.  This weekend didn’t start off very well.

There are times when people say how inspirational or how positive I am, well this weekend I wasn’t any of these things.  In fact I felt like I was being penalised because of my sight and hearing issues. And I just wanted to leave where I was, give up on my plans for the weekend and walk away from it all.

Thankfully I was surrounded by some great friends; who didn’t allow the negativity to get to me, who stepped up and even stepped in to support me and change things around….. And for this I have gratitude.  Because what started out pretty shitty ended up being pretty AMAZING.

This weekend I attended a MAHOOSIVE Herbalife training event called ‘Summer Spectacular’  This training consisted of two days of training, stories and information from not only some of the best in the UK part of Herbalife, but also some of the best from America, France and South Africa.  Men and woman within the business that were not within my immediate reach.

So my ticket for the event was bought, childcare sorted, transport and sleeping arrangements sorted.  I had the support of my amazing team so I knew that both me and Fizz would be ok.

The training was at a venue I hadn’t been to before, but that was ok because an hour or so on google and I had found enough images of the venue to feel that I had a good enough virtual awareness of it to get through.  There was even a Starbucks on site, what more could I ask for?

The venue; The International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham was also only a short ten minute walk from the apartment we were staying in AND there were plenty of grass areas between the two for me to know that Fizz’s needs were catered for also.

Saturday morning came and while my team mates were taking part in a very large ‘Fitclub’  I was able to grab a coffee, get my bearings and feel prepared for the next few days.

We came to entering the training room and a member of staff quickly found me (having the only dog in the building will get you noticed!!)

My team mates explained (because it was too loud for me to hold a conversation) that I would need to be seated near the front with space for both me and Fizz, but not in a direct walk-way as this could put Fizz and others in danger (black dog in a dark venue is a real trip hazard)

So, the staff guided me down the steps of the auditorium and sat me at the front, but with space the side where Fizz would be able to lay out.  Brilliant, a seat was allocated for my team mate too and I thought all was ok.  That was until the music started.  It was not that it was LOUD.  It was the fact that it was coming from a large speaker right beside where Fizz was to be able to rest…. let’s just say, she would have probably been more likely to burst an ear drum than relax.

No trouble I thought my friend and companion  Jenny got the attention of the staff, asked for us to be moved and off we went.

The next seating we were offered would see Fizz sat directly beside the auditorium steps (a major trip hazard)  but as the seating within the venue was fixed in place the staff were a little perplexed.

Another member of staff was called upon and it was decided that a couple of chairs could be brought in from outside and placed by the door……

“Um sorry I am not sitting right beside the door, where people will be coming and going throughout the day, that’s hardly relaxing for Fizz or suitable for me.”

So the chairs were moved and we were seated beside the camera mans tripod.  But that was ok; at this time the meeting was starting and I just wanted to sit down.

So me and Jenny moved the chairs across slightly giving Fizz the space to lay down.  But by this point not only was I feeling anxious and upset, I was also feeling that because our seating was so different to everyone else that I was on show, a bit of a ‘look at our token blind guest’  and this was what ALMOST saw me walk out.

I messaged my teammate and cousin Charlie with a very frank, honest, choice set of words and we simply replied

”Stay put I will sort this”

Charlie is a rock.  Jenny got me a drink and Fizz nudged at me as if to say ‘it’s ok mum’

Charlie sent me a message a few moments later that simply said “it’s sorted” so I sat, listened to the speakers and awaited the break.

At the break we stepped outside and were greeted by the events coordinator who moved me away from the crowds (these events have upwards of 2000 people attend) and explained that there was a larger room just opposite that had the lights up, had tables, plenty of space and a large screen that was streaming the main event directly into the room.

Well considering at similar events I can only just watch the stage via the screens and never actually see the people as they stand on the stage, this sounded like a good solution.

So into the room we went, table found, cool air con and really good lighting and I felt both me and Fizz relax.  Jenny came with me and she instantly agreed that this was a great alternative and would make it easier for her too to write notes and move about. (The room was a large conference hall, with about two dozen large circular tables.

Fizz was aware that I was more relaxed and as such, she was more relaxed.  And thankfully the rest of the day was much calmer.

