Sightless But Not Hopeless
Welcome to my life and blog!
This being my first entry, I thought it would be great if you got the chance to get to know me first.
Then when I write about things in future posts you will have some sort of idea of what captivated my attention, what interest (or disinterest) me.
An Intro to Me
Well, my name is Nicholas Ludersamy, people call me Nicki, and I live in Malaysia, in the state of Selangor. I have an eye condition called retinal detachment which had gradually affected my eyes since the age of two. By age eight, I had completely lost the sight in my left eye as a result of poor diagnosis. Around this time, another eye specialist discovered that I was having a similar problem in the right eye, and I was referred to the National Eye Hospital for further treatment.
My parents and family sought further opinions with an eye consultant abroad, who began one of many surgeries to my right eye from the age of ten. From there onwards, my vision had been restored to about 10-15% though the left vision was untreatable.
To make matters worse, about the same time, I was also diagnosed with bilateral high-frequency hearing loss in both ears and was fitted with my first hearing aid. Well, in some way it felt cool wearing these devices!
I was a kid and impersonated myself to the likes of the Million-Dollar Man, RoboCop, Terminator..... Mmmm..... those kiddie days...... hehehe. Currently, I'm using digital hearing aids which are more advanced than those analog ones back in the 90s.
I have no siblings (SIGH..... or is it a blessing??) and live with my parents, but now I am living with my mother as papa passed on a few years ago. They are everything to me and will always be everything to me.
Loss of Right Eye Vision
Sometime in late December 2011, just after Christmas, I noticed my vision was like seeing double. Not sure what caused it but I was feeling terribly unwell during this period. Back at the eye hospital, my eye specialist couldn't pinpoint anything though knew something was up. Then, still unable to bear with my body aches, fever, etc. I was taken to my physician at the local medical centre, and after the blood samples were taken, the results showed I had Influenza B. GOSH!
They gave me the Influenza jab and medication and after a week, I was feeling normal again.... except my vision. No changes. Could the influenza have triggered it??
In early 2012 I made an appointment to see my eye consultant abroad. After several other eye scans, the problem was finally diagnosed as scar tissue development on the retina.
Disruption of central vision. After an emergency operation, I was left with 5% sight. I was fine with that as my doctor said I will be able to regain more sight later on.
From here on, I wasn't able to read with reading glasses and needed extra levels of magnification to read the computer screen. Seeing at a distance was very limited too.
I still never felt hindered or perturbed with all this as I had the support and encouragement from my parents and family.
Then, by mid-2013, I totally lost the remainder of the little sight I had. Now, I'm left with some light perception and have been told that there's nothing more that can be done to my eye.
Nicki after his eye surgery
My Life...Then & Now
With the 10% sight I have had previously, I was able to complete my school education successfully. I went on to study A levels, then switched to a foundation in Psychology at a college till my eye couldn't cope with the eye strain and pressure.
I had to drop out of college and for a couple of years I ventured into freelance work as an article writer, proofreading/editing with some gigs here and there.
I used to dabble in music, playing the keyboard for awhile but interest waned after a period though I did enjoy the experience. Music is still in me with several favourite genres such as pop rock, sentimental, R&B, oldies, classical/instrumental, and New Age.
I am a bookworm from young, with a large collection of books such as children's, adventure, mystery/thriller, classics, science, technology & knowledge.
Today in this digital world, my passion for books and reading comes in the form of audio books and ebooks. Thanks to advances in computer technology, I use the screen reader to navigate my computer screen that reads out text to me.
Screen reader? Well, that's for a later topic!
I'm not much of a sports person but do some workout at home. I do enjoy watching most type of sports with my favourites being F1 and Superbike racing, tennis, golf, cycling, water sports, athletics, and WWE wrestling!
Nicki on a Harley Davidson Bike
Sudoku and chess is something I cannot quit if I begin with, though I have to find these stuff to play online (which I'm made aware that there are few of these games accessible to visually impaired folks.)
I loved playing video games too, till the time I lost my vision. Funny I didn't get mad being unable to play these games anymore, heheheee.
Once the sight in the right eye had diminished and become blurred except for some light-sensitivity, it was time to really reflect, re-evaluate, re-adapt to my so-called 'new normal', (seven years before COVID19 made that phrase famous!).
I was kind of feeling down, sad, miserable because all the things that I loved doing-computers, TV, reading, outdoor sports, cinema, admiring people, places, buildings, clothings, etc.-all evaporated into blurriness.
What other senses could I optimize to my advantage? Hearing? Well it only works with my hearing aid on but it's better than nothing! I could also make use my other three senses.
