Navigating Visual Stress by using colours

Hello all,

The weather is most definitely on the turn. I do enjoy autumn. Currently sat with a nice cup of decaf tea. It’s after 2pm after all.

As a visually impaired person something I try to do is get things that are important in different colours. These colours tend to be bright so I can spot them. For example my purse is red, my yearly planner is red and my AirPods case is red. But you can see what the problem is here… everything is red. This means when I got my new phone and had to pick a case colour I opted for orange. I don’t have anything else orange.

These differences in colour are very helpful. Brighter colours enable me to spot objects and associate objects with colours. So if I am looking for something important I can find the colour. However due to the CVI this does not always help. My brain doesn’t always interpret what I am looking at. It can’t even think of colours at times because everything is overwhelming. Therefore I may just pick something up to see what it is if needs be.

CVI is something I have written about before and when I am tired it gets worse. This is because my brain cannot handle too much information at once. So by breaking things down through describing what I am looking for things can become more accessible.

Being Visually Impaired is exhausting constantly navigating a world where there is too much visual stress is overwhelming. So by breaking it down into colours or what shapes things are can make it easier.

What tips do you have to decrease your visual stress?

Thank you for reading and have a great day.
Philippa B.

A red purse and a red AirPods case.
Red Puurde and Red AirPods Case

Mind My Cain

Hello all,

It is Monday again which means it’s time for another blog post. This week I’m focusing on being a long cane user.

As you maybe aware I am Visually Impaired and use a long cane. In order for me to get around I sweep the cane across the floor in front of me to be able to find objects in my path. Including but not limited to steps, curbs, dogs and people.

Earlier this week I had gotten off the train and was making my way to the escalators. It was a busy morning and I was making my way to work. Someone was at the side of me and noticed my cane hit their leg, they looked down at my cane and continued to move forwards. The difficult and dangerous thing was that we were trying to get on the escalator. People at the other side of me noticed I had my cane, they stopped and let me get on. I said thank you.

My long cane in the centre, a red handle. In front is a train platform.

The person who had come into contact with my cane continued onto the escalator. I continued to use my cane to navigate onto the escalator and my cane caught between their legs. Once we were on the escalator I stood my cane in front of me and waited until we reached the top.

I put my cain out cautiously to find my way off. As I did this and moved forward the same person was caught by my cain.

The difficult thing with being a cain user is that we are using it for the right reasons. To discover obstacles in our path and navigate safely. The problem comes when others pay no attention. Mistakes can be made yes, but when someone actively notices your cain and continues to not give you the space you need to navigate safely then they are putting you and them at risk.

The danger in this situation is that the person who ignored my cain could have tripped up and slammed their head onto the escalator. I could have then fallen onto them. This would have been very dangerous for both us.

Similar situations can occur when cain users are crossing roads. If people ignore our cain and step into the road or don’t move out of the way then they could cause both of us to fall over.

When out and about people tend to have their headphones in to block out all the noise around them, which makes sense. But this can also mean you’re in your own little world.

This can lead to people being less aware of their surroundings. Meaning they may miss someone using a mobility aid. Which can have serious consequences.

All we ask is that you try be a bit more cautious. We are doing what we need to do to get around. We can’t travel at quieter times if we need to get to work. We shouldn’t have to travel at quiet times.

Please just be a little mindful and don’t rush people. Getting to work can be very hectic and can create stress. But if we all just try be a little more aware of our surroundings (unless, like me you’re Visually Impaired and find this difficult) we can all have an easier and smother time on public transport.

Thank you,
Philippa B. 

Moose Coffee

Hello world,

How are we all?

At the moment I am rather tired. So having to work only one day this week is great.

Something which I have been trying to do lately to try and reduce my tiredness is going out and seeing friends a bit more.

Often I really am too tired to be able to do this. Due to sensory overload and the general overwhelmingness of life doing things can be very exhausting for me. So I am trying to go out and do more of the things I enjoy. Like seeing friends.

Last week I went to Moose Coffee and we had a lovely time. Normally I struggle trying new places, but I thought it might be nice to give it a go.

The menu looked interesting and I had seen a delicious stack of pancakes on there so that was a win. While waiting for my friend I checked she would like to go there and she said yes so I booked a table. 

When we got there it was quite quiet, this was perfect for me. Trying new places can be too intense, so the fact it was quiet was a plus.

The space was open and airy and the lighting wasn’t t too bright. We got a window seat so we didn’t have to worry about people passing us on both sides.

The menu was quite small so my friend read it aloud to me. We chose drinks and ordered some water too. When it came to ordering food I chose the pancakes with Nutella and bananas with some syrup. The pancakes  were huge! There were three of them! My friend laughed as I put the Nutella on and asked if I had enough.

They were very soft and fluffy. There was plenty of Nutella, so I caked the pancakes in that. Once I had arranged my bananas I was happy to drizzle the syrup all over the top, lifting some of the pancakes to ensure the syrup went on the ones below.

