Today, I attended the second day of a two day course, entitled Living With Sight Loss, facilitated by the RNIB.
I wrote about my first day, and my reflections, which you can see here: https://low-vision.co.uk/2018/08/17/living-with-sight-loss-bit-of-a-wobble/
So… Day two.
I arrived, in plenty of time – I cant abide being late for anything !
My journey there actually was an interesting one.
A good friend of mine dropped me off in the city centre on his way to somewhere else. I had some time to kill before I needed to make my way to the course venue, so decided to go and get myself a Greggs breakfast.
I have rarely used my white cane – as you will know from reading my blog, I’m new to all of this, and have certain struggles. I had my RNIB eye shields on, and Greggs was only a few paces from where I had been dropped off. I got inside, got to the counter and asked for my food and drink. The server was brilliant, and could not have been more helpful – I think, because of my eye shields and the fact I was holding my wallet up close to my face to get my card etc, she realised I had difficulty seeing. She asked if I needed any help, and told me where the milk was, but also, that If I needed her to help in any way, get the milk etc, just to let her know. I was quite taken aback by this – but, felt really happy about it.
Anyway, I digress. I then started to make my way to the centre, which was a 10 minute walk. I walked a while (I have to keep my head down, so I can see where I am walking, as if I look ahead, I bump into things below my line of vision – then occasionally I look ahead, to try and avoid bumping into people above my line of vision).
I walked across a road, and missed the fact that a bus was coming towards me, as my peripheral vision is shocking, almost non existent. The driver blasted his horn and this made me jump and panic. Reluctantly, I decided to get my white cane out of my ruck sack, and use it. That way, if any car or anything else is approaching, hopefully, they would make allowances for the fact I may be chancing my luck (accidentally).
I got to a very busy crossing, but, kept my nerve, pressed the button at the pedestrian crossing, and had my hand under the yellow box, to feel for the spinner to kick in, signalling that the green man had come on. I saw people crossing, but the spinner hadn’t started, so, I stayed put. Suddenly, from nowhere, I felt someone grab my arm, and then a woman’s voice, said, come on love, its clear, and she started pulling me. I said, oh, its ok, I’m good thanks. She ignored me, and kept saying, Its clear love come on, and pulled me across. When I was at the other side, she let go and said, you ok now love? Take care..then walked off. I was quite panicked about it, but laughed a little to myself, as she clearly had the best intentions.. but, God, did it scare me.
I put the cane away , as I didn’t want anything else like that, and carried on to the venue.
The second day was brilliant.
Full of people from RNIB and other resources, as well as other visually impaired / blind people, from the previous session. It instantly felt better, as we all kind of knew each other now.
We discussed what we had felt about, and learned from the previous session, and then we talked about Grieving / Loss. This of course resonated with me, because after the first day, it brought the loss and grieving home to me (discussed in my previous post).
We spoke about magnifiers and various other aids, various things that the RNIB can help with, and also lots of other different things. Again, the day was immensely useful, as even more things came to light that was available to help and support visually impaired/blind people to live as near to normal life as possible. People who had experience of societies, groups etc, spoke of their experiences, and we all shared how we are currently coping with sight loss, and gave each other ideas.
One thing which came out, was of course was , that is isn’t just about us, the ones with the visual impairment. The people who share our lives with us, Friends, family and loved ones. Our partners face a HUGE challenge too, and dynamics change. Whilst we grieve our loss, and slowly come to terms with our limitations, they also grieve what they have lost, and have to also adapt to living and being with a visually impaired / blind person. Its not easy, not easy at all. So, we have to keep reminding ourselves that all of those around us are suffering too, and be thankful to them and also supportive. There are resources for those looking after and living with us – and its impoetant we make them aware of that.
The day was an outstanding success, and I am so pleased that I found out about it, and attended both days.
The information given out over the two days was absolutely amazing, again uncovering all of the help available. The fact that we can have access and help with transportation, hobbies, reading, sports, theatre, cinema and so much more was enlightening.
People sharing their stories and how they cope with their impairment was both saddening at times, but also inspiring. It felt like an amazing supportive and empowering couple of days.
I came away feeling totally different to the first day. I was happier, had a spring in my step and a vision (not literally of course) of what I wanted to do next, and a belief that actually, yes, loosing your site is pretty shitty, BUT, I still have a life, and one which I can continue to enjoy.
I am in a much better place after these insightful couple of days, and am thankful to those involved in putting it together as well as to those taking part.
What I really want to say is, if you are having visual problems and get an opportunity to attend something like this, grab it and go with it. Its awesome 🙂
Any comments are always, of course greatly appreciated, and please share with anyone you feel may benefit.