Hello there, and welcome to my new blog! I’m Ertay and in this blog I will talk about my hobbies. This blog will mostly be aimed at people who are blind or visually impaired. However, if you are neither of those, stick around and you will get a closer look into the life of a sightless individual..
Growing up, I had always suspected there was something wrong with my eyes. One evening, back in the spring of 1998, my dad took me and my three year old brother to the marina here in Struga. The marina was dark, but this was a great opportunity for my father to give us an astronomy lesson. I learned two things that night. The first one was, Ursa Major and how to find the North Star - Polaris. The second thing I learned was, my brother could see things that I could not. What a brat! :)
The following day my mother took me to the doctor and I was prescribed glasses. That day, my life changed. The difference was astounding. In today’s terms, it was pretty much like going from VHS to Blu-Ray video. All the stars that my brother could see and I had no idea they existed? That was history now.
Unfortunately, as I was getting older and got into my late teens, that feeling of suspicion that something was wrong resurfaced. One of the first symptoms was adapting from dim light indoors to the bright light outdoors (and vice versa). The photochromic lenses on my glasses adapted faster than my eyes would. So, I started blaming the glasses “These things are making my eyes slack!”.
Another thing that I had heard a few times from my friends and family was “Didn’t you see me waving my hand?”. That question was asked to me by people walking next to me, so that ‘waving hand’ should’ve been picked up by my peripheral vision. I never gave it much thought and brushed it off as lack of attention. Then there were the occasional bumps into other people coming from sides (periphery) and tripping on random objects on the street.
Now, if you are a good ophthalmologist (unlike mine that I went to at the time), you should have an idea where this is going. In 2014, I was diagnosed with a condition named, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Doesn’t it sound like a Harry Potter
spell curse? Shortly, due to a genetic error, this disorder makes the cells in the retina (cones and rods), kill themselves. In some cases, this leads to complete blindness. As of this moment, there is no known cure, but with the latest technological advancements, there are a few different approaches to treating (and hopefully curing) this disorder. Right now, I am legally blind. I still have some vision left, so I’m hoping the cure comes sooner rather than later. I don’t know what I would give to experience that ‘standard TV resolution’ into ‘HD resolution’ change again. Maybe this time it’s going to be even better: ‘audio’ into ‘video’.
Why write this blog?
There are millions of people suffering from the same disorder that I do and my goal is to help them find exciting and fun things to do to cope with the disorder and be happy.
Finding out that I was going blind wasn’t easy. I’ve had good and bad days. In this blog, I will talk about stuff that increased the number of those good days and how I became happier in general thanks to those new hobbies in my life.
As my eyesight deteriorated fast after the diagnosis, I realized I couldn’t do some of the things I enjoyed anymore. The first one was photography, where the most important thing you need is being able to see thing. Ironic, right? Then that was followed by video games. As games became more realistic and much more detailed, I couldn’t track what was happening on the screen anymore. Therefore, this thing that I really loved doing turned into a huge frustration.
After that, I briefly did some running, followed by getting into Lego bricks, until the former became stressful and dangerous while the latter became a chore. Fishing for little, differently colored bricks for hours is not fun, at all!
This meant I had to find new hobbies. Hobbies that require zero or minimal vision to enjoy as anyone else would. Now, I want to share those new and exciting things with others like me.
A close friend of mine suggested audiobooks. Around the same time I came across a Reddit thread about Star Wars novels and saw some positive comments about the production value of the Star Wars audiobooks. I got Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn - the first book in the Thrawn Trilogy and was instantly hooked. 2 years later, I have listened to over 80 audiobooks.
Last year, I found a study that aerobic exercise could potentially slow down the deterioration of my vision, so I started doing some research to find a physical activity that wasn’t dangerous for me (I’m looking at you running/cycling) and wasn’t boring. That’s when I discovered indoor rowing. What a fantastic cardio workout! I’ve seen some people combine audiobooks with indoor rowing, but I still have not given that a shot.
The above two hobbies are great, but they are solo activities. The latest thing I got introduced to is board games. Now, if you are not familiar with this niche activity, you are probably thinking about Monopoly or Scrabble. Recently, I read a very accurate comment about this:
Monopoly is the silent movie era of board games.
There are some incredibly fun games that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. Some require eyesight, but there are plenty of accessible games out there that can be enjoyed to the fullest by visually impaired people.
Until next time…
This ended up being a bit long, but if you got this far, thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed it. I would love to hear your stories or experiences in the comments below or if you prefer a more private conversation you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the activities mentioned above in more detail with accessibility reviews and other content.