Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Mum's Birthday

Mum's Birthday:
On Monday it was my mum's birthday and I paid for everyone to go and see Joseph and his amazing Techno Coloured Dream Coat at the theatre. The show had 2 guys from the TV show any Dream Will Do playing Joseph and the Pharaoh. Also, the Narrator was played by a female from I'll Do Anything. There was a children's choir who performed throughout and I was wishing I'd did something like that when I was little. Ok I did do ballet, tap, acro, brownies, singing lessons, part of the school choir and all my sport, but I never got to perform on such a big stage with a massive audience.

I really enjoyed the performance although I still haven't recovered from the flu. I had a headache at the time of watching so didn't even have my eyes open throughout most of it. As usual the singing was great and my mum audio described the visual parts. I've seen the show before, but it seemed better this time around. We're going to see Evita on New Year's Eve, which should be good. We were meant to go on Xmas Eve, but they cancelled the show for whatever reason.

I had that interview yesterday in the Adult Social care Department. Just my luck that the job is no longer available due to cut backs. They interviewed me anyway in case anything comes up, but I'm heading at super speed towards unemployment.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

This That and the Other

Meet and Greet:
I’ve not been well all week and still feel pretty rubbish. However, last night I dragged myself out to Guide Dogs meet and greet event with my family. I’ve been on the waiting list for a Guide Dog for over 8 months now and getting more and more inpatient!

The place was packed with Guide Dogs, which made me feel both left out and jealous that I didn’t have one. I didn’t know anyone there and so we just kept to ourselves. Graham the District Manager saw me and said he’d like to talk to me afterwards about culture and diversity. Apparently we were the only coloured people there. Not that that is a problem in my books.

The event was dominated by Katie Meeking and her Guide Dog Theo who won Guide Dog of the year. They showed 2 DVDs of her story, her mum read out the nomination letter for the award and Katie also said a few words. I got to stroke Theo at the end. He’s a medium sized golden retriever with a long coat. I also got to stroke a black lab that had a lush smooth coat. Now that was a gorge dog!

Penny was there too who did the wife swap programme this year and they showed a short clip of it. Another TV star that I was expecting to see was Mo the lad who first entered a mosque with a Guide Dog, but I later found out that he was in Australia playing cricket.

My mum and I went to speak to Graham afterwards and he asked me if I was considering applying for a dog! Of course I explained that I was already on the list and he seemed pleased. He asked me my full name and he claimed he’d seen my name before. He began to talk about this project he wants to do for next year, which is basically encouraging ethnic minorities to apply for a Guide Dog and also to change the perception currently adopted by other cultures. I was quick to express my views on Mo and how it was unfair that he got a dog at such a young age and so promptly, as this is one thing that has been bugging me for ages. He admitted that Mo was a project and it was an opportunity to create awareness and break down some of those barriers. He asked me if I was willing to assist with the media work on his new project and I obviously agreed. He also implied that now he’s met me he’s going to prioritise me in getting a dog to coincide with his new campaign.

It was worth going in the end then, as I hopefully will get a Guide Dog pretty soon. In fairness I have waited long enough already and did get rejected at 16 for one.

A quick update on the Braille Champions as RNIB contacted me again. They did a short interview over the phone and then emailed me a couple of quotes they’re going to use for media work next year to promote louis Braille’s 200th birthday. So all good there!

I emailed them on Sunday, as I hadn’t heard whether I’d been accepted on to the programme or not. In short I haven’t and Tabo said he’d already contacted me. I’m really livid at this, as it would have been the perfect opportunity in order to get some serious coaching. I was given the details of Marie Yates at UK athletics who is meant to be able to sort out coaching, but I haven’t heard from her. Looks like I’m on my own yet again, but I promise I’ll prove them all wrong. Oh yeah the reason I didn’t get on the programme was that they don’t think I’ll medal in 2012! Grrrrr!

I have to finish on a good note don’t I?! I’ve got an interview on Tuesday to be a clerk receptionist for the Adult Social care department. There are 2 venues they’re looking to recruit at Loughborough and Market Harborough. Both posts are 18.5hours per week, but I would prefer Loughborough, as that’s where the athletics track is. If I don’t get it I will be gutted as it’s unlikely I’ll have a job offer before I leave my current job and I don’t want to be unemployed.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A Serious Athlete

Well I desperately want to be a serious athlete. I went to the track last night in Nuneaton and trained for the first time in ages with Sheila who is effectively my coach. I took Courtney along with me and I found it very useful.

I did a 2 lap warm up, which I only just about managed and then we did some drills. Sheila corrected Courtney on how to guide run with me better and i've got to learn to set off with my left foot, which doesn't feel natural for me.

After the drills Sheila asked if i'd had enough. I was having a heart attack by this point! I obviously said yes and then she said ok lets do a few laps to cool down! A few?! Argh! As we were jogging round Sheila was asking what i do currently training wise and i'm no good at speaking and running, so was getting Courtney to explain it all. I need to be training 5 times per week and I only do 3 or 4 times at the most now. It was agreed that I should work on sprinting, but go up to 800m. i need to improve on my fitness mainly, but i'll do my best.

Sheila gave Courtney some ideas of what other exercises I can do in the gym to strengthen me and we also discussed the tredmill. At present i've stopped going on it, as I have to hold on with one hand, but i've been using the cross trainer. Apparently with the cross trainer you lose leg speed and it is basically too easy. So i've got to learn how to use the tredmill by tapping the front bar with each hand every time. Should be interesting, I can see me flat on my face already!

