Category Archives: Lifestyle

Friendship, Relationship, Love

Gary and Sassy cuddling together on a bench. photo taken from behind with a lighthouse off to the left.

I never thought i’d end up with Gary, in fact, neither of us ever thought it would happen…

We met at University when he joined in 2012, both my Uni housemates met him on nights out during Freshers week, at separate times, and before long he joined our friendship group.

He and I clicked straight away, and it was nice to have another male within the group. Gary wasn’t like a lot of the other Freshers, he wasn’t the biggest party goer and was mature for his age, which I think is why our friendship blossomed and the group felt so relaxed around him.

We hung out, texted, stayed at each others houses and gave each other relationship/ dating advice, it was plutonic. Our friends all joked and said if we ever lived together, we would get together, but we laughed it off and ignored their comments; we didn’t see each other like that.

And this is where the story gets interesting…

It was my housemates’ last year at Uni (it would have been mine too, but that is for another story), our lease was due to run out and I was frantically searching for a place to live as a singular student that I could afford, with no luck whatsoever, Gary and 3 of my other Uni friends had all agreed I could stay at theirs until I found a place, it’ll only be about a week I said, so i’ll be out of your hair in no time!

Gary and Sassy both laughing. Sassy with her hands covering her face and Gary stood behind her grinning

3 months went by before I finally found somewhere ! Needless to say Gary and I grew closer, spending more time together: hanging out, eating together, and because of my sight loss he even helped me go shopping. Being blind and moving to a new area takes a lot of mobility and energy to get where you want to be. I was most grateful for his support, friendship and sense of humour at that time!

It literally came from nowhere, one night we were playing drinking games, and when the others had left the room he randomly just kissed me.
I was in total shock, but for the strangest reason it just felt right…

Gary and I moved in together as a couple after his student lease ran out, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.

He’s been my rock, confidant and my best friend for as long as i’ve known him, it’s just intensified since being together. He has been at my side through the toughest 5 years of my life, 3 of which has been as my partner.

We are a very happy family unit, spending the majority of our weekends rambling and chasing our gorgeous pup Ida!
Currently we are saving for our first house and plan to move where his family live, although, we have made a happy life four ourselves here.
I can’t wait to start the next chapter of our relationship and eventually be his Wife! ❤

sassy touching noes with Ida the guide dog

The Importance of a Guide Dog

The Importance of a Guide Dog.

Guide dogs logo white silhouette man walking with white silhouette dog

For as long as we can remember dogs have been mans best friend, so it makes sense that one day these fun, loveable and loyal canines would become a vital and supporting role for people with disabilities.

Guide Dogs was founded in 1931 by Murial Crooke and Rosamond Bond. These women organised the training of the first 4 Guide dogs in Merseyside, Liverpool UK.
Since their humble beginnings Guide Dogs has grown expansively and is the largest breeding collection for people with visual impairments.

Becoming a Guide Dog is extensive and very specific.
Mate selection for breeding a Guide Dog is of great importance. The pups that are born need to be good natured, hardworking, intelligent and not scared of loud environments.
most Guide Dogs are a cross of: Golden Retrievers, Labradors and German Shepards’. In cases where the visually impaired person has allergies or other needs dogs such as Poodles are cross bred.

A Guide Dogs working life is around 8 years and the cost of raising, training and caring for the dog is on average £50,000.

Lenny sitting on a bench with Dylan a black and brown german shepard laying at his feet

 
The Stages of a Guide Dog.

Once born each litter is named by a letter in the alphabet.
For example a litter with the letter L could be named: Luna, Liza, Leo, Luke…
The only letter of the alphabet that is not used is the letter X.
6-8 Weeks.
The puppies are vaccinated and ready to meet their puppy walkers.
A puppy walker is someone who assists the pup on it’s training to becoming a Guide Dog this includes walking the pups, start basic training and and give simple commands.

it’s imperative that they are brought up properly.
Volunteer puppy walkers introduce the pups to the sights, sounds and smells of the world.
The puppy walkers will take the pups through busy streets, into shops, on buses and trains.

The puppy walker will also teach the pup to walk ahead on the leash as this is how they will walk when guiding a blind or visually impaired person.
They will also teach them to obey simple commands such as sit, stay, down and come.

1 Year Old Guide Dogs.

The puppy walker returns the pup back to Guide Dogs training school to begin their advanced training.

The skills the young dogs learn to assist a blind or visually impaired are:

  • Walking in a straight line in the centre of the pavement unless there is an obstacle.
  • Not to turn corners unless told to do so by the handler.
  • To stop at kerbs and wait for the command to cross the road, or, to turn left or right.
  • Learn to judge height and width so that it’s handler does not bump their head or shoulder.

