About Philippa B

I am a visually impaired, dyspraxic person with CVI. I don’t always see things even when they’re right in front of me. Follow my musings and I hope we don’t get lost.

First Blog of the Year

Hello all,

So here we are a few weeks into 2022. It’s scary isn’t it?

Well I thought I’d take the time to stop and reflect a little on where I’m at after a busy 2021.

Last year I pushed myself out my comfort zone quite a bit with work and loved it. I’m aiming to do the same this year.

The other thing I really want to do more of this year is listen to more audio books. I know I said this last year. My brother got me another Audible Subscription. I recently finished Divergent Mind by Janera Nerenberg. This book was fabulous. It really resonated with me a lot of the things she was saying.

It can be very tough finding the answers you’ve been searching for for so long and never quite being able to understand. Books like Divergent Mind, Neurotribes By Steve Silberman and Odd Girl Out by Laura James are incurable reads. Which for me, really helped me to understand more of myself which I have never fully understood. But that’s not for this blog…

I don’t normally set a lot of goals for the year, I find when you do, you can get quite down when you don’t achieve them. But I would love to listen to more audiobooks. I want to go to London and visit my brother. I would also love to be able to see more of my friends.

We all know the last few years has been exceptionally hard. I’ve just had a few days off and the other day I got to see my friend who I haven’t seen in two years. We went for afternoon tea. It was lovely. We didn’t hug. Hopefully next time. Stupid Rona. I missed my friend. 

I hope you all have plans for 2022 which you manage to achieve.  Remember if you can’t achieve them all, It’s OK. Set a few loose ones you know you want to achieve. Then you can feel accomplished and feel better.

I’m off now, I have a few things to crack on with. But I’ll be back soon.

I’m on Twitter @PhilippaB

December 2021

Hello all,

It’s midway through December and I am feeling a bit tired. This morning I have been doing a few bits of editing on my blog, like updating my fundraising info.

This year has been full of new challenges for everyone and as we look forward to 2022 I think we are all hoping for a better year ahead.

I have been able to complete my fundraising challenge for The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. This was my way of celebrating turning 30. It was additionally important for me to mark this milestone as it was also my 30th Anniversary of having open heart surgery.

Thank you for helping me raise money for a brilliant cause. 

As we go into the final week before Christmas there’s still a whole load of wrapping to do which I will try and get stuff done this weekend. I have a few days off over Christmas which I am really looking forward too. Then a few days booked off in a January.

Anyway, I am off now a bit and I will try be a back again later.  

Shopping when you’re Visually Impaired

Hello all, 

Been having a bit of think about what the next blog post would be. After some deliberation and a spark of inspiration it hit me…. Shopping! 

Today we went to M&S to do some Christmas shopping. It is better to go during the week for me as it is not too busy and therefore not overwhelming…well….

When we got inside I felt OK as it was not too busy at all. Then we wandered around and after a few moments I felt a bit like my heart was racing a little faster than normal. I told myself it was OK and just reminded myself why this was.

Why was this you ask?

One of my visually impairments is Cerebral Visual Impairment, which means my eyes and brain don’t always get along. The messages my eyes are receiving are not being interpreted by brain. This isn’t great, but now that I know why this is it’s easier to manage the emotions which are caused by it.

I will write you something about CVI later on. But if you want know more, please check out the CVI Society.

When we were in M&S I became quite overwhelmed. One of the reasons for this is that there is a lot of colour and shapes and the lighting is quite intense (hence why I wear sunglasses)

Having colours can be very helpful in some ways as it means colours can be associated with things. For example, if I am trying to find the right size of clothing, I can say size x is y colour. Then I am not having to look for small writing. This is great for my Nystagmus, so I don’t have to focus on tiny writing. But its not great for my CVI because if there’s a lot of colour and shapes and ‘stuff’, my head just goes ‘waaah…wait…hang on….nope. Too much information at all once…’ This will then result in either a ‘shut down’ or ‘meltdown’.

A shut down is where everything just needs to stop and I need to sit down. Preferably on the floor to feel grounded and allow myself to sit eyes closed and head in hands. It reduces my need to take in sensory information. 

A meltdown is similar in that it is your body telling you no! It is a way for you to physically express the emotions you can not verbally express during a melt down. This is not, I repeat not, the same as a toddler having a tantrum.

