Cup of beetroot tea anyone?!

11 November 2014

I don’t know how I do these things, but somehow I managed to put sliced beetroot into my cup of tea this morning rather than into my salad!! I really should pack up in the evening rather than at 6.00 am!!

18 November 2014

Not sure what I stuck my finger in this morning, but it certainly wasn’t the beetroot I was looking for! It smelled really funky! Would have spoiled my salad, definitely!

22 November 2014

I don’t know how I do these things…. I managed to get pepper in my eye tonight whilst making my little Golden Balls a peppercorn sauce to go with his steak, and then got it in a cut as well!! It definitely hurt more in my eye. Hopefully it will all be worth it when GB plays like an animal at Drighlington tomorrow!

26 November 2014

A new first for me, being properly winded and almost going down like a sack of tatties after walking into what felt like a small pillar box – got me right in the solar plexus!! Not to be recommended, it still hurts now!

Twat beacon!!

Two more FB posts – apologies for the slightly colourful language, but it was deserved in both cases!

29 October 2014

There must have been a twats convention in Wakefield today, as I had my very own Inbetweeners “bus stop wankers” type moment on my way to the doctor’s this morning. I was walking down the street, minding my own business, lamp posts and thorn bushes, when a passing motorist hurled a load of abuse at me! Not more than two minutes later, another motorist, possibly the same one coming back for afters, hurled a load more abuse at me!! What a tool – it’s easy being hard when you’re already running away at 40 miles an hour!! I don’t think I regret pointing this out to them at great volume!

30 October 2014

M joined us at work today for work experience designing Valentine cards for the Card Shop in Sydney. I use a headset (replete with non-functioning microphone) to listen to my computer which, apparently, isn’t that becoming, as M has christened it “The Twat Beacon”, a reference to the fact that I have the redundant microphone pointing up in the air! You’ve got to love her!!

Bring on the picture round

I absolutely love quizzes, and I seem to be developing quite a remarkable specialism, as hardly a quiz ever passes by where I don’t get an obscure photo right!! Allow me to explain how the last week has seen three quizzes, three successful picture rounds for the blind quizzer!!

It always starts the same; my sighted colleagues fill in the answers for all that they know, and then, in what was originally a complete shot in the dark (no pun intended), they turn to me for divine inspiration.

In last Sunday night’s picture round, all the answers ended with either “er” or “re”.

“Right, there’s three that we can’t get. There’s a picture of a rugby player, with a beard; I think it’s a Harlequins top” A told me. My brain clunked for a while; Danny Care? My teammates weren’t convinced, but as they couldn’t think of anything better they put it down.

“Right, now we’ve got a jockey …. Oh no, there’s the Olympic rings, so I think he must be a show jumper. Looks like quite an old person A described. Again, my brain searched the memory banks; John Whittaker? Again, not convinced, the answer was written down.

“Finally, it’s a company logo. How can I describe it?” A was struggling. “It’s a letter “C”, with a cut off red rectangle in line with the C, and another cut off blue rectangle below it in line with the C”. Now when the quiz master had said that one of the pictures was a company logo, which ended in either “er” or “re”, the Commodore logo immediately appeared in my mind, or at least a rough approximation of it (Commodore being the maker of the cutting edge Commodore 64 computer of the 80s!).

“Does the rectangle bits look a bit like a plug” I asked, my recollection sort of reminding me of a plug.

“I suppose it could” said A. Again, with no confidence, Commodore was written down as our answer.

At last Tuesday night’s quiz, T told me “We’ve got to guess the TV programme. It’s a photo of a young boy sat on a bear”.

“A real bear, or a teddy bear” I asked.

“A real bear. It’s in chains” came the clarification. Gentle Ben?

In last night’s picture round, all the answers ended with “In”.

“It’s a football player in an Arsenal kit; he’s ugly” described J our team captain.

“Could he look Russian” I asked.

“I guess he could” said J. Andrei Arshavin?

The smile on my face was rather broad when the quiz master confirmed that all the above answers were correct, especially when we won last night’s quiz by a single point!! But it doesn’t matter if we win or not, getting a picture round question right feels like getting a dozen normal questions right to me and amuses me no end!!

My best ever performance was guessing 6 out of 10, this being based on the clue that all the answers contain a body part and some expert descriptions: Elbow (“four men, looks like a pop group”), Plymouth Argyle (“A badge with sail boats on”), Golden Eye (“A James Bond film”), Irene Handl (“Old woman, might have been in On the Buses”), Fiona Armstrong (“Looks like a newsreader, reasonably fit”), and an Earwig (An indistinguishable part of an animal apparently”)!! The other teams were demanding a drug test that night, I can tell you!!

