The about me post

 Can be found here!

Monday, 6 April 2009

This Blog has moved

Well I will never forget my routes, Blogger is where I started but it is somewhat time to move on.

I will never forget this site and am pleased to report that all my posts, comments and in general everything have been moved successfully, I think it will be safer in its new home, It will still update to face book and all of you who have visited DOAM over the years are more than welcome to stop by and leave a comment.

So anyway my new online home is

This change needed to be made but I will be sad to see the end of regular updates here.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The effect of it all

What's been the effect of all this new eye stuff on my vision, my life and the way I live?

Bloody hell I was clumsy before but now seriously I am worse than ever,  everywhere I go it seems I cause a trail of destruction!

Any co-ordination I once had has now gone completely, and lets face it hand eye co-ordination has NEVER been my strong point.

Balance to has got worse I wobble a lot more than ever before, I'm falling a lot more than I have in a long time to and I'm rather tired with it all.

Possibly the worst bit is the eye strain, persistent headaches and being tired and grumpy all the time.

So in short I spill everything, walk into stuff, break things and am generally a walking disaster!

Oh well at least its amusing for you all to watch all my mishaps!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

No pretending

I have spoken to my consultant again, turns out the treatment he was telling me about is not a long term option.

The injections only destroy the blood vessels for about 4 weeks, then the blood vessels grow back.
Check Spelling
So it's not a long term treatment.

So the long term is;

I am almost defiantly with medical science in its present state going to go blind in my right eye, very little can be done about it.

It's time to stop pretending everything is going to be OK, I'm going blind in one eye, nothing anyone can say or do will make that any better its going to happen, sooner or later.

Of course the great thing about going blind due to haemorrhaging is that there is no telling when, I could have a huge haemorrhage tomorrow, or a tiny little one or I might not have another one for 20 years, by which point there may be some form of cure.

So I have in the last month gone from having an eye condition that is not curable, but not deteriorating any time soon, to having a problem with my right eye that's going to result in having no vision in that eye.

Life will go on, I will get used to the idea.

Monday, 23 March 2009

I am going to fight!

Ok so I am waiting for a consultant to call me and tell me whether the professor thinks it is clinically worth while to treat my eye.

Of course its clinically worth while! I can still See colour and do finger counting, I still have something so lets try and keep it that way. 

Without treatment my right eye will defiantly get worse and eventually I will have nothing left- nada -no vision. Who knows how fast that will happen but its almost guaranteed I will lose all the vision in my right eye.

I am 20 I already have a few problems with my left eye, surly my right eye should be worth saving?

If they decide its not worth saving the vision in my right eye I am going to fight the decision, I possibly have a lot of fighting coming up as even if they decide its clinically worth while they have to apply to the PCT for funding to treat me because of my unique condition.

So I am waiting to hear and getting ready for a fight, it saddens me how much I have to fight sometimes but it simply has to be done.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The consultant calls...

On Tuesday evening I got a call from a consultant at the eye unit, very nice consultant Mr T phoned and apologised for all the mix ups and revealed that they are still unable to find 10 years worth of my notes, the early ones about eye sugary I had at 11 weeks old onwards.

He said he wanted me to go in today (Wednesday) for some tests and to see a different consultant that specialises in the back of the eye Mr S.

So today I dropped everything and headed off to the eye unit/day centre for 1 o'clock.

The bus I normally take is called the U6H and is part of the Uni Link service, this goes round half of the world and then goes to the eye unit taking at least an hour. I took a different route to the bus stop than I normally would to try and save time, on the way I realised I was going to pass the First Buses office so popped in there to ask if there was a quicker bus. Less than 5 Minutes later I was on the number 4 heading to the hospital even better it took less than 20 minutes!

(Oh dear! I have just realised what a sad anorak I sound like sitting here blogging about bus timetables!)

So anyway arrived a bit early and was told to basically go away by the receptionist and come back at my appointment time,  so I went for a walk.

Then I did my distance vision test, and only managed finger counting with my right eye. This is where the nurse or whoever stands about a meter away from you and holds up fingers to see if you can count them. 

That's a deterioration because I can normally see the top letter of the eye chart from about 2-3 feet away, so great I have probably lost a bit tiny bit of vision, or quite possibly I am just having a bad day and if I where to do the test again tomorrow would do better who knows!

Then I got sent through to a new waiting room with comfy chairs and a water cooler absolute luxury compared to the other waiting room! I then got a call from a nurse who was tasked with explaining everything to me.

My pupils don't really get bigger or smaller with changes in lighting condition's so the nurse was unsure whether there was any point putting drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils so had to go off and ask a few people. 5 minutes later she re-appeared with a tissue for me so immediately knew it was eye drop time. I am indeed special and required 2 different types of eye drops to try and make the muscles in my iris dilate.

Then I had a few tests, a scan of the back of my eye which was like watching a funky laser light show and quite fun.