Shopping can be very stressful for those with CVI and we need coping mechanisms. One of which is going shopping on a quieter day. We shouldn’t have to just shop online. This can be just as bad if website accessibility is not user friendly. But that’s a blog for a different time. 

One thing I like to do which is important to those of us who are Visually Impaired is feel the clothing. As we don’t have the ability to take in things visually in the same way seeing people do, yes I am calling you that, we rely on our other senses. I found some great PJs  and they went straight in the basket after I felt how soft they were.

I was mooching around the bedding section, I love bedding, only to find myself feeling all the fleecey stuff. I stopped and said excuse me to someone who’s trolley I nearly bumped into, but they said it’s OK and let me go past. This was nice as they recognised my cain and didn’t tut at me. Which does happen.

Anyway, overall M&S was nice and I like shopping there for various things. They are always happy to help. Which is a massive part of shopping. 

Have a nice evening all and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you,
Philippa B. 

Homedics Spa Heel Smoother

Hello all,

I am back again with a post which isn’t as heavy as last time.

If you dint read my last post you can read it here. It was all about Disability Hate Crime and what I have experienced recently. 
In time I will revisit this topic, as it a topic which people don’t aways think about when we talk about Hate Crime. 

Anyway, moving on to this weeks blog. One area of self care which people may tend to forget is our feet. We use them day to day and we can often forget about them. 


A few weeks ago I noticed a rough patch of skin on the back of my heel, then one appeared on my other foot. Yesterday I got out my Homedics Spa Heel Smother to get rid of the dead skin on my feet and make them nice and smooth.

There are a few pads in the box which you can swap between, one is like a normal file to break down chunks of hard skin. The other is like a small piece of rough textured paper, they’re called heel smother buffing discs. This is good for the slightly rougher areas of skin. You can buy these separately.

I decided to use the buffing discs. After struggling a little I managed to get the adhesive off the back and stick it down onto the circular top. This you then click onto the base of the Homedics Spa Heel Smother.

Sitting down I put one leg up and onto my other leg so I could see under my foot. Then I turned on the heel smoother. It has a click button you push side to side so it’s easy to tell which mode you have it on. I only use number two because it is a good speed. After about five minutes my heels were buffed and so were my big toes.

As someone who is Visually Impaired and Dsypraxic this little device is quite handy as all you have to do is hold the heel smoother and move it around. It is shaped like the bottom of pop bottle, rounded edges with grooves so you can hold it easier.

The only issue I have had with it is when I used the metallic piece to get off the harder skin on my big toe. I wasn’t sure how hard to press and for how long. This then lead me to cutting my toe because it had worn away at the hard skin too much.

This was a while ago and I put a plaster on it and limped around for a while. But at least the dead skin was gone.

Over all its something which is very handy to have because it wears down the skin easily enough and its easy to hold.

Unfortunately the model I own seems to be no longer available. You can still buy newer models. Give it a go and let us know how you get on. 

I’m on Twitter.

Disability Hate Crime

Hello again,

I have been thinking about what to write for my blog and I made a decision based on three things:

An article I saw only in the Yorkshire Evening Post
An event on the train
An event going to get my lunch 

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post regarding Disability Hate Crime in West Yorkshire. The article talks about how West Yorkshire has the highest rate of Disability Hate Crime in the UK. This makes me quite sad and very angry. As a Disabled Person I should be able to go out and about without the fear of people hating me due to my Disability, or for any reason. No one should have to put up with that.

A few days ago I was getting off the train. The doorway was quite narrow as it was an old train. I went to get off and as I was doing so three people in succession stepped onto the train and bustled past me in the narrow entrance saying ‘sorry’. For those who don’t know I am a long cane user. This means I use a white cane with a rollerball tip to navigate spaces around me. If you image getting off a train with someone walking towards you with a white cane do you honestly think it’s safe to push past them in a narrow train door way? No it is not. You could trip over my cane and fall, I could misjudge the gap between the train and the platform edge meaning I or you fall and seriously injure yourself.

As I got off a lady offered her arm and asked if I was ok. I said yes thank you and thanked her again for waiting. 