Early onset incontinence? No, I’ve just burnt myself – phew!!

Four more FB posts, from a period when the ex and I were “trying” again ….

14 September 2014

Make us laugh Lee Mack! The ticket lady was right about these tickets having a restricted view, I can’t see anything!

28 September 2014

Watching Stephen Fry in Sheffield tonight. Everybody was given a free copy of the latest instalment of his autobiography. Whilst trying to find a shortcut out of the hall, we were ushered to the front of the queue to get our books signed. After a fellow blinkie with a guide dog had his book signed we stepped forward. I stood with my white stick SF said “you’re not the only shepherd I know with a dog”. I looked bemused. “David Blunkett” he said. “How long have you had your dog” he said. “I married her 20 years ago” – good old l’esprit de l’escalier!!

29 September 2014

Flipping heck, that was a bit scary – I just thought I’d peed myself!! I was making a pot of tea, when after a short while I started to feel a warm sensation spreading down my leg. I thought I had suddenly become incontinent until it started burning, and then I realised that I’d missed the tea pot and boiling water was spreading across and off the work surface!!

8 October 2014

An old git I may be, but I can still equal my bench press PB of 100kg – get in ! The only difference is that I won’t be able to sleep tonight, even after ice packs and 4 nurofens!!

Minor concussion doing weights

Four more FB posts to start the week with a gentle smile!

2 July 2014

Thought I’d just walked into someone at work … Looked a right Doylem in front of a group of people who saw me profusely apologising to a printer!!

12 July 2014

Suppose I’d better take the dog out before I have too many beers, although it may dull the pain of all those tiresome lamp posts that keep jumping out at me!!

14 July 2014

I was demonstrating the finer points of doing cleans as part of a weights session to Golden Balls, and I think he learned a thing or two … mainly not to go right up on to your tip toes when cleaning 80kg and smash your head on the open garage door, and then drop the weights and stagger about in a bit of a daze for a few seconds … but apart from that slight mishap, I think I am a pretty good teacher!! What is it that they say, those who can, do, those who can’t, teach … and those who can’t teach, teach PE!!

16 July 2014

Mastered tagliatelle and pancetta in a creamy sauce first time tonight – back of the net!! Critics have called it restaurant standard!! I feel a new career coming on!! Imagine the health and safety risk assessment though….

Going,going, gone – how I lost my sight (part 2)

Where had I got to …. Oh yes, I was a 17 year old, blind in my right eye, and aware that there was a risk that I could lose my sight in my left eye, but this didn’t stop me from living a normal active life … for the most part!

Learning to drive was very important to me as a 17 year old, as it is for most 17 year olds. Despite the problems I had with my right eye, I had always thought that my eyesight in my left eye was quite good, a bit short sighted, but with my glasses (which I had started wearing aged 14) not too bad. However, I had started to come to the conclusion that my eyesight was not that good in my left eye when it was night time. I began to question my night sight following an incident on the way home from an athletics training session at Hull with my friend and training partner JW, following an athletics training session.

JW drove a purple Chevette, a bit of an old banger, but he had only passed his driving test a few weeks previously and he wasn’t too fussy about what he drove. I had my provisional licence, as being blind in one eye wasn’t a bar to getting a provisional licence, but I hadn’t used it much. My concern was that deep down I had a suspicion that my eyesight was just a little bit worse than the required level. On this one night, JW asked me if I wanted to have a go at driving his car. As I said yes, we drove on to Carnaby industrial estate near Bridlington and he turned down a road that went behind the back of the factories, so perfect for a learner to practice on. At the end of the road, JW turned the car round and we swopped seats. I pulled off smoothly on the first time of asking and moved down the road. After what only seemed like a second or two, JW said “you know there’s a bend up ahead don’t you?” “Yep” I said as, almost instantaneously, the car mounted the curb and continued on to the grass verge as JW screamed and grabbed the steering wheel. Several expletives later we swopped seats and decided that it was probably best if I didn’t try to drive again at night time. The problem was that I simply was not able to pick out the edge of the road in the car’s headlights.

After that incident I started to notice a few other signs that all was not right. On nights out, I was rubbish at trying to hail down taxis, as I was unable to see the light on the top of the taxi. I put it down to the glare from the headlights and, as I struggled from glare during the day, I wasn’t particularly concerned. In dark pubs and night clubs I would trip over steps, bar stools, in fact anything that was slightly out of the ordinary. Such incidents were easily passed off as the odd beer too many, but it was more difficult to explain how I sometimes confused a yellow pool ball for the white cue ball. Admittedly, the light at the rugby club wasn’t exactly perfect, but it wasn’t bad enough to make me make such a basic mistake. Yes I had some colour blindness – I had often confused greens and browns – but as far as I’m aware a confusion between white and yellow isn’t that common.