The events staff came back to find us to discuss the evening dinner and party.  It would be held in the very room we were sitting in, but dressed to celebrate.  There were set to be food stations, where festival themed food would be available.  The event team asked me to just come also for and try to see if I could cope.

Again they made arrangements for me, Fizz and the a guest of my choice to enter the room before it was opened up to everyone.  To enable me to come in while the lights were up to navigate the room.

Fastforward to the evening ……

I entered the room early with Fizz and Jenny, we found a table to sit at and I was able to familiarise myself with the room layout.  The food stations would be far to tempting and distracting for Fizz, so Jenny agreed to support me by collecting food for me.

Entering the room early may not sound like much; but actually it made all the differenxe to enabling me to enjoy the evening.

I felt relaxed; I felt much more relaxed than I have at any other party event I have attended with Herbalife.

I even got up and danced for a bit and found myself mingling through (with a Jenny’s help) to catch up with other friends and colleagues.

Sundays Training was so much simpler.

We went straight into the ‘break out room’ and we actually found a good few more people sat here.  News of the air conditioning had spread through to the auditorium and even some of our own team joined us.

I don’t feel that I missed out by sitting in the other room.  I did however gain so much.  I would highly recommend that such ‘accessible’ seating was available ….. And as such and email has gone off to the company to ensure more support is available.

After all, o can’t be the only person within Herbalife that has a disability or anxieties about large numbers of people?

 


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The day I brought my cane

“Stepping through the door like a troubadour
Whiling just an hour away
Looking at the trees on the roadside
Feeling it’s a holiday
You and I should ride the coast
And wind up in our favourite coats just miles away
Roll a number, write another song
Like Jimmy heard the day he caught the train.”
On this beautiful sunny summers day I couldn’t resist the play on words!
But with this beautiful weather and scorching temperatures come one very sad moment.  And that is that for me to go out during the peak part of the day, my faithful hound Fizz must stay behind.
It isn’t because she is a black dog, it is simply just because she is a dog. And as such can only reduce her body temperature through panting.  She would also be walking bare foot on pavements that have been heated by the sun, which could cause blisters on her paws.
So for me, it is back to my (not so faithful) long cane.  With its red and white strips it was recently likened to a barbershop candy striped cane!!
As a guide dog owner it is important to keep up my cane skills for very such occasions……. But it doesn’t mean that I enjoy this time at all; not one little bit.
Bright sunshine, blue skies and long canes (for me) do not mix well.  I find myself scanning with my residual sight, apologising to shadows and generally find myself more exhausted by the whole experience.
I can’t however cancel all plans and stay home.  I am however limited to how far I can go as Fizz is home I need to ensure I don’t leave her alone too long either.
It is a balancing act and in one way I am grateful that I can still keep my essential independence because of my long cane skills, but in another way I will be much happier when the weather cools a little.

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My 10 ‘MUST HAVES’

Everyone has their own ‘must haves’ or ‘can’t live without’ items.  And maybe mine aren’t that dissimilar, I have very little specialised kit to cope day-to-day.

In no particular order, here are my 10 MUST HAVES:

  1. One Touch Kettle
  2. iPhone
  3. Apple Watch
  4. Compact Dome magnifier
  5. Wrap-Around Polarised Sun Glasses
  6. Power pack
  7. Amplicomms Amplified Bluetooth Neck-loop
  8. Notepad/Pen
  9. Book
  10. Dog Bowl

ONE:  One Touch Kettle:  I like most can’t start my day without a cuppa.  My cuppa of choice is Herbalife Thermogenic Peach Tea; and although there are fantastic gadgets like liquid level indicators and tipping support for enabling VIs to pour a normal kettle, my kettle isn’t a specialist bit of kit.  It is simply a water saving, energy efficient way of pouring just one cup of water at a time.  I don’t even need to lift it.  I simply set the cup size (all my mugs are large-so this is easy) press the button and when the water has heated, the water is dispensed automatically.  With no risk to me….. This also means it is safe for my children to make them or me a cuppa (although this novelty has really caught on yet!)

