DisabilityQ&A #12

Hello ladies and gents, thank you for returning to another interview in my #DisabilityQ&A series! 🙂

Today I am featuring an interesting lady by the name of Mandy, I’ve seen her on social media, and I thought her to be an interesting person. She got in touch with me asking to participate, and of course I said yes! She really does have a fascinating blog, so after this interview, you should really go check it out 🙂

Enough rambling from me, I shall hand the reigns over…
Tell me about yourself:
Hi I’m Mandy Ree, I’m 30
and I live in Orlando FL. I am a freelance writer and blogger for my own personal blog Legally Blind Bagged, looking for employment in the meantime.

What hobbies do you have? I’m an avid toy collector and comic con enthusiast, Disney and 80’s kids culture is my specialty. I am also working on writing my own book “Lessons From A Power Ranger” which chronicles my journey of finding my voice in self advocacy with the help of my boyfriend with cerebral palsy.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I was born with Austimal Recessive Ocular Albinism, a rare condition that mirrors the visual impairments of a person with Albisim but without the other physical characteristics. Hence I’m very sensitive to light and am considered legally blind, but I don’t have the white hair or the fair skin. In addition, I also suffer from PTSD and Anxiety as a result of severe bullying growing up.

Which terminology do you prefer ? Legally Blind

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither? I have a cane I only bring with me when I’m unfamiliar or semi dangerous, non pedestrian friendly places.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – I have always wished from the time I was little up until now there was a cure for my disability. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive. The buses in Florida are horrendous.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see? The best way I can explain my vision to others is as if you took a bunch of crappy pixelated camera phone pictures from 2005 and surrounded me with them. I can see people and things around me, but can’t make out details, resulting in face blindness. Which explains my awkwardness in social situations.

How has your disability effected you?
Mentally, I’m drained. Having a physical disability makes me question my worth in this world. It seems like things that should come easy like getting a job or traveling take twice as long for me to accomplish, despite having the intelligence and work ethic to do so. Thankfully I have a lot of good friends from my most recent job experience at Disney and the comic con circuit who have taken me under their wing and have come to my aid on multiple occasions. I’m not alone like I was as a kid growing up in school, so I consider myself blessed.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
I have become more open minded of other people and their needs. Ever since I was a kid who was mostly in mainstream classes, I was always curous as to what goes on behind the closed doors of “that other classroom” (Special Education). In my teen years, I started to volunteer my time in the Special Education classrooms, helping to bridge the gap between them and the rest of the student body before inclusion of those with developmental disabilities was a thing. I learned a sense of empathy and understanding towards others and grew a passion to help pass those values on to other people.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? How many fingers am I holding up? Believe me, that shit gets old real quick.




What are the positives of having a disability?
Learning that there are perks in traveling. Florida has a special identification card program that gets paired with a reduced fare bus pass, which grants me a free lifetime bus pass. I also recently learned the perks of navigating the airport by admitting my disability, like being able to get in the handicapped line at the TSA check in and priority boarding on the plane. The only perk I don’t take advantage of is the attendants with the wheelchairs that take you to the gate, I would rather have those saved for someone who needs it.

What are the negatives of having a disability? The sense of independence. My parents are extremely overprotective sometines and I often feel like I can’t prove I can do things on my own without help. Not being able to drive is also tough considering that free bus system I use takes a ridiculous amount of time to get from one point to another. When I worked for Disney, it took me 3 hours to get home as opposed to 15 minutes down the highway. Thank God for Uber.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled? Oddly enough I am in the gray area between disabled and non disabled, making it hard to receive services like staff to help me travel and do some hard tasks, like sewing or filling out paperwork in small print. I’m classified as too high functioning to get help and it took me forever to get on Disabilty and Medicaid. Speaking of Medicaid, getting to utilize it is difficult, since not many doctors who take it are bus friendly for me to get to. Florida lacks greatly in services and I find it appalling. Being independent is hard, it’s even harder when your income is soley your disability check, as in the case for me since I lost my job two weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how people do it. I love I’m what’s called a Right To Work state so finding jobs are hard in a state where you can technically still be discriminated against.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home- Minor tasks can be a challenge, like sewing or putting together furniture. I have been learning how to cook with my mom when she visits me during the summer, but cutting vegetables and measuring are still hard on me, resulting in food that resembles something out of Kitchen Nightmares
*outside your home Traveling by the bus system. Nuff said.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
To help with finances, I use a white board to help me remember what bills I need to pay. I have a folder set up on my phone that has my bill paying websites bookmarked, since paying online is easier for me to do than paper. When going to new unfamiliar places, I put Google maps on and use that to let me know what stops I need to get off at. I rely heavily on that when I travel so I always leave portable battery chargers in my bag, just in case. I also tied a lanyard wallet to my purse that holds my bus pass so I can easily find it.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?
Google Maps with the speech on is a lifesaver. I also have a small digital magnifier that helps with small print reading.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility? It doesn’t hurt to admit you need help.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities? Never give up on your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
I received help from Floridia Department of Blind Services and have taken advantage of mobility classes upon first moving down here from Ligjhthouse of Central Florida. When I was in college up In Rhode Island, I learned to accept my disability and the basics of self advocacy from Advocates In Action Rhode Island, a great non profit that helps people (mostly with developmental disabilities) learn that they can lead a meaningful life and have a say in their care plans. I owe my life to them, for without them, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

Where can people find you out in the world?
*Blog – Legally Blind Bagged
Legallyblindbagged.wordpress.com

*FaceBook- Legally Blind Bagged
https://m.facebook.com/LegallyBlindBagged/

Follow me on The Mighty
https://themighty.com/author/mandy-ree/

Anything you’d like to add my lovely?
On August 23rd at 4pn EST, I will be doing a live Q&A on the Mighty Facebook Page. I will also be speaking at the Advocates in Action Statewide Self Advocacy conference in Warwick RI October 27. More details will be shared on my Legally Blind Bagged Facebook page soon.



Thank you so much for participating Mandy, it was a very insightful read! I’m sorry to hear of the troubles you have faced due to your disability, and the lack of confidence that others have thurst upon you. It must be very disheartening! But good for you for powering through and proving how strong you are ! You are clearly very passionate about Disney and I hope your book goes well! Best wishes with it all, and keep in touch to let us know how it goes!

Please don’t forget to follow her links, and why not share the love? Leave her a comment, we would both appreciate it!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?
Interview 1
Interview 2
Interview 3
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10
Interview 11




Me, My Operation and I

I had a call Tuesday morning to let me know that my surgery would be the next day, no eating or drinking anything after midnight, I needed to arrive by 07:00 and I would be told where on the list I was for my operation.