On the way home from town one night with my friend JK, the heavens opened and a torrential downpour ensued. The rain was so heavy that I took my glasses off because I couldn’t see anything with them on. We set off running home as fast as we could, looking forward to getting in out of the rain. The run home passed without incident until we entered the home straight, otherwise known as Windsor Crescent. I kicked in the after burners and left JK in my wake, literally. I ran up the left hand path, running on the edge of the road to avoid the deepest puddles which were gathering against the low lying garden walls, the path sloping slightly towards these walls. As I sped along, focusing on my mum’s house half way up the road, I noticed the bright red post box looming large. I started to drift towards the left hand side of the path, stepping into the reservoir of water, in order to avoid the post box.

I would have undoubtedly missed the post box, but I didn’t make it that far due to crashing into an unseen parking sign on my blind side, slamming into the metal pole, my right hip, shoulder and side of my head bearing the brunt of the impact. The force of the collision sent me flying backwards at an angle, over a garden wall and into the middle of a massive wet bush. The first JK knew about this was when he arrived at my mum’s house, not more than 50m away from where I lay, with no sign of yours truly. As JK scoured the street for several minutes looking for me, he eventually saw me clamber over the garden wall, rub the majority of the mud from my clothes and limp up the street towards him. For weeks after that incident, every time I sat down it felt like I was sitting on broken glass, the pain being the result of referred pain from nerve damage across my hip.

I had flirted with going to university whilst I was at school, but I wasn’t that bothered and if truth be told I’d had enough of studying, I wanted to venture forth into the world. My mum encouraged me to apply for a job if that was what I fancied doing, and she even spotted an interesting job with Yorkshire Bank. Following up on her suggestion, I applied to Yorkshire Bank for a management trainee position and following a successful interview, I was offered the position, subject to a medical. The main reason for the medical was to consider my eye condition. However, due to my tender years and the way this manifested itself during my medical, I’m sure the doctor must have thought that my sight was only one issue for him to consider.

My train journey from Bridlington to the Yorkshire Bank head office in Leeds took almost three hours, and as it was late, I had to rush to the Yorkshire Bank head office as quickly as I could. Before I had the chance to ask where the toilets were, I was called straight into my medical. Thankfully the doctor immediately asked me if I would be able to provide him with a sample. I wonder if anyone has ever looked so excited at the prospect of providing a sample. The doctor directed me to a bathroom in the corner of his office, where I would find a jug in which to provide my specimen. Sure enough, sat on top of the closed toilet lid was a reasonable size plastic jug, the kind of thing my mum used to make gravy; such sweet relief. As I walked out of the bathroom with the warm, previously rigid jug wobbling in my hand, its contents almost overflowing, it never crossed my mind that such a large sample might look a bit strange, nor did it cross my mind to pour some of the excess into the toilet before leaving the bathroom. I sat down, mistakenly taking the look on the doctor’s face as one of an impressed person. As he dipped a piece of litmus paper in the sample, I recall thinking that he could probably have managed with a little less urine than he was in possession of. He must have wondered what I would do for an encore. Looking back, it wouldn’t have been out of place if I had said ” just let me know if you need any more, as there’s plenty more where that came from”.

Whatever he thought of my faux pas or my eye condition, I got the job. My workplace wasn’t immune to embarrassing situations caused by being blind in one eye. One such incident occurred on Christmas Eve one year. Fancy dress was the order of the day, and being game for a laugh I had decided to give in to my feminine side and dress up as a French maid. I must admit, with my blonde wig, massive false boobs with erect nipples, stockings and suspenders I really did fancy myself, even if the hairy legs and chest were not what I always looked for on a lady – but there again, beggars can’t be choosers! I was situated in the banking hall with trays of sherry and mince pies. I was enjoying myself acting the clown and the customers in the extremely long queues seemed to be enjoying it as well. After serving a sherry to an old lady at the front of the queue, I turned around to the right to offer the remaining sherries to the other customers. However, I had forgotten that there was a leaflet stand on my right hand side, and not being able to see it as I turned, my tray of full sherry glasses were deposited over the leaflets, over the floor and down my ample cleavage. Amongst the howls of laughter I could make out shouts of “he’s pissed” and “had one too many sherries eh sweetheart?” I withdrew from the banking hall hurriedly, and stayed out of sight until the bank closed and the pubs opened.

