Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Treatment Ends

You know the way people sometimes disguise bad news as good news?

Well that is the sort of thing that happened to me at the retinologists office yesterday. As I have mentioned for several months now, my left eye, which was my better eye and the one which the retinologist has been trying to save for thre past six years was deteriorating badly. A while ago it failed to respond to the more irregular treatments with  Avastin or Lucentis so we moved to a more regular treatment period of four weeks between injections.

Last month my retinologist gave me one last injection. No visible improvement over the month and we woluld cease treatment.  That was an acceptable decision for me. Frequent injections run a risk of an eye infection, plus there is the discomfort of the injection itself.

The injection doesn't cause pain, so if you are looking at a first injection into the eye, don't worry. The doctor will apply numbing drops to the eye a few minutes before the injection. The discomfort is more pronounced later, A dull ache and maybe a feeling that there is a piece of sand in the eye. This used to wear off for me after a good nap or a long nights sleep.

Well of course the good news is that I don't have to have any more injections. That is good.

There is also a little tinge of sadness in the news. I had known that the eye was blind, in my heart though I hoped for the miracle that, one more, just one more injection would kick start the eye into working again.

Now it is confirmed that the eye is not going to get any better.

The problem is not in the eye itself. My retinologist had been talking of the optic nerve looking pale on her monthly inspections. Palour in the optic nerve it seems pointed in my case to the nerve being starved of a blood supply. Sometime possibly as part of an earlier stroke, the blood supply had been interrupted and the optic nerve had died.

Now as well it means that I also don't need to go to the eye doctor each month. Less time travelling on the bus each month. That is also a good thing.

All other things taken into consideration, I don't suppose that losing the eye is such a bad thing. Many people yesterday received much worse news than they were going  to be blind. Thinking of those who have lost loved ones, someone who has lost a child, a husband or wife or parent. They have more pain to bear than I.

I do get to keep up my relationship with my retinologist, she agreed to monitor my right eye, that will be done with quarterly visits to her office, the residual vision I have in that eye is even more precious these days so I want to keep that eye working at least at its present level.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

89 Days to Dog Day

It is now 89 Days to Dog Day. The day I get to meet my first Guide Dog. I was doing pretty well with the walking until last Friday afternoon.

On Friday I decided to try a variation on my route home. this variation took me by a storm drain. For those unfamiliar with the storm drain, they are drains placed in the side of the road and there is a steep ledge around them to drive the rainwater off the road and into the ground.

I knew this drain was there but on my home visit I was told to use the route sometimes as it would be safer than my previous walking route.

Anyway I was walking quite briskly along the side of the street as there was no sidewalk I was in the road.

My cane must have landed just short of the lip into the storm drain because as my right foot came down, I felt my ankle twist over and I almost went down to my knees. In the process, I sort of counter balanced to the left and twisted.

I settled myself, after the stumble and made my way home, with a aching ankle.

Saturday morning however, I could not move. My back muscles had seized up completely and any movement was absolute agony.

I spent the week-end shuffling about the house. Then Monday went to see my doctor. After x-rays to look for possible fractures, at 51 I am old in my doctors terms and bones break more easily. Cheeky puppy!

Diagnosis, muscular spasms caused by the twisting trauma. The body over reacting to the counter balancing.  as he said much more painful than the actual injury. So now I am home for a week, no walking and on muscle relaxants to relieve the muscle spasms.

Not the way I wanted to spend this week at all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Avastin or Lucentis?

I recently read an article in Pharma Times which talked about the possible saving to the National Health Service in Britain if Avastin, a cancer drug, were licensed to also treat Wet Macular Degeneration. Saving of using Avastin over Lucentis could amount to 84 Million Pounds. (GBP).

For the past four years I was treated with both drugs, regular monthly injections of either drug were administered by my retinologist.

At times when I had swelling to the retina both drugs usually decreased the swelling within forty-eight hours. I did not generally experience any difference in after treatment results, there was little eye discomfort for about twenty-four hours after the injection. This was a little like the sensation that you ge if you get soap in your eyes.

I generally could see clearly for about five or six weeks though in the past year my retinologist made treatment a four weekly regime in order to prevent the need for emergency treatment.

