Monthly Archives: February 2017

Blind baking

During a conversation with my sister one day, when we were mulling over how to persuade a few more people to part with their hard-earned cash and donate to our fundraising efforts for Moorfields Eye Charity (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rd-ramblers), I suggested the idea of making a cup of tea whilst blindfolded and taking a photo of the results to put on Facebook.  I wanted to somehow get people to think about the fact that even the simplest and most mundane of everyday tasks could potentially be extremely difficult for someone who is blind or visually impaired.  I thought it would be great to make it a challenge and get other people to join in and post photos of their efforts in return.  My suggestion was met with a gasp of horror from Lucy, and the disapproving exclamation of, “Errr – health and safety!  You could end up pouring boiling water over your hand!”.  I was slightly crestfallen but had to admit that she did have a point.  Anyway, she must have felt a bit bad about pouring cold water over my idea as a few weeks later she came up with a far better one herself: blind baking.  Obviously, I’m not talking about pastry cases here.  Along with assistance from her talented filmmaker and kitchen guide, Ginny, she proceeded to prepare a cake whilst keeping her eyes tightly closed (she promised she didn’t peek!) and making a fair amount of mess in the process.  The film of their efforts can be watched here, and you can read Lucy’s comments on her experiment below.

I can’t really compare this experience of baking a cake with my eyes closed to that of being blind, but it was an interesting experience!

I had put all the ingredients ready first, so could remember roughly where I had put them, but I had to feel for the different shapes and sizes of packaging.  The main difficulty here was that I was conscious of avoiding knocking anything over whilst feeling for the right packet.

I chose a yohurt pot recipe because all the ingredients are measured in the yoghurt pot or cup, so it’s really easy (with your eyes open!).  I normally hold the cup over the bowl, but found that with my eyes closed I needed two hands to do the actual measuring – one to hold the packet of whatever I was tipping into the cup and another to feel for when I’d reached the top of the cup.

Having managed to get the ingredients in the bowl and mix it to something I hoped resembled cake mix, I realised a mistake: I hadn’t got the cake tin out ready.  I had decided that a cake tin was more practical than cupcakes, but had forgotten to put it ready.  As we ran out of video space by the end, we finished there and I opened my eyes to get the cake tin, grease it and fill with the cake mixture.  However, had I carried on with my eyes shut, I would have had trouble finding the right sized tin in my very full cake tin cupboard.  I think to cope with practicalities of being blind or partially sighted, you must have to really minimise your whole home in order to be able to find things by touch.

So, I managed to prepare a cake with my eyes closed, relying a lot on guidance from Ginny, who was filming, and familiarity of my kitchen.  It was a very thought-provoking experience and the main thing which stayed with me was that the process of preparing the cake was do-able, but the thing I would really miss would be seeing the end product.  Our running commentary gives an idea of what it was like, and I don’t think I made that much mess really, did I?!?!

Huge thanks go to Lucy and Ginny for doing this, and for allowing me to share the video.  If you’d like to give it a go yourself (note: it’s not compulsory to keep your eyes shut whilst doing so), the recipe is as follows:

Using the same size cup or pot of yoghurt, add the following and mix together:
1 cup yoghurt
1 cup oil
1 cup egg (1 egg = 1/2 of a standard cup measure)
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups self-raising flour
Add flavouring of  your choice, for example:
1 cup dried fruit
1 tsp mixed spice
Mix together and pour into greased loaf tin.  Bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Note: the video shows the recipe being made with a standard 1/3 cup measure.  A larger cup mix will take longer to bake.)

Lucy's 'does exactly what it says on the tin' picture of her yoghurt pot loaf cake

Lucy’s ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ picture of her yoghurt pot loaf cake

 

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Eye to Eye 2017: Susan’s story

Susan, showing off her pink wellies

Susan, showing off her pink wellies

On 12 March 2017, my sister and I will once again be walking 14 miles from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye (via the scenic route) to raise money for sight-saving research.  This year, we’re taking part as a team, along with other people who have been affected by retinal detachment.  I thought it would be interesting to share the stories of my fellow team-members, so this week it’s my aunt’s turn.  After featuring in a few of my blog posts, she gets to have her own say…