Then I had the big event as it where a Fundus Fluorescein Angeiography Basically in super easy to understand Jemma speak they inject you with dye and then take loads of pictures of the back of your eye.

The dye is essential so that the doctor who gets the pictures can see the blood vessels and stuff at the back of the eye, its the whole point of the test. I was told about the risks and  that it would turn my wee florescent yellow, like the colour of Gus'  harness and that my skin would probably turn yellow too. when the dye hits the blood vessels of the stomach it would probably make me feel sick and quite often people are sick, sometimes people also become breathless and faint, and rarely people have a minor skin reaction such as a rash. Then I got the talk about the possibility of going into anaphylactic shock and death and the need for resuscitation.

At this point I defiantly started to get nervous, I love the way that after telling me that there was a slim chance of having a sever reaction and death the nurse took my blood pressure and heart rate! I'm sure you can guess what that was like.

Then I got injected with the dye, I was very impressed that the nurse managed to find a vein on her first attempt and in the dye went.

You will be pleased to hear that I didn't die instantly or puke all over them, but I did fell very sick and the room did spin for a few seconds and then all was fine. Oh and the nurse was right my wee is still very very highlighter yellow! 

So then I went and sat in the big waiting room with no comfy chairs or water fountains, even worse I was sat with a window behind me that had to be kept locked, it was rather hot! Luckily I was not sat there long and consultant called me in I'm going to abbreviated what he said and simplify it a bit.

Basically because I am short sighted and my eyeball is the wrong shape it has developed weak areas,  in these weak areas blood vessels have formed that should not be there. These blood vessels have popped a bit, it might have been a few of them or just one, so there is a collection of blood in the jelly bit of my eye. The blood will take about 6 months to be reabsorbed into my body and go away, but the blood vessels will not go away.

This is the bad news bit, there is every chance that I will have another submacular haemorrhage it could be bigger and completely destroy the vision in my right eye leaving me with nothing in that eye (my left eye is completely fine),  Or I could never have another bleed again.

Nothing can be done about the collection of blood already in my eye nature just needs to let it slowly filter away, which means I will have up to 6 months of living with this bloody floater popping in and out of my vision, trust me its annoying.

As for the blood vessels causing the problem, there is a treatment but it is not currently available on the NHS for my condition, so we would have to apply for funding.

It's very rare for it to happen to someone my age, because it is my most rubbish eye that has been effected the consultant I saw was a unsure as to in his opinion it is worth treating, I informed him that I don't want to lose the vision in my eye without a good fight first, so he is taking to the professor and will ring me next week.

I need to add quickly that this does not normally happen to people who are short sighted at my age, it sometimes happens to people with other eye diseases when the are over the age of 75 so nobody panic.

So in short I got a lot more info today about whats going on and although it is bad news I intend to fight if the professor thinks the treatment will improve the condition of the back of my eye, it will not get rid of the blood that's already leaked or make my sight any better but it could stop me having a giant hemorrhage and losing it all.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Eye Casualty

After a night of worrying and not hearing anything I got a phone call from my mum who was equally worried, she (with my permission) rang The Eye Unit to find out what was going on.

She was told basically that I needed to get to Eye Casualty as soon as possible.

So I got a few bits together got ready and headed out.

I got as far as the PELICAN crossing outside my halls and had to turn back, someone had smashed a tonne of glass all over the pavement and the crossing, I can't see glass so only knew when I was already stood on it.

Gus cut his paw, he refused to move so I did what I am trained to do in situations such as this, I picked him up, I got a few paces and he decided he was not having any of it so bit me, I dropped him, it was a true comedy moment, he did then decide to move however! I dashed back to halls and the residence manager bandaged up my dog and cleaned the wound, it was very small.

Then there was the frantic OMG I don't know what to do panicked phone call to my mum, who told me to go straight to Eye Casualty because they where very concerned and sort Gus out later on.

So I got a TAXI to Eye Casualty saw the receptionist, who again could not find my notes.

I sat for an hour or 2, had a distance vision test and waited a bit more.

My notes where somehow found and I saw a doctor.

The doctor apologised for me being told to go in to Casualty, and told me that the doctor I saw yesterday had written a letter to a consultant to get him to look at my notes, the consultant would then decide when I needed to be seen and what tests I need and I will get a letter in the post.

In the meantime my macular has been bleeding, and they have no idea why. There is nothing they can do at eye casualty because they only deal with problems at the front of the eye there. 

However if it gets any worse before I get a letter I need to ring them up straight away and head down, they can't do anything about it in eye casualty but they need to know.

So I have to wait for a letter to get loads of tests done, who knows what it is so its still just a worry at this stage.

So I left eye casualty having completely wasted my time and TAXI fare and a whole day I could have spent working on the 3 assignments I have due in eminently and headed for coffee.

Got coffee and rang vet, got  an appointment.

Got the bus into town then got more cash out (TAXI's are VERY expensive) and another coffee and headed to the vets.

Saw the vet who commended the managers first aid skills, he had a good look and discovered that there was in fact some glass in Gus' foot. 

