Be Prepared

I have decided a poor memory and poor vision leading to no driving is a bad combination. Once again what I planned to work on got left at the office. Really thought it was in my bag.

I have been roaming the house, picking things up, doing laundry and filling the dishwasher but we all know keeping house is not my shtick. (Just take a look at this place!) I did bring one file home to work on. Should do it but I have these articles on disaster and the visually impaired that I ran off, so…

Sue redux! Explain to me why I thought I had actually shut up!

Disasters – and this time I am not talking about my housekeeping – and visual impairment are another nasty combination. According to a 2007 American Public Health Association article, eye injuries are very common during and after all kinds of disasters but yet, at least ten years ago, most emergency response teams know very little about managing eye injury and other problems.

I looked for more recent articles saying they had beefed up the eye injury training for first responders in the last ten years. I found nada. That means these people could very well be scrambling to deal with stuff like penetrating eye wounds, chemical exposure and retinal detachment, not to mention infections and other such things with very little training and materials to do the job. And that means, my dears, we with our progressive vision loss condition are on our own. Not that I would not want the guy with the pierced eye ball to go ahead of me in line, mind you. Just saying, we need to expect to be very low priority.

Wisefamilyeye.com – love your logo! – did a page on preparing an eye emergency kit and putting it in your go bag. They suggest spare, impact resistant glasses. I suggest also having a copy of your eyeglass prescription. You might want to store it in drafts in your email so you can access it from anyone’s device. Wisefamilyeye.com also suggested safety goggles and sunglasses, artificial tears and saline solution (you might want to add an eye cup if you have one) and at least two weeks of prescription eye drops.

I already touched on clean-up with my mention of my bout with flood mud crud. Flood water contains EVERYTHING you can think of. Sewer plants and chemical plants cannot get out of the way so everything they contained will come to you. Safety goggles are a must. Protective clothing, such as heavy rubber gloves and thick soled boot if you can find any. And face masks. Face masks are good.

Essentially, disaster preparedness is just that: being prepared. The American Federation of the Blind put together their own checklist. Their list included having emergency numbers nearby and knowing who to call to get yourself evacuated asap. This could be either a buddy, the local authorities or, even better, both. Let people outside of your area know your predicament and that you might be coming to visit!

If you have a service animal – or any animal! – make plans for him or her as well. Reasonably sure evacuation services and shelters must take service animals. They do not have to take pets and rumor has it, many people recently refused to go to shelters rather than leave pets behind. Do not allow yourself or your animals to be in that position.

If recent events are any indication, we can expect to have more (and more?) disasters as time goes on. Be prepared.

September 30th, 2017 Continue reading “Be Prepared”

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Downtime

Another Friday night. A little ‘fried’ on a Friday. Not interested in doing anything of substance. I tried watching NCIS (CBS) on my tablet and there is a glitch. It switches me over to another episode with 12 minutes left in the one I am watching. Lin says it does not happened for her and it does not happen when I watch PBS on my iPad. Weird. Anyway, I’m going to watch Nature instead.

I have just started to watch a little TV on my iPad. It is nice because you can practically put your nose on the screen and no one cares. Relative distance magnification at it’s finest.

Apps for CBS All Access and PBS Video are available for free in the app store. A fair number of episodes from prime time series are free. Might help to trim the old cable bill. [Lin/Linda: The apps are free but for access to all of their shows & live CBS in certain areas, CBS All Access offers several subscription options.  PBS does not charge a fee.  You can view both on quite a few more devices than on the iPhone and iPad.  There are TONS of ways to ‘cut the cord’ and reduce or get rid of cable TV.]

I am taking some downtime now because there is plenty going on soon. It seems my nature abhors a vacuum.

In addition to going back to work in earnest, I am participating in the local ‘event’ scene. I got invited to go to a local theater production and my yogini is having a moon salutation practice at moon rise for the full moon.

“When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars…” Born 30 years too late for her inclinations, my yogini is our resident hippie. And FYI, the Age of Aquarius does not officially start until 2579 so we have some time to hang out.

One of these days I have a Party in Pink. That is the Zumba fundraiser for breast cancer research. Then towards the end of the month I am supposed to go to a yoga fundraiser for Puerto Rico. That is in addition to the hot air balloon festival, which is a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network. Apparently disasters can lead to lots of fun events around here! Ouch. Forget I said that.

