Blah, BLah, BLOG
Marathon trophy and a cane lying folded up next to it.
Keeping active is a challenge for anyone, and we all know it is so important for us to keep moving in order to stay healthy. It is more so of a challenge when vision and hearing is declining. I remind myself of moving everyday with some form of exercise, adapting to new changes with my eyesight and making it work for me to continue my active lifestyle. I do keep a journal of my exercise and training. It keeps me motivated. The biggest challenge is adapting. Running, I have down to a science - tethering. I use two methods: wrist to wrist or waist to waist using just a simple skate lace and my spibelt (an elasticized waist band with a pocket for storing keys, food, etc.). Hiking, I stay low to the ground when going down on steep banks and mountainsides with support of using hiking poles. Kayaking in a tandem or following behind an other kayaker and same with cycling. Indoor rock climbing is great for VI/blind people to try, its all tactile, vision is not a requirement. I truly believe we are able to do any sport, it just takes a few key ingredients: creativity, support and practice. Confidence builds up and then we challenge ourselves to try harder, go faster or go further. I was watching a program on TV, Dr. Oz had a guest, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (he is a known Neurologist and Journalist). He made some interesting comments about how we could exercise our brains by using 'other' senses. When people do their routine things, like getting dressed in the morning, we all do it the same way. Dr. Gupta sometimes gets dressed with his eyes closed and relies on his memory and touch. This particular exercise is beneficial for memory as we age. Sometimes I do this when Chris is guiding me in a marathon, I close my eyes and rely on touch and hearing. Feeling his movement when we turn and listening to his prompts as we run. It is amazing how it works, it really does help you become more aware of your surroundings without having to use the obvious, your eyes. I believe that it will help some of us that are continuously going through visual changes. In fact (I don't believe I'm actually going to tell you this, but here goes...) I had a bad day, terrible headache and decided to have a relaxing bath. No lights, I went to the bathroom, closed the door, leaving the lights off, I ran my bath. Checking the water level, finding the epsom salt, shampoo, shaver, soap and put it where I think would be a safe spot. I get in the tub, feel the water level again and turned off the water and started to shave my legs. I did it by touch and memory, shaving very carefully and slowly and not once did I nicked my skin. After the bath, I got dressed and walked out of the bathroom. I went into my bedroom and looked in the mirror, with the lights on. Nothing was on backwards, inside out or mismatched. I used my fingers to feel the fabric, again relying on touch of what item of clothing it was and finding the label where it should be while getting dressed. I thought to myself, wow, maybe going blind won't be so bad after all. So really, using our other senses will help us to move, adapt and to be able. I am always thinking of inventive ways of adapting, because I refuse to stand still. I like how exercise makes me feel, alive and capable. I do not feel sorry for myself, about having hearing loss or going blind, it is all I know. So I make the best of what I have, and I have a lot to offer. I define who I am, not Usher's Syndrome. So, after you read this blog, get up, stretch and think of what you had given up because of your vision loss. Think about how you can get back into the things you love to do. If there is a will, there is a way. You can always contact me via email (under CONTACT page of this website) to discuss about how you can get back into sports. Start your journey today!
Rose and Dudley on the Cold Creek Falls trail.
Well, the holidays are over and all the baked goods are eaten, I sit here on the computer thinking, I need to get back into the groove again. About 2 weeks ago, Dudley and I went for a 10K run and just about the 9K mark, I got a sharp pain in my calf and was forced to walk the last kilometer home. I think I just experienced my first ever running injury. Never in the last eight years have I experienced an actual running injury. Most my injuries has been from falling down or from walking into things. When i fall down or walk into things, I often get very angry with myself, or just cry, because sometimes I just feel tired of the whole 'going blind' thing. Running has always helped me deal with this and it helps me focus on other things. Now I have to figure out while 'healing' from my injury what to do and it has to be something challenging. I walk into my art studio, look at my blank canvas, my quilts (18 years in the making), the sweater that needs to be completed, and the cross stitch that needs to be framed. I have put all this on hold for at least 10 years, what is holding me back? I retired from work nearly 13 years ago. It is not like I never had time, mind you, I was busy very involved with my daughter with her gymnastics, school and other community organizations. I realized looking back, I was focused, always up for a challenge, some successful, some not, and was not dealing with my blindness. Even during those years when I worked, it was not until my mothers death is when I retired and realized my vision is getting worst. I knew then, never make hasty decisions when tragedy hits your life. I also learned that when bad things happen, there is always something good that comes out of it. In this case, after my mothers'
battle with lung cancer, I started to look at how I looked after myself. I was not doing a good job of it. I ate lots of junk food, processed foods and take outs and abandoned my once active lifestyle. I only blame myself for how this happened and also how I have ignored the fact that I am going blind. All the years growing up, people around me always known me as a sighted person with hearing aids. And now, when I'm walking around with my cane, some of those people avoid me. It hurts. Especially when people now see that I don't see well, they think I don't see them staring at me or when they see me and then turn the other way to avoid me. What do you do when this happens? Sometimes I feel like I just want to hit them with my cane or say something that might be hurtful. But no, I say to myself this is an opportunity to talk to people about it. Yes, some people are just plain rude, but most are just too scared to ask why or what happened or if they can help you, because they just don't know how or want to make me feel bad. I hope for those who read this, especially people who don't have vision issues, it is okay to ask! I would say the majority of people with vision issues would like to be approached, all you have to remember, we are no different than you. We just need a little help sometimes. Advice for those who do have vision issues... ASK for help when you need it. It is okay to ask for help, it does not make us a weaker person, in fact it makes us a stronger person for identifying our needs and seeking the help we need. It took me several years to ask for help and still an ongoing learning process. But I do know this, it gets easier to ask for help and it reduces so much stress in your life. Its sounds simple doesn't it? It is, it just takes a bit of practice, patience and understanding. It is a continual adjustment as vision loss progess, but also, we have to remind ourselves it is an adjustment for those who live around us as well. Like now, I have to adjust my physical activities to keep fit, not to dwell on my injury and to keep focused on what is important. I would be interested in hearing some of your comments or questions you would like to ask me about vision loss.