Finally, Sheila suggested I keep a training diary. This way I can track how much I do, see how i'm progressing and write down all of my performances. So i've started another blog for it called Selina's Training Diary. I've tried to be clever and link directly from it if you click on the title of this post, but no doubt i've done it wrong! So you can view my new blog at:

I can't believve i'm not aching this morning! I haven't worked that hard in ages. Got an email through about the Dublin games next year. I really want to go and it gives me something to aim for.

Monday, 1 December 2008

10 Years of Blindness

I can't believe it has been 10years to the day that my vision dropped substantially over night. I remember it all too well and it has made me the person I am today.

The night before I wrote all of my Christmas cards out to friends with my Selina pen, it had my name engraved on it. I was really excited about Christmas this year mainly because I was 10 years old, but this Christmas I was going to spend it in Disneyland Florida too!

I woke up on December 1st 1998 with blurry vision. This had never happened to me before and nobody said it might. I told my mum about it, but insisted on going to school that day. I loved school and there was no way I was going to miss out. My mum agreed to let me go and spent the day trying to contact my consultant.

It was reading week at school and when I opened my book that was given to me by my Granddad that year called Birthday Girl it all hit me. I couldn't read at all. The print was just all blurry and I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't tell anyone at school, but pretended to read my book.

I got home from school and we went straight to the hospital. After a lot of hard work my mum managed to get my consultant out of a conference. I remember her shouting at the receptionist 'surely a little girl's sight is more important than a conference'.

I cried terribly when they were putting all of the eye drops in and by this time I couldn't see anything! My consultant finally came and had a look at my eye. He said I had a haemorrhage and would arrange for someone at the hospital to operate, as he specialised in squints. My parents disagreed however and went in search of Prof McCloud who operated on me at the age of 2.

We tracked him down, but had to wait an agonising 2 weeks before I could be seen. During the wait I got Gastric Flu and all I kept being told was I need to get well so I can have the operation.

On the day we were meant to fly to Florida we went bowling instead. I guess they were trying to keep my mind off of not going, but I just burst in to tears at the bowling alley.

The day of the operation came this was the day after my mum's birthday. Prof McCloud said I didn't have a haemorrhage at all and actually had a detached retina. It was a lot more serious than he was first told and he said my eye was a real mess. He did some tidying up and hoped that the retina would reattach itself.

The retina didn't and so my sight remained the same. The anaesthetic made me very sick too and I spent a lot of time throwing up.

That Christmas I got the most presents I had ever had in my life, but I knew why I was getting them, but they failed to distract me from going blind. I had another operation in January to reattach my retina and thankfully had some vision restored. No where near as good as my original partial vision, but I could now see colours, vaguely people's faces and read 72point font.

In the years to follow I had more and more problems with my retina. It kept detaching, holes appearing and scar tissue developing. I had my last operation at 18 and had gotten used to my sight gradually deteriorating, but it was still devastating when I was told that nothing more could be done for me.

I am so grateful for the sight I had and still grateful for the light perception I'm left with. All 14 operations were worth the pain even for vision for just a few months. Next month will be 2 years since I've had just light perception and it has given me time to finally adapt.

There's still hope for the future with stem cells, but for now I have to concentrate on living my life to the max with what I have. I believe on this day 10 years ago I had to grow up in an instant, but it's made me the determined individual I feel I am today.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Moorfields, Paralympics and Braille

I WENT TO Moorfields eye Hospital yesterday for my regular check up. There's nothing that can be done for me now, but it's good to check that my eye is still the same bomb site! I did go a couple of months ago and my consultant wasn't there, which was very irritating as to be honest nobody else understands my eye.

I got there and did the usual eye test with the nurse. It's always a good start when I can see the super powerful torch light that' blinds me! They never go on and test if I can see hand movement though, which I just don't know if I can!

Mr Alewood seemed pleased to see me and immediately started going on about Zack who produced a documentary I featured in last year. Part of the documentary showed me having my final eye operation. Anyway, apparently Zack had made a new doc that was on last week. I was asked how my eye was and I mentioned the slight photophobia I've been having.

Did the usual look up, down, left and right. Measured the pressure, which I forgot to ask what it was and then I was surprised with what he said. 'Well your eye is better, as there was some detachment before'. My eye better?! That never happens! Why has it taken my eye so damn long to learn how to reattach my retina. That would have been useful a few years ago and saved me loads of operations!

Anyway, I can't say I've noticed an improvement in my vision, but I have good days where I can tell the difference between black and white, see the painted lines on the road and on a really good day I think I can see colours. He also mentioned that I had some inflammation that might be causing the photophobia. So I've been given eye drops to put in twice a day. My mum's immediate reaction was that I need to try and see if I can read under a CCTV again, but to be honest I very much doubt I will be able to. I go back in 6 months.

I still haven't heard from them, but I'm quite frustrated as Amear who plays Goalball for GB already got a call to say he's been accepted on to the programme. Found this out as Jack was training with him at the weekend. So I'm guessing I've not been chosen, but they best contact me soon, as I want to know about coaching and where I can progress from here.

Remember a while back I wrote to RNIB with my Braille story? Well I got an email from a Caroline White who is a freelance journalist. She's been asked to write a piece for RNIB's New beacon magazine. She said we could do the interview by phone or email, but I said email, as this way I can think through my answers.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Interview 2

Today I had an interview at an organisation called The Rowan who offers support and advice to disabled people. The job was to be a HR Assistant for 24 hours per week based in Nuneaton.

Unfortunately the sat nav didn’t work straight away and my mum and I got lost on the motorway. Eventually we got there in a rush, but I was already 10mins late and pretty stressed out. I was taken in immediately and didn’t have time to calm myself and relax.