Gary and I managed to get lost; we rocked up to the reception desk to ask for directions, unfortunately the lady sent us off in the completely wrong direction and we ended up on the surgical ward… Through the use of a map and correct directions from the nurses we finally found the right building!

We were told that I was the first patient on the surgery list, woohoo! We filled out the last remaining paperwork, and I got dressed into my gown and stockings, I looked very fetching I must say!
I was wheeled into a waiting area and left their for about 5 minutes before the anaesthetist came to get me. Gary came in with me and we met Mr Khan, the surgeon doing my operation.
It was the first time since my accident that i fully knew what had happened: I had a displaced fracture of my Tibia and Fibula; they had crossed over each other, and my Patella had shattered and fragments were floating about in my knee.
Mr Khan would be putting in metal plates, screws, rods and wires along with artificial bone to reconstruct the knee. Without complications this would take around 3 hours.

He explained that this was a very serious fracture and a complex operation; I tried to crack a joke but he just stayed stoney faced, awkward turtle moment right there!
Mr Khan also stressed to me that because of the trauma to my leg I would now have OsteoArthritis in the knee for the rest of my life.
*Lucky me; now i’ll have 2 types of Arthritis! I don’t do things in halves do i?* 😉
The anaesthetist was very chirpy and friendly, we were cracking jokes while i asked him how long he’d been an anaesthetist?

Ct scan of a fractured Knee, the knee is displaced and splintered into 3 parts.

Gary was very nervous and worried as this was the first time he has ever been to theatre before, I could tell, and tried to be enthusiastic and show I was relaxed.
I told him to give me a kiss and that I loved him, then I settled and said it’s fuzzy i’ll be asleep any second.

The anaesthetist was very kind, taking my oxygen mask off so Gary could kiss me one more time, at this point i’d already drifted off…

*****

I came round from the anaesthetic in the recovery suite, The room was big, bright, air-conditioned and I had a monitor strapped to me checking my OBs. There was the hum of the machines and the bubble of nurses chattering.
I started to wave my arm; being blind and having a dry throat it was the most logical way to get their attention. A second or so later, a nurse came across and asked how I was? There was a lot of head nodding and thumbs up, I was too woozy to talk.

And then the pain hit… *Wow this is really uncomfortable! But I guess this is normal?*
“Could I have some painkillers please?”
“Yes of course, what’s your pain-scale like, 1 being good and 10 being awful?”
“7,,71/2”

The more time passed, the more and more uncomfortable I became. It didn’t help that I was getting hot and sweaty and my nose was extremely itchy, I kept having to take my oxygen mask off, itch my nose and fiddle about with it to try and put it back over my face.Finally the nurse noticed the muddle I was getting myself in trying to put my mask back on and offer to put the line up my nose instead. The relief was almost instant, I started to cool down and my nose was less itchy!

I kept asking for more and more painkillers, each time my ranking rating higher than the last time.
“The pain really should be subsiding by now, where is the pain?”
“My leg.” “It’s like I can’t feel the circulation, my leg feels like it has 3 blood pressure cuffs on it at the same time.”
“It is normal to have leg pain after surgery, and they do tend to wrap it quite tight to stop swelling.”
“But this doesn’t feel normal.”
“Wiggle your toes for me,can you feel me touching your foot?”
“Yes.
“You’ve got full circulation, your leg should settle down soon, i’ll give you a little bit more morphine before we take you upstairs.”
“Yes please.””Can you call Gary please?”
*I need a wee, i’ll just think of that instead of the pain…*

***

“OK Sassy we’re ready to take you to the ward now.”
“OK good, is Gary there?”
“Yes he’ll be waiting for you on the ward.”
“Thanks for your help, bye, have a good day.
“You’re very cheery for someone who is recovering from surgery!”
“Am I, hmmm maybeI am!”

I just laid back and tried to relax and the porters took me to the ward.

“Sorry, she can’t be on this ward, we’re full.”
“Oh, they told us to bring her here.”
“Well i’m sorry, I don’t know why they would, they know we are full.”
Sorry about this Sassy.”
*Oh but I need a wee*
Hey, I have a bed, i’m fine.”

Back to the recovery suite…

“We have to wait here until they have a space for her on another ward.”
“Oh right, let me ring around and find out what’s happening.”
“How long am I staying here for? Can I have some more painkillers?”
“I’m not sure Sassy it shouldn’t be too long. And we can’t give you any more i’m afraid.”
*It’ll be good to finally be on a ward so I can go for a wee*

I didn’t have to wait too long.

“OK Sassy, you’ve got a space on the ward now.”
“Yay, is Gary there?”
“Yes he should be.”
“Oh good!”

***
X-ray of fractured knee in which you can see the bone cracked and displaced.

Small talk between Gary and I and the nurse introducing herself to me…

“On a scale of 1-10 how much pain are you in?”
“9, 91/2.”
“That’s pretty high…”
“Yes it’s been getting worse as time passes.” “Can I have some morphine please.”
“You’ll have to wait a while, we don’t have your notes yet.”
“Oh god I really need painkillers! I need to stretch my leg”
“I’m sorry there isn’t anything I can do until your notes arrive.”
“Oh my god! It’s like 3 blood pressure cuffs on my leg at once! This is agony!!”
“I need to stand up.”
“No you can’t stand up.”
“NO I NEED to stand up!.”
“No sorry I can’t let you do that i’m sorry, you’ve just had major surgery and I need to look after you.”
“Well let me stand up, it’s the only thing that helps, i’ve been having this pain at home but it’s intensified!”
“You’re not allowed to stand up and i’m not going to let you.”
*OK I officially dislike this woman, get her out my face*
“Can you go see if i’m allowed morphine yet?”
“Yes, I can go do that “

“Right she’s gone, help me get out of this bed.”
Long pause…

“Sassy you heard what she said.”
“Get me out of this bed now!!
*Gary doesn’t move but I do*
“I need to stand up, just for a minute. It’ll help release the pain, I know it will.”
“I’ve been explaining this pain to you over the last few days, and it’s completely intensified,why aren’t you listening to me?”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, or damage your leg.”
“I’m not going to get hurt, I just need to sit in the chair and pull myself up, and I won’t be putting weight on my leg.”
*Gary helps me get into the chair.
As I stand up, i’m in absolute agony, and have to breathe hard to not cry out.
Although it’s agony, it’s doing what I thought it would, and pushes the blood around my leg. The pain although intense starts to steady itself.
Once i’ve done all I can to release the pressure I move back onto the bed*
“I’ve got some morphine for you.”
“Thanks, can I go to the toilet please?
“You’re not allowed to weight-bare, but i’ll get you a bedpan.”
“What if you push me in a wheelchair?”
“”No, i’m not allowed to do that.”
“OK, i’ll have a bedpan then.”
At least 5 minutes pass…”I really need a wee, where is she?”
“I don’t know…”
“Can you check?”
“She’s with someone else at the moment.”
“Oh great, I hope I don’t wee myself!”
“OK, I have the bed pan, if you could just roll onto your side.”