Gus was an angel and laid there rolling letting the vet have a poke around and try and get it out, he kicked the vet a few times, who was incredibly patient with Gus. 

The Glass would not come out so the vet and I decided it would be kinder to sedate Gus to get it out.

2 and a half hours later Gus was still very not with it and now had a lovely Green bandage and we where heading for another TAXI home.

At the time of writing he is a lot more with it, but is not a happy bunny, he is currently sitting on his bed giving me evils asking me to make the bandage on his foot go away.

It took him forever to come round from the sedation, I got back to halls and dropped a piece of pepperoni on his face and he did not even notice.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Today's visit to The Eye Unit

Well today I had my 4 monthly trip to The Eye Unit in Southampton, its a bit of a sausage factory and has all the issues any eye unit has, its like walking into a day centre or old peoples home, I'm still at the age of 20 the youngest person there by about 30 years but hey-ho its all part of the fun. I planned to get the bus after producing the days news bulletin for our student radio station, unfortunately the studio broke and what with one thing and another I was running late so splashed out on a TAXI. In my complete paranoia of being late, what happens I was an entire hour early! Anyway I signed in, did the distance vision test, which was a bit of an eye opener. They have got new electronic eye charts that are remote controlled, its no longer possible to cheat the eye test how upsetting is that! So anyway eye test done I went to wait to see the doctor an hour and a half winds by, I'm listening to my ipod, a million and one conversations that are going on around me and the sound of Gus moaning with boredom under my seat. Then my ears prick up its now 12:30 ish and I here a man behind me say that his appointment was supposed to be at 9:45 and that he has not been seen yet.

I then have that feeling of dread that tells me I am probably in for the long hall and that I should make myself comfy, maybe even get my laptop (her name is Lilly) out and do some work.

Then a nurse makes an announcement, the doctor I am supposed to be seeing is not in today and his replacement is a medical student, this is what is holding everything up. Then the good news, the other doctors have all finished there clinics now so are helping to clear the backlog.

Great I might actually be out of the eye unit by my next birthday! (October 31st if any one's that interested.)

15 or so minutes later my name is called, it should all be quick and painless from here.

So I'm talking to the doctor she is a little horrified by the presence of my guide dog, she has a VERY quick look at my eyes then measures my Glaucoma score, doesn't check them again, I could tell it was a bit of a quick get her out clear the backlog type examination. I am a bit of a specialist at being examined by eye doctors and medical students and have been round the opthamology block more than a few times. She tells me everything is fine my pressures are great and that there are no causes for concern.

I have a cause for concern, I have a small amount of debris in my right eye, its just remnants of scar tissue and stuff like that, every now and then a bit pops up, floats around a bit and I get a shadow in my vision, sometimes they are even pretty colours. I wasn't really to concerned, but on Friday I got a new little floater.

I still have it now sat here writing this so thought as it has hung around for quite a long time I would run it past the doctor.

Doctor has a slightly better look at my eye and looks very concerned, then announces that the back of my eye has been bleeding, it might still be bleeding, I need to see the consultant and what have I done with my notes. 

It was literally those statements in roughly that order, at this point I got scared, and said that I had not at any point had my notes so didn't know where they where either.

So anyway doctor goes off to ring consultant, she pops back to tell me that she can't get hold of him so is going up to his office because he is probably by now on lunch.

So I'm sitting there and I realise I am completely pinned to my chair by the table that swings round with all the technical stuff on it. I try and push it away a little bit but its locked in place, literally on my lap, the building could burn down and I would be stuck there forever. I'm not a claustrophobic person on the whole but in that minute I was starting to panic.

Luckily a nurse swung by and I was like 'Let me out I'm being claustrophobic' one nice nurse and a glass of water later and all was fine.

Doctor reappears and says she can't find the consultant or my notes. She doesn't know why my eye is bleeding, or if it is still bleeding, or what to do about it, BUT it could be really dangerous and permanently damage my vision and I might need surgery to sort it out. (great, in my head I am shitting my pants)

She takes my mobile number encase they need me urgently, if no one rings me I will get a letter through the post, if I don't get a letter I need to ring up and check I have not been lost in the system.

It all makes me have great faith in our NHS system, don't get me wrong I love the NHS its a great invention and we are very fortunate to have free health care in this country, but wow losing my notes, missing that there is a potentially serious problem with my eye, then not being able to find a consultant to sort it out makes me worry a bit.

So anyway I am left to worry about what the future holds for my right eye and Wait for the phone to ring or a letter thorough the post... or to be lost in the system.

I have decided I am giving them a week if I don't here anything I will chase them up, but of course I am now on red alert as it where, if anything worries me before I hear from them I will be heading to Eye Casualty straight away.

It's all rather worrying really.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Crazy again

This post is therapy I will say that from the off set it is for my own benefit to get things out there so they are not just in my head.

After 8 ish months of being on antidepressants but psychologically well, I'm depressed and ill again.