A stack if pancakes, covered in Nutella, bananas and syrup.
Soft and Fluffy


The service at Moose Cafe was very nice, they brought it all in a timely manner and I did not feel rushed. If you have never been I would highly recommend it. We are absolutely going back.

When choosing somewhere new I tend to like places which will be quiet, or we go at times when we expect it to be quiet.

Being Visually Impaired I tend to rely on others to read my menu. Or I will look at the menu before we go so I know what I want. I did that with Moose Coffee, I saw the pancakes and knew that’s what I wanted.

It was nice to catch up with my friend and spend some time with them. I need to try do this more because it makes me happy. Doing more of the things you love gives you energy. I enjoyed my day. It was great to catch up and we did some shopping as well.

If I have not said already, you should go.

This week I am just relaxing and I am off to London on Friday to visit my brother. I am really looking forward to it.

Anyway, I am off now because I am tired thinking about those pancakes.

See you soon.
Philippa B. 

Enjoy the Sunshine Responsibly

Hello all,

The past few day have been rather hot. When the weather is like this it can be quite nice for a short period of time. However because we are not used to it in the UK the temperatures can be very uncomfortable.

Our houses are not designed for keeping cool. They are designed to stay warm. Which is not ideal when the thermometer is saying 45 degrees C outside.

During the hotter months of the year it is important that we stay cool and look after ourselves in the heat.
It is nice to be outside but we need to enjoy the hear responsibly.

If you have a heart condition it is especially important to take care of yourself. The British Heart Foundation has some amazing resources on their website. Remember to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water. You should also wear a hat and spend time in the shade.

If you keep your curtains pulled closed during the day you will stop the heat from warming your house. This is probably why in warmer countries they have small windows and shutters. To keep the heat out.

Anyway that’s it from me, I am far too warm and I have just had some lunch meaning I am now rather tired.

Enjoy the sun, but be sensible.

Philippa B.

Nystagmus Awareness Day 2022

Hello all,

Happy Nystagmus Awareness Day!

What is Nystagmus?
“Nystagmus is a complex eye condition, characterised by involuntary eye movements, from side to side, up and down or round and round. This affects the ability to focus, see the world in three dimensions and recognise faces.” Nystagmus Network.

How does it affect me?

For people with Nystagmus they have something called a null point which is a point at which they can hold their heads to reduce the amount of wobbling their eye does. Nice and simple… not really. It doesn’t stop the eye from wobbling and for myself this causes other problems, linked with Scoliosis.

If I have to hold my head at a certain angle to be able to reduce the eye wobble and try focus on something my neck will start to hurt. Which then spreads into my shoulder and then my back. This null point is not in keeping with what my posture needs to reduce the constant pain of Scoliosis. Therefore I just have to make the most of a bad situation.

How I see.

One thing which I think people would be interested to know is, what does the world look like to me? 

See the difference? It is as though there is constant motion and nothing ever stands still. I describe it to people like this ‘Imagine you have a terrible headache and you are stood up on a roundabout which is spinning. Then add to that by having to move around on the roundabout and stay stood up.

Does your head hurt? I know mine does.

Another problem for those of us who have Nystagmus is that we struggle to recognise faces. For children this can be stressful because if they can’t locate their parent in a crowd, they become stressed or panic.
This problem of recognising faces does not go away or improve as you get older. When I am out meeting friends I cannot see them until they are a few feet in front of me. Even then I may not be able to tell it is them.

How can you help someone with Nystagmus?
You can send them written information in formats they find accessible, meaning large font, or in a preferred colour. You can let them know in advance what coloured jacket you are wearing when you meet up. Or say exactly where you will meet them.

If you have any questions about Nystagmus you can drop them below and I can answer from my own perspective. Please check out Nystagmus Network for more details.

They have a wealth of information and they are really beneficial.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @PhilippaB.

Scoliosis and Community

As it is June I will be writing another post about… you guessed it… Scoliosis Awareness.

I have only ever met 3 people who have the condition. One of them is a friend of a friend. The other is a person I know through work. They are both really lovely and it is nice to be able to speak to people who have Scoliosis as it can be quite lonely at times.

It can be lonely because people don’t always understand when you say ‘my back hurts’. People may respond with ‘oh… mine too’ or ‘have you tried Pilates?’ Please don’t do this when someone who has Scoliosis or, any chronic condition tells you their back, or something else hurts.

My spine hurts because it is so curved my spine curves into my shoulder blade. It doesn’t go underneath but it goes rather close.

The other person I know who has Scoliosis is my Mum. Her spine is not as curved as mine, but it’s still curved.

As not a lot of people know about Scoliosis is can be quite lonely. This is why it is important to share our experiences. So we can raise awareness and allow people to feel less alone.