I had already lifted my backside up and started pulling at y gown.
“Just lie down for me.”
“Oh, this is how i was doing it in the other hospital it’s easier for me.”

Fumbling with gown and getting frustrated

“Gary take this stupid gown off me.”
“Let me lower the bed for you.”
“No I don’t need it lowered?”

Gary undoing gown.

“Here, let me help you.”
“Please can you just leave us to it, I want this gown off and don’t feel comfortable getting naked in front of you.”
“It’s OK i’m here to help you.”
“Well I don’t want your help, can you leave please?””

She reluctantly exits the cubicle but constantly sticks her head in.

“Can you just leave me to it, you’re distracting me and I can’t concentrate”
“I need to make sure you’re OK.”
“My partner is with me, i’m OK.”

*This woman is absolutely useless, I don’t like her*

Even though i’m ready to burst, I sit there and, nothing…

“Have you gone yet?”
“No.”

Still nothing…

“How are you getting on?”
“I can’t wee…”
“Can I come in?”
“No.”

She comes in anyway…

“So you still haven’t been? You’ve been sat there over 10 minutes…”
“Can you just get out please?
“I just want to help you.”
“Just get out!!”
“There’s no need to be so rude!”
“Well you asked if you could come in and I said no! I need to do this in my own time stop hovering over me.”

Finally she leaves…

Still nothing…

Nope, nothing.
I try everything pushing, prodding, wiggling, and even getting Gary to rub my back with no avail.

Finally an hour later…

The tiniest trickle happens!!

“What?! I’ve been waiting all that time for that??”

But the relief is insurmountable.
*****

Right leg in a white cast from ankle to thigh

Lots of love, medication and a sandwich later, i’m finally relaxing as best I can.

The nurses do a change over, and it’s time for Gary to leave.
We say our goodnights and he helps me settle for the evening. I apologise for the outbursts and severe grumpiness, he accepts my apology and says he can tell how much pain i am in.

I didn’t get much sleep that night, mostly to do with the pain, but mores because my bladder decided to kick in and I couldn’t stop peeing like a racehorse until breakfast the next morning!




Please stay tuned for the final instalment of my accident and the chaos that ensues… 😉

The Joys of A&E

Gary and I headed off to A&E on Friday morning as previously discussed by the Doctors and ourselves in Malta.
We are extremely grateful to our friends for picking us up from the airport, and then kindly carrying me to the sofa! As I had been in a foreign hospital I had no wheelchair or crutches to aid me; only the people around me!

Thankfully A&e wasn’t too packed, so we didn’t have to wait too long to be seen. I was given a set of crutches and an appointment to the fracture clinic for Monday morning to discuss surgery.

And we were sent on our merry way.

*****
Around 5 AM Sunday morning I woke up in considerable pain, my leg felt like it was having the life squeezed out of it, I took some painkillers and by 06:30 things hadn’t improved, I was starting to seriously worry; I had no DVT injection since Thursday and I was beginning to worry there might be something sinister going on.

(Fondaparinux injection is used to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT; a blood clot, usually in the leg. It is given to those who have had a recent leg operation or have severely restricted movement in the legs from an accident.)
Gary and I went straight to A&E; I wasn’t seen by a doctor until 10:00.

I explained everything from my accident, handing over my discharge letter along with x-ray and CT scan, to the fracture clinic appointment, to the pain I was feeling, the Doctor did all the checks and said that I did have circulation flowing and there wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It wasn’t until I stressed that this pain had become increasingly worse daily that he decided to keep me monitored until I could speak to an orthopaedic doctor.
Gary and I made it clear that I was blind, but I don’t think this was passed onto the HCA taking my OBs; he just stood their silently waiting for me to hold my arm out and then finger so he could take my blood pressure and pulse…
Regardless of my sight loss I thought it was almost rude that he came into the cubicle without a word, moved about quietly and then expected to take my OBs in silence and stalk off again… There has been a change in the law that people with extra needs who attend NHS centres should be given notes/ leaflets/ medical information in a format preferred by the patient. So for me that would be; verbal communication as to who they are, what they are doing in the room, talking openly about my care, and any medical information to be given to me via email.
This was never discussed with me, but as it wasn’t exactly high on my priority list I decided not to mention it.

When my 4 hours in A&E were up; a nurse explained that I had filled my quota of A&E hours and I had to go elsewhere for monitoring and waiting to see the Doctor in charge of Orthopaedics.
Discussing with the nurse as she moved us elsewhere in the hospital it’s clear that the medical professionals are aggravated by the government putting this in place.
If I were to stay longer than my quota she would get it in the neck from her bosses!
How ridiculous is it that the government are more bothered about number crunching than patients and their welfare!

My family and I were put on a ward and told that they couldn’t give us a time, but the Doctor would be with us when he could.
We laughed and joked, and waited around for at least an hour and half before we began getting impatient. My Dad and Gary were giving us hangry eyes; so Mother and i sent them off to make us some breakfast sandwiches 🙂
Thankfully for us Gary and I live around the corner from the hospital so it was easy enough for Gary and Dad to pop home, make brunch and bring it back.
Sausage and bacon sandwiches with a cup of tea was just what we all needed! Thinking back now, it was very tasty and I was extremely grateful to the boys, even if it was more for their benefit than either mine or my Mum’s 😉

We waited for at least another hour before my Mother decided to go and investigate as to what was going on, she came across a bunch of nurses just sitting on their phones not doing any work!
Upon enquiring she was given an “we don’t know what’s going on”comment.
Mother didn’t take no for an answer and eventually we were told that the Doctor we were waiting on was in surgery and would see us when he was out…
Although annoying that we hadn’t been given this information before, at least we finally knew what all the waiting around was for!

Eventually we saw the Doctor. From the x-rays he had seen the fracture was severe and definitely needed surgery, but as the hospital couldn’t access the CT scans that i had brought over with me from Malta, he couldn’t make an informed decision of how to repair the leg properly.

CT scan give for more detailed information than an x-ray. I was told that I could possibly have the surgery as early as the next morning, so I was to prepare myself by eating and drinking nothing after midnight and I would get a phone call in the morning to let me know if I would be having surgery.
It was a long day; we didn’t leave the hospital until around 14:30 but at least we had cut out the middle man of going through this all the following day at the fracture clinic.:)
** * * *
I hope you haven’t had to attend A&e, but if you have, what were your experiences with it?



