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Gloria BlandfordGloria Blandford

Do you know on Monday my legs were so bad, the doctor came in and to saw me and said that he not used to dealing with people on dialysis, so I had better see my specialist.

I donít need to go to toilet all day because my kidneys arenít working. Thatís why I need dialysis, which cleans my blood, as the kidneys no longer do. I have dialysis three times a week. Each session takes four hours. During this time I mustnít more or the machineís alarm goes off and the nurses come running to you. My body retains fluid in the tissues. My sister has nothing wrong with her at all, diabetes is meant to be hereditary but no one in my family has it. I have one son, two grandsons and a great grandson who is five. Every time he comes to see me he brings me a bunch of flowers and tells me what colours they are.

I have a computer. I surf the net on, e-mail and find contact details. The software is called Guide. It reads what it says on the screen. I type by knowing where all the letters and numbers are on the keyboard. I do my jewellery and knitting. To get the pattern from the knitting I scan it into my computer and it reads the pattern to me. I do the same with my letters. I love my independence and learning jewellery something I thought I would never be able to do, it is very satisfying.

I was born 1945 in Gravesend. When I was five I had a squint. It was noticed that something else was wrong, because I canít look side ways, as my side muscles are paralysed. I have Retinitis Pigmentosa which is tunnel vision. I went to a mainstream school and had difficulties. I had to sit right in front of the blackboard. All I can see is the glow from the lights on the ceiling and I have to look for them. I canít see you sitting there. I left school and had a job working in the machine shop doing spot welding, packing toasters and hair dryers. I loved it there. The main problem I had was I couldnít see in the dark. So in the winter evenings my mum had to pick me up as I couldnít get around in the dark. I got married at 21. I had my son at 23, and I was told then that my sight would go completely by the age of 40. Unfortunately it went quite rapidly after my sonís birth. If I had known this I might not have had a child. Fortunately my son is fine. I am quite proud of him. Before he was seven he used to help me knowing that I couldnít see and I was dependant on him. Once he was seven, he wanted to do his own thing. I applied for a guide dog and used to go out on my own in the day and at night. It gave me freedom and confidence. I was the first guide dog owner in Gravesend. I feel proud of that. Over the course of my life Iíve had three guide dogs. Before having the dog I would never ask anyone for help with signs or getting on the bus or I wouldnít use a white cane as I was so worried what people would think of me. Once I had the dogs people would start chatting to me about the dogs and I would then feel confident enough to ask for help. I do all my cooking and washing.

Two years ago I had a second life. My husband and son were sold to expect a call in the night that I wouldnít live long. All my friends coming out of the woodwork and coming to see me and being so supportive saved me. My ex husband from 1976 came along and was so supportive, that is what saved me. I was on the life support machine and was in hospital for a month. Sue and Eddie came everyday morning and afternoon for the whole time. They made so much effort for me. Then they switched the machine off, to see if I could cope without the machine but I wasnít ready yet. I remember hearing Sue carrying saying you can make it donít give up and then they switched the machine back on and I came back again.

Clay pots with blue glaze.

Clay pots with blue glaze.

Clay pots with blue glaze.

Clay pots with blue glaze.