The questions they were asking weren’t overly difficult, but I found myself waffling on about god knows what! For the life of me I couldn’t think of what skills I had except great communication skills at the time! Grrr, stupid me I have an excellent memory, numerical, creative, team player, computer literate, argh the list is endless! I just couldn’t think!

So in short I don’t think I will get the job, but it’s something I would really enjoy. HR and disability is exactly what interests me and throw in sport it would be perfect!

A few hours later I got a call regarding the interview I went to on Wednesday. Surprise surprise I didn’t get the job and off the record I came 3rd. Gutted! I was told my tests were excellent, which is frustrating in a way as I know I am more than capable of doing the job. However, my examples to questions weren’t in-depth enough. The guy was really nice and said he would arrange to go through it all with me question by question to help me in the future. I guess you just don’t know what type of competition you’re going to get on the day.

Anyway, although I’m pretty miffed tonight, all hope isn’t lost yet, as I’ve applied for 3 more jobs at the Council. 1 of the closing dates was last week and the other 2 today and yesterday. So I should hear from them next week.

All I want is a job! Surely that’s not too much to ask, is it…?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Interview 1

I had an interview today in Adult Social Care to become an Admin assistant. It is still based at County hall and full-time too.

I felt that the interview went ok and I answered the questions fluently. However, on reflection maybe I could have answered them a little better. There were some troubles with getting hal to work on the computer, but I came and did the tests in my office.

The tests were fairly simple to be honest. First I had to put some information in to excel, calculate the total with a formula and then the total for each course. The second part of the test was to write a standard letter to confirm to participants that they have a place on a course.

I think the only thing that will let me down is my lack of experience overall. Fingers crossed though and I will hear from them on Friday.

I also have another interview on Friday that I will let you know all about after the event.

Monday, 17 November 2008

My Jack

Considering jack is my boyfriend I don't think I talk about him much on here! So I thought I would make an effort. Jack currently works at RNIB as a Trainee resource Centre Assistant, but has a strong background in sport. However, today he's really pleased as he's just been offered a job at Lindon lodge school, which is a special school to be a support assistant. He used to go to the school and knows the students and staff very well. He's been volunteering there for the past 6 months to help with Goalball training and other activities.

Jack lost his eye sight when he was 13 as he was hit by a van on his paper round. He's lucky to be alive. He has a prosthetic right eye and limited vision in his left. Without his glasses he has finger counting vision and with 6/60. Over the last month he's been having problems with his sight and has experienced blurry vision. Basically his transplanted cornea has protein growing on it and it will continue to grow making Jack's eye sight worse. They said once it gets to an extent where he can no longer see they will give him laser treatment to burn some of it away. However, it will grow back again and his vision will deteriorate as they can only offer laser treatment so many times before they burn the entire cornea away.

Normally, another cornea transplant could be made, but due to his accident his eyes were squashed and as a result he has very low eye pressure making it near impossible to operate. I hope they can do something in the long term though, as I know all too well how horrible it is to gradually watch your sight slip away.

On a brighter note Jack will soon be on the GB Goalball team! No eye sight required for that at least! It's likely that he will be called up for a GB training session next month.

Don't think I have anything else to report about Jack, but I hope I've created a good picture of him now.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Final Selection Weekend

So I couldn’t go to Teignmouth and have a fun, but relaxing weekend. Instead I went to the second selection weekend, which was also the final selection for the Paralympic Fast Track Power Programme.

It was held in Loughborough again and I arrived with Courtney at 9.45am on Saturday. It appeared that they had asked 12 athletes back, which was a little confusing as there are 12 places on the programme. However, a new group emerged who were doing the same tests that I had to do previously.

In the morning they seemed a bit unorganised and we were meant to be watching the professional train in order to get an idea of what it involves. Obviously this was quite boring for me and I just shivered in the freezing cold!

Next it was lunchtime and I found that most people knew each other. Nobody really made an effort to talk to me and I felt like an outcast. At this point I was thinking that being a below the knee amputee would be much better than being blind! They can run fast, drive and generally don’t need any help. Unlike me who needed guiding around everywhere, one to one demonstrations and unable to strike up a conversation with anyone.

Anyway, in the afternoon we did a little technical work, but I can’t say I broke in to a sweat. After that some people did discus, but they told me I could go. Quite a rubbish day really!

Today was better and I took jack along to help me, as Courtney has football matches on Sundays. We did some more technical work and were timed over 20m after a power start. I did well to be fair running at about 15.5secs 100m pace.

After the session I spoke to Brian, the coach who I believe used to be the chair of IBSA (International Blind sport Association). I wanted to know where I could get a good coach in order to progress. He suggested Sheila who used to coach me, but unfortunately as she’s connected with Exhol Grange School her priority lies with them. Basically the students don’t get the most out of the track and so haven’t been going to Pingles for a while now. He said he’d be willing to coach me, but it’s up to UK athletics where he gets based and he’s not sure yet. He comes down to Loughborough monthly for coach meetings and explained that he would be more than willing to coach afterwards. He commented that he’s not sure the programme is right for me, as I’m already involved in athletics and just need good coaching.

This afternoon we were put in to 3 teams and had a mini competition over several events. I did the 30m sprint, standing long jump, overhead shot, cricket ball throw and leg press. Oh yeah and the relay. We came second overall. My usual silver place finish!

In the round up they said that they will devise a plan for each individual and will be in contact in a couple of weeks. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll accept me on to the programme, but I hope they offer a suitable alternative. I gave it my best shot as ever and still determined to succeed in the sport.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Pampering Day

I treated my mum to a Pampering day voucher for Mother's Day this year and we finally went yesterday. We had massages booked in for 2.30pm, but got there about 11am to take advantage of the other facilities.

