To someone losing their sight.

To someone who is losing their sight

While I may not know you, or have even spoken to you, I hope the reason you chose to stop bye and read, is because of this post. While I myself, was born without sight, due to being born 3 months early, I can say somewhat that I know what it’s like. Okay, I don’t know what it’s like to lose sight, as it’s something I’ve never had, and probably will never have, but getting a diagnosis of something that more or less changes you a lot, is something I can relate too. while it is not eye related, but brain related I can say, that I have been there. I lost confidence, I felt that sadness, that worry of not being able to go out independently, fear of the unknown, knowing what I have cannot be cured, but can be controlled. But it’s not the end of everything. That’s not where your life has to end, not where your world has to end. Mine did not, and nor will yours. I sort counselling, CBT, and NLP, of which I am still going through, and I am also studying towards a degree in psychology with counselling. Do I see myself as disabled? No. We all have challenges in life, but why should we use the word disability, or disabilities. Regardless of what you have, whether it be brain injury, epilepsy, stroke, CP, ALS, etc, If the likes of Hawking can achieve such huge endeavours, even with his challenges in life, then why can’t we? If Helen Keller achieved so much, why can’t we? We can follow in their footsteps, we don’t have to be piano tuning, answering phones, weaving baskets. Those are the jobs for the people in victorian Britain, or anywhere else, with no understanding of us. Yes, we may not have sight, or may be in wheelchairs, but what of it? There’s no difference right? The sky is our limit, the world is ours to take, and we should grab every opportunity we have to adapt things to our needs, even if it is tedious, even if it makes some frustrated, so what? We get there. So if you’re sitting there now thinking, I have lost my vision, that’s it, my world is over, it’s not. Look at this post, at what I’m doing. At what a lot of people without sight can do. We can be psychologists, nurses, assistants to teachers, medical doctors, if you read the story of Bolotin, who became a heart and lung specialist in the 1920s. You can do what ever you put your mind too, and this, I mean. Let no-one stop you, let no-one put you down. You have no vision, but that does not matter. What matters, is that we all fight to achieve, and succeed, as no matter what people may say, we can and will, succeed. I hope this has made you feel somewhat better, and inspired. You can cook, can raise a family, can live the same as you could before, just, using different tools and strategies. It’s what you know, and who you know that counts. 🙂

If you want to be inspired, find a list of visually impaired people who achieved on http://www.afb.org

Even this link:

http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/for-job-seekers/our-stories/healthcare/1234

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Yesterday’s amazing day!

Yesterday could not have gone any better! It started off a little later than planned. Feeling nervous, I waited, then heard the sound of the engine pull up. Going out to the car, and starting off on our journey, I was wondering, what can I expect. Upon arrival, I was met by the manager of the care team, plus the team of carers, with whom I’d be assigned too. Shaking hands, and briefly telling them, that I had no vision at all, we made our way up to the house, where I was to finally meet the client. I was also greeted by 4 bouncy dogs, sniffing at me. It was lunch time, and for the client, soup was the meal for the day. How nice too. Actually, funnily enough, it was a kind I like too. There was just one difference and one that I would now have to learn fast. Feeding, and the technique behind it. Now do excuse me for the incorrect spelling here, but feel free to correct me, but the term is bolas feeding. I had to learn a special technique, using a tube, and syringe. Nervously, I followed the carer’s every instruction, and step by slow step, obeyed. Shaking slightly, with well, nerves, plus excitement, at the fact I’d never done such complicated work before, and work that required such precision and concentration,, as well as no room for error, I was counting on myself to get it right. Finally, I achieved what was asked of me. I had however, made sure though, that I ended up doing that task every time we were required too. The carer had jokingly said to me, Sam, you’ve made sure you are doing it now. You seem to be more confident than I was when I first did it. You just walked in, and did that! Yes, I thought, I did. Walk in, and do something as professional as that? I think I have bragging rights. Hahaha. Only joking everyone. That chore over with, it was off out somewhere, for a drink of tea, or, well, what ever took your fancy. Again, I was thrust into the spotlight, proving once again, my skills. This time, out in public. When the lady who took me on as a volunteer saw what I’d done, she was amazed. Very pleased with my efforts. I didn’t even expect I would be doing that on my first day, lettelone outside too. Now, I just have to prove myself for a little longer, and then hopefully, who knows. All I can say is, a huge thank you, to everyone involved yesterday. It means so much. 

