Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Aiding the Blind?

If I ask for help does it mean I am weak and needy?

This question faces the blind and probably most people every day.

Being blind I admit does have its problems. I can't read straight from a book or paper, I can't drive, walking is difficult unless I know exactly where I am.

But in many situations I can cope.

When I can't though asking people around me to help can seem a drain on their time.  It makes me feel needy too.  For instance yesterday my medical insurance company nurse called me on the telephone. Nothing special they call me every few weeks just to maintain their service.

Going over some of the medications I use she wanted to know the spelling of one of them. Now she does know I am blind. I take a stab at what I think the spelling may be. No it wasn't in their system. So what does she say?

"Can't you get your wife to tell me your medications?"

"No, my wife is in work."

:Then next time have her wrote out your medications so you can see them."

At this point I feel one inch tall and pathetic.

I understand nurses have to deal with patients, and put on an act of empathy. But the total lack of understanding of my frustration at not being able to do something was stunning.

I already have to ask my wife or her family to do a lot of travelling for me. Living in the country I often get the one bus out of town to go to the doctors, but then as the bus doesn't stop less than five miles from the doctors offices, someone, usually my father-in-law and mother-in-law meet me take me to all my appointments and back to the bus stop in time for the one bus back to nome.

That makes me feel awful in itself. Now people demand I ask more of others in order for them to gain some information. That is a seemingly trivial matter, but it is a laege mountain when you already feel a burden for those around you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Little Light Eighties Music

I was playing around today.

For a week now I have had bronchitis and was in the mood for some fun.  I looked around on YouTube and found some old 1980's favorite songs.

I posted five of those songs on this hub:

Spandau Ballet; Bananarama; Rick Astley et al: My Favorite Five Hit Songs of the Eighties

If you'd like to hear some of the music I enjoyed in the eighties, hop over to that Hub.

There are some really good dance songs, a nice slow ballad, lots of love and teen angst.

Plus possibly one of the worst Pop Promo Videos ever made.  Sorry Spandau Ballet, but "Muscle Bound" was not a good video.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Glaucoma: One of the More Easily Prevented Causes of Blindness

Glaucoma is one of the more easily preventable causes of blindness.

Simply a raised internal eye pressure Glaucoma in its early phase has no visible manifestation. You may after a while think that you need new glasses or notice lack of peripheral vision.  By this time damage is becoming severe and treatment is necessary. Treatment can include use of drops or an implant of a tube under the eyelid to allow the release of internal eye pressure by allowing the fluid inside the eye to exit over the surface of the eye. This tube is not noticable after a few hours, I have had to receive this treatment myself. Now and again my eye will seem to water excessively, that is liquid from inside the eye, leaking to the outside.

In this interesting article about Glaucoma testing in Australia, More Australians fear Blindness than Spiders, but do nothing.. The fear of blindness is very real.  After all, more people go blind every year than are seriously injured by spiders, or any of the half dozen other phobias mentioned in the article.

I have had Glaucoma, mine was induced by the use of steroids for my Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) I was made aware of the risk, for glaucoma by my retinologist at the start of treatment. Unfortunately the glaucoma was much worse than we estimated, causing major damage to the optic nerve.

That aside, Glaucoma for the general population is easily tested for, a pressure check takes all of thirty seconds, and measuring of the optic disc a matter of minutes too.

If undertaken as part of a semi-annual check means little effort is required by you to help prevent the most easily treatable problem and prevent long term damage. Or Blindness.

My glaucoma problem is not typical, it was a calculated risk taken by me and my retinologist, in the light of severe consequences doing nothing.

But most Glaucoma damage is very preventable.

Ask your eye doctor to add the neccessary checks into your normal eye checks. There is no invasive procedure, no pain and in the long term it can save your sight.

Glaucoma, take the Test advice

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Would there be a Book HERE?

It seems that I am building the idea for a Kindle e-book in my mind.

Well it is 3:30am and my mind is fully awake and has been for over an hour now. Either that or it is a high from the cold medicine I took yesterday afternoon.


Would anyone be interested in a book about the last ten years of my life. It would start around 9/11 2001. That was a big day for me in many ways. It was a day when I think the first blood clot was forming which would take my vision in my right eye within weeks. It was also more famous for the events in New York City, Virginia and Pennsylvania. It was also around that time that the idea to travel the United States by train began to form. A decision that would dramatically change my life. Forever.

This is not a rhetorical question. Would YOU be interested in the story?  Would you want to know a story of How I went blind? How I found my way through the red tape of the US Immigration System to become first a permanent resident then a citizen?How I fought blindness to gain a degree? How I met a wonderful group of people, and how one was so special that I had to fall in love with her and marry her? She has stood by me through many of the last ten years, sometimes praising me on to higher things, sometimes delivering the ultimatums that I need to pull me from the pity parties.

So be honest is there a book in here somewhere?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Is Bigger Better When it Comes to Aiding the Blind?