The 4 Star Hospital Stay

I guess i should have known that things weren’t going to run so smoothly on our holiday to Malta; finding out just 4 days before the holiday that Low Cost Holidays had stolen £700 from us, “cleverly set the business up in Spain knowing their customers wouldn’t be ATOL protected and wouldn’t get their money back, if, they went into Administration. The robbing bastards!

I’ve never been too good in the luck department and when one thing goes wrong; it’s essentially the domino effect from there on out…

Gary always tells me to stop running off all the time. and for once he didn’t tell me to wait, and for once I really shouldn’t have thought cliff diving onto concrete would be a wonderful idea! 😉

Of course i’m only joking; I didn’t purposefully injure myself but it happened and what ensued was mini chaos.
If you’re not sure what i’m on about read my earlier post the Holiday I’ll never Forget.

After the horrific journey of my leg being thrown round in all directions at hitting every pot hole Malta has to offer we eventually arrived at Mater Dei Hospital.

Maltease Ambulance

Arial shot of Mater Dei hospital

It’s amazing how you remember everything is connected in your body when you sustain an injury, every bed transfer, the slight movement of the trolley or just being asked to wiggle my toes was almost unbearable.

I don’t remember how much morphine was given to me, but apparently it was a lot ore than they initially thought I would need, Yet it never touched the surface. The proof was in the pudding when the people applying plaster of paris to my injured leg yanked and tugged at my leg. They were ruthless and even when my leg went into violent spasms and I told them to stop they wouldn’t!!

Right leg in a plaster cast

I’m not trying to be a doctor but seriously, if a patients’ leg is shaping to the point where you can’t hold it straight while wrapping it, and you are wondering why i’m yelping, and why the cast seems slightly off?
Maybe, just maybe you should have listened to your patient!

Sadly Gary was not around to be my knight in shinning armour and save me from the torturous beasts as he had to leave the hospital and travel on a 80 minute round trip to retrieve our passports and eHic1 card, otherwise we would have to pay 100€ just to be seen in A&E!




I was given an X-ray and an MRI; the results showed I had a level 5 fracture, considering there are 6 levels to a fracture this was not good!The results showed that I had broken the top of my Tibia, Fibula and my Patella was shattered. Not only had the bone gone into shards but they were also sitting on top of one another.

I was eventually moved upstairs on to a ward, the staff were brilliant, although the first night wasn’t particularly pleasant… We arrived on the ward an hour after dinner was served and even though the staff knew i’d be staying until my flight home on the Thursday, they only offered Gary and I a jug of water, until I asked if we could have a cup of tea.

For me it wasn’t so bad as I had been concentrating on my leg all day, but for Gary it was hard, we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast earlier that morning.
Gary managed to find somewhere to buy us both a sandwich thankfully.

I had not long finished my sandwich when I asked the nurses for stronger painkillers as I just couldn’t handle it any longer.
The lovely nurse prewarned me that I may feel a little nauseous and the painkiller will probably make me fall asleep pretty quickly.
I got settled and said to Gary, i’m all woozy i think i’ll fall asleep any minute.
I was revelling in the wooziness when suddenly without any forwewarning from my body I threw up all over myself!
We had nothing around except an empty mug and so I managed to catch the remainder in it…
When Gary finally got hold of a nurse she came over and one of the first things she said to me was
“No, don’t drink anything if you’ve just been sick.”
When Gary replied:
“She was sick in the cup too.”
The nurse didn’t seem best pleased.
With the help of Gary, the nurse managed to clean me up

I didn’t get any sleep that night, the combination of pain and animal noises coming from another patient all night saw to that.
I kid you not when I say he sounded like a cross between Mufassa from the Lion King and a hippo. It was unnaturally loud and disturbing!




The Next Day.

The next day I was seen by a surgeon, who explained that I needed an operation as there was no way my leg was going to heal itself.
We discussed that as my flight was the next afternoon that I would be fit to fly and I could have the operation back in the UK which I was really pleased about!!

I was given a bed bath by two very lovely nurses, if you have never had a bed bath all I will say is leave your dignity at the door. They were extremely professional and careful, but I really wasn’t expecting the moment the nurse actually shoved a flannel up my vagina and gave it a good wipe!

I encountered my first time with a bed pan. They are slightly bumshaped and inside sits a plastic bowl cut to match. Using a bed pan allows urine to run everywhere, trying to lift my bum, hold my weight and stop the urine trickling down into a mini pool on the bed as I got off was much harder than I anticipated!

I also had to tackle using the toilet; when your cast goes from your ankle all the way up to the middle of your thigh and straight out is pretty strange not only pulling trousers etc down, but extremely uncomfortable to sit awkwardly as your leg sticks straight out.

I get this weird tension/ pressure in my leg… and don’t even think about pushing, it feels as if your leg is about to drop off!

Minus the pain, the stay at the hospital was good, the nurses were fantastic, even allowing Gary to sleep by my bedside each night and putting extra portions of food on my plate so we could share dinner.
They were great at supporting me by helping me go to the toilet, get dressed and generally had a calming and cheery disposition.

The Journey Home.

The front of the maltese Airport

The journey home would have been smooth, almost pleasant if the Maltese Ambulance service hadn’t of taken the piss to arrive. We booked the ambulance for 14:00 as the gates closed at 15:15 and according to the nurses it would only take 15 minutes to get there.

The paramedics didn’t turn up until 14:40 and thought it appropriate to laugh joke and go as slow as a sloth on sleeping tablets! We were losing time fast….No attempt at getting me transferred from the bed to the trolley, and again from the ambulance to the wheelchair, twice!
The drive itself was uncomfortable to say the least with it’s bumpy roads but thankfully my leg was now a lot sturdier in a cast.

Gary along with the nurse had to check us in, and when they did that (the receptionist was more bothered about what happened than actually scanning us in, we almost missed the closing gate!!

It was random being on a wheelchair with no arms and narrow frame getting on the plane, then getting hoisted onto the seats by a bed sheet!
I had always wondered how permanent wheelchair users would be able to get on the plane and get to their seat.

The flight back was more comfortable than I expected, I had an entire row to myself, and it was only the armrest digging into my back that made the journey uncomfortable.

Gary had to sit on the end aisle seat and hold my legs as the airport runway is small, so i became increasingly worried that my leg was going to go flying and I would be in agony.
I was happily surprised, the landing was very smooth and my leg didn’t jolt at all.

A big thanks to Ryanair for being so accommodating with flight adaptations! Thank you also to Luton airport for your smooth running specialist assistance and transfer! 🙂

And that was my hospital stay in Malta, stay tuned for the 2nd instalment coming soon!!