TWO:  iPhone:  Apart from the ‘usual’ needs for a smart phone to call, text and access maps; my iPhone is an AMAZING piece of accessible tech.  With the standard, ‘Notes’ ‘camera’ ‘Magnifier’ ‘Siri’ in addition to the ‘added at source accessibility features my phone is fully accessible’.  It is more than ‘just a phone’ it is a Canera, A CCTV Reader, a pocket sized PA, with the addition of recent apps such as ‘See Al’ ‘Big Spender’ ‘Station Master’ I have all the information I could possibly need at my finger tips means that nothing is ever far away.

THREE:  Apple Watch:  Just as my phone my Apple watch is an extension of the support I gain from Mac based products.  And actually my increased feeling of safety that my watch offers me, helps me to feel more confident in my surroundings.  With the use of haptics I can set a route on my phone that then gives instructions through vibrations on my wrist.  I have my watch set to enable me to zoom in on the screen, to read and send messages and even answer calls.  In addition to making contactless payments enabling me to keep my phone and purse both safely kept in my bag.

FOUR:  Compact Dome Magnifier:  This is my bewest piece of ‘kit’ that I actually received from the LVC (low vision clinic) at Moorfields Hospital recently.  It is a small Perspex domed magnifier that gives 2.5 magnification, which in the scheme of things isn’t much, but with a flat base and a domed top it enables the light to be increased and this has just as much importance to me as the magnification.

FIVE:  Wrap-Around Polarised Sun Glasses:  To protect my eyes from bright sunshine and glare. (Non-prescription)

SIX:  Power pack:  So that I always have a back up should I be using a lot of the apps on my phone and therefore depleting battery life.  As my phone running out is so much more than just ‘not being able to make a call’

SEVEN:  Amplicomms Amplified Bluetooth Neck-loop:  THIS IS a specialist piece of kit, this works with my hearing aids to support me.  I can stream calls direct to my ears (which works brilliantly for guiding from the ground when I climb)  I can listen to music or audiobooks (as I previously had done before hearing aids)  I can also use the amplification button on the front to enable me to hear a person stood in front of me in a loud, busy environment.  Or tune into a local ‘loop’ connection what is being said clearer and directly into my ears.

EIGHT: Notepad/Pen:  Because sometimes I like to jot down ideas for blogs or make notes and sometimes I like to not use tech.

NINE:  Book:  Just like the notepad, I like to just do the simple things, to enjoy escaping from the world for a few moments (after all with my magnifier and the right lighting, I can still read)

TEN:  Dog Bowl:  clearly this one isn’t for me, but with my faithful guiding girl I need to ensure that I can meet her needs and ensure that just like me, she is hydrated.

So, these are my lists.  And at times I will add other items to them and other times I may not include them all.  But I do start each day with a cuppa and I never leave home without my phone or watch (which probably isn’t any different to any other person in today’s society)  I am sure if you asked another VI they may have different items they consider important.

I just wanted to share with you mine.

i hope you have enjoyed.


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Faith

While with a group of friends today we were talking about faith.  Discussing it and questioning what our understanding of it is.

One comment made about one way to look at faith was

If you’re sat on a chair, you hold faith that THAT chair is fit for purpose and will keep you sat safely and not break.

This made me think, as someone who has far too many questions about ‘religious faiths’ to have one of my own I thought of it a different way.

What (or who) do I have faith in and trust?

And when put like this I have just one answer

My Guide Dog Fizz.

I have total faith in her (and Vicky before her)

Each day i put on her harness and trust her to guide me to my destination; be that getting the kids to school or wherever we may be going to.

I give her the directions and instruct her on where we are going, but I have faith in her that she will get me there safely, not walking into traffic or causing me to trip or fall on steps, curbs or other surfaces.

And with the exception of the odd over-hanging branch I know she has me.

My faith in her is I guess some would say, similar to that faith of a religion.  I have trust that she will protect me, keep me safe.

I know HOW she is trained and WHY she is trained, but no-one can say for certain WHY she takes that training and guides me each day.

That to me is faith.

I have the faith that she will do as I ask of her each and every time I put her harness on.

I trust her.

I can’t see what she does each time we go out together; I simply feel how she moves through her harness and I can react accordingly following her lead.

That to me is faith.

I trust her.

