Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Long Nights and Longer Days

At the end of September this year I had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) that had me in hospital for three weeks and still has me off work.

I have some balance issues remaining and a tremor in my left hand which is easing over time.

The days of doctor visits is now receeding into history as my recovery continues.

This is leaving me with long days and nights of very little to do.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from my account. It appears someone bought a T-Shirt from one of my old stores. It was actually a store that I set up on my very first day there two and a half years ago.

Well the store had stood for a while, some traffic but no sales until September 26, then a SALE!

Ironically that was the very day I had my stroke. While I sat in hospital for three weeks, my customer was enjoying their new shirt and finally a few days ago the sale was confirmed as good. So I got paid a commission. YEAH! I like that someone actually bought one of my shirts.

Since yesterday I have been cleaning up my stores on Zazzle.  Adding some new stuff too.

If you are at a loose end for something to do. Maybe consider opening a store online selling your own t-shirt designs or other products.

Don't tell yourself that you are blind so you can't do it. I can do it, you can too.

While the commission may be a little slow, this cheque will have taken two years to come. It does give you a sense of satisfaction to say that I am a clothing designer who has sold his designs successfully. :)

Now off to Starbucks for a Venti brewed coffee. That's my commission spent.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Forever. I lose the Eye


Yesterday I went to see my retinologist for my monthly check-up.

For several months now we have being trying to save the left eye. The tests every month were showing no swelling due to the injections of Avastin and Lucentis. The bad thing though my vision was not varying at all.

I can see bright light as a pale glow in my left eye otherwise there is nothing there. No light, no colours, no letters on the eye chart, actually no wall for the wall chart to hang on.

My retinologist therefore came to the decision that we have more than likely lost the fight for my left eye.

Next month I will go back and have a full battery of test, a flourescent dye will be injected into my arm to allow photographs of the blood supply to my left retina. I also may receive one more injection of Avastin.

Believe it or not it is a relief. I had been up and down over the lack of improvement in that eye following several injections. Now I know not to worry.

My retinologist is at a loss as to the cause of the blindness. Swelling is under control, there are lots of shunt vessels however across the retina so that may be the problem, these carry blood to areas now dead following the original clot five years ago.

Anyway, it is just another problem not to worry about.

For my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guide Dog?

Thinking ahead times have been a little tough lately.

The death of Polly, my old German Shepherd, having a heart attack in June then a stroke in September. I am now almost recovered, still have a tremor in my left hand and a little weak overall.

So looking forward, I think we could do with a goal.  My MA is on hold for a little.

But how about looking into getting a Guide Dog.

A Guide Dog would work, I miss the companionship of a dog, I could be more generally independent and I think it woluld work out for me.

So today I contacted the California Guide Dog center in Sann Rafael. They run a series of programs at theor campus to let you see if Guide Dogs are good for you and to see if you would be a good fit for a guide dog.

Their next program is at the end of February 2013 then another in April.

So we can think about that for a while.

To find help on owning a guide dog here is a link to  Guide Dogs for the Blind USA

Link to   Guide dogs for the Blind UK


A Great Book: Thunderdog by Michael Hingson

I bought this book about twenty-four hours ago, since then I have only read and slept.

I do not often post favorite books on this blog, I have another blog for that.

This book is different though. Michael Hingson and his guide dog Rocelle became famous after their escape from World Trade Center I on 9/11. Hingson and Rocelle were working on the 78th floor of the WTC building when American Airlines flight 11 hit the North Tower on that bright September morning in 2001.

Hingson retells their story inthis book, but he also does something more. He tells a story of a life with blindness and the various twists and turns that led him to be in the North Tower that day

. This book is moving, at several points I found a tear welling up in my eye, also a nod of understanding when Hingson tells of various obstacles he had overcome from society

. If you are blind or partially sighted you will recognize many of the situations, Hingson describes. If you love dog stories, you will love the devotion and loyalty shown by both man and dog in their own team, if you wonder how to treat the blind, this book will guide you. I highly recommend this book to be shared with anyone. Sighted or blind all will learn something of value from this book.


Friday, November 9, 2012

My First US Presidential Election Experience

 It was about 7pm in the evening when I went to the polling station. The polling station was like many such places in England housed in the annex to a church.

Rows of blocked off tables filled the center of the room, the voting booths. Then down the left sat a row of people behind numbered desks. A man approached my wife and I asked our address and directed us to a table.

The woman at the table greeted us happily, asking me about the next book club meeting at the library, I organize the book club and she has often expressed interest in joining wjen she has prepared my taxes in the Spring. Guess you know that you live in a small town when you know most people at the polling station.

My wife voted first, I stood with a friend from the local community college as we caught up on news and our latest bits of gossip.

Then I moved to a voting booth. My wife elected to fill in the ballot for me. We had actually prepared my votes on a ballot proposal form earlier. It was easy then to merely add the votes to the various parts of the ballot paper.

Happily I placed my ballot into a cover, walked to the man whom had directed us earlier then my ballot was taken from me, placed on a machine and sucked inside.

My first presidential election as a US Citizen was over.

Sad at the knowledge that next time will not be a first but happy to have followed a tradition of having a say in my countries government. I love it!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

White Cane Techniques

While browsing Youtube the other day I found this video on the proper use of a white cane.

While it is probably not the best medium to share training with my fellow blind persons, it will offer some insight to any sighted persons as to what we are really doing with those canes.

I did find one particular section quite funny. The use of a white cane in a cafeteria or restaurant. The video shows the blind person alone in the restaurant and successfully navigating their way around, tray and cane in hand. Nice of the other customers to vacate the premises and put the chairs back under the tables.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election Fever: My First Vote

This next week is very exciting for me. I was an avid voter back in England, I didn't miss a local or General Election. Now for the first time I get to vote in a US National Election.

OK so many of you may be sighing at the thought of yet more politics. I admit I am dreading Wednesday of next week when no doubt once the political analysts have examined any result the plot for the Election campaign for 2016 will be laid out.

Anyway. Tuesday November 6th 2012 is a big day for me. I became a US Citizen in December 2010 so this is my first time voting for a major political event.

I got a review ballot through the mail a few weeks ago, a thirty page monster with all the local candidates, ballot measures and bond issues. Far more complex than a straightforward ballot in England where one puts an X next to your chosen candidates name, while making sure not to mark outside the right box, just in case you spoil the vote.

As things go, I have pretty much decided on my tax and bond measures, here in California we are also voting on the Death Penalty, whether to keep it on the statuts as we cannot use it as a punishment anyway because it is being boycotted by doctors who must be present. Then there is a chance to continue the "Three Strikes" law to make a third conviction for a major crime a mandatory life sentence.

Close to my heart is Measure B a llibrary funding measure that is up for renewal, for twenty years a portion of county sales tax has been given to libraries for books and programs. My wages are funded from Measure B so no measure B no job for me come January.

Beyond that of course there is the choice of President. That one decision has not been made just yet. Though I am sure California will send all its electoral college votes for the Democratic candidate.

I am really looking forward to seeing how the whole process works from a blindman's point of view. How the polling station workwers deal with me and my problems. I will let you know.