With each command a verbal, physical and visual command is given to the young dog. These signals are given to the dog to understand what they should do next. All Guide Dogs are trained to be on the handlers left hand side.When a Guide Dog is in training it will always wear a brown harness, they do not wear a white harness until they have qualified.

As you can see the training is rigorous, but it has to be. A human is putting a lot of trust into it’s companion,a companion that cannot speak.
Sadly not all of the puppies make the grade to become a Guide Dog, these puppies usually go on to train as a Police Dog or other important roles.

Matching the correct dog with the correct owner takes a lot of skill and experience on the part of Guide Dogs.The owners height, length of stride and lifestyle will all contribute to the type of Guide Dog they are matched with.

The Guide Dog and owner spend around 4 weeks intensely training together, 2 weeks of that will be at a training centre set up specifically so that there are no distractions to either the dog or owner. But this is mostly for the owners benefit.
Once they have successfully qualified, the visually impaired person signs a contract, hands over 50p and the Dog is given it’s white harness.
I have a number of friends who have Guide Dogs, and over time I have learnt a lot about the expectations of a Guide Dog and the bond between the two once they are fully qualified and living together at home.

I asked a very good friend of mind if he wouldn’t mind being interviewed to give a more in-depth insight into the partnership between Guide Dog and it’s owner.

Black and brown dylan sitting next to his black and white dog pal




Interview Questions.

What does having a guide dog mean to you?
Independence and the freedom to go out and do things. The convenience of going places in a quicker time.

Can you explain the relationship that you have with Dylan?

We are a solid partnership; he is pilot navigator, and I give him all the instructions.
He gets me from a to be safely: avoiding potholes, people, street furniture and what not.

What was your life like before having a guide dog?

I was lacking in confidence,; I would only go out if it was necessary,.
I would do most things in the company of others because I refused to use a cane for a while. This certainly made things more tricky!

What is the greatest benefit, in your opinion, of having a guide dog?

The partnership you get from having a Guide Dog and the confidence it invokes within you.
Having a constant companion is awesome, and, it’s been a great excuse to meet and interact with all types of people

Have you ever faced any negative feedback having a Guide Dog?

Yes, the public can be frustrating sometimes. Not understanding that my Guide Dog is working and interrupting or distracting him.
There was one incident where my first guide dog Jasper and I were about to cross the road, when suddenly he stopped abruptly and I nearly fell over the back of him. It was a man who had grabbed Jasper between his hands and started rubbing him! When I said to the guy “excuse me what are you doing?”
His response was: “it’s okay mate!”
Let’s just say the guy felt the sharp end of my tongue! I’m a lot calmer than I used to be with the public, but that day I did show my anger, hopefully it has taught him never to interrupt a working Guide Dog again!
Unfortunately that isn’t quite the end of the story… Because he had distracted Jasper so much, the dog then decided to cross at a green light, before I had given the command.
I had to pull Jasper back onto the curb and tell him off.

What are five pieces of advice you would like to give the public about having a Guide Dog, especially when he is out and working?

•First and foremost never interrupt the handler or dog when it is on harness, the dog is working and to distract them could cause problems, or even accidents like I explained above.

•Treat the handler as a person, and with respect: ask if you can pet the dog.
Do not assume it is automatically ok, to pet them, just because YOU love dogs…
You wouldn’t take a baby from it’s pram and start kissing and cuddling it without the mothers permission, so do not attempt to distract or play with the dog just because you want to.

•Never give food or titbits to the dog. All Guide Dogs are fed well and each portion is measured. Giving them food will invite them to be greedy and undermine the training that Guide Dogs’ (the charity) and myself have taught them.

•Guide Dogs are normal dogs that are specially trained to listen and obey commands given to them by the handler. Such as, sit stop forward…
They are not specially made robot dogs with built in GPS. They do not know where they are going,they listen to the directions given to them by their handler.

•Please appreciate that not every person who has a Guide Dog is completely blind. A Guide Dog is an extension of the visually impaired person. He helps enhance my life and gives me more freedom, but they are not specifically bred just to be given to totally blind people.

Any funny moments?

Quite a few, but here are two of my favourites.
Jasper, my first guide dog was having a free run in the park and had been bounding about in The muddy lake when a lady in a white skirt called to him. He went over and jumped up at her… Surprise surprise she had dirty marks down her white skirt!

Dylan my new Guide Dog had been out for a free run with my friend. When they came back he apologised profusely… Dylan had spotted a baby rabbit, chased it down, caught it, and then decided to eat it!
I did think he was going to be ill, but thankfully not! He definitely didn’t have any dinner that night!

Any advice you would like to give to a person starting out with their first Guide Dog?

•Keep up the obedience training that Guide Dogs teach you… It’s really invaluable to make sure your dog is doing the best job they can when on harness.