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If at first you don’t succeed…

What do you do when your chances of striking lucky at your desired career goal are minimal? The following is what you do, but this is what I did.

2013. A nervous looking lady of about 20 years old is waiting in the waiting area to speak to a neuropsychologist. Her desired career goal, is neuropsychology. She has come to the neuropsychologist, for her input and advice.

Finally, she is called and proceeds, with her sighted guide, into the room. “Hello. I basically wanted to ask you about your job really. What does it entail? What would I have to do? Could I do the job?” her response, was  something along the lines of that it would be quite visual and neurorehabilitation would suit me better.

At that present moment, the student had no-one really to contact, not even in the neuropsychology field, or anywhere. She was at a loss, or was she?

A few weeks later, and in the middle of an essay she is writing, she goes onto twitter. Finding a professor’s tweet, the president of the BPS, British psychological society at the time, she checks his profile and sends a message. “Good morning. My name is Samantha. I am totally blind, and eventually wish to become a neuropsychologist.” was the message, or a varient of that. Shocked to find a response, she read. It was full of enthewsiasm. Wow! This person has offered to back me, watch my journey, follow my progress? I can’t believe it!

But still, the olympic fight was still going on. SLT, was then recommended by someone to her. Off she went on the hunt for SLTs. First the RCSLTs were contacted. Asking them what they could offer, she waited for a response. The response, bleek and pesimistic. Again, the word visual had come upp. They said it was probably difficult.

Not wanting to give up, she continued the search, and found the head of SLT at her local hospital. Unfortunately, they were not forthcoming. Nor was the SLT after that, explaining that she would have to assess people for disphagia if she became an SLT. “I can do that. I possess a stethescope!” She exclaimed. It was not enough.

Asking Headway about neurorehabilitation, she waited, but they too did not know anything. Directing her to RNIB, they wished her good luck in her studies. But was the desired career and person who could help, right under her fingertips metaphorically speaking? Were they hiding somewhere and she just wasn’t searching hard enough. A few years later, and she was at home, browsing facebook, when she came across something. Someone had put something up. Looking more closely, she messaged the person involved. Finding out that they were the only company to treat people with brain injury in terms of neurorehabilitation on the Island, she found out, she had struck gold! The very person she wanted to find all along to gain experience, was able to help her, and as was she able to help them.

That student wanting that career in neuro-rehabilitation, is me. I found that person, I struck gold, I am awaiting the adventures and challenges that await me. Bring them on! The more I learn, the better, and the more I can offer my help in return, as one favour doesn’t go without a favour in return, the better. I will continue to study hard, go off on the olympics of searching and tracking people down if necessary, in order to get my desired career, helping others along the way, and all I can say to those who are helping me already, is a huge thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Neuro is where my heart is, where my heart lies, and it always will be. Thank you so much. Thank you so far, to my tutors, to the professors, and others watching my progress, it means so so much. Please feel free to follow, share, and read this blog. Once again, thank you. Thank you.

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Storms I may not come through?

This year at the OU, started out being good, making the modules accessible for me, and so far, getting good feedback. Little did I know however, things were to change. A storm was brewing, and I would not be rescued. At least, no-one was able to save me. There was going to be a lot of rough seas and I was meant to navigate through them. The waters would be high, and my metaphoric boat would be pitching, and rolling all over the place, with the possibility of capsizing.

 

Two weeks previous to the writing of this post, and I receive my results for my first level 2 TMA. Not expecting good results, I opened it, and heard a horrifying result. The mark was 42. A very low pass. Yes, I tried to tell myself, (Yes. You’ve passed.) (You’ve passed.) That’s all I tried to tell myself, but over the top of that, came a wave of anger, of upset, and annoyance. How could I have done so awful! This was not like me. 42? Why! I was informed my grades would dip, but surely not this low! I was trying not to cry, but broke. I could not hold it in. The tears were tears of frustration I suppose, tears of anger, anger at myself. I’d not just let myself down, but let others down, who expected more from me, but were too polite to say so. Now what was I to do. I was trying to improve, but every time I try, I fail. I thought, as a way of calming  myself, perhaps I’ve faired better on my other module, SDK228. Little did I know, a more nastier shock was in store.