The third thing I am basing this post on is an event from yesterday. I was out to get my lunch in town and as I was walking with my cane, something happened. A lady was walking in front of me and as I walked past she said quite openly ‘You don’t need that…faker….you’re putting it on’. Now I am still wearing a mask when out and about, so I was able to pull a face which showed displeasure at this. I also scoffed. Which she clearly didn’t hear.

You might think I should have said something, but I was on my own. You have to wonder if they are willing to act blatantly ableist like that in the middle of a busy high street on a weekend, how are they going to react when confronted?

After posting about these various events on Twitter I got kind words from people asking if I was OK and expressing their concerns.

A few weeks another event occurred walking home. I was again minding my own business when two people wandered past and called me a blind c****. This I was upset by as I was already tired form a long day. But again what can you do? You can’t react because you don’t know how they will react.

The whole point of this blog is to make you aware that these things are happening to Disabled People and it can be very upsetting. It makes it more difficult to want to go out and leave the house.

If you experience someone who is being heckled or having insults thrown their way it can be difficult to know how to react. Potentially ask the person if they are OK? Maybe this will make the person who is being abusive stop as their actions have been noticed. I am not entirely sure how to fix this issue.

It’s upsetting and I wish the world was a nicer place.

Anyway I am cold. I’m off. 

An accessible Dehumidifier?

Hello all, 

This blog might seem a bit boring but I wanted to write it. 

About a week ago my dehumidifier got a crack in it and started leaking. Which is quite dangerous when you can’t see very well and there’s a leak you don’t notice until there is water which you step in and get a soggy sock. Which is how I found out. Which wasn’t good because it was near a plug…

Anyway, we put a big tray underneath to stop the water going near the plug. We then realised it was a leak. So I pulled out the water collector and had a look inside. I could feel a crack on the dehumidifier itself. I unplugged it and decided it was time to buy a new one.

I decided to buy the sam model. It’s a Dimplex one.

Why am I reading this? What are you writing about a dehu for?

The reason I thought I’d write this is because it’s a good little purchase. One of the things I find good is how accessible it is to me. Yes a dehumidifier which is accessible.

The light indicators are a good size. When it’s green it means the room is just right, when it’s blue that means it’s too damp, when its red it means the room is too dry. This is great because if you’re visually impaired you want to have things which are more accessible too you visually or, in a tactile format when it comes to things like this. 

When it comes to the physical buttons they are a good size, the power button, one which is for the timer, you can have it on for up to 8 hours. The third is for the level humidity you want it at – I think I have it on this one all the time. Then I turn it off whenever I want to.

Getting the container out is ok, you have curved edges on the side of the container so you can put your hands in the right place to pull it out. The only issue is that it is a bit cumbersome in that there’s no way to grip it. Ideally it would be nice if you could grip it better.

The tank which collects the water is also good because it is see through. So someone can see how full it is, but you have a light indicator for this. It flashes red when it’s full.

But here’s the really impressive thing. The how to booklet which comes with it is huge! I could read it without any help. The font is a good size and the diagrams are easy to see. I was thoroughly impressed and the booklet alone is reason enough to buy it in my opinion.

Don’t just take my word for it. Argos shoppers, where I bought it from, have giving it some great ratings.

This blog post is not sponsored by Dimplex, I just wanted to write about it because I’m quite impressed.

Enjoy your day. Let me know what purchase you’ve made which accessible to you. 

A white dehumidifier on the floor, it has a grill on the top, with three buttons on top.

I’m back

Hello all,

Sorry that it has been a while since my last post. I have been taking some time away.

I am also on holiday from work this week which is nice. Over the past few days I have just been relaxing and doing nothing. Sometimes you need to do that.

Anyway I will try be back on here a little more and get back into my weekly posts where I can. Still here, still posting, just having some me time. Last month work was very busy and I just needed to take a step back from this blog and focus on that. Otherwise there’d of been too many plates spinning at once. Which is not good for me. 

I have also been taking a break from Instagram. Its too much at times to have all these social media accounts vying for your attention. A long time ago I took time away from Facebook. It has been nice to not be on there to be honest, I check in from time to time. But very rarely. It can be good to take time away.

That’s it for today.

@PhilippaB 

Living with Chronic Illness

Hello all,

In the last few days the Chronically Ill Community has been angry, upset and frustrated. The reason why? A TV programme being broadcast by the BBC called Sickness and Lies.