•Don’t be afraid to say no to the general public: it’s not okay for them to interfere with you or your Guide Dog and it is okay to discipline them when you are training them. The public like to interfere, but you know what you have been taught and stick to that.

•Free runs are occasions for you to bond with your guide dog. Show them all the love and affection and attention they need, it helps to build a stronger bond as well as letting them have a chance to be a normal dog.




Festive Fun At Christmas

Picture the scene;low lighting with live Cuban music playing softly in the form of a drummer and guitarist, and me in a black and gold sparkly dress with festive earrings to boot… Yes I was at a Christmas event. but this wasn’t just any Christmas event’ this was the MK bloggers Christmas party #MKFiesta at Revolución DeCuba!

Just before we walked in I admitted to Gary I was a little nervous but excited. This was my 2nd blogging event; my 1st blogging event was somewhat overwhelming. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this time around.

BoConcept magazine,proper corn, stu's oven and cuban free drinks

I needn’t have worried Gary and I said hello to the girls who were already there. We deposited our jackets and grabbed a glass of Pressecco.

We chatted and mingled getting to know one another, it was great being in such good company

Before long we were piling our plates high with the scrummy food; calamari, chicken wings, shredded chili beef brisket, roasted peppers and spicy rice to name but a few delicious treats!

On the table each person was gifted 2 free drinks; Gary and I both opted for cocktails from their Christmas menu. I ordered a tropical punch and Gary ordered a a chocolatey caramel pudding punch.
I enjoyed my cocktail but sadly Gary’s drink was far too sickly sweet. We were both impressed by the food and the funky glassware our cocktails came in; I had a pineapple shaped glass and Gary’s came in a cool mason type jar!
I’m a terrible blogger, I forgot to take pictures!

Mitchel ness hat "Ducks"

There were about 15 bloggers in attendance so we broke off into smaller groups to sit down and eat. This is where I got to chat more to the lovely Formidable Joy and But First Coffee. It was great getting to know the girls a little better and chatting about all things blogging. It’s fun meeting others that share the same joys and passions as you… Time just flys by…

While we were chatting Sophie’s Suitcase came over and handed out the goody bags, and my gosh were we treated to amazing gifts and vouchers from brands!

Tub of lush hand cream, bottle of ale, £1 off stus pizza, BoConcept magazine, Ducks beenie hat, Zumba classes, ProperCorn and an open spa pass.

  • A cute and cosy hat from Mitchell and Ness
  • A bottle of Ale from MK BierGarten which Gary claimed as soon as he spotted it!
  • Gorgeous hand cream from Lush, now where can you ever go wrong with a bit of Lush?
  • A cool magazine and voucher from Bo Concept. if only I had come across this awesome company before I moved 2 years ago, I
    would have spent hours lusting over the furniture!
  • 50% off at Rush, I’m very much looking forward to booking my haircut in the new year!
  • A relaxation session at Flotation Life, Gary and I are still debating on who deserves this more..
  • Lunch for 2 at Maaya I’m a lover of Indian cuisine so I cannot wait to try this restaurant out!
  • £1 off pizza at Stu’s Oven; Gary’s favourite food is pizza, so I won’t be getting a look in there then!
  • 2 vouchers for Zumba at Fitness Milton Keynes, trying to keep up with a fitness workout when you can’t see is going to be entertaining at the very least!
  • A 120g packet of sweet and smokey chili flavored propercorn it was very tasty i must say!
  • A pot of mustard from Mr and Mrs Fitz, I’m genuinely excited to try this on some pork chops.
  • And not forgetting further drinks vouchers as a fab excuse for us ladies to return in the new year and enjoy a few more cocktails!

A massive shout out goes to  Revolución DeCuba for being fantastic hosts, all the fab brands who gifted us, and most importantly Sophie’s Suitcase for organising the event itself!

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and I look forward to the next blogger meet up!

Tub of hand cream, bottle of ale, 50% of at rush and apple and cider mustard




Much love,
Sassy x

The Last Leg

“Sleep is for the weak!” I screamed as the hospital ward lights flickered on.

OK i’m joking. I was extremely tired and the combination of excruciating pain, and the constant need for the bathroom didn’t allow me any quality of sleep.

I was fed, washed and dressed waiting for the Doctor to arrive. He came over and asked all the usual Doctor questions. I explained my blood pressure cuff analogy to him and said that the pain had worsened the longer I had the cast on.
He was very friendly and supportive, even saying he would take my cast off to examine my leg. But as he did not perform the surgery, and wasn’t my Doctor, he had to wait to speak to a Consultant to see what to do.

Not too long after, my nurse came over and said he’d heard I had been uncomfortable all night, and I was complaining about the pain in my leg; to which I agreed.

“It sounds to me like your cast is too tight, let me go get some scissors and i’ll cut it off for you.”

