Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is This Prejudice I Hear?

At the end of last month I received a notice that from 27th February 2012, I would be on a stand-by list for jury service.

I told my employer and all was fine.

I also told a colleague. Well it was like a torrent of "You can't ..." hit me.

"Your blind and can't see the evidence." "Your blind and won't be able to tell when someone is lying." "You would give cause for a mis-trial claim." "Blind people can't sit on juries, passing judgement on sighted people!"

It was all nonsence of course. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, we blind cannot be refused on the sole grounds of blindness.

But I was amazed at my colleague for this behavior. If I had said an African-American couldn't sit on a jury, or a woman. Would that be ok? No their only opinion was a blind person is incapable.

With all the other stuff going on. I was not looking forward to being a juror anyway. I am still on stand-by.

But I can say I was very disappointed in my colleague. I had thought them more understanding than it appears they are.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The World Gone Black.

A few days ago I talked about my vision suddenly failing completely in my left eye.

Yesterday, Monday February 20,2012, I went to see my retinologist for my monthly check-up.

As I had mentioned here, the first eye test using the eye chart showed problems. The major problem I could see nothing. One of the assistants who did all the preliminary checks shone a light into my left eye, I could see a faint glow, somewhere beside my nose. Otherwise nothing.

On getting these results and checking my OCT scan, which showed no swelling of the retina. That for me was not good news, swelling has in the past caused similar symptoms, but not the darkness.

My retinologist then sent me for a circulatory photo session. A fluorescent die is injected into your arm and seconds later a series of photographs is taken of the blood vessels over the back of the eye.

This series of pictures showed an area of the retina has died due to a lack of blood supply. 

The cause is not known, I don't know if there was a blockage because of a clot. I take warfarin daily, at about 10 to 15 mg per day. My blood was not as thinned as my hemotologist would have liked a few days ago so it is possible this was the cause.

Anyway the dead area could be responsible for the loss of vision.

My Retinologist is now thinking of laser surgery to seal off the dead area. She says this may prevent future swelling from the original CRVO and mean that I need less treatments with Avastin and Lucentis.

It also could mean that I have to take more and more laser treatments. That was what caused me to lose the sight in my right eye.  The eye surgeon there, suggested ring fencing the damaged area, but with each series of laser treatments to block off blood vessels, the damaged area only grew. Until after some 20,000 laser shots vision was lost in that eye almost completely.

So now a five week dilema, do nothing and leave well alone, do something and possibly not have to have monthly injections or go with treatment and risk a few painful laser surgeries but not regain any real vision.

It is tough but I have a month to think about it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Going to the Retinologist Today

Today is my appointment at the retinologist.

My vision is about as bad as the worst days of my central retinal vein oclusion (CRVO) about four years ago now.

As I type I cannot see the keyboard, and as it is 5.30am I don't want to speak into my Dragon Naturally Speaking software.

It is at times like this, often early in the morning, after another sleepless night that I say this blindness lark really stinks. Wow a pity party is really going on in my head today.

There is not really a reason for that. I am not doing too badly after all. I have a job, I am doing pretty well with my Master's classes, twenty five percent of the way and passing classes. Even yesterday I completed and submitted the draft to my class final paper. That class has just twelve days to run now.

But again I meet the pity party crowd in my head. Spoil everyone's day, while others go to the mountains or the beach on this President's Day holiday, people have to give up their day to take me to the doctor. And to cap that they are willing to point that very thing out to me. I have to ask others to check my paper for me, just check spellings and not find  mistakes like one found the other week. Talking of "modern weapons" in nineteenth century China, Dragon made the phrase into "mutton weapons", I know the Chinese are tough but going into battle carrying a lamb chop! :)

But as you can perhaps tell that kind of frustration can get waring. You probably face similar frustrations daily.

All this is just whining and does no real good. It is just a mark of frustration and today I am like a kid screaming in the supermarket aisle because mummy will not buy me the toy car that I want and WANT NOW!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All is Black.

I went to bed the other night. Closed my eyes and slept.
When I woke at just after 6am yesterday. I opened my eyes. I noticed that it was dark in the room. I was laying on my right side and my right eye was buried in the pillow. But what is unusual about it being dark at 6am on a February morning?

As many of you who are regular readers may recall. I often talk of the bright light I always see.

That bright light has gone from my left side vision. Now I close my right eye and the world is dark. Open my right eye and the world gets brighter with no definition.

So I have an appointment with my retinologist on Monday.  I am not going to push for that appointment to be brought forward. I would have done in the past, but given how my left eye vision has been detteriorating I think that this is just the final part of the going blind process in that eye.

Am I sorry, in some ways no. It was just getting problematic dealing with fluctuations. Some days good, some days really bad. If this situation is to be permanent I can adjust more easily to that permanent status.

I will keep you posted as to what happens.

What My Eye Doctor Found.

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Intel Reader Tips

Speed Up Processing.