The second incident happened when I had finished tidying up the tenners in my till and looked up to see my friend MM, a fellow athlete, standing at my till. What followed would not be out of place coming out of Roy “chubby” Brown’s mouth, as was pretty normal for the kind of conversations which we had during our athletic training sessions. I believe I called him an ugly see-you-next-TuesdayHowever, I wasn’t aware that his mother was stood next to him, right in front of my right eye. Luckily in one respect she didn’t appear in my field of vision at all: I only knew I’d done this some time afterwards when MMl informed me. At least it saved me the usual embarrassment.

Mr Martin at the LGI had said that the other four people with my condition had retained the sight they had at 18, so I was very releived to reach 18 with good sight in my lef eye, ieven if it might mean I couldn’t or shouldn’t drive. However, things started to change when I reached 20.

Having been blind in my right eye for years, I was used to not seeing things on my right hand side and whilst I would often walk into things on that side, or be momentarily shocked when something or somebody suddenly appeared apparently from nowhere on my right, I had become accustomed to it. I felt that it was a minor irritation, nowhere near to being a disability, and it didn’t really bother me. It was therefore easily explainable when I didn’t notice a blind patch spreading across my left eye from the right hand side. At first I thought it was just the shadow from my nose, but once I noticed the incursion into my field of vision, its relentless progress was easy to track.

Within weeks the blind patch had marched about a quarter of the way across my field of vision, with similar patches appearing at the top and bottom of my field of vision. Feeling somewhat left out, the left hand side of my field of vision joined in with the party after a couple of weeks.
By the summer of 1990, my sight problems had started to become a hindrance. I still had good sight in the middle of my field of vision and to the left of my field of vision. However, after going out on Friday or Saturday nights with my mates, I would wake up, more often than not, with a blind spot at the very focal point of my field of vision. This meant that I couldn’t see the point that I was looking at, or anything to the right hand side of that, but I could see pretty much everything to the left of it. This state of affairs would last until Tuesday or Wednesday and then, eventually, the blind spot at the focal point of my vision would go, allowing me to see the point at the very middle of my field of vision. At first I tried to carry on as usual, but it wasn’t possible for me to work in a bank when I couldn’t see well enough to read. If the text was large enough, I could read using the peripheral vision slightly to the left of the centre point, but more often than not, the text was not large enough to enable me to read. This resulted in me having to go home and await the blind spot to dissipate later in the week.

I’m sure the rest of the staff at the branch thought I was putting it on. My explanation of what had happened was usually met with “so what, I can’t see when I’ve been drinking either”. I found this attitude frustrating and belittling the very serious problems that I was facing.

It never ceases to amase me how certain people just don’t seem to be able to get their heads around what sight problems are really like. When I was going through the loss of my sight, the long drawn out process of losing an unnoticeable bit of sight on a daily basis, I was approached by one of the parents at the athletics track in Hull. He told me that he knew exactly what I was going through as he had been registered blind just recently and he was finding it a bugger to read road signs when he was driving, especially at roundabouts. I, on the other hand, was having trouble avoiding road signs when I was simply trying to walk around town. “I know how you feel as I can’t see anything without my glasses” was another favourite. Such instances left me feeling isolated; only those closest to me seem to have an inkling of what I was going through.

Another favourite example of this lack of understanding was a news report on BBC Look North. It was a tragic news report, the reporter relaying the details of an horrific accident where a blind person had been killed on a major A road in the area. Whilst I felt for the deceased and his family, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by the description of his sight problems as he had, according to the reporter, been riding his bicycle on the A road. Would it really have diminished the tragedy of the incident if he had been described as partially sighted, or registered blind, as he must undoubtedly have been?

The doctor’s at LGI tried to halt the deterioration by giving me horrendously agonizing steroid injections into my eye. During such procedures, I had to look up and to the right, focusing on a point on the ceiling, trying desperately not to move my focus, whilst the needle was inserted into my eyeball through my lower eye lid …. Very unpleasant! The immediate affect of such injections was a banging headache instantaneously, with severe dizziness shortly afterwards; it was like nothing else I had ever experienced. However, I was so desperate to escape the eye department that despite being unable to walk in a straight line and lurching uncontrollably from side to side, I would risk life and limb by insisting that I was fine and making my way back through the bustling streets to Leeds train station. To add to the dizziness, the drops which had been used to dilate my pupils so as to allow the doctors to inspect my retinas had the effect of making normal daylight feel like a bright torch was being shone into my eyes. I must have looked a proper sight, clinging on to buildings, walls, lamp posts, whatever I could find, squinting at the passing traffic with a steadily blackening eye, trying to decide when to cross the busy roads. I really should have asked someone to accompany me, but 20 year olds do tend to have a tendency of always knowing best. Whilst the injections may have prolonged my sight, unfortunately they could not halt the inevitable conclusion.