If I am honest it snuck up on me covering my world with a big black blanket, removing the colour from my thoughts, I saw it coming so tried to take action, but nothing is immediate and now the situation is deteriorating. Whatever action I take has a waiting list, I have to carry on in the dark and Wait for my turn to get help.

I'm back in a place I thought I had left behind, with behaviours I thought I have left behind.

I am now already struggling with the day to day of university life, my insomnia has got so bad, that when I eventually fall asleep (usually sometime between 4 and 5 am) I literally cannot wake up in time for my 9am lectures. My body says that it is tired and I turn every alarm clock off in my sleep, sometimes walking across my room to accomplish the task.

Assignments seem impossible.

The evaluation assignment we have just been set is terrifying, at a time like this when I am not well I can't see the things that I am good at, I see every mistake I have ever made, I think I am crap at everything although that is possibly not the case.

In a way its good that I have at least recognised that I am unwell again, that's part of the battle isn't it admitting that you have a problem.

How did I get here? Is another part of the battle, I think I have been warn down by stress and recent events reminding me of past negative experiences.

So that it then I'm back to crazy depressed anxious Jemma, waiting for help.

Friday, 20 February 2009

That Blind Girl...

One of my mates from uni has been putting together some posters of her friends and I am honoured to have been included. Mine is fabulous! I'm sensing a new catchphrase, to run along side 'Brave special different'!

Image Description: The background of the image has a gradient focused around the top right corner of the image, the top right corner is deep purple, with a gradient going to bright green on the left. Top left are the words 'Jemma Brown" in capitals in a bold black font that stands out from the page. On the bottom left corner in slightly smaller white lettering it reads '...And that blind girl will take over the world'.  The majority of the rest of the picture is taken up by a photograph of my head, the colour has been removed and it forms a black outline, the gradient can still be viewed through it.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

...And that blind girl will take over the world!

I have made a massive achievement, a huge leap in the steps of visually impaired people everywhere... I have beaten a fully sighted person at darts! I will add right now that the person I was playing was in no way drunk and I did not impede them in any way.

So yes you read correctly 'that blind girl' (as I  am often affectionately known)  played darts for the first time in her life and BEAT TOM!

Furthermore on this dangerous (for everyone in a pub sized perimeter) journey of immense discovery no one was harmed, I did not hit anyone with a dart, including myself and we all lived to tell the tale. In truth the fact that everyone in the surrounding area survived is possibly more impressive than the fact that I beat Tom at darts.

This is obviously a huge step forward for all the visually impaired people out there who ever considered playing darts, I had never played darts before in my life so here are my top tips on how to insure success.

1) Safety first- check you are facing the dart board, a little shout that you are about to throw the dart before you actually do will remind people that there is a game in progress and that if they do walk in front of you they will get a face full of dart.

2) Ask someone to hold your guide dog as far away from you as possible, Gus (my guide dog) was a bit fascinated by the throwing of objects, and was keen to intercept

3) If you can't see the dart board- Ask someone to stand in front of the board and shout, clap or stomp... insure they have moved before you throw the dart.

4) If you can see the dart board- Don't bother trying to aim, this was a fantastic failure in my attempts. I could not see the dart board with my right eye, but I could with my left so I attempted to throw the darts left handed, this was also a mistake as it was even less accurate and I think I pulled something!

5) The actual act of throwing  As long as you throw the dart pointy end first anything goes!

6) Scoring- Get someone with eyes that work to do the scoring, dart boards are tactile and colour coded but quite frankly have a rather confusing layout. 

So anyway darts lesson over I now know that I can do anything if I try hard enough, lets all have a hug and go and dance in the sunlight!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

when to give up

Its a question I am asking myself, when do I give up trying to help members of the course team understand me?

I have been studying the universities student complaints procedure, I don't want to use it, but I am seriously running out of options.

It would be true to say that right now things have reached a crisis point, things should not have got to the stage where a lecturer and myself are shouting at each other across a lecture theater. I am sure many of you reading this are fully aware of the situation I was put in on Wednesday, I am not an aggressive person, but when I am shouted at because a so-called lecturer does not possess any understanding of my disability I have to defend myself.

The access issues I have faced since being at university have somewhat surprised me, I always knew that I would face challenges and access issues but I  hoped that lecturers would work with me not against me to smooth any issues.

I am having one final attempt at solving these issues informally. Next week I will be having a number of meetings with members of the course team, if things cannot be sorted out then it will be time to start the formal stage of the official complaints procedure.

I am going to end this blog entry with a somewhat desperate plea, I consider myself to be an independent person but I cannot continue the way things are at the moment, I would  ask others to speak out about the way I am forgotten if they witness what is going on.

I do this in understanding that many of you do not feel able to speak out on my behalf for fear of being patronising, I promise you I will not take that view point, if you feel able to act please do. I need as many people to hammer the message home, if lecturers will not listen to me or the disability support people then my only hope is to irritate them into compliance.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Oh joy of joys, I'm having another access issue with the course content.

