Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a very belated happy new year and hope you had a well earnt rest over the festive period.

Now the pleasantries are out of the way we can hopefully get on with the real reason I’m writing this and hopefully you’re interested to read what goes on in my work life at Southampton Sight J

The first few weeks here for me passed quite uneventfully, it was this week that has been like a whirl wind.

Monday was a rather interesting time; you might ask what is she doing working on a Monday?  Well, I don’t usually work on a Monday, but this week was the academic week for fourth year medic students in the Ophthalmology department at Southampton General Hospital.

Lorna and I observed a lecture on sight loss awareness.  In a previous blog I have written what it was like to stand at the front of a lecture theatre and deliver a speech about living with sight loss.  I found observing someone else doing as I had was insightful and interesting.  I know this will be helpful for the future because I’m pretty sure Jackie will get me talking to 50 fourth year medic students regularly.  If asked, she’d just say it’s good character building.

In comparison to the rest of the week Tuesday was a quiet day; I was pleased as it gave me time to prepare for Wednesday which was full to the brim.

In the morning I met a lady who came to our drop-in to have a look at the resources and find out a bit more about what the charity could do to help her as she has sight loss.  In the afternoon I went back to the hospital to be an experienced patient who lives with sight loss.  This involved meeting with four groups of medic students, having a consultation and each of them, 16 in total using a slit lamp to look in to my eyes.

I was there primarily to help the students with their learning, but I also learnt something about the way my eyes looked.  Due to scar tissue the iris of my left eye touches the cornea; I also don’t appear to have a pupil. What light perception I have is mostly seen through my right eye.  I’ve known that I’ve always had one eye stronger than the other but never realised the difference until then.  At the end of the day I was quite relieved to sit in a dark taxi on my way home; my eyes defiantly needed a rest.

Finally, Thursday; this day was no let up.  The morning started as any other Thursday would, a team meeting and then we travelled to a school to work with a year two class on our sight loss awareness project.  On following completion of this workshop, we travelled to another school and did another session of the same workshop.  Although this project has a serious side to it, our team has developed fun strategies for children to learn in a fun and interactive way.

Lorna my line manager visited the second school with us today to observe what we do so that when we have a volunteer who stands in for me to do the white cane workshop she knows what’s going on for her to help and be a support worker for whoever this may be.  The charity feel that this workshop should be led by someone who uses a white cane regularly.

While the rest of the team were finishing off the workshop with the class Lorna and I went to the hospital to help with a workshop on how to guide someone with sight loss.  This was an optional module so none of us knew how many if any would turn up.  Luckily eight students arrived, and we went through all the differences in the white canes that are available, how to call a patient with sight loss in a waiting room and how to guide someone with sight loss.  The attendees had a chance to blind fold each other and guide one another through the surrounding corridors and down the stairs.

Although this week as been very busy I have enjoyed working collaboratively with the general hospital and look forward to future partnerships.  I truly believe that this work is so important as so many people still know so little about living with sight loss.

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