As the summer drew on, my working hours lessened on a monthly basis. The original norm of my sight being restored in the very middle of my field of vision by Wednesday at the latest started to be moved back to Thursdays or even Fridays. I had asked the eye doctors why this was happening. Was it the excessive drinking that was part and parcel of the bog standard night out with the rugby club, tiredness after very late nights or could it be the end of night kebab? The doctors assured me that it was nothing to do with this at all, but there is still the nagging doubt that my sight may have lasted longer if I had abstained from the excesses of that wonderful summer.

By 4 October 1990, the day before my 21st birthday, I was unable to read at the very focal point of my vision, even if I hadn’t been drinking or partaking of the delicacy that was elephant leg smeared in yoghurt and chili sauce, wrapped in a pitta. I hoped it would get better, but it didn’t; That was the last day I worked in the branch and I never saw well enough to read again.

By the end of 1990, I only had a small area of sight left, about half way between the central focal point and the south west corner of my eye. Slowly, but surely, the sight in that patch started to fade away, almost like a fog was descending. I was as helpless as King Kanute; the tide of blindness just kept on rolling in.

The doctors had identified that a blood vessel in my left eye had become seriously inflamed to such an extent that it was tearing the retina away from the back of the eye to which it was attached. The angry vessel was also leaking, depositing a fatty substance onto my retina, rendering the still attached areas cloudy and for all intents and purposes blind. The doctor’s considered every option open to them. The last procedure considered by Mr Bird at Moorfields Eye Hospital was to insert a piece of silicon into the retina so as to allow the stress across it to be dissipated, but when I turned up expecting to b operated on in November 1990 matters had progressed too far for that to work.

My last hope of retaining any sight lay in Manchester in the form of Mr McDonald. I still held out hope and was positive that something would occur to save my sight, perhaps even reverse the sight loss.

Mr McDonald was relatively well known at the time for operating on heavyweight boxer Frank Bruno when he had suffered problems with his retinas. I was told that if anyone could help me, he was the man. Unfortunately, he was not the man. He was, however, the only person to have the balls to tell me that there was no hope. “let’s look at the evidence” he said when I asked if I was going to lose my remaining sight. “Your doctor’s, even though they are some of the best in the world, keep telling you that your sight will stabilise and you will keep the sight that you have. However, your sight continues to get worse. They have always been wrong and they will continue to be wrong. You are, I’m afraid, going to go blind” Harsh, but true as it turned out.

I thought I had accepted the inevitability of becoming blind, but my reaction told me that I hadn’t, at least not completely. It was a hammer blow, driving the final nail into the coffin of my sight. The last flicker of hope, the hope that I had been too afraid to openly cling on to, had been snuffed out. I was numb, upset and a little bit scared. My mum took it worse, it was how I would expect someone to react if they had been told that someone had died. The long dark train journey back to Bridlington seemed to take an eternity.

The remaining field of vision continued to shrink day by day, until by the spring of 1991 I had hardly any useful sight at all, just as Mr MacDonald had predicted. The last thing I could make out was in November 1991 – I’ll blog on that some other time as it was quite memorable!

Whilst I was able to see street lights and car headlights at night in one small area of my left eye for a couple of years, eventually that also went and now I can see nothing; I cant’ even tell if it’s dark or light anymore.

And that’s the story of my blindness. Since then my cataracts have become so bad that the eye doctor’s cannot even see my retinas anymore, and I’ve developed a painful cornea condition which led one specialist to tell me that he wanted to remove my eyes – I kindly declined his offer!

So, in conclusion, friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your eyes – mine are absolutely fecked!!

Going, going, gone – how I lost my sight (part 1)

Hooray, it’s the weekend, so I thought I’d post something a little longer than usual. People are usually dieing to ask how I lost my sight; certainly, hardly a taxi journey goes by without it being discussed, and I take a lot of taxi journeys!! So, if you’re sitting comfortably, allow me to explain.

I had known that there was a chance that I could go blind from the age of 14, but blindness, like many other conditions, was something that I considered to happen to other people, not me. As a result, I didn’t give it more than the odd occasional passing consideration. When I did think about the possibility, I didn’t like the prospect very much at all, so I tried not to think about it. Reaching not too deep into the bag of stereotypes as portrayed by the media, I had thought that blind people could play piano’s and were good at basket weaving, but apart from that blind people just sat in chairs all day reading Braille books, listening to radio 4 and losing their dress sense. In short, as far as I was concerned, the prospect of going blind was unbearable with nothing to look forward to at all – no pun intended.