This is important because it helps reduce the negative impact on your Mental Health. If you know there are other people out there who have the same condition as you then you can talk to them. Talking about things like diagnoses, pain management or even just activities you enjoy which are low impact. I joked with the person at work about the gym and we were both just like ‘nope…. Physio exercises are enough thank you’. These little things really do help you to feel less alone. 

If you have stumbled across this blog and you have Scoliosis please follow me on Twitter and join the community of Scoliosis Warriors. 

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. 

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

Back to it again

Hello again, 

Hope you’re all well. This week has been the first week in about four months I have had to leave the house for work. This involves me getting on the train. 

The first day back on the train was ok. The conductor helped me on the train and to find a seat. If someone offers to find me a seat I say yes. The reason is that I have learned it takes away the visual stress of having to do this myself. As the trains are busier than I expected this is something I will continue to do. 

When I go into the station I use on my way to work I found that the one way system has been changed. This now means there is no one way system on the platforms themselves. Only on the bridge routes linking the platforms together. This I can see making life a bit more difficult as things get busier. If they keep the one way system on the bridges it will really help. 

One ways systems are better for Visually Impaired and Blind people because we don’t have to worry about navigating people coming towards us. It really reduces the levels of visual stress. 

Once I am off of the main bridge and down towards the barriers things became a bit stressful. The reason being they are relaying the floor. So there are barriers which means my brain cannot easily find a quick route around them. It wasn’t too busy so I just took a bit of time and wandered slowly where everyone else was going. Once through the barriers I noticed the same thing. I stopped. 

The issue is not just the visual stress, but the unexpectedness of the train station having work done to it. Once I knew where I could walk I just focussed on the exit and made my way towards it. 

The next issue with all of this is that I am using my long cane. This means I am sweeping the floor to find out where things are. So when a surface changes it can impact how I am going to navigate my way through the station. After a few trips to work and home I am feeling a bit better about it. 

I just want the work to be quickly so I don’t have to deal with ongoing upgrades to this station. 

The work they are doing though is very good. It will definitely modernise the station which is something that has been needed for years. One of the biggest improvements is the new glass ceiling. It really lets in a lot of light. Which compared to how it previously was is so much better. The ceiling used to be old darkened wood. 

Please be mindful while you are out and about as a lot of people are feeling anxious. Disabled People find travel difficult at the best of times and we are having to navigate a new way of travelling. We want to be able to get out, get to work, see our friends. We just need you to be patient with us. Going back to normal is a scary thought for some of us. I am not looking forward to jam packed trains and people pushing and shoving me because they can’t wait. Lets just be nicer and be mindful of others as we ease out of this lock down. 

Be back soon, 

Philippa B. 

While you’re here please check out my fundraising page.

my guide cane is in the foreground, there are two blue seats the background facing me, with two 'Out Of Use' signs pace on the tops of the seat.

Where to sit?

April Update

Hello again, 

How are you?

I am dropping in to tell you about the last few weeks. 

It’s been quite difficult in some ways as I had a piece in the news paper about my fundraising. Talking about being born with Congenital Heart Disease is very difficult. It was hard to articulate my emotions around it and my feelings now I am going to be turning 30. Having my story shared in the paper was a good thing overall as it hopefully has allowed me to make other people feel less alone. 

One thing I have aimed to do with this fundraising is to share my story as it may help others feel less alone. When you are going through something as horrible as my family did, you are feeling alone. You don’t know what do. So by me sharing my story I hope to also make other people feel like there can be hope. Hope that their child can have a future. 

As well as raising the £3000 for the British Heart Foundation and the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, I also want to encourage people to think about the long term impacts of Heart Disease. For myself it was just the beginning. If you have read any of my other blogs you will know I am also Visually Impaired. This has a massive impact on my life. Heart Disease is not just about your heart, it is everything else which goes with it. 

But this blog is not a woe is me, it’s a look what I am doing with the problems I have. I am aiming to raise awareness in the hope that others know that they are not on their own. That no matter what happens I hope they can find the support they need to live their lives as much as possible. I know I am very lucky. Even with all my other health problems. It’s about what you make of what you’ve got. 

Please do not assume that I am happy all the time, everyone has days where they feel down. Emotions are a part of life. If you need help I hope you can find someone to help. That help can even be in the form of just reading this blog to know you are not alone and someone out there understands a bit of how you’re feeling.

I have found it so moving hearing from people who they have in their lives who has a heart condition. It makes me feel connected to them in some way. It makes me really want to keep pushing on and raise this money. 

Me on the front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post. Headline 'I will be forever greatful'
Yorkshire Evening Post

In the past few days my fundraising has reached £1347!!! I have to reach £3k. That will be £1500 for each charity. If you can donate please follow this link. If you can share my page please do. Thank you so much for your kind donations in helping me to raise this money. It really means a lot to me.

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you want to follow me on instagram it’s @VisuallyImpairedPip

or my fundraising Twitter @PhilippaB