Tag Archive for Missing it

Just over there

‘Over there’ is a world of myths and legends, often where ‘that way’ can be found. (Or so I am told)

It’s a place where as someone with a visual impairment upon asking for the location of something I have been directed to MANY times.

“It is a place I have never found !!”

Usually such explanation to a location comes with a wave of a hand or arm, but rarely any eye contact from the person giving the instruction.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when such directions do come with eye contact, but due to other people or a counter my guide dog is often obscured.

I am more than happy to press the matter and ask for more detailed direction. And thankfully on most occasions it has been easily obtained.

But it reminds me of how we can all become so familiar with our environments that we forget that someone new (with or without sight-loss) may not find it so easy to navigate.

I know people get flustered giving directions; do they give it from their point of view or the person asking?

If it is a shop or business and you are the employee being asked for directions the easiest way to direct someone is to walk them there.

Asking if the person would like to take your arm, explaining to them when you are turning left or right and most importantly when you are walking through a doorway, even if the door is open.

I am thankful that Fizz will fall in behind someone guiding us and simply ‘follow’ but for me I like to have the verbal directions as it means that should the need arise I can find my own way if there is a next time.

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

 

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?

 

The simplest of tech can make the Biggest impact

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)


Photograph of my Apple iPhone with the ‘notes’ app open, with the words “I am hard of hearing. Ordered a coconut mocha no cream realisable cup”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter

DEAR CAR DRIVERS

Thank you for your kindness. I do not want this post to sound ungrateful. Really I don’t:

When you see me and my working girl (guide dog) Fizz waiting patiently at the curb edge to cross the road, I do not think you rude for driving on.

Stopping and (I can only assume) flash your lights, waving at me or even tooting your horn, (this I can hear) will not make me walk out into the road.

By stopping early for the junction you are being kind. But you are also putting me in danger. If I were to cross in front of you, your engine noise could mask that of a car coming the other way, or a car behind you could decide to overtake.

Unless I am on a designated crossing, Fizz is trained to not go before you. So I will stand and I will wave you on. I will put my hand up to wave a thank you, or give you a thumbs up; but please just keep going.

(Even more so when it is dark, both me and Fizz will be in high viz, but we are both dazzled by your headlights)

When I wave the first car on, why would I then walk before the 2nd? I am not doing it to be ‘carist’ I will wave each and everyone of you on.

I am not being rude, I am ensuring my own safely. Please understand, by stopping early you are often creating traffic build up, reducing the ‘natural gaps’ that would enable me and Fizz to cross safely.

I am not alone with this, all guide dog owners are taught this, as are all (or where when I was trained) long cane users.

If I am with a friend or a kind stranger has offered to help me cross.  AND if crossing in front of you would be the only option, I will drop Fizz’s harness handle (walking her just by her lead) and taking the arm of the person with me.  This removes the responsibility to guide me from my guide dog and is the only time I will ‘break the rules’

This is because we have assistance from a sighted guide.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter xx

safe travelling to you all xx

Warm Wishes xx Tink

It’s not the reading that’s the issue…..

In a way to improve myself I am undertaking many different forms of learning.  Some is personal development, some is an education and some of it is to support my family.

One such learning is a 10 week parenting puzzle.

It isn’t a course that holds a secret instruction manual to raising children, rather it looks at ways in which as adults we have to dispel our own learnings as a child, to move past it and to understand ourselves better to support our children.

As the weeks have added up, the inner-termole of the course content has began to take an effect.  This teamed with counselling I have been undertaking to support me and help me with my anxieties and depression…… Has been giving me plenty to think about.

It has been commented (not as a critisism, more an observation) that I have become quieter as the weeks have rolled on.  The group I am in are very understanding and supportive towards everyone.

This week we were given an extra book.  “The huge bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.  It is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, yet one that is also written for adults too.

As part of our group, those leading us asked if one of us would read the book to the group.

A quick flick through the pages and I heard my voice before my thought had caught up

I’ll read it.

The intakes of breath were audible and noticed by others.  You see, I am an educated woman, I have a passion for reading, it is just my sight that doesn’t always play along!

Being a book to be read to and read by children; the type was larger, clearer and only briefly obscured by the illustrations behind.

I took a deep breathe and began to read.

I enjoyed the book.  I felt myself giving the characters tone and passion as the punctuation implied.

I felt saddened momentarily when it ended.  I closed the book and placed it on my lap.

