Finding My Way – Part One

Assalamualaykum/hello readers! In this new series titled ‘Finding My Way’, I’ll be writing about my mobility training sessions in detail to give an idea of what it’s like for me, being visually impaired, to learn how to use a cane and acquire new skills. I hope you enjoy the series. I welcome all questions, comments and feedback so do get in touch once you’ve finished reading 🙂 

(If you’re new to the blog, please check out About Me here. Thanks.) 

10:00 am 
I’m sitting here waiting for Michelle (The mobility training officer) to arrive. She’s just called a while ago to say that she’s running a bit late. I’m scared to feel this much anticipation but can you blame me?! It’s been so long since I was put on the waiting list to receive mobility training! So there’s a mix of excitement, nerves, happiness and possibly a little trepidation. Things haven’t been going too well lately and I’ve had my hopes dashed before. But I’m reminding myself that I need to trust the Almighty – completely. 
On another note, I’ve actually felt quite positive for the first time in a while! I’ve tried so hard to find the positivity these few months but it just wasn’t coming. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand it. I’ve never struggled like this before. Then I realised that this is also a test and I must be patient. Even if I don’t yet understand. It made it a bit easier to bear. 
But alhamdulillah it returned yesterday morning! It felt FANTASTIC! My smile feels real again. The world seems like a much brighter place. 

Now onwards and upwards inshaAllah. I’m not silly.. I know that I’m going to have good days and bad days. But now that I’ve had a taste of a good day again, I’m going to savour the sweetness. 
11:08 am 

Well, I can say that that was a successful first session! Alhamdulillah. I met the lovely Michelle. We had a long chat about my level of vision at the moment. I described it using visual aids such as the ones I used in this blog post

We both think Alex Garant is a wonderful artist! Here’s some of her work: (To see more, please visit http://www.alexgarant.com

  
It’s incredible how accurately this represents keratoconus vision. Although I must say it’s been a few years since my vision was this good! 

Michelle explained that there’s no time limit on training – it takes as long as it takes, which is reassuring. We’ll be covering different cane techniques, how to travel safely on buses and generally be more independent. 
We then went out (after Michelle made lots of notes in her diary!) so my cane skills could be assessed. The   one I’m using at the moment is called a guide cane and has a pencil tip. 

 

A guide cane

 (image from http://www.rnib.org.uk
I did tell her that I’ve learnt my skills from YouTube – it’s not the recommended way but I’d been waiting a while so I thought I’d help myself out. Apparently I’ve done well although there’s room for improvement. That was to be expected lol!
We stopped after a few minutes and I was asked to describe what I could see in front of me. The answer – not much lol. I can see colours and I know there were some trees but it all faded out after about 5 metres and I had no idea there was a lamppost there. 

After walking two blocks, we stood on a quiet street and I was asked if I could work out which direction the cars are coming from and which way they’re going. That’s when all traffic died away. Lol we must’ve waited for ages! It did make it easier to hear the few cars that passed. I’m pleased to announce that my hearing passed muster! All present and correct. Which is great to know, of course. 😛
We got back to the house and made an appointment for the next session – tomorrow! I’ll be going to the low vision centre and will practice using a long cane. I’ll learn some new techniques which will go a long way towards helping me become more independent inshaAllah. 
Good things definitely come to those who wait 🙂 

I hope you enjoy reading this series and if you have any questions, please just ask! I can be reached through email at gutlessninja@hotmail.com and do follow me on Facebook and Instagram

Until next time! 

Taraweeh Reflections and Gratitude.. 

  
Assalamualaykum/hello readers!

I hope Ramadhan is going well if you’re taking part. If not, I hope you’ve been as well as can be 🙂 

I’ve had such a fantastic response to the article I shared in my last post. It’s made me realise just how many people feel left out because they’re unable to fast – yet they may actually be receiving MORE reward for their intentions and wanting to partake in this act of worship. We definitely need more material aimed at those who are being drawn closer to Allah through their trials. 

Last night, I attended Taraweeh prayer for the first time this Ramadhan. All I can say is SubhanAllah (Glory be to God). It was beyond incredible! One hour and 45 minutes of sweet, sweet recitation and standing in front of my Lord. Such a blessing and I’m feeling so grateful that I was given this chance. 

Unfortunately I thought I’d be a hero and not only pray half of the prayers standing up (it causes me pain at the best of times) but also to cause maximum discomfort to myself by not calling my brother who was in the men’s side and ask for a chair. We went quite late so the chairs were all taken. Ahh when will I learn?! As a result, I’m in a lot of pain today BUT it’s definitely worth it! I want to go again today but now I’m not so sure I’ll manage two days in a row! 