 

Yesterday, the 8th December. I receive my email. As usual, I opened it, hoping against hope, it was better than the other one. I read the mark. It was similar to the other mark. Yes, I’d done well, but not as well as I’d hoped. Not again! I thought. A double-shock for me. I’d done well yes, but that’s not good enough. At that point, I just lay down in bed, buried myself in the bed covers, and began to cry. Cry with anger, depression at myself again,  upset at my dip. I felt utterly worthless. (Don’t talk to me anyone, just leave me alone. I don’t deserve it. I’ve just let you all down. Why would you want to be friends with someone that lets you down. Why do you want to help someone that lets you down? I know I’m going to prove everyone who thought I wouldn’t make it right aren’t I! I know I will) Anxiety, frustration, and depression was flowing last night. I eventually went to sleep, but not after crying. I dare not mention it to anyone. I mentioned to Nan this morning, I’d gotten somewhat good results, similar to last time, but I think I’d struggled with part of the question, and misunderstood it. She accepted that. For that, I’m grateful. I however, know that I for one, don’t want a repeat of this awful storm in the next two assignments. I need to somehow, get out of this metaphoric storm, and into the sunshine. Out of the thunderstorms, and/or tornados of frustration. I need to try harder. I know where I went wrong, so have to fix my errors, ASAP, before the end of these modules. I need a 1st, not a 2:2! No way do I want a 2:2,! Even if I have to push myself, i will! I”m not giving up! That’s not in me! I’m not a quitter. You can throw challenges at me, but I will find any way to overcome them.. Sometimes though, we all need a helping hand, or a little guidance. We’re too proud to admit that, I know, as I am. I have been.

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totally blind, and blind? The difference?

For the protection of the people in the story, I will not mention their names. I will refer to them as person A and Person B.

 

This story took place in Costa Coffee, a coffee chain we have on the Isle of Man, as well as the UK. Person A, went up to purchase a coffee. Person B, using a cane, knocked into Person A, who was purchasing his coffee. Person A politely asked him to watch where he was going, to which person B retorted, in an aggressive manner, “Can’t you see I’m blind?”  After a slight argument between the two of them, Person B went back to his table, to rejoin his wife and grandson, who had seen this argument take place. Person B however, hadn’t finished with person A yet, and came walking straight up to his table, and hit him on the legs with his cane, not once, but twice, on two separate occasions.

 

The above story starts my post with an explanation of which I hope you will find accurate. First I wish to reiterate, a cane is not a weapon, and should not be used as such. Second, this guy had residual vision, and quite a lot of it. As well as that, he was not using the cane correctly, in a sweeping gesture. He was pushing it along the floor. He knew exactly where he was going. Here folks, is the difference. A person who is totally blind like myself, does not know, at all, where they are going, unless they are taught said routes, taught how to use a cane correctly, and also fears off slightly when walking, and cannot go in an exact straight line unless they have good spacial awareness. Secondly, Most of the people on the Isle of Man, I regret to say, call themselves blind, when in actual fact, they have some vision, and refuse to accept that they are not totally blind, and in fact in my opinion, using the wrong terminology. They are partially sighted, or they have peripheral vision, or tunnel vision etc. Can they not say that instead of that they are blind, when clearly they have vision? It annoys me slightly, that totally blind people are getting confused with sighted, and being asked, can you see light? or can you see anything at all? The answer is no. If we are totally blind, we see nothing. Absolutely nothing. Therefor, we are much more vulnerable, and only rely on our other 4 senses to get us around as well as doing everyday things. That’s what being totally blind is like. Imagine, for one week, shutting your eyes, or covering them with something you can’t see through at all. Then get up of a morning, you can only feel the sun, not see it. You get washed, etc, relying on your sense of touch and smell, to tell you what is what. You decide to go out, using only a cane to help you get around obstacles, sensing large ones with your ears, the air flow bouncing off them and back to your ears. The volume of traffic. Has it increased? Has it decreased? What does that mean? What do those beeps mean? When is it safe to cross a road? Is it silent, so I can cross now? Which way is the traffic going? Where are those grass verges, on my left or right? Where should they be? What landmarks must I find in order to arrive at my destination? Then there’s, what if things go wrong? But then as with me, add in epilepsy into the mix. There’s always a very small risk of a seizure, and yes, it’s a tiny risk, but it’s still there. I still have to be alert, and on guard. That makes me even more vulnerable. So yes, that’s what going out is like. Then when you get home, you try to cook something. How do I cook it? What are the instructions? How long do I heat it for? How long do I leave it to stand if I must? there’s the matter of colours of clothes too, what goes with what? also lights and darks in laundry. What should you mix and what shouldn’t you. I hope this has given you an idea. Just do that for a few days, oh, and try using a computer with a screen reader too, as we have to do that as well.  For any more information, just ask me via the usual ways. 🙂

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Danger was all around me.

