Sunday, April 28, 2013

48 Hours Out of Hospital

Hello Everyone,

I must say that it is good to be at home after spending five days in the hospital.

Sadly my blog has sort of stalled hasn't it?

Anyway. this hospital stay came out of the blue. One minute you are fine then the next doctors are poking about you with needles every five minutes. But now I am home and a little bruised and battered.

Just wanted to let you know the reason for the break in posts, back to normal over the next few days.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blind Adventure

In the course of day to day events, getting to work in a familiar town hardly seems an adventure. Of course if you are blind anything can become an adventure.

Yesterday, my work day started late, 11am rather than my usual 8am this was because I now teach a class at night on Thursday so work later.

It was a nice morning, still cool at 9am so I thought there would be nothing better than to go to Starbuck's for a coffee before cutting back to work.

Leaving just after 9.30am I followed a now familiar route towards downtown. Small towns are great places, everything is very much within walking distance. I walk a good pace and all was going to plan until I reached an unfamiliar piece of sidewalk.

There has been some new building in town, sidewalks have been laid in new parts of town and old broken sidewalks have been replaced. It is surprising what confussion a new piece of sidewalk can cause when you can't really see where you are.

All my instincts were telling me that I really knew where I was. All I needed to do was follow my plan and keep going towards my right. But you know that little voice inside? The little voice that says no, don't trust your gut feeling. You're lost.

Well that little voice made its way into my brain. The plan of the town I had created in my mind was wrong. No-one on the street to ask, and buildings seeming unfamiliar. I was lost.

To cap it all, I could not get my phone to work, the screen blanked out in the bright sunshine. I wish smart phones had buttons and not touch screens.

I plodded on. Walking in a series of left and right turns, hoping to come across a familiar place.

Then suddenly I recognized where I was. Happily for me my town only has three sets of traffic lights in the town itself. and I was stood next to one of them. I had somehow crossed and recrossed the main road through town. Traffic must have been unusually quiet and I was lucky to not get hit by a car or truck.

Knowing where I was I made my way to Starbucks anyway. Then with my coffee cup in my bag I headed for work.

On the walk back I looked at the buildings that I could see more closely. At the very point where I had surrendered myself to that little doubting voice and turned left, I had walked just thirty paces from Starbucks.

Having got lost once I most probably won't get lost at that place again.

But the little adventure was an experience. Just another experience in a life of many adventures.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Exercise Update.

A few days ago I posted that I was going to make an effort to get more exercise.

For my initial goal I was setting myself a goal of 2,000 paces per day. On a day to day basis I found myself ranging anywhere from 900 to 8,000 paces per day. The lowest day involved a lot of work at my desk, I was a bit upset with myself for not getting out and doing more to make up the difference when I could that day. The 8,000 step day involved a walk to and from work and a lot of standing so I guess that also meant shifting from one foot to another.

The funniestexperience with this pedometer, which can be very sensitive at times was riding in the car I checked my reading then about 100 yards later I checked again and found it had counted 120 steps.  Whey hey, that's the way to exercise.

Of course in the interest of fairness I did not count any steps before that point in my days total and reset the pedometer back to zero.

To read the original  Taking Up Exercise post

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What do you see?

One of the questions that I am asked most often is "What do you see?" I do not live in total darkness as many sighted people believe blind people do.

In this Youtube video I aim to explain what I see., How I read and go about my day to day life while living with blindness.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Starbucks Art

If you are familiar with the Starbucks Coffee House chain you will know they are in part famous for displaying art work, mostly photographs on the walls of their stores.

The other day I was in a Starbucks sipping on a coffee with my wife. It was a nice day and I was just gazing around the walls when I saw a large picture of a penguin.

"Why does Starbucks have a photograph of a penguin on the wall?" I asked my wife.

"Where? I don't see one. " She replied.

"Over your left shoulder. Two over to the left."

"No, that's not a penguin it's a man in a hat." Was her reply.

"Oh! Looks like a great photo of a penguin to me."

The "Penguin"
in Starbucks.

Even though I knew that my interpretation of the image was completely wrong, I never did see a man in a hat. I still see a penguin.

Ah. Well. Penguins are cute and my eyesight is terrible these days. If I want to see a penguin.  I have the right to see a penguin. Don't I?

Anyone have any other embaracing stories of a misinterpreted world?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My First Class in Teaching US Citizenship

Thursday of this week saw me in a somersault of emotions. I was going to teach my first class in US Citizenship at our local library.

It was not my first try at creating a class, In February I had created the class and hoped to teach it on a Saturday morning. It was not a success, as no-one turned up for the class itself, I would have been alone in the room if a friend hadn't turned up to see how the class went. So in part Thursday had the low of my imagining a repeat, though there were eleven names on the sign-up sheet. I hoped some would arrive.

By the time I got to the library I found my Spanish translator had had an emergency and couldn't attend. My Spanish is non too good, I am afraid. I can just about ask for a beer in Castillian Spanish, Mexican Spanish the common dialect around here is not the same though I can understand conversations by native Spanish speakers here, the tempo is much too fast for me to speak fluently. So knowing the translator was not going to be there sent me into a period of deep questioning.