It was at the Bannentine Health Club, but I can't say I was that impressed. We went in the steam room first and I just couldn't hack the heat. This is coming from someone who loves the sun, but it was just too hot! Think I managed half an hour.

We wanted to go in the Jacuzzi, however, it was full and one was out of order. I didn't fancy a swim as have a phobia when too many people are in the pool!

So we went in search of some lunch. Ended up in a pub and got a roast, which was quite tasty. Then we were killing some time and I ended up buying a pair of swade boots with fur on. Don't think I described them very well!

We went back to the Health Club and waited for our massages. Typical they were running late. We eventually got called and I kindly let my mum go first, as I'd never had one before and wanted to observe how much it hurt!

It was then my turn and it was relaxing to a certain extent. I had loads of knots in my left shoulder blade and around my neck. God it hurt when she was popping them out and my shoulder is still sore today! I think the knots are from using my cane as they occur due to stress, poor posture and lactic acid build up.

I would like to get massages more regularly and will look in to it. Finally my mum had her nails done and by that time I was shattered. Glad to get home and was tucked up in bed by 8.40pm!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

F1: Grrrrr

I wrote this post straight after the grand prix last Sunday, but was too traumatised to publish it at the time!

I am lost for words…speechless…devastated! I am a through and through Ferrari supporter and have been for a good 10 years. Today’s race has to have been the most stressful time of my life ever! Massa did everything he needed to in order to win the World Championship and Venn when he had crossed the line it looked as though he had clinched it.

Evil Lewis was in 6th with 2 corners to go, but had to finish 5th. Gloc had stayed on dry tyres in the pouring rain and was so close to the finish line. Somehow I don’t know how Hamilton over took him and that was it.

My heart sank along with the 100,000 Massa fans in the Brazilian circuit. Hamilton did not deserve to win. He has always been a reckless driver and gets away with murder! Most of the other drivers despise him too.

Next year will be different! Ferrari won the constructors title, which just goes to show they have the better car.

Overall it was a dramatic season of F1 driving Cubica was impressive along with Alonso to be honest. Raikanan was just unlucky like Massa, but they both have the skill and talent.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

One Step Closer

I got a voicemail on my mobile this morning and have been told that I have been chosen for the second selection weekend. So basically if I get through this I will be put on the Paralympic Fast Track Power Programme. However, the camp is running from November 14th – 16th, which is when I was meant to be going to Teignmouth with some VI friends. I’m really really gutted that I can’t go. I don’t have a social life as it is and the weekend would have been really enjoyable for me.

Anyway, getting on a Paralympic Programme is something that is very important to me. I would love to have a proper coach and training regime. I’ve found already that I’m struggling to do it myself at the moment. I have no idea about technical stuff, such as posture; stride length and what exactly I should do to improve.

Fingers crossed that I get through!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Blind Drive Challenge for Guide Dogs

I’ve been on the waiting list for a Guide Dog for 6 and a half months now. I was told that it will take between 6 and 12months to match me up, but I don’t think I’ll hear from them until next year to be honest.

Anyway, in the meantime I thought I’d do a Blind Drive Challenge for them, as it costs a fair bit to train, work and retire a Guide Dog. So this is the least I can do. My target was £200 and I raised £187, which by my standards is excellent since I don’t really know many people.

The drive was yesterday at Donnington Park and I was really looking forward to it, as I’m an avid formula one fan and from 2010 the grand prix will be held there.

I was hoping for a flash red Ferrari, but unfortunately had to settle for a Causer whatever one of those is! It was a jewel control car and the instructor sat next to me. I wanted to go as fast as I could, but every time I put my foot down the instructor told me to slow down, as we were coming up to a bend. I also found it frustrating that the instructor kept controlling the steering wheel; I wanted to do it all! It was a shame that we could only use a small part of the track, as I couldn’t go faster than 50mph plus all the other drivers kept getting in my way. I can’t remember how many I over took, but lets say I take after Michael Schumacher!

The drive didn’t last long, 15mins I think, but at least I’ve supported a good cause. I was moany afterwards so my mum offered to let me drive out of the car park. I think she regretted it! I was going too fast, swerving left and right and slammed the brakes on when told to slow down!

I would love to drive again though, but I was surprised that I didn’t get all depressed that I can’t drive generally. I’m not in to driving properly more recklessly. 100 times more fun!

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. I want to run for a charity next. Whether it’s Guide Dogs I don’t know, but British Blind Sport are desperate for money too.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Paralympic Princess

Oh I hope I will be one day, but today could have been my first steps to being crowned Paralympic Princess! I was one of 40 athletes to be selected for a trial in order to be considered for the Paralympic Fast Track Power Programme. It was held at Loughborough, which was good as it’s local.

It was a very long testing day, but I gave it my all and feel happy with the way I performed. We were split in to 3 groups. In my group were 3 lads with CP (cerebral palsy), a wheelchair user and a totally blind guy, Ameer who plays Goalball for GB.

The first discipline was throwing. We had to do an overhead shot. They seemed impressed that I threw 7.08m with a 3kg put. Next was a cricket ball throw outdoors, but I only managed 10.5m.

Time to jump! Standing long jump I achieved 1.63m and they said that 2m would be a really good jump. After we had to do a standing triple jump. It took me a while to get the footwork right and I hop, skipped and leapt to 3.79m. Johnithon Edwards eat your heart out!

I put my spikes on now and was revved up to sprint. Obviously I’m most passionate about running and desperately wanted to fly down the track. We had to run 60m and the 10, 30 and 60m splits were noted down. 9.78secs I believe was my best effort. I did the math and if I kept that speed up I would run 100m in 16.3secs. That made me smile, as last week I ran 17.4secs in training. My PB is sub 16secs though. I got positive feedback about my running, but I just don’t know if it was quick enough. I really respected the CP lads though as they ran great with their impaired legs.