I felt touched by the story; I felt that the story was so much more than a ‘children’s book’ it meant something.

I had also done something that I hadn’t done for many, many, MANY years.

I had read aloud to people other than my children.

You see, this is not just a little thing.  This is a MASSIVE thing.  I feel anxious reading, not because I dislike it, (far from it) more because I fear that I will miss words, not see them; especially in a children’s book, where the words can wrap around and over the pictures.

For someone who loves to read, yet faces my own worries over the act of reading.  It felt like it was a truly enlightening moment.  One that will hopefully stay with me for many years to come.

I have since ordered my own copy of the book, shared it with friends on Facebook and am looking forward to reading it to my own children.

You see, it isn’t the reading that’s the issue.  It’s the seeing the words.

 

Would you be my eyes?

Watching a film earlier today with an additional audio descript soundtrack; my son asked me

What does blue look like if you can’t see?

A question that made me think, I asked him what he thinks of when he thinks of the colour blue, to me it is the sky, the sea and swimming pools.

But mum, what if you had never seen before? What would blue look like?

And so I decided to write this post, I couldn’t answer my sons questions; but I have told him I will, I just need to do a little research first !!

For as long as the written word has existed there have been ways of evoking images from it.

Abjectives, Verbs, Nouns, connotation, yet these all rely on you knowing what such objects look like. In my research of this subject I have found something, something that was buried at the back of my brain with all of my other Secondary Educational learnings;  Pathetic fallacy – where the weather in the story or written word mirrors the emotion of the scene or the people in it. For example, when it is very hot the characters are agitated or when it is foggy, mystery is evoked. This is used to adds atmosphere to the writing and gives clues to the reader as to what is to come, especially if the weather is described before the event.  Just as many horror movies occur on dark stormy nights.

Do you need to know what weather looks like to understand it?

No, as someone who enjoys every type of weather and the changing seasons this is one element of life that I can use my other senses to understand.  Weather can be truly ‘FELT’ the hot sun on my skin, the drizzly rain, the north-easterly breeze.  Fog comes with the additional sounds of fog horns (living on this coast these can be heard miles in land) Mist gives a dampness to the air that isn’t present when it rains, morning dew has a smell to it, a storm too can have its very own smell and it’s not just thunder that makes a noise.

Weather can’t explain colour or shape though, although it works very well for emotion.

So, I am back at the beginning.

How would you describe the colour blue?  Without using the word, what does blue look like?

I have had sight and I have been fortunate to be able to see and remember colours, images, items.

Even though now my perception of colour is greatly altered, I can only really see the difference between orange and red when they are together and everything I see has a kind of haze or veil over it, so isn’t as vivid or true as it once were.

My hunt for answering my sons questions will continue, but for now; humour me?

Please reply to this blog post with your description of the colour blue.

No judgement will be passed, no humiliation with be sort.  Just an intriguing mind looking for help.

Thank You x

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.

xx

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.

The sky is too bright

In true British fashion, we are forever complaining about the weather.  ‘It’s too cold’, ‘it’s too wet’ or when the sun is actually out…. ‘it’s too hot!’

Throw into the mix a visual impairment and then it becomes, ‘It’s too dark’, ‘it’s too grey’, ‘it’s too bright’, ‘it’s too cloudy’ or ‘there isn’t enough cloud Coverage!’

I most definitely fall into the latter category……… I am definitely best suited to a dull grey day or a blue sky (but only in the summer months, not the winter -then the sun is to low!!)

This is something I am finding to be an issue more and more of late.

While sat in a friends car yesterday I put the sun visor down, but on a jaunty angle.  The reason for this, wasn’t bright sunshine, rather a sky full of bright white clouds ready to turn black at any given moment and empty their content over those unfortunate enough not to be dressed for it!

My friend asked if I was ok? it was then that I realised I had never actually told anyone about these issues that I

So I started to explained it only it isn’t actually that easy to explain, because it is still pretty hard for me to understand and make sense of it myself.

By having a bright cloudy sky my eyes are drawn to it, I become like a magpie!  I can see the bright shiny, but then I find it hard to see anything else, not that I can see much!

So. By putting down the visor I block out the light,stopping myself being drawn to it and am able to try and focus on other things, like being able to see the colour of the car in front of us, or the shop and building colours?

Just more of the little things that are so insignificant to others, but are beginning to become more and more noticeable to me as I struggle to see them!

This is just s small hurdle I am to overcome before I can continue on my way.

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