Good afternoon blind wisdom seekers

Helen Keller’s always talked about her thrhee trusty guides, smell, taste and touch and I always thought it was phinominal that she could focus on those three that she had and not the two that she didn’t! Well Helen, I don’t mean to upstage you but this week I have a story that goes two better – and uses just one trusty guide – my sense of touch! On Friday I was heading to Auckland to speak at the Worldwise Travel conference – a group of travel doctors making the world a better place for us when we head overseas. I headed out to Dunedin airport already three senses down, my sight obviously, then joined by smell and taste as the cold I had developed over the days prior, travelled around my body finding friendly hosts. Boarding the plane I did think about my ears but was destined to make the trip so had to take a philosophical approach to the journey. As we ascended I was fine, chatting to my lovely neighbour in the seat next to me. Then of course what goes up must come down. As the plane descended, I could feel my ears begin to lose reality. It didn’t hurt, my hearing just began to remove itself from me in some foreign detached way. Before long I felt like I was in a goldfish bowl, not a plane. I could hear very little but could sense an outside world happening around me. Everyone else was oblivious of course and they carried on their tasks as normal. I suddenly panicked. What would I do? How would I get to the hotel. How would I speak later that day? Then an odd thing happened. With no obvious exterior signs, people treated me like they had the hour previous. Why wouldn’t they. They didn’t know I was only operating on one sense. Suddenly it seemed like a game I could play and get away with. If I moved like I was supposed to and smile politely to anything I came in contact with then everything might just be ok. The air crew handed me over to the ground crew who handed me over to the taxi driver who handed me over to the hotel staff. By this time I had nodded and smiled my way to inner city Auckland and my hearing had half returned too so I was feeling a lot more like my old self! Over the course of the afternoon I was starting to settle into operating on one and a half senses so by the time I got up to speak I was quite happy on my feet!

I think the human spirit is an amazing thing and I’m now honoured to have the opportunity to join you Helen, for whenever you had a cold you would have been operating on one sense too! This temporary “One sense club” is one I joined you in for just an hour or two, and rather than be panic stricken forever, I now know what they mean when they say the sun will rise in the morning!

Here’s my sensory diary from that weekend:

1 the celebration of my one last remaining sense – touch – on the way up in the plane to Auckland on Friday.

2 I did hear the sound of a pin drop when I spoke so I guess my hearing was coming back!

3 the feel of the hotel staff guiding my hand towards the plug in the hotel bath!

4 nearly the taste of the squid I had for tea on Friday night at Botswana Butchery on the water front!

5 the feel of the hug I got from Barbara on Saturday morning when she came to the hotel to spend the day with me!

6 the sound of Louis from Geneva saying my name “Jshulie!”

7 the taste of the gorgeous olives we had with our tea on Saturday night!

8 the feel of the driving rain when I stepped outside of Dunedin airport on Saturday night!

9 the lovely taste of soft boiled eggs for breakfast on Sunday morning in bed!

10 the sound of the beautiful people coming up to me at conference after I spoke! One of life’s gifts! Knowing that you have moved someone so much – it’s very humbling.

The photo is of Chris from Repel insect repellent putting his product on my arm! Those damn biters in Auckland! And I don’t mean the travel doctors either! Ha ha! This will be handy in South America when we go in September!

Have a fab 4 sensory week all!

I may not see, but I can smell

And taste and touch and listen

And when I do this every day

I find my optimism!