I made a decision to deliver a talk this Saturday. I miss the atmosphere at the Masjid, the sisterhood, the love. It’s what kept me going these few years and I feel awful that I just stopped my talks. I know I had to but even so. 

Good health is a blessing many of us don’t appreciate enough, myself included. It could always be so much worse. I think I have it bad sometimes, being partial sighted, missing half my insides and generally being sore.. But I’m (mostly!) sane Alhamdulillah. I can hear perfectly well. (Selective hearing is another issue 😉 ) I’ve managed to listen to live taraweeh from Makkah almost every day. Alhamdulillah. Quran soothes me. I have a very, very loving and supportive family. Everyone has their struggles. I’m grateful that I’m living in peace. For not having to worry about anything major. For being able to breathe without assistance. For being given knowledge. For being given a heart that works perfectly. For being so blessed. And for being given the ability to keep going, keep smiling and not give up. This is truly a blessing and I pray that it’s never taken away from me. 

Allah says:

” ….and if you [try to] count the blessings of Allah (God), never will you be able to count them.”

[Surah Ibrahim : 34]

How true is this?! 

(I stopped writing there. Continuing after two days…) 

I can’t believe it’s the 6th fast already. Soon the first 10 days will be up. Life is so fleeting.. 

I’ve been struggling with Tramadol withdrawal and heightened anxiety again. A doctor has decided I don’t need pain relief anymore. The less said about that, the better. I wish I wasn’t addicted to this drug but not being on it has made me realise how much pain it was blocking. Maybe Allah wants me to gain maximum reward this Ramadhan, hence the pain. The shakes, restless muscles and insomnia are harder to deal with. Sometimes I’m in so much pain it actually forces me to wake up when I’ve only just nodded off. Sheesh, I didn’t know I HAD so many bones and muscles in my body until they started hurting! But none of this is wasted as long as I believe in Allah and am patient inshaAllah. 

It’s reminded me again how I am nothing, absolutely nothing, without my Lord. We tend to think too big at times and that can lead to arrogance – when we have more faith in our God-given abilities than in God Himself. It’s an important lesson for me. And I’m grateful.. How can I not be, when Allah is reminding me to remove arrogance from my heart and rely only on Him? 

I attended Taraweeh two nights ago and my body still hasn’t quite recovered. I know I’m weak, and it’s hard to comes to terms with. Due to other reasons, I haven’t been able to go again but I’m still hopeful for reward.  

Rosie, my wonderful stoma, has been joining in with wishing the fasting ones well. Almost every day at Iftar when we sit down to eat, she decides to make her presence known by making rude noises. Loudly. So lovely and thoughtful of her. 

And lastly, this has been an unusual week for me in that I revealed who I was to a rather large number of people. My blog has always been anonymous apart from the very few close friends I’d told. I felt I could be more open that way but I decided to change that, be myself. If anything, it shows I’m really not ashamed of what’s happened to me. If you’re one of those people and you’re discovering a whole new side to me (I never usually go into detail about my illness) then I ask for your patience. This blog is honest. My thoughts aren’t always going to make you feel comfortable and enlightened. This is what chronic illness and pain does. There’s a stigma associated with invisible illnesses that I want to eradicate. We are human. No one can be strong 100% of the time. There are times when our faith is unshakeable. Then there are also times when we feel the earth has become constricted despite being so spacious, there is a darkness within us, the pain becomes unbearable so we cry, beg and plead with the Almighty to remove this affliction. Does it make us any less grateful? No. Because we’re turning to the One who created us, the only One who can remove this and trusting in Him completely. 

You see, chronic illness is different to having a flu or fever. With a flu, you feel absolutely rotten for a few days but you know you’ll get better. Chronic illness, however, stays around. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s there in my bones when I wake up each morning and can’t move for the stiffness in my joints. It’s there when I’m so exhausted I can’t do a thing. It’s there when I have to turn down invitations and cancel plans because my body has a warped way of showing me who’s boss. 

I write these things so people realise how difficult it is to live with IBD. But despite it all, I’m grateful for the many, many blessings I DO have. If I could go back and change everything that’s happened in the last five years, I wouldn’t. My tests have strengthened me and made me the person I am. They have been a blessing from my Lord. 

Trusting in Allah

I do not expect your pity but I ask that you be kind and understanding. That is all. 

As always, please feel free to get in touch with me through email, Facebook and Instagram. I love hearing from you all! Details on the ‘Get In Touch’ page. If this is your first visit to my blog, do read my About page. Any questions, just ask! 

Stay happy. 

Please remember me and everyone else who’s facing difficulties in your prayers.