* * * *
Have you ever had an injury abroad? How was your medical treatment and attention? And the journey home?




Disability Q&A #11

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to the newest instalment of my disability Q&A campaign series 🙂

Today’s interview is brought to you by a wonderfully strong and courageous woman called Debra, we met online and I can honestly say that not only is she such a lovely person, But her blog is filled with enthusiasm and knowledge!
Without me continuing to ramble on, I shall let Debra share her story with you…

Tell me about yourself:
My name is Debra Barrows and I am 34. I live in Coventry New York with my husband, stepson, rainbow baby and fur baby.

My Jobs include being a Household Manager, Ordained Minister, Party Planner and Blogger.

My hobbies include creating my own jewelry, crafting with my kids, making educational supplies for my kids, and decorating my home.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I was diagnosed with Heavy Medal Poisoning (Arsenic and Cyanide). I now deal with multiple health issues.
Insulin Pump dependent Diabetic
Fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain)
Neuropathy (chronic nerve pain)
Spondylosis (lower spine is fused together)
Charcot Arthropathy (weakening of the bones in the foot)
Degenerative Connective Tissue Disease (loss of connective tissue around joints)
Degenerative Bone Disease (brittle bones)

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?
I was diagnosed in 2008.

Do you refer to yourself as a person with a disability? If not, why not?
In general, I do not. I try to overcome my issues on a daily basis. When others know that you are disabled they seem to over help. I find this annoying.

Do you tell others about your disability? Or do you prefer to keep that to yourself until you are comfortable with the person knowing?
I hold off telling until I have too. I have found that people who see me on a good day think that I am just trying to get sympathy. Meanwhile I hate being seen as disabled because I hate the look of pity from others.

Do you use any mobility AIDS such as a wheelchair or walking stick?
I have an Insulin pump, molded wrist splints for both hands, a walking brace for my left leg, and a leopard print cane.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please explain why.
Yes, YES, and YEEESSSS! Before the Heavy Metal Poisoning, I was very active. I worked on farms; I was a nurse (my dream job). I did not have constant pain; I could take a Tylenol for pain and go on with the day. Now I have multiple pain medications that do not touch the pain somedays and then be couch bound for days sometimes. I could eat anything now too much milk affects my blood sugar levels. I have to be careful what I do constantly because if I sit too hard I can break a bone. Yes I wish for my disabilities to be no more constantly!

How has your disability affected you?

Socially I do not go to crowded places to avoid being bumped into. The simplest of touches can send me into a spiral of pain. Sometimes the simplest of touches can also send me off balance and I have to struggle to get back to my feet.

Physically I am weakened. My bones can easily break from the slightest of pressure. My muscles have deteriorated in my legs. The constant varying levels of pain throughout my body makes the simplest of daily routine difficult.

Mentally I am not as sure of myself and who I am. I used to have a life path I was following it to a T. Now I constantly redefine what I can do daily. This wears on me. I get into slumps where I think I am no good for myself or my family. I have to recenter myself spiritually as to not have a depressive episode.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
Yes. If I had not become disabled, I would never understand what others are dealing with. I have a real understanding for what pain is and how it can destroy lives. That is not something I could have ever understood from all my nursing books.

Is there a particular question you are asked often because of your disability? If so, please explain below.

Why do you have a handicap sticker, you look fine to me? Because there are days when I do not have to wear my braces or use my cane people assume I am fine and am trying to use the system. To be 100% honest I hate my handicap sticker!
However, there are days I would never make it into a store if I had to walk farther than the handicap parking space to get to the wheelchair inside.

What are the positives of having a disability? I understand others better.

What are the negatives of having a disability? Dealing with it all is very frustrating since I know what I used to be able to do.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being disabled?
Myself. I struggle to accept this is my life. Going from a strong healthy active 27 year old to waking up unable to move is hard to adjust to. I fought hard for the last 8 years to get to where I am. Actually, 6 years for the 2 years before my husband coming back into my life I just accepted what the doctors had to say and was ok with being wheelchair bound for the rest of my life. I had given up. My husband helped renew my faith in God and myself. Without him I would probably still be in that wheelchair.
As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?

In my home, I deal with struggles with simple things like washing my hair, so I cut it from waist length to shoulder length. I have handles in my shower. I have an electric jar opener. I have rugs so I do no slip. My furniture is arranged so there is always something to hang onto if I feel myself falling. These things help with the frustrations when I can’t do things for myself.

Outside my home, the things that frustrate me are people who think they know me and judge me. Stairs are horrible. Uneven ground and grass that is too tall trip me. Extreme changes in the weather affect my joints. I hate walking from my car on a hot day into an air-conditioned building. My joints stiffen and my fibromyalgia ticks in. I am the woman wearing a coat in 80-degree weather. People who bump into other people.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
I find that organizing everything to a specific place helps. There are days I am stuck in bed. I know where to tell people to get my medications from, where the bill I need to call on is, what binder has the kids information, what closet on which shelf has the kids’ stuff for their appointment.

Do you use Assistive technology in your daily living?
I do not. Technology fails. I also live in a dead tower zone. I use a wall calendar and pocket calendar for everything. I put all appointments on both so I always have a calendar near me. Routine is my friend.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?
Find supportive people. No medication, no assistive aide or gadget is going to help you through the mental workout you are going to endure. People who truly love you will be there to help you, love you and push you.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with no disabilities?
Do not assume you understand. You have never felt what the person with their disability had felt. Every person is different, everybody reacts differently. Do Not assume to understand!

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
No.

Where can people find you out in the world?
http://crossingnewbridges.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CrossNewBridges/
https://twitter.com/CrossNewBridges
Crossingnewbridges@gmail.com




Thank you Debra for sharing your story! I’m in all of you, the courage and resilience you have is amazing! You prove that no matter what happens we always have fight left in us!
I hope that people reading this truly understands the meaning of an invisible disability, just because someone isn’t using an aid or crying out in pain, does not mean that they are not suffering and having a hard day with their disability.

You can find out so much more about Debra, her family and how she hopes to support others by visiting her fabulous blog!

Please don’t forget to follow her links, and why not share the love? Leave her a comment, we would both appreciate it!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?
Interview 1
Interview 2
Interview 3
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10




#HowISee

When RNIB contacted me about their new campaign #HowISee I was enthusiastic to get on board 🙂

Did you know that 93% of people who are registered blind or severely sight impaired actually have some residual vision?

It’s a common misconception that people using a white cane or a guide dog use them because they have no useful vision left.
So that means only 7% of the population of people using these aids have light perception or black blindness! A very small figure in comparison to the 2 million people in the UK suffering with sight loss.

Visual impairment is a spectrum, which varies from eye condition to eye condition and from person to person suffering with the same condition as another.

