My Vision In Experiential Terms
How I visually experience life now, is not how I used to experience it. Not how I would like to experience it, and is full of fear and anxiety. At the same time, I try to remain optimistic and believe that I can adapt and accept what is…
As I write these blog posts, I do often think that I could make things easier for myself by simply letting people know of my visual disability and people around me would then know about it, and probably accept my strange looking behaviour and help me out. BUT, to be able to do that, I need to accept my sight loss myself… and I am not quite there yet.
Gosh, where do I start?
Most things now are done in slooooooow motion…it just takes me longer….
Typically, I wake in the morning, usually to my two wonderful Irish Wolfhounds making a noise downstairs, wanting to go out for their morning wee! My partner works some crazy shifts, so, sometimes he is at home when I wake, and other times, I am on my own.
The first thing I usually need to do is to empty my bladder! I put on my vari-focal glasses, more out of habit now that for effectiveness – but in truth, without them, I am totally useless, as they do marginally make things a little better. Because my depth of my vision has completely changed, I focus on the floor, where I am walking, however, this usually results in me walking into something. If I focus straight ahead, then I undoubtedly trip over something on the floor, as I simply do not see it.
I then gingerly walk down the stairs, to let the dogs out. I say gingerly, as too many times now, I have misjudged the steps, and missed one or two, and have gone tumbling down. So, I take a firm hold of the bannister rail, and count the steps as I walk. When I think I should be on the last step, I pop my foot out, and feel for the floor, just as an added precaution, to make sure I didn’t loose count.
Ordinarily, I would then make a cup of tea – but I tend to just grab a bottle of water from the fridge now, as my vision means that I usually end up missing the edge of the cup when pouring the water from the kettle and make a mess on the unit, and often end up swearing when I burn myself.
Its then to test my blood glucose. The meter is in a dark material pouch, so, if it is on my bedside drawers, which are white, finding it is a breeze, If however, for some reason, it isn’t there, has been knocked to the floor or put somewhere else, its a real issue, as I end up on my hands and knees, feeling my way around the floor for it. My pump is screaming to be calibrated, and already, I feel my stress levels increasing.
Getting showered and dressed is fine, in my own familiar surroundings, AND if things are exactly where I expect to find them.
My vision when checking e-mails, texts and social media:
Checking my e-mails, text messages and facebook are a real struggle. Although, at the moment, I am playing around with font sizes and the accessibility features on my iPhone, Mac and iPad – thanks to the very helpful Deanos, at the RNIB ( Royal National Institute For The Blind ) who Kindly telephoned me and talked me through some of the functions to make these tasks easier. Often to see a Facebook post, I had to screenshot the post, then enlarge the screenshot to a point where I can see it, then screenshot the next comment, and so on.
Texts are easy to read now, because I have them at a very large font size. I try to avoid people seeing my iPhone, as someone invariably makes a quip about the size of the text, and that its so bit, I only get one or two words to a line. I usually make the excuse that I was playing with the settings and haven’t a clue what I must have clicked on to make it like this.
E-mails are fine, because, now, I simply zoom them on my MacBook until I can see them.
My vision when managing my online business
This has become easier since speaking to Deanos at RNIB. However, it is taking some getting used to the Magnifier and accessibility features on my Apple technology. Screens seem to whit by, and fall off the end of the screen etc. I’m sure I will get used to it though. Before I got help from RNIB, I really struggled – taking screen shots of everuything and then enlarging them. Very cumbersome and very time consuming.
I still struggle with some aspects, and make so many grammatical errors and constantly have to check and re-check what I have typed and what customers have typed. So, my efficiency has taken a huge slump, and is frustrating the hell out of me. But, its early days on my visual journey .
Managing my therapy and treatment business
This is very tricky, and the thing that I am struggling with the most due to my current low vision. I have always been very proud of the top quality service I provide to my clients, and pleased with the level of attention to detail I put into every treatment. I have a very loyal client following, that has been built up over the last 6 years, and I am passionate about my work – I LOVE it.