I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that my aunt has been a huge support to me throughout my ongoing RD journey, not only with coming to the rescue in helping me through the most difficult ENTIRE MONTH’S worth of posturing back in July 2014 (https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/pondering-posturing/), but also in the constancy of her caring and understanding.  She never fails to text me before an eye appointment to say she hopes all will be well, and rings me up afterwards to ask how it went.  She shows a real interest in the medical complexities of my case and both she and my uncle have helped me a great deal with their emotional support.  So… if you’d like to sponsor Susan and the rest of our team, you can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rd-ramblers.  Alternatively, you can donate by texting: “ISEE66 £5” to 70070 (or whichever amount you prefer, of course).  All donations, no matter how small, are very much appreciated!  🙂

Eye to Eye 2017: Cindy’s Story

Cindy, the labradoodle

Cindy

On 12 March 2017, my sister and I will once again be walking 14 miles from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye (via the scenic route) to raise money for sight-saving research.  This year, we’re taking part as a team, along with other people who have been affected by retinal detachment, and one four-legged member of the team in the shape of Cindy the labradoodle.  I thought it would be interesting to share the stories of my fellow team-members, and obviously I’m not about to discriminate against folk with more than two legs, so this week it’s Cindy’s turn.  Fortunately for those readers not fluent in Woofs, we’ve managed to get her story translated into English.  So now it’s over to Cindy…

When Mum told me that we’ll be going for a reeeaally long walk in March, I jumped up in excitement, wagging my tail as hard as it would wag and woofing at the top of my bark, “Yes yes yes yes!”.  I just luuuurve walks, you see.  Especially looooong walks.  Long walks mean more to sniff!  And more people to meet!  And more people often mean treats, especially if I’m really good and stare at them longingly without blinking.  Apparently, people are even going to pay us money for going on the walk.  I thought Mum would be able to use the money to buy more treats, which seemed like a great idea!  Then I found out that the money is going to help people with eye problems.  Mum told me all about how she’d wanted a dog for years and years, and when her eye went squiffy she thought the only way she’d get one was if she needed a guide dog.  I know all about guide dogs.  I met one in the town a while ago.  He was the most handsome chocolate labrador I’ve ever seen – just the colour of the mud I love to roll in, with deep brown eyes to drool for.  I galloped up to him for a sniff and a wag, but he just stared straight ahead without even a sideways glance to admire my golden curls.  He barked sternly out of the side of his jowls, “Sorry, can’t stop and sniff – I’m working”, and continued on his way.  I probably should have played it cool but you know what it’s like when you fall ears over paws for a cute canine.  I figured it wasn’t much fun being a guide dog though.  I mean – who wants to be working all the time?!

Anyway, it’s okay cos Mum’s eyes are much better and she’s got me to cheer her up and give her lots of licks.  So we’re going to go for this loooong walk to help other people.  It’s going to be a walk all around the streets of London.  I’ve been to London before.  There’s not much mud there, or cow pats, or other deliciously-smelling things to roll in.  But on the other paw, it does mean that we get to go on the train, which is waggles of fun!  Trains are whooshingly exciting, and they have loads of different smells on them and lots of people who sometimes share bits of their food if I stare at them long enough.  People seem to like me quite a lot, which comes in handy for getting extra treats.  I often get mistaken for that famous labradoodle on the telly – you know, the one on the Flash advert.  (You can watch it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIR5dNN7o1w.)  Of course, the pooches down at the park think that I’d do a far better job at the slow-motion mud showers.  I can’t show off that trick too often at home though otherwise I get into deep doo-doo.  The sort of doo-doo that won’t fit into one of those tiny plastic bags, if you catch my drift.  The only thing I’m a bit worried about with this walk is that London has looooooads of lamp posts.  Lamp posts are great because a quick sniff tells me which of my friends are in the area that day, but of course I also have to let everyone know that I’m there too and sometimes when there are too many lamp posts it means that I run out of wee, which can get a bit embarrassing.

Mum says we need to practise for this long walk… imagine!  Practising for a walk?!  I’ve never heard such a howler!  Walking is easy – you just put the front two legs in front of the back two and off you go!  I think it’s harder for humans though, because they only have two legs and they don’t have paws.  We went for an eleven-mile practise walk the other day – Mum and her friend Alex, and me.  Mum wore new shoes, but when she got home she found that the shoes had bitten her feet and made sore patches.  So that wasn’t good.  And Alex just fell asleep when we got home, without even giving me a treat first, which I thought was simply apawling behaviour.  I had to ask Dad for a treat instead.  Dad won’t be coming on the walk, which I feel a bit droopy-eared about.  I might try and find a nice smelly stick to take back for him…

if you’d like to sponsor Cindy and the rest of our team, you can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rd-ramblers.  Alternatively, you can donate by texting: “ISEE66 £5” to 70070 (or whichever amount you prefer, of course).  All donations, no matter how small, are hugely appreciated, and will also give Cindy considerable kudos with her brown-eyed chocolate labrador guide-dog acquaintance  (when he’s off duty, obviously).  Cindy would also appreciate donations of treats or quantities of mud to roll in, but sadly we don’t have the resources to enable online donations of either of those items…  😉

