Slightly different blog today as I want to talk about my disability and my Guide Dog, Yashka. I've just come back from a walk and need to write so here goes.
The title of this blog is a quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
For those who have never read my blog before, I'm visually impaired. This means I can see roughly 6 meters whereas someone with perfect vision can see 60+ meters.
The specific conditions I have are,
there are two kinds of cells in the back of the eye called rods and cones. They gather vision information from the light that comes into the eye through the pupil. The cones are in the centre of the back of the eye. They gather information about details and colour. They work best in bright light. (It may help you remember to think of “cones” and “colour” both starting with “c.”) The rods are all around the rest of the back of the eye. They gather information about things that move and things that are on the sides, above and below the person. They work best in dim light. People who have rod-cone dystrophy lose the use of the rods and cones.
Find out more here
Nystagmus is a condition which causes constant movement of the eyes which you can’t control.
It’s caused by a problem with the way the eye sends messages back to the brain or how parts of the brain which deal with eye movement make sense of the information.
Find out more here
Myopia, often known as “being short sighted” causes your vision to be blurry in the distance but clearer when looking at things up close. It is a very common condition of the eyes and for most people it can easily be dealt with using contact lenses or glasses, which will make your vision clear and crisp.
People with myopia have an eye which bends the light coming into your eye too much, which means that the light comes to a focus point before it reaches your retina. This makes vision blurry and is caused by the eyeball being too long or the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) being more steeply curved. When you move closer to an object, this changes the focusing of the light and the object is then in focus on the retina and therefore looks clear.
Find out more here.
I'm also very sensitive to light which makes going outside when it's really sunny a problem. And I can't see much at night. So going outside, well, it's tricky at the best of times.
I know what some of you might be thinking, why don't I wear glasses?
I used to wear glasses for most of my childhood, but stopped once I reached the end of primary school. I don't wear them at all now. They helped with long distance to an extent, but not for close up work. And seeing as though most of my day to day activities include writing, reading and desk work, it was just impractical. I used to take my glasses off and put them down, ending up with many lost pairs of glasses! I can't read or write properly with them so I stopped wearing them. I have to get very close to my work, which is why I use a keyboard with a yellow background and large letters so I can see what I'm typing. I also use a piece of software I may have mentioned before called Zoomtext, which magnifies the screen.
I still read a fair bit but I have to hold the books close to me so I can read them clearly. I also use audio books from time to time, but prefer to read an actual book. it just feels right, I don’t like reading on a tablet either.
I also have no depth perception. This means that things like kerbs and things with a drop just look flat to me. I trip over constantly as I can't see the changes of depth in the pavement. I can't really tell the difference between the road and pavement.
I'm also terrible at recognizing people. I'm oblivious to most things and won't see a friend walking towards me. I hate it when someone calls my name and I have no idea who they are. Or if I go to a social gathering and I can't find where everyone is sitting.
I was registered severely sight impaired at a young age then registered blind in early childhood. I've not known any different. I don't want it to be any different. If someone was to ask me if I could get my eyesight back, I'd say no. It's made me who I am. I don't want to change that.
Because of my conditions, my eyesight will eventually go altogether. I will be blind one day. It was tough to accept this when I was younger. But now, now I've accepted that it is what it is. I can't change it. There is no miracle cure. And that's okay. I've learnt to appreciate the little things. The beautiful scenery around me, my friends and family, the way the world looks. There might come a day where I don't know what my friends look like, that I don’t know what the colour of a bus I need or the interior of a cafe. And, in all honesty, that's okay. Because at least I had a little sight to enjoy life. As depressing as that sounds, it's true. And there's no changing it.
This is why I have Yashka. She gets me out and about. She has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and experience as much of this world before I lose my sight. Even though I do get anxious and depressed, there are days I don't want to leave the house, Yashka will be there to cheer me up. She makes me go out, she still needs working. She keeps me going. She reminds methat I don't need perfect eyesight to live, to enjoy myself.
I do get tired, especially if I’m writing for a long time or staring at my monitor. I know I over exert myself on a regular basis. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
As I have said in other blogs, I don't write about my disability or mental health issues to get attention. I do not write about these subjects to get pity. I'm not inspirational, far from it. I'm literally going about my life in the only way I know how. Without a fuss if I can help it. I've come to accept my eyesight, I can talk about it freely without getting upset. It does suck, there are crap days, I'm not going to pretend. But the more I talk about it and inform people about my conditions, the better I can live with it.
It's far too easy for people to say "Oh you're so young, you don't deserve this" No, I don't deserve this. But as if it's going to stop me from getting my degree, from writing and living my life. I may be young, but I've experienced more than most adults have. I just get on. That's all I can do.
I do have a plea however. Today I noticed many people trying to get Yashka’s attention whilst we were walking. Many people were touching there then asking if they could say hello as they were touching her.
This is unacceptable.
Please if you see a Guide Dog out and it's wearing its harness, it is working. Please don't distract the dog or owner. The dog is there to keep its owner safe and you distracting the dog will put them both in danger.
Always ask if you can say hello to the dog when it's out of harness, do not presume. And do not presume the person walking the dog is the trainer, it is most likely going to be the dog’s owner who is visually impaired. A Guide Dog trainer will wear blue with the Guide Dog logo clearly visible.
If you see someone out in public with a Guide Dog or a cane, please treat them with respect. They are no different to the rest of you. Offer help if they need ask for it. But don't presume they can't do anything for themselves. I know that I love my independence and I will try and be as independent as I can.
Being visually impaired isn't the end of the world. It just is what it is. And I get on with it. I work around it. Because what else can I do? Sit feeling sorry for myself and not do anything for myself? That is not me. And it never will be.
Don't let your disabilities, your mental health issues, your financial problems rule your life. There could be a million reasons not to do something. Just do it.
You may not get a second chance.
I'll leave you with these quotes,
“What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” — Rubeus Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
"We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” ― Kingsley Shacklebolt, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Until the next time.