“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.”
Tag Archive for independence
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.
I have a ‘Have Guide Dog, will travel’ attitude to life, today I decided in the sun to visit Winchester (alone) something I don’t think I will be in a hurry to repeat.
The rudeness, the sly comments & general ‘opinions’ that were continually thrust upon me resulted in a very short visit.
I am more than happy to accept and I do understand that not everyone likes dogs, be that an assistance dog or a pet.
I do understand that in some cultures dogs are not warmly accepted. But today the comments or actions of rudeness did not come from the here.
Today it came from,
A business woman looking down on her phone;
The art student with a VERY LARGE portfolio;
The man in the queue in Starbucks;
The woman behind me in boots who tutted at me when I asked the sales assistant to repeat herself for the 3rd time because I couldn’t hear her;
The van driver who got shirty when I waved him on because I wouldn’t cross in-front of him.
Were it not for the kindness of strangers I would have found myself fighting tears & heading for the nearest taxi.
it was thanks to ….
The window cleaner who moved his ladder so I would walk past;
Theassistant in Starbucks who offered me water for Fizz while pointing out to the rude man that assistance dog or not I had every right to enjoy coffee;
To the sales assistant in boots who guided me to a quieter area so I could hear what she was saying!
I know that I may stand in the wrong queue at times, I know that my guide dog likes to walk by the building line, which means we often walk right in front of the shop doors, I do understand that I take up more width on the pavement as I walk beside my guide, and she can’t tell me to “step in” the way a sighted person would if the path was narrow.
But at what point does vocalising your opinions change this? All it does is demoralises someone who just wants to get on. And could even stop a (less stubborn) person from going out and visiting other areas.
Today has been one of those days where I have felt isolated and hurt by the actions of others. But writing this now I am able to say that I won’t let it stop me, I share this with you now to raise awareness.
Because it can often be the ‘off-handed’ comment that you quickly forget making that can cause irreparable damage to someone. We never know what demons people are fighting; so just be kind.
It really is THAT simple.
if you have followed me for some time you will know how much I like my coffee. It’s no secret, I enjoy sitting with a nice cup and ‘people watch’ (yes even as a VI I do this!)
But of late I have really struggled.
Not so much with the people watching part; but rather the collecting my coffee part.
Just a short bus ride away from me is the lovely Whiteley Shopping Village. It is home to a great variety of shops, restaurants, cinema and yup you guessed it coffee shops!
It has the three MAJOR brand names of Costa, Nero & Starbucks, in addition to The M&S cafe.
Whitely was purpose built. Many of the storesmake use of the high ceilings and glass outer wall to add a mezzanine floor, while the cafes and restaurants leave them to create the feeling of space and ambiance.
But here in lies an issue.
Starbucks in particular……
with its solid floors, wooden traveled, coffee ba and very minimal in way of ‘soft furnitings’ the inside has an echo.
The seating is positions around the centrally placed counter that leads you around to the right where you can collect your coffee at the end of the bar, where the bar continues again to the right (and right again) to enable friends to sit on the stools while enjoying a coffe with easy access to PowerPoints that are built into the bar.
There are standard level blue benches that cover one entire wall of the store with small tables, then at the back there are simple couch like seating around low tables.
With a further bar seating in front of one of the windows and more 2 seated wooden tablespoon dotted about.
So for me, I can easily find somewhere to sit that works with the lighting, be that natural, bright sunshine that we are enjoying at the moment or artificially lit by the store itself.
So, hopefully I have set the scene for you. The fact that the coffee machine is not directly beside the till make for easy ordering and it also enables the staff to have a ‘queue’ system for drink collection.
But it is this ‘drink collection’ that has become a real struggle for me.
With the height of the ceiling, the multiple coffee machines and the general ‘noise’ of the store; even with my hearing aids I can’t hear any particular voice clearly.
These are all factors I can’t change. And I am not one to be beaten into having to avoid a store (particularly one that sells coffee) because of it.
With my visual impairment I can’t make eye contact with others, although I can thankfully usually recognise a member of staff at datrbusks by the iconic green apron they all wear.