Hence, with emotional support from my folks and family, I signed up for rehabilitation training at the association for the blind in Brickfields in K.L. where I learned orientation and mobility, Braille, computer and keyboard literacy (which was the BEST thing overall!), home and kitchen workshop, and some very interesting friends, people, and dramas, hahahaaa.
I did a massage therapy course here and have experiences as a therapist at one point. I was also quite fortunate to get to know one fantastic blind IT guy who gave me a brief tutorial on using a screen reader, which is an accessible program for blind users to navigate their computer.
With some brief instructions, he told me to learn the rest on my own. So with trial-and-error and with the help of my folks (wherever I needed sighted input) I took almost nine months to master this software so as much as to return to my other world...the Internet.
Nothing stopped me from then and I decided to get into some online learning study with several short courses, then a qualification in Crisis Counselling, proceeded by higher learning in Spiritual Counselling and Coaching. I'm also a member of a counselling organization in the USA (which no one really knows except my folks!). Heheheee.
Moving forward, within the past two years, I began training a few people who had lost their vision in their later years to be computer-literate by teaching them the screen reader via Zoom and WhatsApp on their phones and laptop. It feels very fulfilling indeed.
I'm equally into technology, especially accessible software and hardware for both the visually impaired and the differently-abled folks. It's about learning and adapting to our challenges around us.
Aside from what I have shared above, I have interest in fashion too. Yup...Fashion. I wanted to get into an art college to either study fashion design or games design and programming.
Unfortunately, due to dissatisfaction from family who wanted to sponsor my further studies, I switched to psychology instead, which wasn't bad either. I never really sketched anything since all the designs, style, patterns and colours were in my mind. Those were during my sighted years.
Surprisingly the desire for my own style of clothing and design returned to pull at my thoughts again when I lost my sight. I was bored with the clothes I wore: the stereotype that comes with fashion and clothing were becoming unbearable! Sigh...
The urges came and came and came. The creations flowed vibrantly in my mind. But I didn't do anything about it.
DESIGNING WITHOUT SIGHT
Hmm, wondering how designing without sight could work for a blind person is looking at design in a new dimension. Fashion is pushing your creativity to the maximum, perhaps even beyond the norm of traditional art and design.
When I look at the matter, what the blind designer lacks is colours, patterns and sketching. What he/she possess is imagination, visualization, touch and sensation. Can a blind designer's creations materialize from just these elements? I am sure it can.
Being bored with the clothes I wear, I wondered if society would be less stereotypical of how people wore their clothes. How male and female dressed up.
Why are most women's clothing flashier, trendier, colourful, stylish and vibrant, while men's were hardly anything but that?? We can notice these from centuries of fashion that has come, gone, or remained. How amazing if fashion was unisex, genderless. And so it has become in recent years as from what I've gathered on the internet.
I'm yet to change some section of my wardrobe into some nice and comfy unisex pieces as all of them are only available abroad and I will have to purchase them online. Not that it's an issue, I just haven't gone about doing it! Heheheheee
I believe fashion should be universal, irrespective of one's sex, race, religion. Don't Scottish men wear kilts? Doesn't it look like a plaid skirt?? Like how Indian men wear Veshti (white wrap-around cotton fabric mostly) the whole time? Even their politicians wear it in Parliament!! Ha...interesting.
I was made aware that in Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, their males wear floral printed sarongs similar to those worn by Indonesian guys sometimes. African men wearing their colourful long one-piece dress/tunic (can't recall what it's called), similar to women's kaftans. See?
Genderless fashion in different nations, different cultures though people don’t think of it that way. Perhaps there's some masculine factor in them, but hey, that's a different issue altogether! I'm just drawing your attention to some points here.
That being said, and through some opportunity I was introduced to the owner of Dawn Adaptive. They are a clothing store specializing in accessible wear for differently-able people. Their concept is akin to unisex fashion, clothing for anyone and everyone.
When I shared to Usha Nair, the boss, on my perceived styles and outlook on fashion, it came to my attention that Dawn Adaptive could be just the stepping stone into design for me.
Starting out small is the key here and I feel it's the collaboration that I will have together with their own differently-able designers to assist me in crafting my creations into the end product.
Malaysia being a multiracial, multicultural nation is rich in various fashion wear and styles in the form of traditional materials and prints, namely batik, songket, bamboo, rattan, silk, to list a few.
And so I'm going to include these into my designs. So there it is...I'm aiming to become a genderless, unisex designer one day. It's dressing up to clothes that you can relate to on a daily basis; clothes that you can be intimate in, and can communicate with to the outside world.
Your body is your canvas: your style's your brand.
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