I am required to attend a photography workshop in a studio, its presenting me will all kinds of access issues, and right now I am incredibly angry!

I have some health and safety concerns about working in the studios, I'm thinking, trip hazards, I'm thinking dodgy lighting and camera flashes, all of which would present me with issues.

The guy running the workshop has just said in so many words that there are no specific things for me to worry about other than the standard studio health and safety stuff. He knows I'm partially sighted and that's it, but it isn't he is unaware of my photophobia or anything else. It's not 100% this guys fault but still I am angry that in the correspondence he has not even hinted at the effect my disability will have on my health and safety or that of anyone else working in the area with me!

Furthermore another member of the course team has got the wrong end of the stick, and has stated that I instructed other students to take photographs for my project on my behalf. This is completely wrong, I have taken all of my own pictures, I simply asked at the begging of the year in a worst case scenario situation whether it would be OK to instruct someone else to take a picture for me, as a last resort, I have not done this at all!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow: brings the UK to a halt

I am amazed the UK has the largest amount of snow fall for nearly 2 decades, and it has brought out large scale lazyness! evertything is affected, planes are grounded,  trains have  not been able to run due to frozern signals, schools, and businesses have closed.

In addtion university closed yesterday, for the majority of students we found out when we got there, and yesterday it reopened the vast majority of students turnd out to attend lectures only to arrive and in the case of journalsim discover that there lecturere had failed to make it in and that the lecture was infact cancelled. 

This was infuriating as at this point yesterday the internet was working, so all it would have taken was an email to the group telling us not to bother getting up. 

The other sessions where still on but did not have a great turn out, I think at the highest there was a grand total of 5 people attending.

This brings me on to my next point, the snow brought out lethargy, so many people could have come to university and decided not to because of the snow, people who where physically able to go out and go to uni didn't.

I hate throwing my disability out as some kind of look how great I am card, but I am about to.

I made it in, despite the fact that I have balance problems, that my vision is significantly reduced by the glare caused by snow and the fact that I damaged the ligaments in my hip a few weeks ago and walking is still painful, walking on snow and ice was agony, yet I made it, well good for me!

Surely if you are paying £1500 to attend university, then you would want to turn up, and would commit, to have some dedication?

Its snow yet some people treat it like it is the end of the world!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Friends with benifits

Now this I can safely say this post is not as X rated as its title may suggest, if only I was that lucky!

Recently student support at uni have been working with me to try and sort out a big, but infrequent problem.

Trips and off site activities keep being sprung on me, I am told for example the day before that I am going on a trip at 9am the next morning. Going to new places is very difficult, because if I don't know where I am going I cannot direct Gus and it becomes very difficult to get anywhere, I become more reliant on friends to show me where things are it makes trips that should be incredibly valuable learning experience incredibly stressful. 

So what can be done, well I have tried talking to the faculty and my level one tutor who was less than helpful, the general consensus has been 'its going to happen in life, get over it'.  Which is to an extent true, but when I am working as a full time journalist somewhere nice, I will get funding for support or use my own meticulous planning skills to the maximum avoiding the issue.

So anyway I'm working out the details with uni but it looks like we are going to implement a buddy system, only it can't be called a buddy system, it has to be something like orientation assistant instead

Anyway what will this job be, essentially a friend that gets paid!

Now some might say it is a Little worrying that i have to pay someone to be my friend, but the way i see it is that if they are my friend anyway then they are getting paid to help me out like they do already, possibly a slightly odd dynamic but I think its a great idea.

See friends with benefits.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Climbing barriers repeatedly

This year at university has been great, but filled with issues and problems and barriers to my learning.

It is important to mention at this point that there have been some fabulous people, and some committed and brilliant lecturers who never fail to meet my access needs and think of me in every circumstance.

Then there are those people who don't help at all, who for  a time could not possibly produce a large print hand out for me... until of course they were reminded by me of a little something known as The DDA (Disability Discrimination Act). After that shocker people started getting me large print handouts, and copies of power point presentations as they happen so I actually know whats going on. (finally)

That was one major issue resolved for the most part, it took 8 weeks but hey-ho sorted now.

There have however been countless issues.... one after the other in a near constant stream. Every issue is another barrier for me to battle to clime over, wonky legs and all!

Climbing over these barriers and battling to insure that people understand, is quite frankly wearing me down. 

Most of the issues I am facing could be avoided, a little extra planning could go a long way or a little organisation!

The most recent thing that has happened is the start of semester 2, it starts on Monday and I am expecting another bumpy ride at least in the beginning. The time table has completely changed, I have new staff teaching me and new rooms to find. All of this is going to throw up issues,  I am expecting that there will be glitches and I am fine with that.

To try and smooth out issues before they happen I have asked that all my new lecturers see something called a 'faculty form'. Basically the faculty form states what ALL of my disabilities and conditions are, it states what I need in lessons and spells out the basics. 