There are 5 common eye conditions that cause sight loss;
*Age Related Macular Degeneration

*Cataracts

*Diabetic Retinopathy

*Glaucoma

*Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

The conditions above are links, please feel free to click on them and find out more about these eye conditions. This has been sourced from the RNIB website
For example, medically 5 people with RP may have similar symptoms due to their condition: loss of peripheral vision(commonly referred to as tunnel vision), light sensitivity, night blindness and even colour blindness.
Each persons vision can vary dramatically from month-to-month and year to year, unfortunately this is a deteriorative I condition.
If five people with retinitis pigmentosa were to stand in the same room and you were to ask them about their visual acuity, you could get extreme and varying responses from them: light perception all the way through to clear and detailed vision until it stops peripherally. This on its own can vary from 10% peripheral blocking to 90%. If you imagine yourself looking than the lens of a telescope, you can only see what is directly in front of you, and in most cases of retinitis pigmentosa this is what is affected first.

Please watch this video of visually impaired people sharing their story and explain how they see! 🙂




My Story.

I was born a healthy child with no severe medical problems, it wasn’t until I broke my arm at the age of 7 and after a multitude of tests I was diagnosed with Arthritis.

This went on into Uveitis Iritis at the age of 14 and has been a deteriorative eye condition ever since.

I shall explain my different types of sight in a few stages.

*Born sighted with no vision problems whatsoever; I had 20/20 vision,.
I could see for miles of a beautiful scenery.
Read the small print on documents without any struggle,
I could spot a friend in a very busy crowd
See an ant on the ground even when I was standing up.

*I needed to sit closer to the whiteboard in school and needed contrasting pens like black to help it stand out, green and red were big issues.
Things started to get blurred the further away I was.
Things weren’t as sharp in the dark as I could see them in the day.I started to sit much closer to the TV. I even started using a magnifying glass from a christmas cracker to read texts.
I could no longer see the stars in the sky.
My colour vision started to become muddled; pinks and yellows, greens and blues, browns and purples.
My eyes were very sensitive to light balance; going from light to
dark,, or dark to light took my eyes a good few seconds to readjust.
My sight would plummet and all I could see was light anywhere between 15and 45 seconds.
I needed to use a magnifying glass to read anything unless the font was abnormally large.
I needed to sit closer to the TV as detail was very blurred.

*I couldn’t see past the end of my nose.
Each day/ week I could see less and less in front of me.
I struggled to use my phone even with magnification.
Everything was hazy and I could only see big block colours otherwise I couldn’t distinguish anything; from people to steps.
*Now.
I Have light perception; I can see when a light is on in a room, whether it’s day or night, ands light bouncing off things such as a mirror.
If you were to close your eyes now you would be able to see light flooding into your room and even pinpoint where there is a window, but you’ll be able to see nothing else.
Even if you know you are lying on your bed in the morning, you know there are things in your bedroom yet your eyelids block anything except light reaching your eyes.
That is essentially what I can see! 🙂

Up until I lost my remaining vision I refused to use a cane, so the public were oblivious to the fact I had any sight problems.
I cared more about how I looked and what people would think of me and less about my safety, which yes I know is completely ridiculous!
But now i’m loud and proud about my cane; it gives others a visual clue that I have limited vision, and helps keeps me safe also.

If you want to get involved in this brilliant campaign; write a blog, poem, story, create a podcast or even a Vlog feel free to join in and link it to RNIB and myself I would love to know your story 🙂

Much love,
Sassy x




The Holiday I’ll never Forget

The Holiday I’ll never forget.

We all look forward to a holiday don’t we? Whether it’s a cruise, beach/ poolside lounger or even a little weekend cottage We all look forward to a change of scenery, a bit of me time and most importantly a chance for you to do what you want when you want.

And for me that is no different. Personally i’m a big fan of lying by the poolside in a hot country lounging, and hopefully tanning, depending on how long I go away for I do try to explore the area and culture of that town, city or country.

You may have read that i’ve mentioned going to Malta for a sunny getaway, and most importantly my best friends’ wedding.

I was excited to watch my oldest best friend get married,spend some time soaking in the sunshine and generally enjoying a different country with Gary.

on the 16th Gary and I got a bit of a shock; Low Cost Holidays, the company we had booked our holiday through had gone into administrations… 4 days before we were due to fly out to Malta!
Even though we paid off everything back in May, Low Cost Holidays had taken our money, booked our flights, and not our hotel; the most expensive part of the holiday.
What were we going to do?

Understandably Gary was extremely frustrated and considered cancelling the holiday altogether,through some persuasion on my part, and a lot of help from the lovely Absolutely Prabulous Gary and I booked alternative accommodation, much cheaper than our original hotel, and a lot less than we originally wanted for our stay.

But we decided to keep an open mind and go with the flow.

The most important things were; attending the wedding and being able to have a relaxing time.

We arrived at our hotel Primera in the town Buiggbaa in St Pauls’ Bay.
Our room was much bigger than either of us expected and aside from having a view that consisted of a triangle of wall, we were pleased with the room.

When we went down for breakfast the next day everything seemed good, just on a smaller scale than previous hotels i’ve stayed in whilst abroad.

They did a continental breakfast daily that swapped between having bacon and sausage on alternate days and different types of eggs on alternate days also.
The staff were friendly and polite, and the food was pretty decent.
Because of the change in circumstances of our hotel accommodation, Gary and I decided to take everyday slowly and decided not to book any excursions, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the water park, and we decided to leave that until the very end of the holiday .

Malta is a lovely island; and although we didn’t go on excursions we managed to see a bit of the island by traveling on the local buses. A big disappointment is that where we were staying specifically was not blind or wheelchair friendly.
The pavements were very narrow, making guiding difficult, and even worse when there were people coming towards us.
The pavements were very high; and not every pavement had a slope; so it would make it extremely difficult for someone in a wheelchair to navigate safely.
There were a lot of grates and uneven paving so my cane tended to get caught; even though I deliberately have a large ball on the end.

View from the hotel roof with a view of the sea and the main town area

Due to the change in our circumstances Gary and I dinned out each evening, we went into the Plaza filled with different restaurants; most places offering similar menus’ but each had a different vibe and atmosphere 🙂
Although it isn’t how we planned to spend our holiday eating out every night, it was nice to try the different restaurants, enjoy the vibrant Plaza, and gave us time to be a couple. We both enjoyed each place we went to for dinner, but our main dislike is the encouragement of smoking, ashtrays were at every table; and in some circumstances the tables were so close together it felt like we were with other people when we were eating.