As soon as this came out, on the 5th August, so many Chronically Ill and Disabled people took to Twitter voice their disgust at a programme which is only going to add to the fuelling of Disability Hate Crime.

There is a lot of talk about hate crime, but not a lot about Disability Hate Crime. The conversations about its impact usually only take place amongst the Disabled Community. But I’m not here to talk about Disability Hate crime in general, I am here to discuss the idea of the programme ‘Sickness and Lies’.

I have watched the clip of the programme and from what I have watched I will not be watching the programme. The reason being that I believe it will just add to my already existing anger and frustration around people who believe that the community is faking it.

People like myself have a right to find community online, as we don’t always get to meet others like ourselves in day to day to life. We don’t always feel like we can go out and about and meet up with people and do stuff because we are in pain and exhausted from being in pain all the time.

It is exhausting.

To then find these articles online and TV programmes where people are exploring the ideas that there are people out there who are ‘faking it’, just makes us feel even more tired and frustrated. When you see other topics surrounding the way Disabled people are treated through disability claims, or even when they’re out and about is just adding to the feelings of frustration and anger.

All these things also generate the ‘faking it’ culture which people are lead to believe by the media. When in actual fact those claiming Disability Benefits who are faking it has been proven to be relatively low.

What I would hope the BBC follow up with is a programme about why this programme is so controversial. So they can look through social media and find comments made about their programme and enquire if those who are Chronically ill would be willing to speak to them about life with a chronic illness.

This maybe beneficial as it would allow the community to discuss their feelings about the programme. It would also allow the community to explore why more and more people are opening up about their chronic illness.

This would allow those watching it to recognise that is hard to live everyday in pain, and that what someone like me considers to be a  normal pain day may actually be someone’s ‘I need to take the day off…’

All I want is for people to recognise the fact that living with a chronic illness is not easy, on many levels, and that we put up with a lot. That we don’t need these kinds of programmes to fuel culture of hate crime which already exists but a lot of people outside our community either chose to ignore or do not know about.

That could be a programme in itself.

Anyway I’m off.

If you could check out my fundraising page and maybe donate to help me a make a difference to those living with heart Disease that would be amazing. Thank you.



Heart Disease and Mental Health

Hello all, 

I hope you’re all well.

A while ago I had a chat with the Lead Nurse for the Yorkshire and Humber Congenital Heart Network. We had a great conversation about the staff and their jobs and how they support people living in our region who are living with Congenital Heart Disease. We also discussed what I have been doing with my fundraising. 

So for this blog I thought I would write about the impact of Mental Health when you are living with Congenital Heart Disease. 

Mental Health is important, but I often wonder how much emphasis is put on it for those of us living with the Congenital Heart Disease, or those of us who are living with Heart Disease. 

One thing which may not be aware of is that the congenital heart service has a dedicated counselling service for those who are under the care of the Heart Unit in Leeds. This is pretty amazing. Let me give you a bit of an understanding as to why mental health is so important to people like myself. 

Living with a heart condition whether it is something that has come at some point in your life or you were born with it, has an impact on your quality of life and therefore your mental health. 

Here are a few things you must consider, if like me you were born with Congenital Heart Disease. 

It is advised not to get to get tattoos or have piercings, but if you chose to you are advised to keep the broken skin clean. 

Oral Hygiene is important, for the same reason you are advised not to get tattoos or have piercings. You are at risk of Endocarditis.

‘Endocarditis is a rare and potentially fatal infection of the inner lining of the heart (the endocardium). It’s most commonly caused by bacteria entering the blood and travelling to the heart.’ The infection is caused by bacteria getting into your blood stream and making its way towards the heart.’ This was taken from the NHS website

For this reason I carry a medical warning card. (I will be writing another blog about this where I will go into more detail)

Here’s something people don’t often think about when going on holiday abroad: insurance. Due to my Congenital Heart Disease I have to get a high level of insurance when I go on holiday. So it costs a lot more money for me to just go on holiday with peace of mind. The other problem with insurance is that a lot of companies won’t even insure me. That’s a nice thought isn’t it, that my heart condition is too expensive. 

Another way of looking at this is, my life is too expensive for these big insurance companies to want to cover it. That it’s not worth the investment of their company to cover the cost of my life. That really takes its toll on your mental health. Am I not worth it? I am not worth them making money out of me because they know they would lose money insuring me. Let that sink in. 