Am I the only person who gets a little irritated when sighted people say having bigger buttons or magnifying a television screen will help me see things and use them?

I just read an article online where someone, obviously sighted expounded the virtues of larger buttons on a phone, magnifying instruments to aid television and computer screen vision and variable text size on a Kindle reader, all as means to aid the blind or visually impaired.

Fine, I love my own kindle devices, I actually own two of them. Do I use text enlargement on either? No! I use the text to speech features to read a book to me.

I don't watch TV I can see a dim grey blurr of light where the Television is, but no amount of enlargement will help me see a picture there.

My computer too, I use Non Visual Desktop Application (NVDA) screen reader to help me navigate on my computer. I also use Dragon Naturally Speaking to navigate and write posts or papers to my class. The screen is of little use to me anyway.

My phone has speech recognition, I tell it to call a person and it does, well sometimes it does. Read my blog My Stupid Smart Phone!   for my day to day relationship with a really dumb piece of technology.

Trying Ideas for a New Business

I always like looking for new things to do.
I am as you know working on my MA degree in History, I also work part-time for a local governement agency.
The  part-time job however is under constant threat. Not because of any problems with work in general, but here in California with the current economic climate any job in local or state control is very precarious. To have a as requiewd part-time post is not really the road to job security, if anyone has that anymore.
One of my ideas is to look into publishing e-books for the Amazon kindle. I have bought a few books on the subject and to be honest, most are utter rubbish.
I did however find this book, it is FREE for Amazon Prime Users to borrow and less than $5 to buy. It turned out to be pretty good. Which is why I am recommending it to you, if you are thinking of setting up your own publishing business, quickly and easily.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Class Grades Posted Today!

Today was the day when my class professor posted our final paper grades and also the total grade for the class overall.

I was delighted that I received an A+ for my final paper. Receiving almost 97% for the grade. Overall in the class I received a A-, most of that was because the draft of my paper received a B-, I had concentrated on figuring out a timeline for my paper topic, "The Importance of US Highway 66 in the development of the modern USA"  That B was enough to take my overall class grade down to 94.75%.

I am very pleased with that situation however, I did not expect a higher grade on the draft paper. That is afterall where one can make the mistakes. The idea being you improve on that grade in the final effort and I did just that.

This now gives me an overall "A" for the MA program so far.

This is a very happy and positive finish to my day. 8-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thank You

Thank You all for reading my Blog.

This Blog has been live now for nine months.

When I wrote my first blog post here, I hoped that this blog might become a resource for those of you who are blind or for sighted people who wanted to understand a little about blindness.

That first post was made on June 1, 2011. Now as we passed nine months you, the viewers of this blog allowed me to reach another milestone.  4,000 views in the previous nine months make this the most viewed of all my online blogs. Viewing figures are rising daily, in the past few weeks you have increased the average viewing figure from less than 10 per day to over 20 per day. I hope that this increase in viewers means that I am doing something right?

If you have ideas for more articles on particular matters, hints and tips or just feedback in general, feel free to comment.

I hope that you will all continue to support this blog.

Let's see where we can take this. Shall we?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Day in Court

A little over a month ago I received a summons to attend the local State Court for Jury service.

Since I had to be at the court by 8:30am I knew it would be awkward. I live 70 miles from the court and obviously can't drive.

My solution when the notice to actually attend was to take the train to the Amtrak Station nearest the court. Our local Amtrak is only forty miles away, and the train left at 6:10am. So my wife was enrolled to drive me to the station. For us both it was a 4am start.

I paid my fare only $4.75 at that time in the morning. The train ran on time. Though there was one woman who complained all the way that she could not smoke and that some Blind man had sat in HER seat. Being an empty seat when I got on, I sat in it. It was marked for disabled users, and this woman was no where in the compartment when I boarded.

I got off the train at the other end, by this time the woman was silent. This was because she obviously now had a cigarette in her mouth. I grew up with a mother who smoked. Cigarette smoke never bothered me then, today it makes me nauseous at the first breath.

I made my way to the courthouse. Arriving at about 7am. The doors to the Jury Assembly room opened at 7:45am. It was a relief to get into the warm room after sitting outside in temeperatures just above 30 degrees.

During the next hour the room filled with about 150 people. Names were called and people moved off to various courtrooms.

My name was called early. We had to answer a questionairre before the selection. This was a major problem for me, but one of the court supervisors helped me. Then after filling in the questionairre those jurors were taken to an adjacent building. I had special help from the court supervisor who had helped me to fill in the form. We had to cross a couple of streets and then make our way through security. That part particularly worried me, my cane being hollow and would it be designated a potential weapon?  Luckily it wasn't.

After entering, believe it or not we just sat for about three hours. Talking about stuff like the weather. Then just about lunchtime we were called. Told that the case had been settled out of court and dismissed, deemed to have served for the purpose of being recused for twelve months.

If you can get to a courthouse. Try serving on a jury. Being Blind does not exempt you from serving your community and country, unless you want to refuse that is.