Because of damage to the optic nerve in my left eye, my retinologist, is now ceasing treatment with these two drugs.

If it comes down to cost I think one can safely use Avastin in place of Lucentis. At a tenth of the cost, according to Pharma Times,  , The less expensive drug works as well as the more expensive one.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ding, Dong, Dell ...

Being in the home of a blind man can be dangerous for a little cat.

My two regular visiting cats, Gavroche ( Orange ) and Eponine ( Jet Black ) are quite visible to me, but over the last few weeks they have been bringing a little kitten with them to the house. She is white and grey, a pretty little thing whom I call Courgette, in part to remind me of the Musical film version of Les Miserable where Sacha Baron Cohen can never remember Collette's name, calling her Courgette on more than one occasion.

The joke often misses with Americans, unless they know that a Courgette is a Zucchini by its French name. The name we use in England.

Anyway, the three cats visit for breakfast daily and this morning was no exception. I made myself some hot tea and put the milk bottle back into the fridge.

I closed the fridge and let the two older cats finish their breakfast. They made their way out onto the porch and I closed the door after them. Supposing the kitten had already left. A few moments later, the air was filled with the sound of a terrified wail. I went to the porch, the two cats had left, and I could still hear the wail from inside the house. I came back in. Looked up and down the hallway. Nothing but the wailing continued. Making my way across the kitchen the wailing grew louder as I passed the fridge.

No. I hadn't. I couldn't have. Another wail.

I opened the fridge door to see courgette sat on the shelf next to the milk.

She must have jumped into the fridge as I closed the door.

She jumped down and calmly walked to the door,

In these days of 100+ degree temperatures, she was now the coolest cat on the block.

Anew thing that I need to watch for. Kittens in the fridge.

Oh Well! Could be wors. Ding, Dong Dell, Pussey's in the well.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Plans for the Rest of the Year

We are now rapidly moving into the middle of Summer, here in the Northern Hamisphere anyway.

The years now just fly by, I am looking at a fifty-second birthday this coming September. Almost twelve years since I began to go blind.

This Summer I have helped with several adult reading programs at my local library. It is a community project for the sighted mostly, I doubt if most people who are taking part in the Summer Reading program even know that some of the side programs, a talk on coffee tasting by the manager of our local Starbucks, book club or Summer movies were partly arranged by a blind man.

By the way, if you can get a group of friends together, see if you can get a lesson on coffee tasting at your local Starbucks from one of their managers or baristas. I was surprised by how many things affect the taste of coffee in your cup. Also learned a portion of what all that jargon of ordering coffee really means.

The Summer reading program ends on August 1, with a prize draw for a Kindle Fire and a movie. As the theme was food and drink for the Summer Reading Programs our movie will be Tortilla Soup. A good movie I believe.

At the end of August I will teach an Immigration and Citizenship class again. That runs for six weeks. Also I continue leading the Library Book Club and we will see a classic movie too. The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe. The movie which contains the scene where her skirt blows up in a subway draft.

September has more classes and movie and book club features.

October sees me away for two weeks training at San Rafael with my new Guide Dog. Really looking forward to that.

November sees me looking to train my new dog to learn the routes to work, then meeting everyone at home, my wife, her parents and her Uncle's family. My wife's uncle will also be my dogs new veterinarian.

December is exciting, the library does a small show for the children of the town, an entertainer followed by a visit from Santa Claus. Guess who is hoping to return as Santa again this year.

I was Santa in 2011, and was scheduled to be Santa last year but because of my stroke the doctor wouldn't release me as fit enough. Hopefully this year, I get to play my part again.

The year is flying. But it is full of lots of exciting prospects. I am looking forward to all of it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Preserve Us From Prius'

Walking is good for you. Even walking across town in mid ninety degree heat is ok after one hundred and ten degrees. I am building stamina for guide dog training in October. Walking the mile and half from work to home now takes me just twentry-eight minutes with a cane.

When I learned to use my cane, my instructor told me not to worry about hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. "They still make road noise, with the tyres." he said happily.

OK. So walking home yesterday I crossed a street outside our local college. Crossing with traffic noise of passing trucks and heavy semi's passing.