In recent tests I have found it much faster to scan and process one page at a time.

Place your document to be read on the Capture Station and cover one page with a blank piece of paper. Scan and capture each page singly and it makes processing about 30% faster.

Cover Footnotes on Scanned Documents.

When scanning a document with footnotes. Cover the footnotes with a blank sheet of paper.

Covering footnotes makes playback of the text much easier. The scanner does not read italic text very well and this can spoil ones reading speed and pleasure. Especially if the page has a lot of footnotes. The easiest thing to do is cover them up and not scan them at all.

Zoom in to Text

When using the Capture Station zoom the camera in as closely as you can to the text.

Doing this makes it easier for the reader to interpret the text.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cancer? No.I don't Get Paid to Say "I told you so!"

This last week saw me going to the hospital for a CT scan.

You can be sure that as the radiographer was preping me for the process I told him several times about my old "ValleyFever" scars.

For the sake of clarity, Valley Fever is a fungal infection found in the Southwest United States and Northern Mexico. One of the problems with Vally Fever is that it is a disease which after infecting your lungs it leaves scars which appear on X-Rays for years to follow. These scars to a Radiographer who doesn't know your history can appear cancerous on an x-ray plate.  I originally became sick with Valley Fever in September 2006, that episode took me until December of that year to recover. Believe me, you wouldn't wish Valley Fever on your worst enemy.

Anyway, last Christmas I had pneumonia which meant a chest x-ray. And a subsequent panic for my doctor crying cancer at a recent appointment.

Friday I went back for the results of the CT scan. Low and behold my doctor was in jolly mood.

"The scan is clear, you have Valley Fever scarring on your lungs."

Excuse me! You mean to say that now I am paying you to tell me what I told you?

All the fuss and problems he caused, my having to get time to go to the hospital, organizing someone to drive me, giving up their time and I had been right all along.

But His attitude is, that it is good news, he was not wrong in calling it cancer, he needed to get an updated scan of my chest anyway to see the status of the Valley Fever scars. So if he had told me that in the first place I would not be happy?

Of course I would be a lot happier than I am with a doctor who knows my history, going off on a wild cancer chase. Now if I do really get sick, do I believe him or do I just pay myself a big fat check and say I am as great a diagnostician as my doctor.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What to do? Cancer?

In December I went to see my primary care doctor over a cough. He sent me off to the hospital that day for a chest x-ray. The result came back as pneumonia and so he gave me anti-biotics and told me to rest a few days and go back over the Christmas holidays for another chest x-ray.

Well the cough eased a little and I went back for a second chest x-ray which showed some scars, possibly from valley fever that I had in the Fall of 2006. Valley Fever is a nasty fungal infection of the lungs, and the Central Valley of California is a hoy spot for the little spores that you breathe in.

Well the cough came back the week after Christmas and back for more anti-biotics. Again there was some improvement until the other night when I felt the familiar burning pain under my ribs on the right side again.

Today, I went back to my doctor.

Today though he was a little more glum as he spoke to me.

The radiologist who examined the chest x-rays was concerned about a "mass" on the right lung.

""So, it's probably valley fever" scars?" Was my question.

"The radiologist wants to check again. This time with a CT scan. It may be a cancer."

Of course this is with no tests, no real information and not much evidence.

If I were on trial I would doubt this evidence would lead to a conviction. But it leaves yours truly here, wondering for the next week or so, while the doctor gets insurance clearance for the test. What the hell is going on? I am sure if it was that serious they would have called to let me know. Wouldn't they?

Finding Books on Blindness for the Amazon Kindle

It came to me to try a little experiment.

I decided to try and see how many books were readily available for the blind, covering living with low vision or blindness in general and available on Kindle readers with text to speech enabled.

Do you know how many I found in the first two pages of Amazon's website?


Ok Pun intended here. How can publishers be so short-sighted?

The Kindle for me is my primary book reader, now there are more books available with the text to speech facility enabled.

I have two Kindle's an older DX and a new Kindle touch. Both work well and it means now I am less dependent on publishers creating a CD version of the book, more expensive and usually available a year or two after initial publication, or having to wait for my local library for the blind to send me a copy of a book through the mail.

We blind and visually impaired have a right to get information. I don't need to buy a print copy of a book, give it to my spouse to read for me, or a friend either. Then have them tell me what it said.

OK I do have an Intel Reader which I know could read the book for me. But what about you? Do you have a reader? Do you feel that publishers should do more to make their product available to us?

After all do they publish the books so sighted people can vicariously experience blindness?  Surely the authors wanted to share information and want to see their books available to the widest audience possible. We are willing to buy the book so why won't they create something we can read, or listen to?

If you feel the same way as I do.

Go to Amazon.com and select books which are not available on Kindle. Click the link to ask the publisher to publish the book to Kindle and lets see if we can't all really benefit from shared knowledge.