But on the topic of disasters, Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute, once again the top shop for eyes in the country, did their good deeds during the recent hurricanes in Florida. Not only did they call all staff in and encourage them to bring family members along, Bascom-Palmer sent out emergency teams to the Keys.

In a press release quoted by healio.com Bascom-Palmer reported serving more than 40 patients for eye problems. Chronic problems with no available medication, broken glasses, injury, infection? They treated it all. Dr. Richard Lee opined how treating eye problems during and after a disaster is essential, a real priority. People who cannot see well are ripe for incurring other injuries.

Speaking personally, I know we who were volunteering in the local flood zone in 2011 were all required to wear eye protection. I came down with a raging case of flood mud crud (hacked so hard I actually put my back in spasms!). How much worse if I had topped that off with a raging eye infection!

I was going to roll right into a discussion of a couple articles I found on eye care during a disaster but I am at 500 words here. That will have to be a new page.

Dang! And you thought you got rid of me! 😎

Written September 30th, 2017 Continue reading “Downtime”

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Not As Cut and Dried

Back for a page sooner than I thought. I wanted to get some of this out there before it got too stale.

I told you I was going to the first vision seminar offered by our local hospital. Yes? Yes. The presenter, Paul Freeman, is the chief of low vision rehabilitation at Allegheny Hospital. That’s Pittsburgh; don’t ya know. Dr. Freeman’s first talk was about driving. Like many things, driving appears not to be quite as cut and dried a topic as I generally thought.

Freeman quotes statistics indicating drivers with intermediate AMD – not advanced like yours ever lovin’ truly – are less likely to have accidents than others including ‘normals’.

The reason was many of people with intermediate AMD are aware of their problems and do four things: compensate, avoid, use caution and self-regulate.

All great strategies for trying to stay safe. However, Freeman also pointed out AMD with its acuity loss as well as decreased contrast sensitivity can cause a decrease in response time. Response time is crucial! For every 1.5 second it takes you to decide there really is something there and hit the brake, at 30 miles an hour you have gone 66 feet. Moving at 65 mph a second and a half’s hesitation will find you 142 feet farther down the road. That is nearly half a football field. Distance traveled increases if the vehicle goes into a skid.

Of course, response time is dependent upon much more than visual acuity. Physical and cognitive states come into the mix. And speaking of cognitive ability, Freeman also quoted a 2006 AREDS study suggesting a possible correlation – not causality – between advanced AMD and cognitive impairment….but what do they know; right?😰

Freeman reported ways of getting around some of our cognitive deficits are to reduce the burdens on attention and memory. We might have to turn off the radio or decline to take chatty or argumentative family members along for the ride. Cell phones are a definite no but talking GPS can help to take some of the burden of navigating.

Of course it would be easier if the only people we have to worry about while driving were us. Quite bluntly, people do the damndest things. Remember the YouTube video of the woman texting and falling into the fountain? She has sisters…and brothers. People are walking into things and each other and off curbs more than ever.

The takeaway message I got from the driving presentation was this: just as each of us is multifaceted, the decision whether or not to drive should also be multifaceted. How is your contrast sensitivity? How much glare can you handle? How fast is your eye-foot reaction time? How confusing and busy are the places you want to drive? All these and more have to be considered.

Written September 26th, 2017 Continue reading “Not As Cut and Dried”

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Doing Beers with Grandma

Hey. Sort of blah today. Still getting used to the idea of no dog.

I am a spoiled brat and was sort of disappointed with my showing at the photo contest. A third and an honorable mention are not at all bad. I just have high expectations.

For some reason we are back to high Summer. It was over 90 Fahrenheit today, September 25. About the same yesterday. Along with mad dogs and Englishmen I have been out in the midday sun and I am hot! My body was gearing up for fall. Not feeling like fall now!

Then of course, since we are going to be away, my workload just more than doubled. Let’s give Sue another six kids to test. She’s going on vacation!

Oh well, better than never having a dog, six feet of snow and no interesting job. Although sometimes I feel a little too ‘blessed’.

One of the topics in the teachers’ lounge today was bizarre things your voice recognition software tells people you said. One of the milder ones was how “doing beets with Grandma” became “doing beers with Grandma.” Well, some grandmas might throw back a few. Just not my colleague’s.

I know fully sighted people produce text and other written things that make no sense. I send out plenty that is alternating perplexing and/or amusing and/or frustrating. Some of my mistakes I manage to catch. That said, though, the question in my mind became how do truly blind people proofread? After all, I may need the skill one day. [Lin/Linda: I wish I’d kept a list of all the crazy things I’ve gotten from Sue since we started this!]

