An Eventful Wednesday

Hi everyone on this Wednesday evening. The weather was beautiful today. It was cold in the morning, but sunny and about 21°C in the afternoon.

This morning, I had an appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. I hadn’t seen her in four weeks, as two weeks ago she had had to cancel due to a crisis situation. This time, I was able to talk through some of my struggles. I vented some of my grief with respect to my blindness. I ended on a positive note though, sharing the wonders of VoiceOver Recognition.

At 1PM, I had a quick dental check-up. The dentist comes to our day center four times a year for these, so I didn’t have to travel. Thankfully, all was well and I was literally gone within minutes.

Then I had a talk with my support coordinator about my upcoming care plan review. We had to discuss my risk inventory. This is a long list of possible risks someone can experience, such as of choking, falling, epileptic seizures, aggression, etc. With each box, the staff have to tick of “Yes” or “No” and if yes, elaborate on the risk. I disagreed with several “No” answers, but then my support coordinator explained that this is within the current care situation. For example, there is no risk to my personal hygiene because my staff are there to help me with this.

I did get my coordinator to add a “Yes” to risks re social media use because my Internet use can often trigger me and lead to meltdowns. I did ascertain that these risk assessments are not necessarily associated with restrictive measures. In other words, just because there’s a risk associated with my Internet use, doesn’t mean they need to restrict my online activity.

Later, I realized there really needs to be a “Yes” in the box on risks associated with overweight too. I had said this at the meeting but my coordinator had said that since I don’t suffer with sores due to fat or the like, there’s no risk. I do feel there is, given that my BMI is above 30 and I need support in maintaining a healthy’ish diet.

I went on three walks this afternoon and evening. On my way back from one of them, my one-on-one asked me whether I wanted to photograph the chickens near the day center. A client at another care home here has always wanted to have chickens and he finally got his wish granted a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, only one of them lays eggs so far. The guy whose chickens these are says the other one’s crest needs to get redder before she will lay eggs. My husband said it might actually be a rooster though. I hope not.

Things That Made Me Smile (August 30, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone on this beautiful Monday evening. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps earlier today. The reason is the fact that I had a vision screening by the blindness agency this morning. The result was more or less as I expected: I only have a tiny bit of light perception in the central visual field of my left eye. It however was a bit of a bummer too, in that I’d hoped to perform slightly better.

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d join The Weekly Smile and share how amazingly far assistive technology has come. It may not replace actual vision, but, combined with my imagination, it can go a long way.

What I mean by assistive tech specifically is VoiceOver Recognition, the iPhone’s built-in image description functionality that was released first in iOS 14 not even a year ago. Last month, I already mentioned that it can recognize some basic shapes and colors (such as my pink, heart-shaped polymer clay ornament.

on Wednesday though, my father-in-law posted a picture of a statue to the family’s WhatsApp group and asked us to guess who it was. Without VoiceOver Recognition or similar third-party apps, I would have lost out on the fun. VoiceOver Recognition though immediately described the image as a statue of a bear on a water fountain. I replied with this answer in the group and was asked to name the bear. A little Googling revealed that it was “Berend Botje” from the nursery rhyme by that name.

My husband told me that, from the picture, he hadn’t made out that the statue was of a bear. I ran the image through VoiceOver Recognition and Seeing AI, one of the more commonly-used third-party apps for image description, just now and neither recognized it as a bear specifically this time. However, the fact that I “won” my family’s very visual riddle despite being totally blind, definitely makes me smile.

I’m also joining in with #LifeThisWeek and #SeniSal.

Gratitude List (September 18, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday, yay! It’s the Friday there are no day activities, so I spent most of my morning and part of the afternoon in bed. I’m feeling a bit tired and down in the dumps, so I thought I’d do a gratitude list. As always, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. The weather. Early in the week, the temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius. I loved being able to wear a skirt for what might be one of the last days this year.

2. Going for walks. I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day three times this week.

3. The scenery. I cannot fully enjoy it, of course, as I’m blind, but I do appreciate it.

Scenery

4. Taking pictures with my phone. I, of course, needed some help taking them and still needed to delete several because my finger was showing. However, I loved the ability to do it. I’m still not planning on following the rule of a picture with every post, as that just won’t work for me.

5. The sensory garden. I spent some time in it on Tuesday afternoon. I loved smelling the rosemary. Sadly, the lavender had already stopped flowering. I also loved listening to the little stream of water.

Sensory Garden

6. Wraps. We made those for lunch on Thursday and I loved them. I had three of them. We had them filled with chicken, lettuce, cucumber and red pesto.

7. Soap making, of course. I loved being inspired to make some soaps again and am planning on making more. One of the staff is retiring next week, so I’ll make one for her.

8. My essential oil diffuser. Okay, its buttons are almost stuck, but not completely, so I can still use it. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I diffused a store-bought essential oil blend called Sweet Dreams into it. I am already on the lookout for a new diffuser in case this one stops working altogether. I also have been looking at recipes to make my own blends.

9. Special interests. And people who listen to me perseverating about them. My current special interest is, of course, soap making and aromatherapy. I have been loving telling a new staff, who will be replacing the retiring staff, all about how to make soap, lip balm, essential oil blends and such.

10. My husband, of course. It’s our ninth wedding anniversary tomorrow, so how can I not mention him? I saw him over the week-end and will be seeing him again tomorrow.