I would much rather people know that I am disabled before I walk through the door it allows them time to plan there lesson and avoids embarrassment.

Well I emailed the people concerned as a little don't forget to look at my faculty form, I have now received a email, that I was copied into from the faculty office with a word document that I produced at the begging of the year that concerns my visual impairment, I was at the time trying to simplify things purely relating to my VI.

Everyone always forgets my other conditions they may be marginally less significant than my Visual Impairment at this moment in time but that will not always be the case, I would rather people where prepared.

There was no mention of my bone condition (the wonky legs and hyper-mobile joints), the one that makes standing still in the same place for periods of time difficult, makes me wobble and makes stairs tricky.

There was no mention of my mental health, I may be in recovery right now but I am still receiving treatment on my way to being fully well again without medication.

I have come to the conclusion they either don't understand what my faculty form is, or that its filed away somewhere and they can't find it.

I don't get it  the faculty form is the most basic and simple of things all I want is for all my lecturers to see it, surly it s not that difficult.

It may be wearing me down but I will just have to keep climbing over the barriers.

Can I also say a big thanks to all the people out there who have ever tried to remove an access barrier from any ones path, your actions make all the other barriers seem achievable and remind those of us who have to climb the barriers that there are people looking out for them.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Change will happen to ME

It seems strange to be writing about change as I have just changed the layout of this blog, it seems to be creating a little sub theme, but the change I am referring to here is a life change.

It's at this point I need to mention Beth and her blog 'Screw Bronze'; I have been following Beth's blog ever since the start of the Ouch project and she is a truly fantastic example of a human being, if you do nothing else today just pop over to her blog and have a read. Her latest post titled 'Badminton, illness and change' has really hit me and helped me with a change I am getting to grips with right now.

As I am sure readers will be aware I have a bone condition in addition to being VI its that (not so) little thing that everyone ALWAYS forgets about, but trust me I never forget about it!

My condition has always been one that is likely to flare up and deteriorate over time, I have always known this but today I have come to a bit of a milestone.

After walking down The (EFFING) Eiffel Tower and then yesterday (just as things where improving) managing to slip over in the mud I am having a very serious flare up.

My left hip and knee take it in turns to be very painful and I am really struggling to balance.

I have hit the point I always knew would happen, it is time to obtain a walking stick.

This is for me a bit of a big thing, I am possibly being a bit pathetic but now the time has come I am finding it rather difficult.

People will see me and Gus and then a stick I'm worried about what will go through peoples heads, questions they might ask and the reactions of my friends, acquaintances and complete strangers.

Reading Beth's blog has made me realise, its just an adjustment to a new normal for me and everyone else, I have no need to feel self conscious or concerned about peoples perceptions and prejudices.

I am ME; a stunningly beautiful, 20 year old, independent. visually impaired woman who sometimes needs to use a stick to get about and more importantly I will not be ashamed of what I am.

OK its a change for me to think about using a stick, but it will only be a change for so long, and then it will become the norm, nothing will be different.

Paris- Day 3

Day 3 was the last in Paris, my leg did not work to well still, and it hurt; so it was probably a good job it was our last day.

We left the hotel at 9 am and hopped on the coach to head down to Sacra cur - which means sacred heart and is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, from the outside. It sits on a hill with steps going up. I would have really liked to see it close up but I did not make it up all the stairs, getting as far up as I did on the hill did give me a really beautiful view of the streets.

I found a shop were I also found the cheapest Coke since I had been in France so I brought 2 and then we headed it off for coffee and I had a very nice expression.

At 12 we got back on the coach and headed back out of Paris, at 8PM we were back at uni.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Well regular visitors of my blog that can actually see my blog (sorry blindys) will have noticed that today there have been a few changes, changes to the theme, and layout.

I felt it was time to change and wanted both my blogs (don't forget Guiding Gus) to look similar, I was also becoming aware that my blog was not very VI friendly.

With any luck the change of colour scheme and layout will be like a breath of fresh air.

For all those reading this via facebook it doesn't change a thing.

Oh and while I am talking about facebook, apologies to all my FB readers blogger and facebook appear to have gone a little crazy and somewhere in hyperspace it massively messes up the format of my posts, there is nothing I can do so live with it!

Paris- Day 2

Day 2 was CRAZY we did so much in a seriously short space of time!

First off we got up thanks to my mobile phone at 7:15 am, and headed down for breakfast.

Breakfast was interesting, it consisted of croissants French sticks, boiled eggs ham and unidentified cheese that I was too scared to try. I had ham and croissants, the ham was gross, but the croissants where good so all was well.

About 9 ish we headed off to Notre Damme on the coach, the weather was not good but even still the cathedral looked beautiful, but dark VERY dark. I took loads of pictures of the place and the stained glass windows that are beautiful, and its all completely symmetrical, there is so much to say about it, we went on a tour and where told about all the carvings and paintings and the main features of the building it was really really great!