Back in 2011 Ryan Cordell suggested using text-to-speech to read things back to yourself. He explains how on an Apple OS X device you can have what you wrote read back to you by just making a few changes in the settings. This can be helpful if you are composing reports or letters on your computer.

Stephanie Diamond wrote about using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to proof read. Diamond also suggested text-to-speech for proof reading. Dragon works on PCs and Macs. Since NaturallySpeaking records your voice as well as recognizing it, another option is to listen to what you really did say. Diamond added you can send documents received from elsewhere to your PC and have NaturallySpeaking read those too. [You’ll see this software as Dragon Naturally Speaking, too, with a space between Naturally & Speaking.]

And if you want a human opinion on not only the spelling and verbiage but other aspects of your writing, remember Be My Eyes (BME) is an app that connects blind people with sighted volunteers via live video chat.

According to an April, 2017 Lighthouse Media publication, Be My Eyes now has half a million volunteers! Whom you get when you call is random. You can call unlimited times.

No one is pushy or opinionated unless you ask them to be. Want to know if that shirt goes with those pants? You can ask that and get an opinion. And no one will ask you why you ignored the advice.

According to the article, BME is looking for more users. This could be a match made in Heaven.

So, there are a few ideas for proofreading. But please don’t get too perfect. I find some of the errors amusing!

written September 26th, 2017 Continue reading “Doing Beers with Grandma”

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Get Busy Living

Closing the pool has been an adventure every year.  Today I discovered the diameter of the drain on the new sand filter was much larger than the old one. The standard hose I usually put on it was not going to cut it. Off to our local do-it-yourself store!

Once I got there and got someone to help me, I realized this was not going to be an easy fix. We were going to have to rig it. I had presented the store guy with a ‘problem’.

Problems energize people. Before we had put together a ‘fix’ we thought would actually work my little problem had engaged three of the store guys for over 15 minutes. They were scurrying back and forth, consulting on all sorts of possible solutions.

If the problem-solving process had gone on any longer, I bet I could have netted two or three more helpers. They acted like it was the most fun they had had all day!

Got me thinking. Got me thinking about part of the reason I am not interested in retiring. I thrive on the challenge.

Many people say they long for the easy life. I sometimes wonder what they would do if they got their wish …day after day after day. Shudder!

The blog Get Busy Living agrees with me. The author points out we all started out attacking challenges.  However, he (she?) says as we have gotten older we have lost our sense of fearlessness. We have abandoned the struggle in favor of lives that are ‘safe’ and ‘secure’. No problem. No risks. No fun.

In patheos.com’s blog entitled The Value of Challenge they talk about the sense of satisfaction and purpose we get when we tackle challenges. Challenges bring richness to our world. Much better than spending all day telling people plumbing supplies are in aisle 40. Ask the guys at the do-it-yourself yourself store!

How can we maintain challenge and accomplishment in our lives now that we are older and have a vision loss?  Looking at the more professional literature I discovered Hans-Werner Wahl in Heidelberg wrote about the psychological challenges of late-life visual impairment. Wahl quoted research on secondary control strategies, disengaging from no longer attainable goals, and accommodative mode. Accommodative mode is finding something that can be done rather than giving up.

I won’t be able to work in the school forever, but maybe I can do more counseling at the office. I cannot drive myself anymore but I am planning on doing more bus trips. Both examples of ‘accommodative mode’ will provide me with new experiences and challenges.

How can you disengage from old goals and substitute things you are capable of doing?  Listen to books on things you have never explored before? Learn how to use new technology for low vision? Cook foods from different ethnic groups? Read this blog? …I know; don’t be silly!😊

I was always told that when God closes a door, He opens a window. And yes, sometimes it is an attic window three stories up. But just think of the stories you will have to tell after finding a way through that window!

Enjoy the challenge!

written September 4th, 2017 Continue reading “Get Busy Living”

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Preparation: Start Now!

Greetings from a rainy Labor Day weekend. Supposedly this rain is a Harvey leftover. We had a ‘little flood’ here six years ago right about this time of the year. What a mess! Hubby and I did not get much of that; we are on a hill. However, I went into town to do some shoveling and needs surveys….Never got so sick in my entire life. Flood mud crud is nasty business, folks. If you are helping, wear masks and goggles. Take any innoculations they offer. I was sick literally for weeks.😷 Once more, try to profit from my stupidity!