Now however, I struggle with the basics, and am in a dilemma as to what to do. I would love to continue, but, do not want to get to a point where I leave on a disappointing level. If I will be unable to maintain my high standards, then I would rather close the business whilst on a high, as opposed to running it into the ground, and people starting to complain about the level of detail with their treatments and being disappointed with the results. Already clients are starting to say – you’ve missed a bit, or when was the last time you had your eyes checked, or should have gone to spec savers etc. So far, I have laughed this off with them, but in reality it is very hurtful and upsetting. More on this in another post….
My Vision when Out and about
A few years ago, myself and my partner got into the whole “cafe culture”. Popping out to Costa became a regular and enjoyable thing. People watching (which I love), chatting and putting The World to rights with my partner, enjoying the coffee and just taking time out to chill was fabulous.
Going out for meals just with my partner, or with my son and his girlfriend, or the monthly lunches with some old work colleagues was very much a way of life for me, and something I did two or three times a week.
However – my vision now means that any socialising at all is quite intimidating and uncomfortable. Here’s why:
When I now walk into a restaurant, supermarket, shopping mall or any indoor place, I start to panic, as it is difficult to see my way around, and I feel so crowded and hemmed in. The number of times that I walk into and trip over things like the yellow plastic “wet floor” signs, or trip on steps/different floor levels and chairs or stools is crazy. Finding my way to public toilets is a real struggle. I find myself walking into restaurant kitchens and staff only private spaces. I have walked into the ladies toilets instead of the gents, and usually end up walking into people or chairs on the way there and back. All very embarrassing, and people react in all sorts of ways, anger, rudeness, some laugh and you hear people making comments about the drunk guy walking into things. I cant blame them I guess, as how would they know that I have a visual problem? Low vision/Blindness is of course a disability that people do not see. The only way in which I think these troubles could be eased is to make my disability visual to people – use a cane? However, this is another hurdle I have yet to attempt, and something I think about with trepidation.
When invited out for a meal, I now try and find out exactly where we are going. That way, I can research the menu on my MacBook – decide what I am going to have to eat, and then when in the restaurant, I can pretend that I am reading the menu, like everyone else, and simply choose the dishes I decided upon earlier.
If however, I don’t know where we are eating, I simply pick up the menu, pretend to be looking at it, but listen carefully to what my companions are talking about, usually at some point someone will mention a couple of the dishes, or mention they have had one of the dishes before etc. I then latch onto that, and choose the same dishes. This way, no one suspects anything, but, I do miss being able to see the menus and drool over the choices before making my mind up.
I do the same when choosing what to drink, if I know the place from when I could clearly see, then I can say immediately what I want – otherwise, I wait to hear what other people are having to drink – or simply ask for water or a soft drink.
Shopping is a nightmare with my vision as it is now, as so many clothing stores these days have subdued lighting. When food shopping, I so often now pick something up, thinking that I have bought what I intended to, only to find when I get home, that it isn’t at all what I thought it was! The convenience of the self checkout tills are no longer a convenience for me, as I cannot see the words on the screen – I have no idea what I am pressing. Why isn’t there an option to make the content of the screen larger I wonder? Maybe there is, but, I just don’t see it?
Because of my vision , talking to credit card companies or other agencies over the telephone is no ,longer a simple, straight forward task. They ask for my card or account number, and Unless I have taken a foto of it, and zoomed in on it, or written the numbers down in huge print beforehand, I struggle.
In conclusion, I think I have a lot of soul searching to do. I have to get over my embarrassment, my reticence and my inability to admit my vision and visual disability, and accept the help that is out there. I have made some minor attempts when talking to people who I think would understand, but, often their responses to me are the opposite to what I thought they would say, and it takes me right back to square one, and convinces me to keep it to myself again.
My sight loss has taken away my independence and spontenaity, my confidence and self belief. I have to pre plan everything, meticulously in order to do the simplest of tasks. I think the journey ahead is a long one – however, without acceptance my journey is an impossible and unreachable one. I feel as though I am going through a grieving process, grieving my sight loss, and as any other grief, time is a great healer……..