Bumps and Dots

Many of you know of my vision impairment from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Basically, the only things I see with any clarity are my computer screen and my videomagnifier. These were almost lost to me before recent cataract surgery.

The Optelec videomagnifier (VM) is basically like a TV with a tray underneath for holding printed matter which is magnified on the screen. (The VM is essential for reading cooking directions on food packages.) Windows “Accessibility Wizard” (found under “accessories” in “programs”) allows me to enlarge everything on my comuter screen with white fonts on black backgrounds.

Other aids include a talking clock, a talking calculator, a talking color indicator (“very dark green”) and personal checks with very heavy raised lines.

Remarkably, as vision ebbs, a person can let go of dependence on sight and let the other senses kick in. And, believe it or not, one becomes more observant.

A couple of examples:

When I could no longer see the settings on my clothes dryer, I marked the point where the knob should stop with a black marker. When I could no longer see the mark, I realized if I turn the knob slowly, it automatically stops at that point, something I never realized until it became necessary.

I used to get terribly frustrated “looking” for cooking aids in my kitchen gadget drawer, then I let go of vision and began to feel for the shapes of a spatula or garlic press. So much easier!

I have a keen sense of hearing which helps me locate items which fall to the floor. I can hear an eyelash hit the floor!

This gives a whole new meaning to “coming to your senses.”

Handy little helpers for the visually impaired are white plastic “dots” with adhesive on the back. Placing these on the dark brown knobs on my stove guides me easily to the proper settings.

Equally helpful are clear plastic “bumps.” Placing these over the microwave touchpad numbers I can no longer see allows me to feel the numbers, which are positioned the same as those on a telephone.

Let me give you a test of how observant you are. Check your computer keyboard, your telephone and your stove. You will feel little bumps under your index fingers when you place your fingers on the home keys; you will feel a bump on the “5” on your telephone; and you will feel bumps on the “off” position of your stove knobs. All these wonderful little bumps are there to help the visually impaired or blind, whether typing, using the phone or cooking. Had you noticed them before?

Here’s another test of how observant you are, and this one blew me away! How many times have you tried to use aluminum foil or plastic wrap and had the roll fall out of the box? If you will “feel” the ends of the boxes, you will discover a perforated circle. You will “see” that it says “Press here to lock in end.” Doing this will keep the rolls from falling out. Now, how many of you have ever noticed this? It only took me about 50 years!

My favorite use of bumps and dots is the one I got Chris to place on that pesky “insert” key on my keyboard, which, when accidentally touched, will gobble up your type. Now, all I have to do is feel for the bump instead of looking for the key!

Little things really do mean a lot.


Good Southern Man said...

That is so interesting. It makes me think of Great Grand-daddy Turner (BJ's father) feeling the difference between denominations of money and feeling the difference between blue and black socks. I myself have trouble with blue and black socks but cannot feel the difference yet. I like your statement "then I let go of vision and began to feel..." What a powerful statement. I would have never thought that you had all of those vision helpers. You should be applauded for adapting to your surroundings rather than giving up. Brava BJ!!

B.J. said...

GSM: “Bravo” from an opera singer is pretty cool. Right now, I’m taking a mini-break from cleaning my stove, stove hood and oven. It ain’t a party. BJ

airth10 said...

I like that part about "coming to your sense". Literally you have heightened your other senses. It is like you've had a 'paradigm shift' where you're awareness of your world comes in a different way.

Infidel753 said...

BJ, have you asked your doctor about possible future stem-cell-based treatments for retinits pigmentosa? I know there is research being done on it, though I'm not familiar with the details. It's possible that there could be something in development right now that would be ready for use on patients in a year or two.

B.J. said...

Airth, that is a meaningful comment! I-753: The Foundation Fighting Blindness (formerly the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation) has all the latest research on its Web site: blindness.org. Lots of good research going on, which gives me great hope for younger family members, including my son. Thanks so much for your interest. BJ

Tiny said...

BJ, you never cease to amaze us. You have proved we are never too old to learn. Tiny had to check out your bumps and dots, which had
been taken for granted as "that's just the way things are." But now know there is a reason for "that's just how things are." You are a great teacher as well as a great lady. Next thing we know, you will be telling us how pigs fly! LOL

We appreciate all that you do and all the inportant information you bring to us. Keep up your good work. You are a great inspiration to those of us who are tempted, at times, to throw up our arms and surrender seemingly insurmountable issues.

B.J. said...

Tiny: You’re a pretty good inspiration yourself, a real grey panther fighting for her country! BJ

Infidel753 said...

You know, I can forgive Bush for a lot of things, but for the stem-cell research restrictions, never. Most people have no idea how much that one thing has cost humanity.

I know a person who is 76 and has suffered considerable eyesight loss due to macular degeneration. Her doctor is keeping it at bay via therapy which involves regular eye injections, but that's all it's doing -- keeping the damage from getting worse. Macular degeneration has been cured in lab animals -- this was done several years ago -- but the work necessary to adapt the cure for humans involves using human stem cells, and thus could not be done in the US while Bush was President. There will be a cure for human macular degeneration in a few years. If it weren't for Bush, we might already have it right now.

There are many other common medical conditions, some of which cause intense suffering, for which cures have been similarly delayed by the restrictions.

I realize that wasn't the main point of your posting, but this is a sore subject with me.

Good Southern Man said...

Infidel, I love your comments and your passion. I have read what comes to me about RP and think that stem cells will halt any further degeneration. I am not sure that new growth will occur to correct RP. They once thought this halting and early prevention could be done with large doses of Vitamin A but I haven't really heard that much about that treatment lately. If anyone knows anything more or different, please comment.

B.J. said...


First, let me say that RP is RAMPANT in my family, going back six generations on my father’s side. Ten of his 12 siblings had it. Three of my four siblings have it. My son has it. We have all had good life stories, so life, indeed, has been worth living, even with a defective gene. I have had such great role models in my life, particularly my daddy. Please read my post about him!

The mapping of the human genome was such an amazing breakthrough. The gene which causes RP has been isolated, and it has been determined that while normal retina cells produce waste and rid themselves of it, RP retinal cells are unable to, and hence the deterioration. Several years ago, the Foundation Fighting Blindness ran an article titled, “Vision restored in large RP canine model.” Your friend can find all the latest at blindness.org, or if she cannot read the site, you might keep her posted..

Embryonic stem cell research offers great promise. Throughout the history of medicine there have always been those who wanted to stick with the old methods – think blood-letting – or opposed them for religious reasons. Who would have thought the cure for cholera was simply drinking lots of water! I am Christian, but I have enough sense to know we cannot let religious fanatics get in the way of medical progress.

Finally, GSM’s father is my nephew and has RP, thus his interest. To answer GSM: I received all the information about Vitamin A palmitate (and it has to be palmitate), but rejected the idea when I realized I would be takeg mega-doses – I believe it was something like 16,000 units a day. I’m not taking large doses of anything. In most cases, the body has the remarkable ability to heal itself, and I think doctors are unnecessarily pumping far too many meds into patients. I do not know what effect years of these large doses have had, but will try to research that for you.

Now, I seem to be suffering from a bad case of hypergraphia!

I-753, enjoy the post about my daddy.

Bye, guys. I’ve had one ear on “E.R.” This will make the third episode of “E.R.” I’ve ever “watched,” but I have friends who are really into it, so thought I would join them in saying farewell.


Infidel753 said...

BJ, thanks for the link. I see what you mean about his great strength of character. I know we can achieve a world where no one has to face such adversity. I hope we get there as fast as possible.