The other thing which can have an impact on your mental health, which you may not consider is family planning. Yes, pregnancy and heart health are obviously linked. But did you know that if you had heart disease the chances of you having a baby with Congenital Heart Disease is slightly higher than the normal population. The normal population has about 1% chance of having a baby born with Congenital Heart Disease. If I ever have children that goes to between 2-4%. It could be as high as 50% in some cases. 

Imagine carrying a child knowing you are at a higher risk of having a baby with Congenital Heart Disease. This does not mean you shouldn’t have children. There are plenty of resources and support available to those who want to start a family. Knowing that there is support is important. I suppose you could always get in touch with the congenital team at Leeds  and discuss any issues and concerns, but your Doctor will also be able to help.

These are just three things which can have impact on your mental health. Three very big things, which are either big life events, or things which stop you from being able to do what you want. Well, they don’t stop you, but they will have major implications if things don’t go to plan, mostly these things involve your life. 

I am not saying these things to make you feel woe is me. I am saying them because they are true and they can have impact on your Mental health because you have to be a lot more careful than others. It’s not as easy as just go an do whatever you want, because you can’t. You have to really think before you plan a holiday. I don’t want to risk Endocarditis so I don’t have piercings or a tattoos. No I am not boring I just read the warning label and decided a piercing isn’t worth it. 

Over the past year I have been cycling and walking to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. I have just over 2 months to go and have raised £1467. I aim to raise £3000. 

In terms of miles I have done 943.77 miles. 

Raising the money is hard, but what’s harder is getting people to realise why I am raising the money. It’s not just about immediate implications of heart disease, it’s also the aftermath. Not being able to live your life how you fully want to due to the nature of your condition. This really takes its toll on those living with a heart condition. By supporting my fundraising you are helping to support those living with Heart Disease. 

Heart Disease doesn’t care that you can’t buy life insurance because of the Heart Attack you had. Heart Disease doesn’t car e you’re exhausted after walking up the stairs because of the Cardiac Arrest you had. It also doesn’t care if you want to have children. 

But the British Heart Foundation, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, they do care. They care about supporting those living with Heart Disease, they care about improving quality of life. They also care about beating heart disease. But they can’t do that without your support. 

Thank you for your support with my fundraising. I turn 30 in August. I was born with Congenital Heart Disease and had open heart surgery at a week old. It was on the 21st of August 1991. My Brothers 5th Birthday. 

Donate Here

All the info I have got for this blog has either been through my own conversations with Doctors or from this handy website here

Travel Kind

Hello all,

I have been rather busy with work lately so I haven’t had chance to do much writing. Today is my day off so I thought I’d do some.

In the past few weeks I have noticed a difference when traveling to and from work with the business of public transport. This has made it more tiring getting to and from work.

The differences have been that more and more people are using public transport as people start to return back to working in the office. At weekends more people are using public transport to go out into town.

What makes it even more tiring and stressful is that I am starting to notice people’s return to ‘normality’ when it comes to public transport.
By this I mean people are not always giving me space when I get on the train, they are not offering me a seat, they are cutting in front of me and my cane.

This is physically exhausting and mentally draining.

All I want is for people to respect my space and to just ask if I need help. It’s nice to be nice.

Looking down at my feet, wearing converse. My guideline is in between my feet.


However, I do try to focus on the good people do. For example a lady helped me cross a busy road and asked I needed help navigating some road works on the pavement ahead. I said I was fine and thank you for asking me if I needed help.

Another lady asked if I needed assistance on the escalator. She said she was’t sure whether to ask because she understands that Disabled people are capable of being independent. I replied saying that I would prefer if people asked, because in doing so you are showing you are being kind whilst respecting they might be perfectly fine. I thanked her for her help.

Please just be mindful as you go abut your day that all this ‘opening up’ business is very exhausting for Disabled People. I  wasn’t shielding I was going to work as normal when my work re open-end. It was much nicer for me travelling to work when it was less visually stressful. Please be aware of your surroundings and if you see someone who might need help, just ask. Personally I prefer this, then if I do need help if more people are offering, I don’t have to worry about finding someone to ask.

Thank you for reading. If you can please check out my fundraising page and help me raise £3k for the BHF and Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.