Then we went on a boat trip.... I don't really remember much of it because I fell asleep and couldn't actually work out which way to look and when I did couldn't see it anyway! Nothing personal Paris I just don't like boat trips!

Then we went to a museum of cinema... which was good but dark and a bit boring, and I didn't like that they had a Video playing showing various animals being dropped from a great height to see how they landed and IF they got back up!

We then went outside and checked out the very random GIANT Mexican man outside the museum.

We then went to the nearest metro station and went shopping, we where let lose and went in search of much needed food. We found the most gross looking kebab shop the world has ever seen and are very lucky not to have food poisoning.

Then we headed back on the metro to go to The Eiffel tower. We arrived slightly late because of the train and headed over to security.

For the first time EVER I managed to get through the security metal detector thing without setting it off, I'm so proud of myself.

We then went up The Eiffel tower, I am scared of heights but have been up the Berlin TV tower and the London eye and been fine with it so I thought I would be OK.

However when we got on the first level high up I decided I was not fine with it! I stood holding on to the metal thing and did not go anywhere near the edge!

I was terrified but still wanted to go to the top so I could say I had done it, so I headed up in the lift with everyone else, all the way to the top, I quickly decided to wait inside slightly lower down and hang on to a handrail and wait for everyone to come down. we then meandered for a bit and went down the first lift.

We then went and joined the cue for the second lift that takes you from there  all the way to ground level.

It broke.

I had to walk down The (EFFING) Eiffel tower, in the dark, with my lack of balance, non existent night vision and vertigo. All rounded off by a strong wind. 

I was terrified and inside my head completely unsure whether I would actually make it down, my bone condition makes going down stairs physically very difficult and often painful so I tend to avoid where possible. There where also thoughts of falling down ALL the stairs to my painful twisted death.

I was shaking all over which did not help my balance every now and then we hit a dark patch where there was absolutely no light meaning I could not see the steps at all, we would then turn a corner and the lights would all be shining in my face, it was incredibly difficult.

At this point I need to commend Tom C for being a complete hero/star/generally fab and staying with me, being incredibly patient and keeping me calm. I seriously could not have done it on my own, and Tom was really calm!

Tom You are Great!

At the half way ish stage we bumped into Paul who found me a seat to sit on, I think by this point I was rather white and I know from my perspective that I was shaking all over very violently and that the world was spinning.

The second half of the journey down was bad, there where occasional spiral stairs and the lighting situation got even worse, my world continued to spin and I ended up clinging on to both the handrail and Paul.

Then what seemed like hours later I made it down, and sat down on a concrete cube for a few moments to recover.... and got several hugs. 

The rest of the group headed up to the restaurant I think I may have been a little short with someone who asked me if I was OK, I wasn't and thought it was a stupid question, I'm sorry to this person! I also remember that someone called my Jemma Brown MBE but I can't remember who or why? Its all a bit a blur and if anyone can fill me in feel free!

Then Tom me and a few of the Lecturers who I think where a bit worried I was going to pass out headed to the restaurant. 

I was still shaking and my left leg was strangely numb, or shaking, or painful I am not really sure which and I very nearly fell over as a result.

Again in leaps Super Tom who let me hang on to dear life to his shoulder while I staggered to the restaurant.

I was still feeling rather nauseous and spinning by the time I got there sat down and ordered spag bol.

We then headed back to the hotel on the metro, again Super Tom's shoulder came in very handy as I could not really walk very well, oh and going on the metro meant going up and down more stairs, which gave me more vertigo.

I was a wobbly wreck by the time I got back to the hotel so simply headed off to bed.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Paris- Day 1

Well I am back from Paris and I am alive -those will probably be the most interesting part of this post but I wanted to divide the trip up into individual days, so for the really interesting bits check in for day 2 when I write it!

Day 1 was the day of travel basically we spent most of it on the coach and then went off to the louvre to try and find food and see the art.

We where on the coach for hours and the euro tunnel train for ages which was boring  I was listening to an excellent book and then shock of shocks my headphones broke! I wold seriously recommend Dawn French's book of memoirs named Dear Fatty!

We left the hotel in the dark and travelled on the Metro which is the French equivalent tot the underground

We didn't have to long in the louvre as we got there about 1 hour before closing and they start to empty the place  30 minutes before that.

I just had enough time to do the recording I did for my radio piece, and then go in search of food.

The only food I managed to find was a Star bucks and that had sold out of everything pretty much, so it was an apple muffin for dinner.

I did my radio piece and unfortunately I don't think it worked to well as my headphones broke, and at some point I must have knocked the input level dial so a lot of it has distorted. I have not listened to it in full yet but it does not sound good!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


It's not been the easiest of weeks back and first off I should explain why I have not yet posted about the models of disability as I promised a few weeks back via the joy that is Facebook!

I had 2 big deadlines on Monday of this week so the majority of my time has been spent on that, I have started the post on the models of disability, but as it is a complex topic with many areas of debate I wish to make sure what I do upload is balanced and honest yet informed so I shall not be rushing it!