I may have totally missed the point of the discussion; I have never sat on a chair and though ‘this isn’t fit for purpose’.

Just as I have faith that a chair will be safe to sit on; after all this is what it is designed for.  I have faith in my guide dog, because she has been trained to guide me.

To me that is faith.

 

 


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Reflections

Photograph of Tee, Weston a grey t-shirt saying “climb on” stood in front of a black and white canvas of a misty hence in Greenwich Park

Photograph of Tee, Weston a grey t-shirt saying “climb on” stood in front of a black and white canvas of a misty hence in Greenwich ParkThis November it will be 10 years since I was registered SSI (Severly Sight aimpaired aka BLIND) it was the appointment with my consultant that EVERY seemed to change, yet at the very same time NOTHING changed.

What I mean by that is that my eye sight didn’t actually change at THAT appointment.  I  simply became aware of just how bad it was.

Having had my Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements) and having worn pretty strong glasses for as long as I can remember my sight had never been great.  But in terms of the distance I could see (I have always been short sighted) had changed very little.

Rightly or wrongly so; when I was in my early teens I had been discharged from the consultant at the hospital, where I was given into the care of my opticians.  With the strength of my prescription And it was through this team that in July 2008 they used their new camera equipment to try getting a photo of my retina.

My optician wasn’t happy with what she saw, but she couldn’t explain it to me as she explained it could simply be that with my eye movement the photograph wasn’t actually true.  So she referred me to the hospital for a thorough check up.

Having been rushed in as an emergency after the hospital were concerned I had detached my retina (a common issue that if caught early enough can be reversed) I discovered that this was not the case, the registrar discovered I had cataract in both eyes, I will always remember what she said;

With laser treatment we can remove them and that would actually improve your vision.

But as she was simply confirming I hadn’t detracted my retina, she didn’t actually comment on the fact that my retina wasn’t ‘complete’.

So, you can probably understand my total shock when I returned a few weeks later to see the consultant to be given the news of just how bad my sight was.

I did have cataracts (my left eye had been diagnosed when I was 12) But the laser surgery suggested wouldn’t be easy and would have very little affect at this time.  And actually with my retina dying away my sight would actually only get worse.

Many people ask me

How did you not realise you were going blind?

Its simple, the changes in my peripheral were suggested to be something that had been happening steadily for many many years, and as I only likely lost a small amount at a time I didn’t actually realise.

I did notice ‘little’ things after my daughter was born in 2006, like how I was bumping into things, like low level tables or benches.  But I put this down to ‘baby brain’

I had also noticed that it was taking me longer for my eyes to adjust to light changes; like walking indoors after being out in the bright sunshine, but because I had reaction lenses this went in-noticed as an actual change in my sight (as I assumed it was just the glasses)

So…… Reflections.

I have decided I want to celebrate this anniversary.  I want to acknowledge that as me I have changed from the person I was before.  It hasn’t always been happiness and celebrations, but I have tried to embrace my blindness (and now deafness)

It may sound like a cliche

But in these last ten years I have had so many amazing opportunities, so many doors open to me.  I want to move forward with me and celebrating the good seems the best way to do this.  I am human, I can’t be postmitive ALL THE TIME.  But in this instance I want to look for the good, rather than dwell on the bad.

But the question is (and this I hand over to you my readers) ….

How should I celebrate???


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Speechless (it doesn’t happen often!)

I umm’d and argh’d About writing this post; then I thought

“This is part of me, I should share it.”

last week I received an email that has taken me completely by surprise.  I have been nominated for an award.

But not just ANY award, this is for The National Diversity Award 2018 in the category of Positive Role Model.

I do not know who nominated me, but it has left me feeling slightly emotional and speechless.

Under the terms of the nomination it is for me to now write a Bio and supply supporting evidence as to why I feel I am deserving of this award.

Yes, I have no trouble talking or writing about myself; but in this way?  I’m not so sure.

But I am of the thinking that if I don’t at least try, then I will be disappointing myself and the person who nominated me.

So I am slowly working through the forms I need to complete.  And am sharing this nomination with you all, in the hope that you too agree with it and wish to vote for me?

All by Friday 1st June 2018.

You can cast your vote here National Diversity Awards 2018


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