What are you grateful for?

A Sunny Monday

Hi all on this beautiful Monday! It’s mid-September but the temperatures rose to 29°C here anyway. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get even hotter weather, with temperatures rising to 34°C in some places in the south of the country.

I went for three walks today. In the morning, my regular day activities staff was in a meeting, so a substitute came. She took me on a long’ish walk. I think we took over half an hour. Then in the afternoon, I took my usual 20-minute walk when the regular staff had returned.

I was originally planning on taking some pictures, but ultimately I didn’t really have the courage. That little voice that says as a blind person I shouldn’t be interested in visual stuff like photographs, was pretty prominent in my mind.

In the evening, I took another longer walk. The staff who took me pointed out that there were some cows real close. I asked her to take a picture with my phone. Both Seeing AI and Envision, my two image description tools on my phone, didn’t get beyond calling it livestock, but my iPhone itself did identify cows in the picture.

Ultimately, I took over 12K steps so far today. This gives me an excuse to take it easy tomorrow, when it’s going to be so hot. I might make a soap then or maybe I’ll try out the matcha green tea in a smoothie. I doubt I’m going to try it as regular tea, as I’ve heard it tastes pretty bitter then.

I may also visit the sensory garden attached to the day center. I went there some weeks ago and loved smelling the herbs. There’s a birdcage there too, although at the time the birds didn’t make a sound.

I may try to take some pictures myself. What do you think? As a blind person, should I be interested in pictures, and if so, is it worth it if I try to take them myself? I mean, would you like to see more pictures on this blog even if they’re not good?

The Ordinary Moments

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 14, 2020)

Happy Sunday afternoon everyone! I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I think I just ate all of the cheesecake that one of my staff brought for her birthday yesterday and I think the other residents ate all the cream cake she’d brought too. I guess we still have lots of cookies though. Have a cup of coffee and a cookie and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would rave once more about the smoothie maker a staff brought me on Monday! I have been making smoothies almost everyday since. Yesterday, I made one with frozen blueberries in it for my husband. Its color was a bit grey or so my husband said, but it tasted good. Unfortunately, the staff left the blueberries in the fridge rather than the freezer, so we had to use them all up today.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how much fun I’ve had with this staff member. She’s returning from long-time sick leave, so is slowly building up her hours again. This means sometimes she just comes as an extra staff to do fun things with us. Like, on Friday, she helped another resident and me make cards for a staff who just earned her carer diploma. We also played a game using a mallet and nails, in which you have to slam wooden blocks into a piece of cork. Normally the wooden figures are really relatively thin, so I don’t have the coordination to do it properly, but these were actually thick blocks.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had a nice phone conversation with my former support coordinator. She was really nice. Like I said on Friday, I’d half assumed she no longer knew who I was, but she definitely still remembered.

Like I said on Friday, she told me my staff have been thinking of applying for more care for me. This did make me feel a little scared, as last year the application for long-term care was really hard.

Yesterday, I reread the application and indeed, some things are more severe now than my staff thought they were back then. This has me feeling all sorts of things. Isn’t care supposed to help me be more independent? Well, the goal for me is stabilization, not development, but yeah. My inner critic is shouting at me, but I try to shut her up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been experimenting with my new phone’s camera. I’ve been taking random pictures of my room. I haven’t had a staff check them yet, so not sure they’ll ever go on my blog, but oh well.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I got a Netflix subscription again yesterday. I’ll just try it for a bit and then may unsubscribe again, but I wanted to see the Netflix original Diagnosis. This, like the book by that title I’m currently reading, is based on Lisa Sanders’s New York Times Magazine column on hard-to-diagnose medical conditions. It’s very interesting.

What have you been up to lately?

I Saw…: Coping with Vision Loss in the Age of Social Media

Today’s optional prompt at Life This Week is I Saw…. We are supposed to share photos of what we saw lately. This got me thinking. I saw… nothing really, as I am blind.

I have been totally blind with some light perception since the age of eighteen or so. At age eight, my parents decided to give up on my eyesight, so all reports say I went blind at that age. I didn’t. Legally, yes, but I’ve always been legally blind. Functionally, maybe. I started learning to read Braille at the age of seven. Then again, as a person who lost his vision gradually later in life told me, going from 20/1000 vision to none is worse in some ways than going from 20/40 to 20/1000.

I have more or less accepted my blindness now. Even so, with just a tiny bit of light perception left, I still use it. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do.

One of the most annoying aspects of blindness for me, as a blogger, is being unable to take pictures. I know some blind people have learned to take pictures, but my parents always instilled in me that photos are for the sighted and I shouldn’t want to pursue a visual activity like this. For this reason, I don’t feel comfortable trying to learn to take pictures. I mean, I feel pretty arrogant for believing I could even ever learn to take pictures.

I did mention to my staff that I may want a tripod or selfie stick or whatever for my birthday. Then again, I fear I’ll knock it over and ruin my phone if I’m not careful.

Maybe I need to ask other totally blind people how they take pictures and how they make sure they are blog-worthy or whether they don’t care.

I remember one day, when I was at the blindness rehabilitation center, the staff asked each of the clients in my group what would be the most important thing we’d do if we regained our sight. Many said they’d be able to travel more independently. I said I’d go into nature and enjoy the sights. Right now, I’d say I’d take lots of photos for my blog.