If you like Indian cuisine then my highest recommendation is to go to Grannies Indian Breeze, the food was absolutely delicious and the staff were fantastic!
I ordered a Chicken Tikka Masala hot with rice and pashwari nan bread; Gary laughed at me, because it’ is what I always order, especially if it’s a new Indian I haven’t been too before.

I told him I do it because I like to taste the difference between different restaurants of my favourite dish,; and I am so glad I did; it was absolutely delicious: the best Chicken Tikka Masala i’ve ever had!

When Gary tasted it, he even said it tasted better than his!
Who’s laughing now Gary Jones? 😉




The wedding was lovely; there were about 20 of us so it was very intimate, which was great. It gave Gary a chance to interact with everyone, and the whole day felt very relaxed and enjoyable 🙂
Congratulations to you both, it was a great day:) and i’m glad you make each other so happy!

Roxy and Nic exchanging vows

Gary and I had organised to meet the lovely Prabs the day after the wedding, I was looking forward to meeting Prabs, mostly to say a big thank you and buy her a coffee for all her help when we were stressing about accommodation, but also to chat to her in person.
The 3 of us had met face-to-face at the BML Fringe party but it was brief; so I was looking forward to chatting an relaxing in the sunshine together.

We arrived at Las Palmas, said a quick hello to Prabs and got ourselves seated on a separate table while Prabs had lunch with a friend.
Gary and I decided to have a cocktail as we waited, he told me there was a beach that was slightly rocky just at the end of the cafe, and we nattered away sipping our cocktails 🙂

A long island ice tea on the left and a Singapore slingshot cocktail on the right

View from the cafe looking out to the sea with sunbeds and tables on a small beach

As we were sitting at a 2 person table and the aisle was far too small to accommodate 6 of us we decided to move.

And that’s when the fun began.

I stood up, swung my cane as I took a step back.
*Oh crap, there’s nothing under my right foot, i’m falling, oh god when am I going to land? This is such a drop, brace yourself!*

OUCH! That wasn’t nice, OK Sassy get up quick, walk it off you’ll be fine.
In an instant lots of people were by my side.

Oh Sassy well done, you look like a right blind idiot in front of everyone.

OK my right knee hurts, like really hurts; I think i’ve done something to it.
It’s OK, it’ll be fine, it’s probably just your Arthritis shouting at you for being a fool, just stretch your knee out, we’ll move to the seating and all will be fine….

Are you OK?
Someone call an ambulance!
Oh no, don’t be silly, i’ll be fine in a minute.
That was a really nasty fall, you should really go to the hospital and have an x-ray.
No, i’ll be fine; I just need to stretch my knee out.
*Ice on knee*

No we’ve called an ambulance, it’ll be here really soon.

I just need to stretch my knee.
OK i’ll help you.
OUCH!! No don’t touch the knee.
There’s something really wrong!
*The adrenaline is wearing off, I’m shaking and can’t hold my knee up myself any longer*

I’m in shock, i’m going to be sick, OH MY KNEE.

Gary spent a lot of that time making jokes, ones which in the moment annoyed me, and didn’t find very funny… Poor Gary, his way of coping is to make light of the situation, an me going from laughing to silent only encouraged him further…

When the Paramedics finally arrived, they slightly straightened my knee as I yelped in pain, strapped my knee and put me on a stretcher and took me to hospital.

The ride to the hospital was agony, trust me to injure my knee and Malta to have the bumpiest roads known to man!!

It got to the point where Gary had to shout at me to breathe because I was holding my breath but managing to make this horrendous noise…

When we arrived at A&E I was seen pretty quickly, given an x-ray and CT Scan,my knee put into plaster, a lot of OUCH, OUCH, OUCH from me, and a lot of OK, OK, OK from the people yanking at my leg.
They were making me so mad with their constant OK’s. It’s a good thing I was in too much pain to say anything else!

Right leg in a plaster cast

I spent the remainder of my holiday in hospital with Gary at my bedside ( I don’t know what I would have done without him!)
We’re home and i’m waiting to go into surgery this week sometime. Apparently there are 6 levels to a fracture, and I managed to get to level 5… Ooops!

Needless to say; it’s a holiday i’l never forget!




Beauty Time

Last week I was featured on the lovely Nia’s blog, where she talks about all things beauty!

Beauty Blog Wales is a great place to learn things as how to know what foundation suits your skin tone, but also how to apply it!

And very blind friendly!

Nia is a fab blogging friend, and I hope to meet her one day!

Here’s the interview 🙂

1. Tell us a bit about your blog?
It’s a lifestyle blog focused on disability, I try to challenge stereotypes and educate others, whilst hopefully bringing a humorous twist 😉

2. What do you love about blogging?
It’s definitely got to be the community, i’ve never met such a friendly and supportive bunch.The friendships i’ve developed through blogging is pretty amazing, i’m so glad I started wittering away in my little corner of the internet 🙂

3. When did you lose your sight Sassy? It must have been such a tough time for you, if you don’t mind please tell us a bit about that time in your life.

I have a deteriorative eye condition called Uveitis Iritis,, I started having vision problems when I was 14 but it got increasingly worse in 2013. In the September of that year it was becoming such a problem that I didn’t feel safe leaving my front door unaccompanied, I sought medical intervention (not for the first time I may add).
I under went surgery that could have 1 of 3 outcomes: my sight would stay the same, my sight would improve or it would deteriorate further. It was a risk I was willing to take.
Unfortunately because of the scar tissue on my eye from several years of operations and treatments, they couldn’t save my remaining vision, and it deteriorated.

4. Did you have to relearn how to do your makeup?
Luckily no, I’ll be honest I wasn’t particularly bothered about wearing make up as much when my sight started to get bad, I could no longer see my reflection in a mirror so it put me off for a while.

However after the operation I decided to start wearing it again, and in a lot of ways I realised i had been putting on make up blind for years, it was only the finishing look that I checked the mirror for.
Although saying that; I don’t want you to get excited; i’m no make up artist 😉 I only wear a full face on a night out.
.

5. Do you have to trust your husband to give you makeup advice?
Haha yes, poor Gary has had to learn a lot about make up since being with me! I always ask him what colour lipstick would go with certain outfits! Who do you turn to when you need a face check?
Gary, since living together i’ve always asked him to make sure my eyeliner is level on both sides and I don’t have mascara blobs on the side of my nose!

6. Which products do you love?
I’ve recently had a big make up clear out, and decided to try a lot of new products and brands.
I’ve done it all on a low budget, incase they didn’t match my skin tone… or made me look like a clown!
A big love of mine right now is my Bourjor foundation,because it’s so creamy, moisturising and smells lovely!