So now, when I arrive at ‘the bar’ I politely gain the attention of a member of staff and then I show them my phone…..
And this is what they see. (Or similar depending on my order)
Where I have found that a kind member of staff then directly passes me my drink when my order is is completed. Saving them shouting out to deaf ears and saving me from tepid coffee because it has been sat too long.
Such a simple little app is ‘Notes’ which I use every day for one thing or another like many people. But one that has enabled me to keep just a little bit more of my independence (even if it is something so trivial as ordering a coffee)
I now feel more comfortable when dealing with such noisy situations.
And I don’t have to miss out … So it’s win-win situation.
This year hasn’t had the easiest of starts, with changes in my sight, trouble with my hearing and ‘other’ issues; It has all been a bit much to deal with at times.
All of this compounded by a need to explore who I am and where I belong, and it isn’t hard to realise that my anxiety and mental health has also taken a beating.
But that’s ok.
It is alright to not be ok ALL the time.
And it is ok to admit that; however hard it may be.
There are a few things I want to tell you about, I have realised I never finished off my 2017 BMC Paraclimbing competition blogs, or even mentioned the Team Selection Day back in February 2018.
So, for now I am going to spend some time going ‘backwards’ but as all posts are dated to (around) when they happened, humour me.
And once I have completed these, take a good look through the past six months. I can promise you there will be laughter, whit and sarcasm. But be warned there will also be sadness, upset and moments of total despair.
On 20th March 2017 I found myself sat in the audiologists office having my hearing aids fitted; which I wrote about in What does sound sound like?.
I had previously been told I would only need a hearing aid for my right ear, yet when I arrived at my appointment I was actually fitted with a hearing aid for both my left and right ear; a pleasant suprise, yet a very welcome on. Because in giving me hearing aids for both ears the audiologist was able to programme the strength in each side differently so that I heard the same.
I wont’t lie, I hated wearing them.
It took me a long time to get used to ‘hearing’things again. The little things, like the kitchen clock; the dogs gnawing on their bones; the sound of my feet on the pavement. But (following the audiologists advice) I soon learnt to ‘not hear’ or rather ‘tune out’ these sounds; sounds that my brain had learnt to ignore (just as it does for most people who can hear perfectly well)
I also quickly learnt how little and inconspicuous my hearing aids were. With very few people realising that I actually wore them.
When they were originally fitted, I had them set by the audiologist to automatically adjust with no input from me. However this was not while I got used to them.
In July ((1 beep, 2 beep, 3 beep, 4) I had my hearing aids adjusted and since then I have gone from strength to strength in using them and wearing them each and every day, just as I would with my glasses (even though I now get so little from wearing them-wearing them is a daily habit)
I have also added to my ‘tech’ to go with my hearing aids, with my amplicomms personal t-loop system I am able to listen friends in busier environments, have calls streamed directly into my ears with the microphone around my neck; I am also able to listen to audible and music too.
My CPiC and I are working on using it as an aid to my climbing….. But that is a whole other blog post!!
So, what have I gained in the last year?
I have learnt that just like glasses for me, hearing aids to not ‘fix’ my hearing; however they do enable me to hear more and clearer than if I don’t wear them.
I have been able to feel safer out and about, especially with hearing traffic and its direction. So much so, that in recent months I have gone back to enjoying walking into town (about 2.5 miles) with Fizz guiding me.
I have also learnt that I can ‘shut out’ noise if I want to sit quietly with a cuppa or a cold pint, then I can turn my hearing aids down, put them into the induction loop setting and I can sit peacefully. So I can have ‘selective’ hearing too!!
Its been an interesting year of wearing hearing aids, I would be lying if I said I am getting used to them….. But I am finding the postitives with them, both with my own hearing and with the connections I have made with other people who have hearing and sight issues.
I am still wanting to work on fundraising for my own pair or ReSound Hearing Aids, which are so much more ‘tech’ friendly with my iPhone and Apple Watch, but that is a work in progress.