Luckily the Children's Librarian know's a lot of people who are willing to help at such times and one, a very nice lady was able to step in at just three hours notice. As we began to prepare the room for the class, people began to come in. So I used the time to say hello and find some basic information from some. In the end the class numbered some thirteen persons.

It is at those times I don't mind being blind. Being in a room full of people and being up front talking used to terrify me. Since going blind my nerves have disappeared on that point.

I checked with how my new translator liked to work. :Just two or three sentences at a time." she told me.

Then the class was on. The first portion I introduced the subject, what we will look at in the coming weeks and my own experience of the citizenship process. From there I opened the first class to questions. I really wanted to learn what they expected from me. There was a little pause at first, a pause long enough to make the butterflies in my belly churn. Then a question. This question built into a discussion with the class, because it was a good open and non specific one for the person asking it. This led to another then several more and in what seemed like no time at all people were telling me of previous classes and what they had found to be problems. Great for me. I know the pitfalls to avoid if I can.

The evening ended with lots of people coming to shake my hand. At that point I was on a high point. No sleep for me Thursday night. This teaching thing is so energizing. I still feel somewhat on a high from Thursday.

Looking forward to next Thursday now, the real teaching part will begin then. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rodeo Comes to Town

When you think of California you may not think of cowboys and rodeo.

I know I never imagined living in a place where I could go to the college library and just as easily hear the chink of spurs as I could hear the clatter of baseball cleats or football grunts.

California however is a pretty lively place when it comes to competition and rodeo is pretty big in the Central Valley. Hence our local community college, and my Alma Mater by the way, has spent some months and a good deal of money building a rodeo ground just outside of town.

The official opening was last week and yesterday, Saturday April 6 there was a competition day with all sorts of rodeo sports like bull riding and roping. The main event was early in the afternoon and sadly I missed that part as my wife and I went across the valley to do some major shopping.

We got back into town in the mid afternoon and decided to go and watch some of the later rodeo games.

We arrived there in time for the Women's events, calf roping.

The afternoon was very enjoyable. I got to be pretty good at assessing times as the horses always stopped pretty well in my line of sight against light colored posters depending on my head position I could guess within about half a second on their times.

Sadly I could not, of course, enjoy the detail of style and technique it was a fun day out doing something different.

As a blind person we miss out on a lot by staying away from such events but getting out there despite our blindness we can still have a lot of fun and enjoyment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Taking Up Exercising

As the days are getting warmer and longer, I am taking up exercising.

Ten years or so ago, my work meant a day of walking. I could walk up to twenty miles per day, including eight miles just walking to and from work, four miles each way, because I didn't have a car and no public transport was around at five in the morning or after six in the evening.

Since having my stroke last September, I got lazy. Riding the local free bus on my one early finishing afternoon at work and the other days riding in the car too and from work.

I did get a treadmill, and use it, but not for long enough to do much real good.

Since my application for a Guide Dog is still progressing and as a part of the training I must be able to walk for a few hours per day. I have decided to increase my exercise levels considerably.

I can comfortably walk about three miles at present. The distance across town to Starbucks and back home.

I bought a small pedometer and set myself a minimum of 2,000 paces per day this first week. This is a simple goal and it is easily beaten, so far this week my average is just over 5,000 paces. At my pace measurement one mile is about 2,900 paces. So I am walking under two miles per day during the week.  I plan to raise this level to about 10,000 paces per day by the end of May, just about five miles.

With lengthening days that should be very achievable.

I will keep you posted as to my progress.

Anyone out there have any suggestions for keeping up on exercise regimes?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Low Vision Store

Over the last few weeks I have been re-arranging The Low Vision Store.

Over time some of the categories and links had become untidy and confusing. The categories have changed a little there is an increased selection of canes available and I have created several sub categories of Talking watches.

The main Talking Watch section holds English Speaking Watches., but there are now sub categories for  Spanish Talking Watches. also a limited selection of  German, Russian, Italian  and Portuguese.
talking watches

I hope that you will visitThe Low Vision Store to view our widening range of adaptive technology devices and aids for the blind and visually impaired.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Waiting to Go to the Eye Doctor

This is the moment of the day that I dislike the most.

It is a little after 4am, I have been awake for an hour now and I know that I have a long day ahead.

It will be at least 9pm tonight before I get home. This is because I have a Retinologist appointment at 4:30pm this afternoon. It is hard to see my eye doctor so late in the day.

Before that I have to work at my day job, having changed my work hours around this week to allow me to leave work at 2pm today. Then there is a crazy dash across California to get to the eye doctors office in time for the appointment.

Today will be an injection day too. Lucentis is on the cards for today. It is four weeks since my last injection and since the previous plan of waiting eight weeks between injections failed at six weeks we are back to a four week interval of injections.

Having a late in the day injection, like today will be, also messes up my sleep patterns.

When I have an injection in the morning it is easier for me to recover. I generally come home and sleep off the discomfort. With a late afternoon injection the discomfort often lags over through the following day though it usually begins to clear in the afternoon.

Onegood thing is that my retinologist no longer has me use anti-biotic drops for four days after the injection. My eye is just well dosed with anti-biotic before the injection and immediately afterwards. This is much easier on me, not having to remember to do the eye drops every four hours.

So wish me luck.