7. Are there tools that you couldn’t be without
Eye lash curlers, due to my eye condition my eyes are quite closed a lot of the time so wearing mascara and curling my lashes opens them up!
Sometimes I treat myself to eyelash extensions which does the same effect, and I feel instantly pretty 🙂
when doing your face?

8. Do you like to experiment with makeup?
Yes and no. As I am totally blind I don’t go all out and buy expensive brands, but I do like to have a try out with different techniques and styles when i’ve got free time. (Make up wipes at the ready!)

9. What is your experience of shopping for makeup since you lost your sight?
I will admit it’s not as fun as it used to be, but when I had a make up clear out Gary and I went into town and he gave me his undivided attention, helping me pick out products i’ve read about, and tell me honestly if he thought they would suit me.

10. What are your tips for other blind or partially sighted ladies who are trying to figure out their makeup game?

Youtube is a great place for tutorials on applying make up, blogs are great for make up recommendations and essentially just enjoy having a play about.
If you have a friend or family member who is willing to help you with techniques then definitely go with that; it’s always more fun when you are trying new things with people.
Don’t be afraid to book appointments at make up counters to discuss products and even get them to give you a make over, however always take someone you trust. Make up artists don’t always get it right!
I am fortunate that my Mum taught me in my teenage years how to apply make up properly, and what colours suited my skin tone.

Thanks Ever so much Nia for giving me the opportunity to guest post on your wonderful blog!

Please Don’t forget to follow her on:

Twitter
Blog
Facebook




Are Mobile Phones A Luxury Or A Necessity??

A little while ago I was given the opportunity to guest post on the fabulous Lolly’s blog.
I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂

Are mobile phones materialistic, or an necessity?

With the boom of technology in the last 10 years alone, and smart phones becoming the number one product to get, if you haven’t already that is.
Smart phones although still seen as a luxury by some, have now become a necessity, especially for people such as myself.

For those who don’t know, i’m totally blind. I use an iPhone, MacBook, iPad and iPod. I’m not trying to show off or seem flash, I can assure you, it took a long time to save for such items!
But the reason I am mentioning my clear love for Apple products, is not because it’s seen as the coolest gadget, or more expensive luxury, it’s because it enables me to live my life with as much ease and normality as a blind person can manage.

All of the Apple products listed above have specific built in software called Voice-Over. An Apple built-in screen reader that allows me to use technology the way you do.

A screen reader is a text to speech output which speaks the content of a computer display. In Apple’s case it is in-built within every Apple product they sell.. This enables me to navigate my way around my MacBook (what I am using to write this post). I use shortcut keys to navigate, as it would be pretty tricky for a blind person to use a mouse, when they cannot see where it is upon the screen.

My iPad is essentially a larger version of my iPhone, so when I talk about my iPhone, it has all the same functions without being able to call like a phone.
My iPhone; being touch screen will read out wherever my finger lands/ touches on the screen. In order for me to interact with my iPhone, and give it commands, I have to use specific gestures.
For example, if I wanted to call my Mum, I would touch the top right-hand corner of my iPhone, and Voice-Over will say contacts (I have my phone set out in a specific way, so this would not be the case for everyone using an iPhone, even if they too are blind).
I would then double tap with 1 finger,or thumb, to be able to open the Contacts app.
I would then touch the very right hand side of the iPhone screen again, where it will announce “Table Index” the A-Z of the phone book.
I have to hold my thumb down for a second or so before the phone announces “Swipe up or down with one finger to adjust the value” And from there I would continuously flick my thumb up towards the top of the iPhone for it to scroll down.

When I reach the correct letter I would then flick right with my thumb to find the contact i’m looking for. I would have to double tap again with one finger, or thumb, to open it.
I would also have to double tap on the number itself to activate the call button.

So why the double tap gesture?
Imagine running your thumb or finger around a touch screen and having your eyes closed whilst doing so, you would potentially open a dozen apps, send a gobbledegook email to your boss. and a smily face to your brother who is sitting right next to you!
Double tapping is so the blind user can navigate around the screen/ phone itself without any worry of doing these things constantly.

So how do I use social media?

If I am on my iPhone, and using the FaceBook App, I use much the same gestures as I mentioned above with a few added extras.

The FaceBook App in my personal opinion is far better, than using the website,
What I mean by this is: screen readers are programmed to read all text aloud to the person navigating. Imagine how long and arduous a process it is to flick constantly for everything a FaceBook status has:
The persons name
Who their audience is
the location it was published
the time it was published
The status itself
If there are any images
reactions to the status; Like, Comment, Share, Announcing one at at a time.

However there are shortcuts to speed this interaction up a little quicker

Thankfully the app cuts out a lot of the waffle and will only read out:
The persons name
The status
If there is an image
Reactions to the status; Like. Comment, Share. And
This will be read all at once, and in order.

In order to interact with the status you can do one of 2 options:
Flicking your thumb down to choose an option; Like, React, Comment, Share, More.
Or
By double tapping the screen with 2 fingers and it brings up a list with the same options i’ve listed above.
You can choose to flick right to get to the specific action or drag your finger down the list and use the 1 finger double tap gesture to active it.

What about other social media platforms?

With each social media platforms there are slightly different ways to navigate each app, and each website. The single and double tap features are sill optimised but it depends on each app developer if they include extra functions for screen readers. An example of this is Twitter. If you go to the Twitter settings you can customise a two finger double tap to do one of 4 actions. I chose my action to create a new tweet. It means I don’t have to find the top right hand corner of the screen, and double tap with one finger to create a tweet. It’s things like that, that help me navigate quicker as a screen reader user 🙂

There are so many things my iPhone can do that help keep my life running as smoothly as a blind person bumping into walls and getting lost can be 😉

And social media is just the tip of that gigantic iceberg…
Where would I be without it? Probably rocking in a corner somewhere 😉 but seriously, technology today has given me and other blind and disabled people a lifeline to keep in touch with the outside world, interact with friends and family who live in other parts of the country/ world, and helps make new connections and new friends 🙂

I hope this post was informative? If you have any questions or would like me to explain anything else from a blind persons perspective then feel free to contact me on the following:
Twitter
Facebook
Google+
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com




A big thanks to Lolly for allowing me to guest post on her fabulous blog, without my smartphone we wouldn’t have met! 🙂
Please follow her on:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Much love,
Sassy x

Join My Campaign: Guest Posts

Guest Posts:

Do you have a disease, condition, chronic illness or disability that you would like to spread awareness of?
Then this blog is a place for you!
I want to be a platform for you to share your story, spread your message and raise awareness of your cause!
You can use your creativity and passion to do this however you see fit!
If you or anyone you know would like to participate I would love to have you!

You can contact me on

Email:
SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Thinking-Out-Loud-Blog-525815087584791/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@SassyPant6

Much love,
Sassy x




By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close