It probably sounds a bit unbelievable – I wouldn’t believe it if it hadn’t happened to me – but I didn’t realise that I was blind in my right eye for years. I often wonder if I was in denial or truly didn’t know. The problem with such a debate is how do you differentiate between denial and lack of awareness when you are talking about the mindset of a child?

I clearly remember from an early age being extremely self conscious, and the last thing this self conscious person wanted was to have to wear glasses. I knew how cruel kids could be to their bespectacled counterparts, and I was just as cruel as the rest of my school mates. Maybe my fear of wearing glasses was heightened due to the fact that my dad wears glasses and as far as I was aware always had. That might not be enough in itself, but my Grandma Lily also used to tell me stories of how my dad used to get bullied by older boys. Whether or not this had anything to do with him wearing glasses I do not know, but the image of a glasses wearing boy being bullied and being made fun of was well and truly planted in my mind. Therefore, I was only too glad to accept the school nurse’s verdict that I did not need to wear glasses when I had my eyes tested every year. I accepted what she said, even though my gut feeling was that she was wrong.

My first recollection of the school eye test was being able to see everything with my left eye and also with my right eye. The next year I could only see the top 4 lines or so with my right eye, and then the next year it was down to the top letter. By the following year I could only see a light with no distinguishing letters on it at all. Every year the usual suspects gathered for their eye tests. The nerdy kid with the lazy eye, the kid with the lisp and his national health glasses sellotaped up at the corner like Jack Duckworth, and the girl with her “sexy” pink national health glasses. These were not the kind of kids I would normally associate with at school. My mates would have eaten me alive if I was ever caught wearing national health monstrosities. So even though I knew the nurse was wrong, I accepted what she said like the self conscious immature fool that I was. I asked the usual suspects if they could see better out of one eye, and they said they could, which supported my choice of mindset that there was nothing to worry about. Every year I left the nurses room with a huge sigh of relief, “another years reprieve” I thought to myself, and returned to the classroom where I would copy from my desk mates book as I couldn’t see the black board from the back row.

The older Andy would say to the younger Andy, “why sit at the back then if you can’t see the board?” The young Andy would reply “don’t be an old fart, its more fun! ”, and I know the younger one was right. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Not being able to see the black board was a small price to pay for not being labeled a nerd.

A limited field of vision often presented threats to my physical safety. One morning break, when I was 12 or 13, I was playing football on the school field, despite several inches of snow. Half way through the game, the goalkeeper kicked the ball out high into the sky. As the ball plummeted to earth, I decided to volley it straight back, top left hand corner would do nicely. I kept my eye locked firmly on the ball’s trajectory as I ran towards it. I planted my left foot, still focussing on the dropping orb, and swung my right leg with as much force as I could generate. The contact was powerful, but it wasn’t with the ball, it was with the face of CO’C who had stooped to head the target of my foot. The first time his presence appeared from my blindside into my field of vision was as his nose exploded all over my foot. Normally I would have apologised and made sure that the recipient of such a blow was alright. However, CO’C was regarded as the hardest boy in our year, often involved in fights with boy’s older than him and it didn’t usually take much to make him angry. The sight of the quickly spreading patch of brilliant red on the snow made me turn and run as fast as my legs could carry me. I spent days waiting for CO’C to wreak his revenge, but thankfully it never came. Perhaps this demonstrates the adage of if you’re going to hit somebody, make sure you hit them hard.

The exact time that I found out that I had serious problems with my eyesight was when I was about 13 and round at my friend CB’s house watching Tomorrow’s World featuring 3D television. CB tried out the 3D specs before passing them to me to have a go. They didn’t work for me, which his family all found surprising. They suggested that I might be using them wrongly, but everything just looked red, which was hardly surprising I explained as I didn’t see that much out of my right eye anyway. CB’s mum couldn’t believe me and retrieved a calendar from her kitchen, which she proceeded to use as a makeshift eye chart. The same old story played out in the living room as had been played out annually in the school nurse’s room: reading reasonably well with my left eye, before saying that I couldn’t make out any letters at all with my right eye. The atmosphere in the room changed immediately: they realised the gravity of this even if I didn’t. CB’s dad immediately drove me home after I promised that I’d tell my mum. It was like being chauffeur driven to the headmasters office. All I could think was that I was going to get done.

