Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Resolutions?

Do you make New Year Resolutions?

I mean beyond the diet which dies a death after the first bacon and egg breakfast of the year. The save money that evaporates with the new set of tyres for the car.

I mean definite unbreakable resolutions.

To achieve something even the smallest goal.

For me 2013 my goal is to return to work before the end of January.  Return to work?

Where will I find the time, I am so busy these days from early in the morning until well after dark.

As a little background, last September, I had a small stroke. It was actually a transient ischaemic attack. A small pin head sized blood clot in the brain. In a few hours I went from a doctor telling my wife to "Prepare to say goodbye" to sitting in bed and eating pureed sausage and eggs for breakfast. 

Ok I couldn't actually eat solid food for a week but believe me, puree sausage and eggs makes you get well pretty quickly if only to eat real hospital food. :)

So for three months now I have  been off work.  No pay, no chatting around the workplace, well only occassionally on my infrequent visits to deliver a doctors medical note, or in passing on my way to Starbucks for a venti coffee.

It took me just over three weeks to be able to get out of bed, then three weeks to walk to the end of my street, now Starbucks is the other side of town and I walk there, and sometimes back if the local bus is not running or available.

That was a major achievement back at the end of November, to get that lovely cup of coffee.

My next step is just to convince the doctor that I am pretty much ok.  There are still problems, my balance is not quite there as I tire and I  have some trembling in my hand.

To help the trembling though, I type and also took up loom knitting. a fascinating hobby, I can knit a hat in three or four hours, for an adult; less for a baby. It has even reach the stage where I have several commissions for hats from family members. Including several ski hats to be delivered by next weekend.

So causing the hectic business in my life over New Year. But a great achievement for me will be to return to my real job by the end of January 2013.

That is my New Years Resolution.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Christmas Present swap went Well,

My Father-in Law, Dave. A great man for BBQ.

As you may remember I mentioned that my wife's family had decided upon a gift swap and steal party for Christmas.

This threw me into a bit of confusion as I like to plan gifts for people.

Well as it turned out it was ok. One of the gifts I put into the swap was this apron.

In fact I designed the apron myself (it is available both at my cafe press or zazzle store) if you would like one.

My wifes family are great barbecuers, my father in law ( in photograph) is especially good. I had hoped he would pick up the apron, and as you can see he did.

He is much more jolly a man than this picture suggests, I caught him coming in from the barbecue where he was preparing a 24 pound rib roast, it was deliciously tender for Christmas Day lunch.

All in all it turned out to be a wonderful Christmas day.

My pick from the gifts?

$25 worth of scratch cards. I am currently waiting for my wife to find the time to help me scratch off the wax from the cards. Should we win, I wonder if I will be rich?

Nah! Not really, I guess I am very rich already to be surrounded by some great people and you, the readers of this blog.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It is that time of year again.

I will be busy away from my computer for a few days so wanted to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for visiting my blog over this year. I hope you found it useful and that you will keep coming back next year.

In the meantime. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and all that you wish for yourself.

Thank you and may Your God go with you.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Description Comes to Fresno CA.

I am lucky to live quite near to Fresno CA. I live about an hours drive away and so weekends often see me visiting the city and its movie theaters, almost all of which are own by the Regal Entertainment Group.

Several weeks ago my wife noticed some posters going up around the cinemas declaring that they were about to provide some new services for disabled patrons, in particular deaf and blind patrons.

For the deaf they have begun to provide special glasses which allow the wearer to have closed caption subtitles onto the glasses, so the deaf viewer can follow the dialogue in any movie equiped with the neccessary closed captions. Also there is an enhanced audio facility on the same device as the Audio description device, this gives louder clearer audio but at least one customer service person didn't know the difference between enhanced audio and audio description as I mention later.

For blind patrons there is a headset which provides a descriptive narration of what is on the screen.

All these services are free to patrons,

In order to use the service you buy your ticket as normal at the box office then go to the Customer Service desk in the lobby of the Cinema. The service is also available at our local IMAX cinema too, but you must collect the headset from Edwards River Park at the time you purchase the ticket, then walk across the plaza to the IMAX Theater.

A couple of problems with the service whicht I have encountered are that one customer service person set the small receiver box to the wrong setting and so I missed several minutes of one movie going back to the customer service area to have them re-set the box from closed caption to audio description.

At the moment there is no way for you to test the setting until the actual movie starts, so any problem and you miss the begining of the movie.

Also the headset does not fit over the top of your head but around the back of your neck and there are loops which hold the earpieces to your ears. The solid headband catches the back of your seat if you lean back and the ear loops pull on your ears. This can give you both a stiff neck and sore ears after a couple of hours wear.

The audio description on the movies which I have seen is very good, especially when it comes to subtitling. In the past my wife used to have to read subtitles to me or tell me what was happening in dark portions of the movie.  This constant interruption to her viewing often distracted her and caused some other patrons to complain from their seats.

This audio description service now makes it more likely that I can go see movies alone, it also enhances my wife's enjoyment of the whole movie going experience.

These services are not yet available at all Regal Cinemas but they are being rolled out over time and I look forward to the time when the service does become standard.

I have a link to Regal Cinemas where you can find your nearest Regal Cinema equipped with this service.

I hope that you will be able to try it for yourselves. It is definitely a positive move to give us added independence.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mixed News at the Retinologist Appointment

Yesterday as I have mentioned in several posts was an important decision day at my retinologists office.