There was a rumble in my tummy and I was pleased it was lunchtime, but was dreading the weights sessions in the afternoon. First up was a handgrip and my fingers and wrist were throbbing after it! Then we had to do a leg, chest and arm press. A few growls from me as I struggled to push and pull the weights but what can you expect from a skinny thing like me!

Finally, a 3min row. At the gym I do interval training on the rower, so I do 1min with a 30sec rest before continuing. I was aiming for 500m and was chuffed when I reached 569m. I swear I heard they wanted 600m though!

As I said I gave it my best shot and will hear whether I’ve made the programme next week. From a VI point of view I was the best girl there (the only girl there!). Seriously, Paralympic are screaming out for VI athletes and especially females so hopefully they see my potential and give me a chance. However, the first camp weekend is next month and it’s when I’m meant to be going to Teignmouth with some VI friends!

Friday, 24 October 2008


Last night I went to the theatre with my mum, dad and brother to see Shout, which is a 'swinging 60s musical'. I really enjoyed the show that had Claire Sweenie and Sue Pollard starring in it. I was quite surprised that I knew most of the songs including; Down Town, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me and of course Shout! It took you through the decade and I found it very comical.

It always astonishes me at the theatre how talented the cast are. I mean they can sing fantastically, act amazingly and dance incredibly! I never fail to envy them, as I love to perform too. However, I'm not the best singer, strongest actor or most dazzling dancer. I give it a good go though! It's a shame though, as the West End isn't really designed for the visually impaired to participate.

Although I have no useful vision now I still force my family to sit near the front. It makes me feel more a part of the action and the flashy lights keep me focussed. Occasionally I convince myself that I can se their shadows moving too, but I'm fairly certain that's just an illusion!

Monday, 20 October 2008

On Your Bike Love

It's official that my contract will terminate on December 31st at the Council. I was told today that there were no plans to keep me on in the Adult Learning Service.

I'm not sure what to think I'm so happy to finally be leaving, as I've hated every second of it! However, the thought of unemployment is frightening.

It's not unexpected and last week I started job hunting. I've applied for 4 jobs, but only 1 is disability friendly. I just hope someone will give me a chance though.

Apparently 4 out of 5 visually impaired people of working age are unemployed. It's terrible really.

Anyway enough of my moaning I just have to get on with it and hope for the best. I shall keep you all updated on my progress.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Amy's 21st

Today I went to Amy’s 21st birthday party. Amy is a friend from school and I’ve known her properly since year 10. She did come to the same play scheme I went to at the age of 8 or 9 and although we were friends there we didn’t stay in touch, as you don’t tend to at such a young age.

Amy is different and had her party during the day. There was a bouncy castle and all the children’s classics like Music Man and Superman!

I stuck with Cara who I also met at the play scheme and became proper friends with in year 10. She’s a motherly type and someone I can rely on to look out for me. Other old school friends were there too including amy’s boyfriend Leigh, Dave who was in my tutor group in 6th form and always guided me to my lessons, Phil who is generally crazy and Aaron who’s ex girlfriend had my name, but was a total bitch!

I bought Amy a charm bracelet with butterflies and bumblebees on it, which she seemed to like. Personally, I love charm bracelets. Overall it was a nice party and I won’t be seeing Amy and Cara until Christmas now, as they’re both at uni.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Stevie Wonder

Last night I went to see Stevie Wonder in concert with Jack, my mum and brother at the NIA in Birmingham. It must have been the longest concert I’ve ever been to, as it lasted two and a half hours with just Stevie Wonder and no support.

The first one and a half hours bored me to death, as he played the piano, harmonica and sang loads of songs that I’d never heard of before. At 10pm when I thought the show was coming to a climax it was like the show had just started! He sang most of his classics including: Isn’t She Lovely, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Signed, Sealed Delivered and Superstition.

I can’t deny that he doesn’t have an amazing voice, as he seems to be able to really show it off in every song very naturally. He interacted with the audience a fair bit getting them to repeat words and raps.

The highlight of the show for me was when he referred to his blindness, which was towards the end. I’m probably quite sad to say that, but it was nice to see him acknowledge his disability. He made it humorous by explaining that he was trying to flirt with a female. His chat up line was ‘what I can’t see can I touch?’ I’m liking that saying. He did a short rap with the lyrics ‘what I can’t see can I touch, just close my eyes, what I can’t see can I touch, act like a blind man’.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Back on the Track

Whilst I remember I got an email back from Mandy at RNIB regarding the Braille Champions. She said my story was 'fascinating and inspiring'! Anyway, she's sent it up to the press office and they should be in touch with me in mid October, as at the moment they're busy with the 'have an eye test' campaign.

Last night I went to the athletics track with Courtney for the first time. I hadn't been on the track since April and hadn't done much exercise in general for about a month. I was worried that I might not even be able to manage a lap, but I surprised myself.

We did 3 laps of the track with about a 2minute break in-between. This allowed Courtney to get used to guide running. We then did 4 50m sprints, which I felt in my legs, but was pleased that I didn't feel I was going at snail's pace! We then attempted a lap to cool down, but I quit after 200m. Slightly annoyed with myself, but I won't let it happen again!