So far this week has not been a particularly good one, on Saturday (as many people will already know) my toaster blew up, which is devastating, being the independent woman that I am I got my mum to buy me a new one and she is bringing it down on Thursday!

Then literally minutes later my computer mouse stopped working, its fine again now but it was very frustrating! (and rather random)

I also feel the need to portray that I am sitting here writing this at 1AM because there is a drip on my roof, dripping more than once a second and making a great deal of noise, I would really love to be asleep, but its constant and very irritating; aside from that there seems to be an incredibly large number of drunk people about which is not helping matters. I start work at 9AM this morning I don't think I will get much sleep.

I don't like writing to much about my course but I feel I have to, of late things have not been going to well, actually there have been a lot of glitches regarding my inclusion.

The university is very inclusive as an organisation, and does a very good job of promoting diversity and inclusion. It is now not only the place where I study but my employer, which I think says a lot about the place.

So far the inclusion on the course itself has not been great, I think unfortunately this is down to peoples attitudes, lack of consideration and the general disorganisation of the faculty I am in.

There have been countless problems, It took me pointing out to a lecturer that he was in breach of the DDA (disability discrimination act) meaning I was within my right to take legal action for him to produce a large print handout, I should not have to do that, it should not take 6 weeks of me repeatedly telling everyone and then me losing my temper to get is sorted out.

There have been numerous issues over course content, I have had to endure attempting to create a visual design scrapbook which is as inaccessible to a visually impaired person as its name suggests. 

I have sat in lessons for 2 hours doing nothing because I cannot use the video editing software that is used, it would have been a better use of time to sit at home doing work instead of sitting in a room with no alternative given and simply being told we would be working in groups so I would not need to edit.

I had a trip to court on Monday, which I was told about on Friday not giving me enough time to book note taking assistance, leaving me incredibly venerable, anxious and generally like a confidence sieve.

I, and my needs have been forgotten on countless occasions.

We are in the last week of semester 1 and have just come back from the christmas break but already I have had issues, and the member of staff I booked a meeting with was less than supportive, I seriously wanted to cry (and very nearly did).

I am not indestructible things do get to me, I do get warn down by the continuous flow of issues and right now If you cannot already tell by the tone of this latest blog entry I am not happy.

I am fed up of speaking out alone about these issues-others witness but do not act, I am fed up of the lack of understanding or even the lack of willingness to understand.

I have had enough!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Review of 2009 > Hopes for 2009

It's 2009  so I wanted to wish all readers a happy new year and wish you all a happy, healthy year filled with great stuff!

I also thought I should write some kind of reflection on 2008 and my hopes for 2009, so here it goes.

2008 started with a new relationship, which at the time was fantastic, however 6 months later it became very apparent that it was wrong for both of us to continue how we where, we where in hindsight simply too different; that was the end of that. At the time devastating but now it was the right thing to happen.

The first half of the year was pretty mundane, I was ticking over at college, with a unconditional offer I didn't NEED to be there, naturally motivation to continue diminished, leaving me running at tick over, putting in lots of effort was pointless.

Of course lets not forget that for the first half of the year I was in the deep, darkness of major depression trying to find an anti-depressant that worked for me and wondering if I would ever be the same person again. I went on some horrible meds in this time that made me ill or seemed to improve my condition for a few weeks and then caused me to drop back down with a big bump, I remained on the end of a very long waiting list for further treatment on the NHS, and felt rubbish!  

Eventually my fantastic (now former) GP got me on the right medication for me, everyone is different and it takes time to find these things, but things started to look up.

Then in May I got a phone call that has completely changed my life,  a call form Guide Dogs to say they thought they had a match for me, the match of course being Gus who you will all know the story of.

At the end of June, begging of July Gus and I trained and my life changed hugely for the better, he really is guide dog of the year material!

Not only did this mark the start of me and my boy it marked the end of college and time to start preparing for the move to university, big but positive changes where afoot.

September saw the start of university which is fantastic, breaking news day which was utterly terrifying but probably good, and meeting all the new people. Gus and I continue to have a fantastic time at univeristy, I think Gus sometimes wishes there where more dogs at university to play with but over all he loves it.

Sadly 2008 also saw the end of my guest blogging for Ouch! I hope to be able to do more stuff with the team in the future but for now I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities they gave me as a teenager with no idea what to do with there life they helped me to find my path and follow it!

So what about 2009? 

I have many hopes for the year, my first of which is to try and be less of a complete wuss, I need to have more confidence in my writing ability, not something that can be done over night by anymeans but a year should be a start.

I hope to be off my anti-depressants by the end of 2009, I am now in recovery but the medication I am on is rather a high dose and highly addictive, so this is more of a challenge than it may seem to some, I am determined to get there and hope that 2009 will see me in a true state of recovery!

I hope Gus has a healthier new year, that is accident free and good for him.

I all ready have a lot of things planned for the new year, lots of which you will probably hear about here first so I would also like to take a moment to thank you all for reading this crap!

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