Cindy in the bath

Cindy, perfecting the Flash dog look

Eye to Eye 2017: Nickie’s story

Nickie, with Cindy the labradoodle

Nickie, with Cindy the labradoodle

On 12 March 2017, my sister and I will once again be walking 14 miles from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye (via the scenic route) to raise money for sight-saving research.  This year, we’re taking part as a team, along with other people who have been affected by retinal detachment.  I thought it would be interesting to share the stories of my fellow team-members, so this week it’s Nickie’s turn.  Nickie is Alex’s best friend (you can read Alex’s story at: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/eye-to-eye-2017-alexs-story/) and she’ll be walking with us along with her labradoodle, Cindy.  Nickie and Alex have known each other for 32 years and shared various trends together, including the dubious one of retinal detachment.  The cause of Nickie’s retinal detachment was her myopia (short sightedness).  People who are very short sighted are at a higher risk than others of having a retinal detachment.  Usually this is only people who have high myopia, greater than -6 (i.e. they are very short sighted).  So now it’s over to Nickie…

My experience of having a detached retina began in 2008.  For a couple of months i was experiencing dark floaters in my right eye, that would settle in the right hand bottom corner of my eye.  This would last for quite a while and was worse when i was tired.  I explained this to my option, they did a thorough examination of my eye, but could not find anything.  They gave me the advice of “if you see bright flashing lights come back”.

Fortunately or unfortunately, i never witnessed the bright flashing lights, just the floaters settling for longer and covering more of my eye.

Then a few months later, one evening when lying in bed waiting to go to sleep, I lost the vision in my right eye.  That was quite scary initially, but when I blinked my vision came back.  This happened a few times until my vision didn’t come back.  I thought that because i was tired that if i went to sleep, by the morning all would be ok.  Which oddly enough, by morning i had full vision in my right eye.

During that day, i had difficulty seeing when climbing the stairs at work. Whilst driving home that night, i slowly experienced the vision in my eye disappearing.  I know now, it was called the curtain effect, and thinking about it now, it was just as if someone was drawing the curtain over my vision.I drove to the near by walk in centre, who informed me there was nothing they could do about it that night, but strongly advised me to go to the emergency eye department at the local hospital, in the morning.  This I did, to be informed, after many hours of assessments, eye tests, eye drops etc etc, that i had two tears in my retina.  They booked me in for surgery the following day.

I had a surgical procedure called “a buckle”.  The consultant monitored me but in two weeks time I was undergoing further surgery to my eye, as the repair they did hadn’t worked, and i needed to undergo further surgery.  This time, i was to have a “gas bubble”.  Both lots of surgery lasted 2 to 2 and a half hours under sedation.  No GA for me – consultant  choice (think he thought i was tough – little did he know!). Fortunately he was an extremely good surgeon who specialised in retinal detachments.

During my recovery, for the first two weeks, i had to spend looking down at the ground.  I was not allowed to look up. That was quite hard, though i did realise how dirty my carpets were!!  I ended up with a total of about 10 weeks off work – day time TV has not improved over the years!

I went back to work two weeks before Christmas in 2008, and then had to have a cataract op in February 2009. This was due to the gas bubble clouding my lens.  A contraindication to the surgery.

I can remember little bits and events of each of my eye ops, some funny and some so not. Though my eye is much better, i do experience some high pressure behind the eye, which i am now on daily eye drops for.  However,at the end of the day, i am very thankful to my consultant. Thanks to him, i have fairly good sight back in my right eye.

Probably, like most people who have lost their slight (hopefully) temporarily, from a detached retina, I realise how precious my sight is.

If you’d like to sponsor Nickie and the rest of our team, you can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rd-ramblers.  Alternatively, you can donate by texting: “ISEE66 £5” to 70070 (or whichever amount you prefer, of course).  All donations, no matter how small, are hugely appreciated!  🙂