Of course, the good news is what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger. Except for the food poisoning I don’t think I have been sick since! 😁

Anyway, in the States Labor Day is the unofficial official end of Summer. That means today before the rain we were preparing for cool weather. The houseplants came in from their summer home on the deck. I picked the tomatoes that had not yet ripened for my friend’s mother. She is supposed to make a mean green tomatoes pie. Ran into a little snag in trying to close the pool, but that will get done before the leaves start to fall.

Preparation. We prepare for Fall. We prepare for holidays. How many of us prepare for vision loss?

Many of you are in the early stages of this disease. I truly believe research will soon make it possible to slow or even arrest the progress of AMD. I believe you could easily be spared the worst of AMD. But just the same, preparation is a good thing.

Harley Thomas is blind. Last February he wrote a piece in his blog. The title was, of course, How to Prepare When you Are Going Blind. Harley (he looks like a nice guy so I will refer to him by his first name) says preparation can give you a sense of control. He agreed with other people I have read in saying starting now to learn skills will make things much easier later.

Harley would approve of us all learning about our disease. He would also approve of how we are coming together for support. He talks about ADA and telling your employer about your sight loss.

There are lots of references and links on Harley’s page. One of them is entitled “What to Tell Your Employer When You Are Loosing Your Sight”. I have not read it yet but somehow I don’t think it says to call work in hysterics directly from the doctor’s office like I did!

Harley suggests habilitation/rehabilitation and independent living courses. He also talks about getting your house organized. All good ideas with links to how to posts. [Lin/Linda: if you’re curious, there’s a difference between habilitation & rehabilitation.]

What Harley does not talk about are transportation and finances. To me, these are huge! I believe trying to get services and benefits from the government can be one of the most convoluted and frustrating things you have ever done. It literally took a couple of months to line up transportation. I had straightened our financial house several years ago when I got an inheritance. If I hadn’t, the income loss could have been problematic. Looking into the basics of getting around and doing what you can to get – and keep – your finances in order is crucial. Start now. You will be glad you did.

Written September 3rd, 2017 Continue reading “Preparation: Start Now!”

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Home Away From Home

We all want to be independent and live in our own homes as long as absolutely possible. Still, there may come a time that vision loss and other disabilities make it difficult for us to do that.

Many people are looking at alternative living arrangements to satisfy their needs. For example, my mother-in-law lives in a ‘continuing care community’. She has her own house but the facility takes care of all the outside maintenance and any interior repairs…right down to changing light bulbs if need be! The community has affordable van transportation and a community center where some meals and entertainment are offered. If there is an emergency, people from the facility are right there. They also maintain their own, small security force.

If my mother-in-law should require assisted living and/or a nursing home, they are right there on campus. She is guaranteed placement.

Of course, my mother-in-law does not have a vision loss – I am the ‘lucky’ one there! – but I would suspect many of the community residents do. Problem is, many if not most of the care communities have not caught on to the fact they actually have visually impaired residents! And if they do realize they have them, they don’t know what to do with them.

If you are interested in assisted living, what should you, as a visually impaired individual, look for in a facility? After all, we don’t intend to sit in bed all day. We want to be as independent as possible and the staff should help, right?! Right!

VisionAware to the rescue. They have a short article on Help for Seniors with Vision Loss: Tips for Assisted Living Staff Members. They also did a short webinar and have the transcript for that at the end of the page. While this article is meant as a tutorial for facility staff, you or your agents can use it when shopping for assisted living.

We have talked about many of these before in the context of making your home safer and more livable. It is important to control glare and use contrast. This includes contrast tape on all stairs. Bold fonts and contrast should be used on handouts and enlarged or tactile versions of games should be in the game room. Staff should understand how to function as a sighted guide. Hallways should be free of clutter. Low furniture and throw rugs likewise should be avoided.

When you go for your tour, staff should make an effort to talk to you about the layout of the facility. Descriptions should be just that: descriptive! If the dining area is 20 feet on the right, it is 20 feet on the right, not up here somewhere.

Then of course we come to a horrible blind joke from when I was a kid: how do you punishment Helen Keller? Rearrange the furniture! Meaning, if you are looking at a facility where they rearrange furniture and move things from their typical places on a whim, it may not be the place for you.

Hoping no one has to make such a move before they want to, but if assisted living becomes a necessity for you, try to make sure the place is attentive to your needs. After all, you are a VIP!

Written September 2nd, 2017 Continue reading “Home Away From Home”

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