Next week I hope to be training back at the Pingles with Sheila, as she's a great coach. Going swimming for the first time on Friday in nearly a year. That should be fun, hope Courtney is good at life saving!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Braille Champions

I was reading the latest issue of Pure magazine from RNIB, which is a girly mag in Braille. There was an article stating that it's Louis Braille's 200th birthday next year, (the guy who invented braille). To mark the anniversary RNIB are looking for Braille users to share their experience of using it. For some reason they are calling it Braille Champions, but i'm not sure why. Anyway, I thought I would be a good sport and participate, as they hint there are opportunities to share your experience on radio, tv, their website and publications. This is something I enjoy doing and i'm all for awareness of visual impairment.

Here's what I wrote, i'll let you know if they want me!

Dear Mandy

I’m Selina, 20 years old from Leicester. I read about the ‘Braille Champions’ in RNIB’s Pure magazine and would like to give my input. My contact telephone number is: 07732284343.

My story:
I have been visually impaired since the age of 2 and until I was 10 had good partial vision. I was totally blind in my right eye and could read large print in my left. As soon as I learnt how to read I became a serious bookworm. Most books for young children come in a good-sized font, but my local library used to order in books especially for me too.

At the age of 10 I woke up one morning with blurry vision and by the evening I was totally blind. Luckily, I had numerous operations to restore some sight and was then able to read 48-point font. To continue my love of reading I used a CCTV. The first book I read was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and I was immediately addicted to the series.

At the age of 11 it was decided that it would be more beneficial for me to learn Braille against my will. I was still adjusting to my sight loss and continued to have deteriorating vision with more operations in an attempt to save my sight. My sight was reducing and the magnification increasing on my CCTV, but the eyestrain and headaches didn’t bother me, as I was grateful I could read print.

By the time I was 14 Braille and I were enemies. I was too reluctant to learn it and found it so difficult. My logic was that I could read print so I didn’t need it. Of course realistically I did.

The teachers gave up on me and I stopped attempting to read Braille at 14. I struggled through my GCSEs and A Levels with a CCTV. The day before my English Language A Level exam my sight dropped and reading on the CCTV was a nightmare. I squinted and strained to read the blurry text. No chance of getting a reader in English. I was so determined though that my blindness wouldn’t beat me.

After my A Levels I made a conscious decision to go to RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) for one year to learn Braille and independent living skills. I felt now was the time for me to learn Braille and some final acceptance of my sight loss. I did adapt to my sight loss before my exam and was able to read comfortably on my new CCTV that I got for my 18th birthday. The best present ever was my Clear View Plus, as it was more advanced and clearer than my Aladdin Rainbow.

At RNC I loved learning Braille. I don’t know why, but I picked it up quite quickly. In January at RNC my sight went yet again and as usual another operation was needed to restore it. I was so used to the procedure after having 14 operations, but although in the surgeon’s eyes the operation was successful, I lost my ability to read. For months I desperately tried to read with my CCTV, but couldn’t. The final Harry Potter book was due out in the summer and I had to read it!

I completed the Finger Print Braille course a month before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released. I had ordered my print copy months before, but what use was that to me now. I have never been a fan of audio books, as they send me to sleep and takes the imagination out in my opinion. So, I had no choice, but to order the book in Braille from RNIB. One good thing was that it was being released on the same day.

I was shocked when 16 volumes arrived on my doorstep! I had never read more than 1! I made sure nobody told me the story and ploughed through the book. My reading speed was about 1 page every 10mins and I could only read a couple of pages at a time before needing a break. It took me 3 months to complete the book and I was so proud that I had done it.

Braille has honestly changed my life for the better. I’ve known it properly for just over a year now and have managed to keep my passion for books alive. My speed has increased rapidly and no book is a challenge after Harry Potter! I loan books from RNIB’s National Library and get Pure magazine monthly. I also have Uno and normal playing cards in Braille, which I enjoy playing with friends and family.

Braille isn’t the easiest thing to learn, but once mastered is well worth it!

Thank you for reading and apologies for the essay!

Hope to hear from you soon

Kind regards

Selina Litt

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Paralympic Power

So the Paralympics are over and China did another great job not only at hosting, but collecting the medals! They won no less than 219 in total. We also did fantastic finishing second on the medals table behind the hosts with an amazing 102 medals.

There are too many outstanding performances to mention, but the ones that stood out for me excluding the visually impaired were 13 year old Elle Simmons getting 2 gold's in the pool and us winning 13 out of 14 gold's in the cycling.

Obviously, I was most interested in the visually impaired, but was disappointed with our lack of participation. The B1 football team didn't really shine and I believe we won one medal in the judo. Out of 33 swimming events for the VI we had 3 competitors all in the B3 (S13) sight category winning zero medals. On the track we had 5 participants and Libby Clegg did really well to get silver in the T12 100m. She did a PB every round, so you can't ask for more than that! Finally, Aileen McGlee won 2 gold's in the tandeming.

Watching all of this has undoubtedly inspired me even more to want to achieve high in athletics. I've now seen my competition and know what I need to do. My PA Courtney starts on Monday and I look forward to getting down to some serious training. I want to be there in 2012 and know I will feel awful if I'm not. I will still try and improve at Goalball and I have no more excuses of why I can't succeed. Well, except that I need to get over my cold first!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


In 2005 I went on a Spanish Exchange with RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind). It was the first time I had been away from home and met other visually impaired people. So, it was an amazing experience in many ways for me. Even though they did forget me at the airport, as they thought I could see enough to follow! We first went to Alicante and spent a week there. I met some great Spanish people and some good English ones too. A couple of months later they came to England and we spent a week in Hastings where it rained everyday without fail even though it was July!

After the exchange I kept in touch with most people via MSN. After being nagged for 3 years to go and visit the Spanish I finally organised to meet up with Paula in her home town of Torrevieja for 4 nights with my Jack.