A Friday afternoon, and I head to the town centre, to Starbucks to meet up with someone for a meeting via the local bus route. So far, so good. The bus came on time, I got on, and alighted at my desired stop, the bus interchange. I rang the person I was due to meet, and asked her where she was, as she was not there when I arrived. She told me, she was at the traffic lights, to which I replied, “I know the route, I’ll practise it and meet you there” and without further delay, and excitement, I began to walk, the wrong way! I did not know this however. I carried on walking, and suddenly I began to realise, the bollards I should have found were not there, the crossing I was supposed to hear, were not there. There was a wall, and a road. All that separated me between almost being killed, or injury, was a curb. The cars were getting closer, lorries and other heavy goods vehicles closer and closer by the second, as well as cars,,, passing very close to my right side. I found  a wooden fence, on the left of me, and backed into it, knowing now, I was most definitely in the wrong area. Heart beginning to race, and feeling slightly scared, I began to think. “I have to back into this wall and turn back round. If I find the bus shelters again, I should be on the right track.” Slowly, I began to make the dangerous move, with cars still passing all the while. I was backed into a corner slightly, and had to turn round. After doing so, I trailed the wall, then when it was finally safer to do so, ventured out to the curb, and followed it, then returned to the wall again. Presently, a voice spoke to me, “Are you okay?” A man’s voice. “Um, What direction is the library from here?” I asked, nervously and flustered. He informed me the library had moved from its old place, which I knew already. In the end, he followed me to where I wanted to go, in order to meet the person I was due to meet. This was quite a scary and potentially dangerous situation, had I not been more careful and concentrated. Always remember your routes and go over them if need be.

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IOS, or Android? Decisions.

I was recently given the opportunity to try out my aunts phone, as while she was there, I decidded to ask her about it. The particular phone in question was a samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. After establishing how to turn on voice Assist, Samsung’s screen reading software, she handed me the phone. Nervously, I began using it, flicking around the screen as I would with IOS. It was so far, determining to be very successful. I would like a phone similar to this, I thought.

 

With that, the next morning, I tweeted my local phone store, yes,  tweeted them, and asked them about Samsung phones. They gratefully put aside a Samsung Galaxy A3 for me to collect, as I could not afford any higher. Eagerly, I went to collect it, and began my shock transition to Android, after being an IOS user for at least 5 years. What was so simple at first, was to be a persevering and frustrating challenge. I would end up switching back and forth, from one device, to the other, which was in some cases, good, but did it really help my decisions get any easier? Did asking for quantitative data results on Facebook, about whether you preferred IOS or Android, as well as asking for qualitative data results, be any good either? My decisions were still hard. Getting round the phone was easy, learning the gestures, (the way you navigate around the device) was easy enough, some more frustrating than others, coping with a few buggy apps like messenger and twitter were perhaps, easy to deal with, but would I be able to read PDF documents, (books for university for example.) That would be the real pass or fail. I got an old textbook out of my archive from last year, and copied it to my device, and after having to download Adobe Reader off the Play store, (wait, download a PDF reader? Seriously!)  I began the laborious navigation around the app. This was not going well. Not at all. The synth, the voice, the reading ability,  the gestures for reading, awful. Not recommended, unless you want to have to keep shaking your device every page turn. Um, No thanks. I want a nice smooth automatic page turn, thanks. I then took my device out on the road. Let’s go on the route to my singing lesson. Luckily my aunt was taking me today, as if I’d gone by bus, I’d not know where I was. For a start, google maps was not telling me where I was turn by turn, as IOS does, I tried to start it in driving mode, which was again unsuccessful. Pretty rubbish really. Oh, and planning a route? Don’t ask. Awful. Ugh! No, just no. So,, will I keep my Galaxy you all ask? Yes, I will, for accessibility testing purposes, and as it’s a darn good phone as a backup, should my primary device break on me. But for now Apple, You’ll be pleased to know, one of your loyalists still stands by you,, and no matter even if I did switch, I still love all your stuff anyway, as I still have a Macbook air, and iPad Mini4.

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