My cane clicked and rolled over the roadway, then the cane suddenly became heavy. Three feet in front of me rolling onto the crossing in front of me was a Prius.

The driver was turning right on red as is legal at the junction. Obviously in a hurry they ignored the prospect of a collision with a blind man crossing. Silent and shark like the Prius rolled over my cane tip, I had caught the front of the tyre as I felt my way over the crossing. The driver left me standing mid crossing as the traffic control counted down to "Don't Cross."

So in our prayers maybe we should ask to be preserved from silent, electric hybrids. God bless lovely noisy diesels.  LOL

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Favorite Meal

For our Independence Day outing my wife and I took a trip to the coast. OK in part to escape the 104 degree heat of this California summer.

On the way we stopped at a nice diner to eat lunch. It was a pleasant stop and I was feeling a bit rebellious, given the day and chose a meatloaf sandwich for my lunch.

In itself a meatloaf sandwich is not rebellious, Is it? May be the question you are asking yourself. Well in itself not really but I had plans.

Upon the arrival of my sandwich and fries. An important part of my plan. I scraped the meatlof from the bread and ate the meatloaf separately. Then much to the horror of my wife I placed a handful of the fries on the bread and topped that off with the second slice of bread.

Yippee I made a "chip butty".

The chip butty also known as the chip sandwich in less polite circles is possibly one of  the greatest creations of the British culinary school. Fresh hot chips. aka fries, dripping with melting butter between two slices of bread. Can't imagine why Americans and my wife in particular are so disgusted by the very idea. But given our day of celebrating independent living was upon us, what the ... why not enjoy a great meal. A chip butty and dream of home.

Try a chip butty sometime. it's so good. But use thick cut fries not the stick like things from McDonalds, they don't work as well.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence on Independence Day

Hello Everyone, to all my readers in the U.S.A. Happy Independence Day, for everyone else hope you are having a great July 4.

Being blind we know what it is like to in many ways become dependent. Need to go somewhere out of town, often we need to ask someone to drive us, need to buy a specific item in a store then you need to ask an assistant to help, tried that lately? Go to an unfamiliar restaurant for a meal, then you need someone to tell you what is on the menu, unless you read Braille and they are thoughtful enough to provide a Braille menu.

I dream of the days when I could drive. I loved driving, I even worked as a driver for several years. Going where I liked, choosing a route to suit me, I loved the independence.

I can do many things for my self, walk, wash, even work. So I am not totally dependent. Not all the time.

I cannot always travel where I want. Living in a small town, we only have one bus to the nearest city per day and that doesn't run today even the bus driver needs a break for the day.

With the recent news that I will be getting a Guide Dog in the Fall, the commonest term used to describe that event is the giving of independence. I can see that it will be a major change.

I will gain the independence to go some new places. The dog gives up some independence in order to help me and be fed and housed.

Independence is a nice thing, if you can enjoy it. I did enjoy it once, now I can't be as independent as I would like, but there again can anyone?

Work, family, just life itself makes for dependence.

Enjoy life whatever it brings.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Week-End Break

As botha week-end break and as an escape from the heat in the valley (110+ Fahrenheit), my wife and I took a trip to Santa Cruz, CA.

The breezes over there still had a cooling effect at just about 80 degrees Fahrenheit but nighttime temperatures below 60 degrees made for a good nights sleep.

The beaches were full of people who had taken upon the same idea of a trip to the coast to escape the extreme heat inland. Normally a pleasant stroll along a relatively quiet beach was more like a walk through a heaving mass of humanity, so for most of the week-end we stayed off the beach itself.

On our one trip to the beach, my cane became an absolute wonder to dozens of small children.

Small children are not bashful as to expressing wonder at that man, poking the ground with a stick. "Is he looking for something?" "Can I do that?

One little girl about two years old was so fascinated that she walked over to my cane and with both hands grabbed at the tip. She picked it up and then banged it on the floor to see what it was.  I just let go of the handle and watched in amazement. For all off two minutes The little girl examined my cane before my wife distracted her back to the little girls own toy ball.

It appears a ball attached to a cane is far more fascinating than a boring old beach ball.