Here's how it went…

Thursday 11th September:
Probably not the wisest thing to travel on 9/11, but I honestly didn't think about it at the time of booking. The flight with Easy Jet was at 07:05am, so we got a taxi at 5am. I had pre-booked the assistance online, but was still a little nervous that things wouldn't run smoothly.

The taxi was early and we arrived at the airport in good time. I felt really tired, but excited to be heading for the sun. The assistance was fine although I did have to force them to allow us to grab some breakfast for the plane. The flight was on time and Paula and her mum met us at the airport.

It was strange seeing Paula again after such a long time. She seemed exactly the same. Her usual bubbly self. Paula has Nystagmus and is photophobic too.

We got to the hotel called Torre Joven and I wasn't impressed when they put us on the second floor. I had specifically asked for the ground floor just because it's easier for Jack and me. However, they obviously thought they were being disabled friendly, as we got a wheelchair accessible room.

It was lunchtime now and my belly was grumbling. Jack and I went for a wander to find food. Jack really struggled to see in the sun and guide me at the same time, but I gripped a symbol cane in hope that people would be considerate. We eventually found a nice café and I stole Jack's cheese burger, as it was a lot nicer than my cheesy chips!

Paula came back to the hotel and took us to where she lived. We went for a walk by the beach and got ice-cream. The ice-cream was gorgeous, but I've never made such a mess in my life! It melted before I could even have a lick. It was very funny though.

Next, Paula suggested that we went and smoked. Not drugs although I wasn't convinced. In England I believe its called shisha or hooker. According to Paula it was just flavoured water. We got vanilla to share and it was an interesting experience. We all choked when we inhaled and it left a funny taste on my tongue. Let's say I won't be rushing to do it again anytime soon!

The hotel was predominately Spanish people and their English was minimal. Jack and I needed help with the buffet and I gave up trying to explain in English and just said 'ciego', which means blind in Spanish. Then for some reason they assumed that I understood Spanish!

Friday 12th September:
The weather was beautiful and we had arranged for Paula to come to our hotel and relax by the pool with us. Paula was catching the bus and arrived over an hour late and then told us she could only stop an hour. This was a shame, but we still enjoyed playing uno. The pool was too cold to go in unfortunately.

In the afternoon we were going to a complex where they had bowling and an arcade etc. Paula told us that she will get on the bus to our hotel and we would meet her on the bus to go to the place. After waiting at the bus stop for half an hour Paula called and told us just to get on the bus and she would call us when we needed to get off.

The bus eventually came and after an hour we were wondering when we would get there. Time passed on and half an hour later I attempted to speak to the bus driver. Thankfully a Spanish woman got on the bus who could speak some English to give us a helping hand. We must have gone past the stop and the Spanish lady spoke to Paula on the phone. Once we had established where we needed to get off the driver told us. Just over 2hours on the bus we made it! I was quite annoyed, but I think Paula felt guilty enough.

We then walked to the complex and had a game of bowling. Of course Jack won and I came second, but I could have done better. Then I sat on the side and Jack and Paula had a game of pool.

Whilst sitting in darkness I did feel a bit left out, but what can you do. There was no point getting depressed about it, as I was on holiday and just wanted to have a good time.

Saturday 13th September:
Paula took us shopping and I really enjoyed myself. I bought 4 tops and on reflection wish I had bought more! Jack got a bit bored, as he decided he didn't want anything. Men will be men!

We had lunch at Paula's and her mum made a lush dinner. The Spanish omelette was perfect and the beef in sauce with mushrooms was nice too.

We then went for a chocolate milkshake and Jack and I had cream on the top of ours. Oh my god it was like heaven! I've never tasted such a good milkshake in my life!

That night Jack won 40euros on the gambling machine in the hotel, which he was chuffed about.

Sunday 14th September:
I wasn't feeling well at all and had a sore throat and felt really bunged up. After breakfast Jack and I fell asleep until 1pm! I was ill he was just being lazy! I wanted to watch the grand prix at 2pm, so we rushed for lunch to get back in time.

I watched all of the grand prix, but didn't understand a word of it! Jack said the TV picture was fuzzy, so he couldn't read who was in what position. I kept hearing 'Fernando' and 'Alonso', but at the end of the race hadn’t a clue who won!

We then jumped in to a taxi and went to Paula's for the last time. We wanted to go for pancakes, but everything was closed, as it was Sunday! Instead we went for another milkshake, but although it was the same place it was in a different area and they didn't make it the same. So, I stole Jack's brownies in ice-cream. Which satisfied me!

We sat on the beach for a while and listened to the waves, which was very soothing. I absorbed the final rays of sun and dreaded coming back to freezing England!

Monday 15th September;
Paula and her dad picked us up from the hotel at 8am to go to the airport. It was a quiet journey there and I can't remember if I fell asleep on the way. Paula and her dad checked us in and then the assistance came. We said our goodbyes and went on our way.

The flight was on time and Jack was going to watch Tottenham that night so needed to get back to London straight away from east Midlands. As soon as I got home I watched the grand prix in English!

Overall it was a nice holiday. It was great to see Paula again and she made the holiday enjoyable. I ordered flowers last night to say thank you, but I'm not convinced that they will get there! The address is complicated compared to us!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

My Quest for a PA

Through the Direct Payments Scheme funded by Social Services I was awarded 9hours of help in order for me to access sporting activities. This means I had to employ a PA and the job was advertised in the local paper.

I was surprised to find that 7 people applied for the position and I short-listed 5 for interview, which was held today.

At 11.15am I was wondering where my first candidate was and thought they might be held up because of the bad weather or having difficulty in finding my house. I eventually called and was told they weren’t coming. I was obviously disappointed, as it wasn’t a good start.