My mum repeated the simple eye test. On the spectrum of responses, I would place my parents response as swinging to and fro between ballistic and tragedy. A trip to our local optician and then Scarborough Hospital confirmed a problem, but they had never seen such a condition before.

Mr Martin at Leeds General Infirmiary had seen it before; non-vitreo fermilial exudative retinopathy, a condition which, apparently, four other people in the world had similarly suffered from, was his diagnosis. Mr Martin was able to tell me that those other four people had retained whatever sight they had at 18 for the rest of their lives, so not all bad news. Apart from the unspoken threat of further problems to come with my other eye, nothing had really changed; my sight was the same as it had been for years, so I didn’t really see the problem.

My three-monthly trips to the eye hospital were not enjoyable experiences though, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it took forever to be seen; appointments were made at 9:30 am, but what with having to do an eye test, then have dilating drops dispensed, it was not unusual to still be waiting to see a doctor at 11:30 am. Secondly, having had dilating eye drops, it was not possible to read anything as your eyes could not focus, and as IPods hadn’t been invented and Sony Walkmen being expensive, this meant there was nothing to do to pass the boredom. Thirdly, having a very rare condition meant that all and sundry were invited to inspect my eyes. Seven or eight different doctors over a couple of hours became somewhat tiresome after a few visits.

One of the first tests I recall at the eye department in Leeds was a machine where I was required to look through two different lenses, the left eye looking at a picture of a kennel and my right eye looking at a picture of a dog. Using a series of knobs, I had to make the dog sit in the kennel. Although I had sufficient sight to just about make out what I thought to be the dog in my right eye, almost immediately after I had managed to place the dog in the kennel, it would start wondering off. I’d bring it back again, but after sitting obediently for a few seconds, it would start exploring the area to the right of the kennel.

The other test that stands out in my memory was having photographs taken of my retinas. In order to highlight the blood vessels in my retinas, these being the problematic parts of my eyes, I was injected in my arm with a luminous yellow liquid. Once this had circulated around my blood stream, the pictures would be taken. That part of the procedure was as unremarkable as the after effects were remarkable. On leaving the clinic, prior to the long drive home to Bridlington, I would visit the urinal. The effects of the injection were clear as soon as I started to go; the brightest most luminous yellow that I have ever seen. It was just as much fun as writing your name in the snow in the traditional male way, and due to its apparent gravity defying qualities, the results stayed visible for ages.

As my right retina was severely damaged, apparently my right eye unilaterally decided to squint so as to try to focus the light on an area of my retina which still had some function, rather than the focal point which was damaged. This was a very clever trick, but an unwelcomed one for a 14 year old boy, as it resulted in a boz eye!

I soon realized that having a boz eye was not something to be broadcast, and it was definitely not what girls were looking for in prospective boy friends, or at least that was what I thought. The result was a morbid fear of looking people, and especially girls, directly in the eyes as this was when it became obvious that only one eye was looking at them. The trouble was, nobody ever knew just which one it was that was looking at them, and which one was lazily wondering around the room on a mission of its own. If I’d of known what I know now, I could have spent many wonderful years overtly staring at certain parts of girls whilst protesting my innocence, but hindsight, like real sight, is a wonderful thing.

Instead, from the time I realised I had a boz eye until I went totally blind I attempted to avoid direct eye contact with anyone. I must have looked a right shifty character. If I had to make eye contact with anyone, the result was more often than not the same – people glancing over their left shoulder to see what I was looking at. I think that most people who knew me must have developed a crick in their neck. I’m surprised none of them tried to sue me for personal injury.

Between the ages of 14 and 17 I worked in a chip shop on the harbour edge in Bridlington, wittily named Harbour Fisheries. It was so busy that we had on occasions 7 or 8 of us behind the counter serving “Wessies” as the holiday makers were not so lovingly called. As an ex-West Yorkshire resident (from where the name originates) I wasn’t as anti Wessie as the rest of my work mates, but they still used to annoy me when I worked there. It wasn’t there insistence on continually complaining about the prices as it was a complete rip-off – the prices charged today are roughly the same as they were in the mid 80s, the only difference being that you now get more chips – or their ability to make the simplest of orders seem like quantum physics, but the fact that they were all cursed with the glancing over the left shoulder condition that seemed to beset anyone who came into contact with me. The reason for this was that as the distance between me and my victim increased, so did the likelihood that they would be struck down with the glancing over the left shoulder disease, and as the chip shop was so busy the queues tended to stretch to some distance from the till where we shouted out “Next please”. I always had to follow up my “Next please” with a finger point and a shout of “Yes, I’m talking to you!” Hopefully none of my victims have developed a morbid fear of queuing for fish and chips at the seaside as a result of my finger pointing and growling voice.