The relief was evident on my now smiling face!

It took Rich, my nurse, a while, but he managed to cut the cast all the way down to the top of my ankle.
The relief was almost instant, my leg was on fire and heavily pulsing, but I actually managed to feel the blood pumping around my leg.

After a serious dose of medication and about half an hour later, I could feel my leg again, and not just agonising pain!

The Doctor came back not too long after and asked how the pain was, he was surprised to hear how drastically my pain scale had reduced.

“My ankle still feels really tight and sore, but it’s like my leg is able to breathe again.”

Rich, my nurse, was with me at this point and the Doctor said there and then to cut the cast off completely, the cast was obviously too tight and I should be fitted with a brace and not another cast.

You would have thought i’d just won the lottery with that comment, I was so ecstatic and relieved at the same time!

Again, as he was cutting the cast off my foot, I could feel the blood beginning to move freely around.

My entire leg was massively swollen, but the tight pain had almost fully disappeared!

Unfortunately it seemed like the surgeon, Doctors and nurses had not taken into consideration my Arthritis.
Whenever I have had a knock or bump to my body in the past, my Arthritis tends to balloon. So the combination of my accident and surgery on my leg, my joints were bound to become inflamed; specifically my knee and ankle.

And that was exactly what happened…

My leg had doubled in size… Couple that with an extremely tight cast and you’ve got a lot of pain through lack of circulation.

First brace given black with foam pads as support and Velcro straps leg is extremely bruised and swollen

I trust Doctors, after all they are the one’s who went to medical school, but i’m an advocate for no-one knows your body better than you do. I’ve lived with chronic pain since the age of 7, so I know the difference between normal pain, and abnormal pain.
*****

Leg with 17 stables closing two long cuts down the right side of the leg

With each day that came and went my leg pain decreased, I owe a special thanks to my friend Oramorph for helping me with my pain relief!

Those first few days on Oramorph were certainly interesting, I was a little woozy, mostly sleepy and my brain felt like it was trudging through sludge… it even got to the point that I declared to the occupational therapist that if nothing was going to happen over the weekend then I was just going to go home and come back Monday – until my friend kindly pointed out that this was a hospital and they weren’t just going to look after my bed for me for the weekend until I decided to return!
When my brain and tongue finally engaged, I realised how ridiculous I sounded, and we had a good laugh at my expense! ;)*****

On a more serious note I did realise just how understaffed, overworked and underpaid the Nurses and Health Care Assistants actually are.

Some patients needed more support due to their age, physical restrictions and sometimes a combination of the two. It was eye opening to watch just how demanding some patients can be, and how in turn that has a domino effect on the rest of the ward and staff.
I also noticed the lack of financial funds that the NHS have on the ground and how that is impacting on patient care.
One particular lady was brought in because she had a fall and had broken her foot… She was also very elderly and suffered with Alzheimer’s

It was heartbreaking to watch her in such distress asking where she was, what had happened, where her parents were as they would be getting worried about her and the why couldn’t she go home?
When she first arrived she had one on one support from a nurse, but that didn’t last very long as the nurse had other patients and duties to attend.
It was awful to bare witness to her on a continuous loop, that turned into hysteria when nurses couldn’t be present to talk to her and soothe her.

When the nurses weren’t around I tried to engage her in conversation as best I could, going through the motions of answering her questions. At some points she and I had conversations about her life and the odd time she was even lucid for a few minutes, so it was lovely.

However being witness to this happening over a few days on one ward I am saddened that there not are specific wards for such patients who need that extra care, support and attention.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the only patient I saw this happening with. I moved wards on Saturday around midnight and there was a similar case with another elderly lady.
Thankfully this ward was much smaller and quieter so nurses and HCA’s could give more attention to her. However, other patients such as my neighbour and myself were forgotten on several occasions.
I blame the Government for these situations, not the Doctor’s,Nurses and HCA’s on the ground. But it’s plain to see that even being in a first world country, patients still aren’t getting the full care and attention they truly need.

*****

New black brace with soft padded supports and clear plastic dial.

Leg without staples or brace on, 2 long cuts with visible staple holes and scabbing

I’m grateful to both hospitals for the care and treatment I received because without them I wouldn’t be at home recovering, trying to live a normal a life as possible as a one legged, blind short arse can 🙂

It’s not been plain sailing; lack of medication, supportive equipment, medical appointments and staples being in my leg 3 weeks longer than they should have been haven’t made my recovery easy but it’s been just over a month since my operation, so i’ve only got 8 weeks left to go!! 🙂
****
It was lovely to bump into you Becca, and meet you Eileen, i’m just sorry it was in such crappy circumstances!
I hope your recovery is going well and you’re kicking butt 😉

Much love,
Sassy x




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?




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