12pm on the dot the second candidate arrived. She was very friendly and began to ask me questions as soon as she walked through the door. Only I thought I would be in charge of the questions today! She was a qualified gym instructor and did judo at international level, which was impressive. She didn’t answer the questions as well as I would have liked, but I could tell she would be able to handle the post.

At 2pm the next candidate came and I used to go to the same primary school, as her. Not that we were ever friends, but I remembered her mum was the swimming instructor. Although she was a nice girl she lacked fitness and didn’t seem flexible with her availability, as she already worked full-time and needed to walk her dog daily.

Time ticked on and at 3pm there was another no show. I tried calling, but there was no answer. So with just one candidate left coming at 6pm there didn’t seem like much choice.

The final candidate arrived on time and she was my favourite judging from the application forms. She’s currently studying Sport and Performance at Loughborough College and plays for Leicester City’s Women’s football team. She answered the questions well and I liked her enthusiasm.

I weighed up the first and final candidates and eventually decided that Courtney, the last person was to be my PA. It was a tough decision, but I feel and hope it’s the right one. She’s accepted the job provisionally, which is a positive sign and I just need to sort out with Social Services what I’m meant to do next.

I have to say it really infuriated me that the two no shows didn’t call to cancel, as I felt it was extremely rude and inconsiderate. On a good note I look forward to working with Courtney to improve my fitness levels and do well in athletics.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Olympic Thoughts

Well the Beijing Olympics is finally over, but it was two dramatic weeks of sporting action that left me wanting more. Great Britain were very impressive finishing 4th on the medals table and an all time best performance overall.

Michael Phelps splashed his way to no less than eight gold’s and says he wants more! I’m a terrible swimmer. I can do a few strokes, but I’m soon gasping for breath and panicking that I’ve ended up in the deep end!

Athletics is my fave sport and I watched it very closely. My heart went out to Paula Radcliff who finished 23rd in the marathon, but Mara Yammoochi managed 6th, which was excellent.

On the track Usain Bolt showed everyone up breaking the world records in the 100m and 200m leaving everyone in their blocks and looking amateur. The Jamaican men then went on to win the 4x100m in a new world record too.

We did well to medal in the women’s 400m events with Christine taking the gold on the flat and Tasha winning a bronze in the hurdles.

I was so sure Kelly Southerton could be triumphant, but despite three pbs on the track she did poorly in her field events and came 4th overall in the heptathlon. The silver medallist Blunsker was stripped of her medal, as she was caught doping for a second time.

Philips Idowu had to settle for silver in the triple jump even though he produced a season best and was unbeaten before coming in to the games. Quite gutting for him, but he promises he will be back in 2012.

The highlight had to be the relays! What a farce it was! In the 4x100m heats the GB men and both USA teams managed to get the change over all wrong. Then, in the final favourites Jamaica and GB in the women’s dropped their batons in unison! The Americans dominated in the 4x400m, which made up a little for a disappointing game’s for them on the track. GB managed 5th in the women’s and 4th in the men’s, which was a shame, as I felt they both could’ve meddled.

China did a great job of hosting the games and to make the occasion even more special came top of the medals table too. They do have over 1 billion people there though!

I now look forward to the Paralympics where I hope the GB team can keep up the amazing achievements.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

All About Me

Hi and welcome to my world!

For my first entry I thought it would be good if you got the chance to get to know me. Then when I ramble on about things in future posts you will have some sort of idea of what I'm going on about!

Where Do I Start?
Well, I'm Selina, twenty and live in Leicester. I have a rare genetic eye condition called Norrie's Disease. I live at home with my parents and brother. My brother also has Norrie's Disease and unluckily for him he is totally blind and has severe learning difficulties too. I have no pets, but used to have two rabbits called Flopsy and Cotton Tail.

Eye History?
I was born fully sighted, but lost the vision in my right eye at the age of two and some sight in my left. I had a couple of operations when I was two to put in some preventative measures, so my eye would grow normally. At the age of seven the medics diagnosed me with Norrie's Disease even though they were convinced that a female couldn't possibly get it! At the age of ten I woke up one morning and had blurry vision, I still insisted on going to school, but by the evening I was totally blind. My consultant in Leicester who specialises in squints informed us that I had a haemorrhage and he would organise for another doctor to operate. However, my parents refused and went in search of Professor McCloud who operated on me previously and diagnosed me.

Prof originally worked at Moorfields, but had moved to Manchester Eye Hospital. I was booked in for surgery, but had to wait an agonising two weeks. Eventually the time came and I had one of many operations.

I never did have a haemorrhage, but numerous detached retina's, cataract, holes in the retina and scar tissue development. After becoming totally blind I did regain some useful vision for a while, but always lost it again. Now, I am just left with light perception and have been told that there is nothing more that can be done for me.

Everyday Life?
My boyfriend, Jack of seventeen months is a massive part of my life, but lives in London! I do have plans to move down there, but you'll hear about the progress of that in the coming weeks. I love to read and loan books in Braille from the National Library for the Blind. I am currently reading 'Journey' by Danielle Steel. I like to keep active and go to the gym, play Goalball and do athletics.

I work at my local Council, as a Business Admin Apprentice in the Adult learning Department. I've been here for eight months and absolutely detest every second of it! I have been looking for another job, but due to lack of experience and disability I have had no luck!

I use a long cane to get out and about, but my skills are minimal. I am on the waiting list for a Guide Dog and have been for four months now. I can't wait to get a dog, as I know it will make life so much easier and I'll be a lot more independent.

That's all for now, but I'm sure you'll hear again from me soon!