Whilst I wasn’t exactly an angel at school, I managed to avoid trouble with the teachers for the majority of the time. On the one occasion when I was seriously busted by the teachers, it was due purely to my lack of sight in my right eye; that and behaving like a yob. I can’t recall the lesson, but the teacher was not cut out to teach. Whilst I can’t recall her name, I do remember wondering why no-one was humming, or asking stupid questions, or talking constantly whilst she was trying to teach us, as was the usual way with such teachers. I thought I’d gee everyone up by cracking a few wise cracks and chatting with my friends on our table. My friends wouldn’t answer and kept glaring at me. I was only doing what they did every week, or to be precise, not even as much as they did every week in that class. I just couldn’t understand what was going on. As my head flew forwards, my glasses flew across the table and my brain rattled against my skull, I began to realise why they were all behaving themselves. Mr JCB, our year head who had been sat just behind me on my blind right-hand side, stood over me with a massive text book in his hand bellowing “for goodness sake, shut up boy”. I think I stayed bright red for the remainder of that lesson.

Despite all this, I didn’t regard myself as disabled in any way; I just got on with my life, playing all sports and having a fun time.

The threat of going blind was real, but it didn’t seem real to me; well, not for a few years anyway.

Check back here tomorrow for the second part ….

Caveman approach to dating works a treat!

Three more FB posts to start the weekend with a smile!

27 June 2014

On the way back from the doctor’s this morning, I lost my bearings slightly and managed to get lost in a pub car park!! I’m sad to say that it’s not the first time that has happened, but I’m also glad to say that I doubt very much that it will be the last time either!! Thanks to the nice lady that rescued me and put me back on the path on Leeds Road., there really are some good people about.

1 July 2014

Almost made the guy teaching me how to do things as a blinky a pint of squash with a twist earlier today…. I picked the washing up liquid up instead of the squash!! I think he still has a lot of work to do yet!!

2 July 2014

Great start to the day!! A lady just gave me a cuddle in the street!! I say cuddle … I caught her as I knocked her over just outside of work … But she did take hold of my hand when she apologised!! So, it’s the caveman approach to dating from now on lol!!

Stuck in the basement with the invisible PA

Three more Facebook posts for your delight!
 
23 June 2014
 
I took Alfie out for a walk this morning and a small boy who was with his mother on the way to school asked me if I was looking for something under the ground. Apparently, he had never seen anyone with a white stick before, obviously confusing it for a metal detector – how cute!!
 
24 June 2014
 
Very strange incident at work today…. My new support worker E managed to get into a lift silently without me, whilst I stood there waiting and chatting away to the space she once occupied. When the next lift arrived I stepped in and it wasn’t until it started going down rather than up that I realised something was wrong and that E was not with me. After being stuck in the lift in the basement for what seemed like an eternity, but undoubtedly was only a matter of minutes, I managed to find the buttons and the lift returned me to my original starting position. I decided to take the steps from there, discretion being the better part of valour … I arrived for my meeting only 5 minutes late and only slightly frazzled. E was slightly shaken though, having managed to lose me, albeit only temporarily, in only her second week!!  I asked her what had happened, and she simply shrugged her shoulders – this could be an interesting work relationship!
 
26 June 2014
 
I’ve just found out how to use a wireless keyboard with my iPhone, which makes typing messages such as this a great deal easier, I can tell you!! This message would have taken me a good 15 minutes to type using one finger on the phone, but it’s only taken me a couple of seconds with my expert touch typing. The only question is now, what do I do with all my spare time!!
 

Three falls and a submission – victory is mine!

More Facebook posts to digest!

 

6 June 2014

 

Today’s achievement – after a gripping bout lasting several rounds, I finally managed to wrestle the quilt into submission and take up its right and proper position wrapped snugly within its cover!! Need a lie down now!!

 

14 June 2014

 

After spending a load of money on new clothes based solely on M’s recommendation, it’s time for a gingerbread late to calm my nerves. I don’t think I’ve ever been dressed by a seventeen year old before, when I was seventeen I was still dressed by my mum! I hope she knows what she is doing!

 

20 June 2014

 

After an initial mix up between strawberries and mushrooms, easily done, tonight’s offering at Chez Andy was a delightful steak in a peppercorn sauce, with chipped potatoes and mushrooms in a creamy garlic and white wine sauce followed by strawberries and cream. Would have been interesting had I not realised my error!!