I had a full series of tests such as the regular OCT and then a fluorosene dye test of the blood flow at the back of my left eye in order to decide if the injections of avastin and lucentis should continue.

The OCT showed no major swelling of the retina, which is pretty much what I expected as it was only four weeks since my last Lucentis injection.

The fluorosene enhanced photographs of the blood vessels at the back of the eye also showed no new blockages, that is good news as more retinal vein oclussions was a fear of my retinologist and I.

So why is the blood flow only making this mixed news not great news?

Well given that the left eye is now completely blind, there is no treatable reason for this blindness. My retinologist  has come to the conclusion that the damage causing the blindness is further back in either the optic nerve or the brain. Neither of which is treatable at the present time.

In order however to prevent blood vessels growing within the left eye my retinologist is looking to maintain the intravitreal injection procedures for the foreseeable future.

That is also to my mind bad news. I was hoping that they may stop beingg a regular part of my life, but seemingly that is not to be.

So with this mixed news I look forward to a new year. I hope you are too. The next year will bring some challenges and obstacles, but for you all I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Tests This Week

This week I have an important appointment with my retinologist.

She has ordered a test to check the blood flow in my left eye. The test involves the injection of a fluoresent dye into my arm. Then a series of photographs are taken in rapid succession.

These photos tell the retinologist how the blood is flowing around the retina.

For several months now the monthly injections of Avastin and Lucentis have not been working as well as they had.

Though I had reported this my retinologist kept wanting one more chance for things to change.  Now I guess she is looking into the matter seriously. She always said that there was no reason why I should see no improvement.

I think this series of photos will show a mass of blood vessels. She had lasered some away about six months ago, that improved the swelling situation, the retina did not swell as quickly after the treatment began to wear off but vision never really recovered either.

It may be that this week will see the end of intravitral injections after five and a half years.

Those five and a half years were at first filled with some hope. Often false hope created by me. Not my retinologist, she was always cautious as to long term effects. Anyway now maybe no sharp sticks in the eye every month.

More false hope? We'll see. We'll see.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cold Mornings

The past few mornings have been on the cold side.

Temperatures are just about freezing. So cars are icy and there is that bite in the air that catches your throat as you breathe in.  I love that feeling of freshness that comes with mornings like these. I miss the several weeks of cold mornings from back home in England. Moving to California's central valley, I gave that up, now I get several days like this at most in the year and I relish the moment.

It is  on mornings like these that I also look forward to thick hot soups for lunch or dinner. My favorite is a thick Ham and Pea soup. My wife and mother in law both make a delicious thick pea soup. My wife however is now challenging me to make my own.

It is actually quite a challenge. Before I went blind I did cook. Not brilliantly, but what I turned out was edible and kept me going as a single man.  Now though I never cook so my wife sees this as an opportunity to get me started again.

Make my own pea soup within two weeks.

It's just peas, potatoes, carrots and onions with stock. So I guess we will have a go. After all maybe I might do a better job than either my wife or her mother. Now that would be awkward.

First rule of marriage I learned is to never be better than your wife's parents at anything. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Getting Excited for Christmas

Do you remember the days when you woke one morning and realised it was nearly Christmas with excitement?

I remember as a child looking forward and Christmas seemed so far away. Then bang Christmas Eve hit us.

Today, I woke, stretched, yawned and heard the birds singing in the early grey light. Wow! It's nearly Christmas I thought. That was the start of the excitement.

I often joke that people need to let me have a Christmas list by Easter or else they may not get what they want.

I am a planner. I love to plan what I will get for people, plan to budget  for the gift, then plan to get the gift. You get the idea.

Planning is all part of the fun for me. But sadly no-one else seems to appreciate that. All the time they wait and wait. Now at the end of the first week of December, I have rolled out my plans.

Now they get something. But as this year all my family have decided a gift swap/steal Christmas.

They pick a parcel, open it. Then if someone else likes that gift they can steal or swap it.

Arrrgh! For a planner like me a nightmare. How do I plan for a gift that maybe twenty people may like. IMPOSSIBLE!

So I decided last night to set myself free. I bought a couple of gifts that I would like. Now if I see disappointment in the eyes of the recipient of my gifts, then I can steal it back. I can't lose.

Or am I forgetting something?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Guide Dog II

Yesterday I had a surprise telephone call. A nice surprise that is.

It was from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The call was my telephone interview. If you are looking to get a guide dog it will be your second step after the initial application too.

The interview is to help the Guide dog people assess your circumstances. I was asked about how the decision to get a guide dog was arrived at. Guide dogs are not a trifle, you have to think about the life change that will take place much as you should when you take on any dog as a pet, but the guide dog will be a working dog not a pet for many years.

Then I was asked about the types of routes I normally walk. Obstacles I encounter, roads and traffic volumes along various rroutes.

Finally I was asked about my general health history. At the end of the call the interviewer asked if they could send me a consent form for Guide Dogs to contact my medical support teams and also the rehgabilitation department to check on my training on mobility aids, a white cane.

If the doctors supply their information in good time, Guide Dogs estimate a home visit could be made by February next year. 

That is about on a par with what I was led to expect in my previous conversations with them.

While all this is very exciting it is hard not to get my hopes up too much, these are important steps and at any stage the application can be refused or terminated.

For links to Guide Dogs for the Blind organizations in the USA and United Kingdom click here