I'm Andy Curtis, a 47 year old solicitor, multiple Paralympic medallist, and your new guest blogger!
Losing your sight or living with sight loss can be a very lonely experience. I don't just mean the loneliness you feel when you get lost in someone's front garden on the way home from the bus and can't figure out where you are or what is going on. Or when you're locked in the toilet on the Hull to Sheffield train as it's just pulling into your destination station. Or when you're shouting "why won't you just tell me your name" to a person who actually turns out to be a horse! I mean not having someone who really understands what it's like being blind, to encourage you to laugh at life and to fight against the limitations that sight loss can all too easily impose upon you.
I was very lucky when I lost my sight aged 21, because soon afterwards I met a group of the most awesomely amazing blind athletes. Their example inspired me to tell fate to jog-on and to carry on trying to achieve and to get the most out of life (not just sport). Back in 1991, an RNIB magazine, an article on blind athletics and a phone call resulted in an invitation to a British Blind Sport training weekend; a weekend that changed my destiny.
I left that weekend with renewed hope and a sense of purpose; I not only wanted to be the fastest blind sprinter in the world, I wanted everything the world had to offer! My previous perceptions about blindness were left trailing in the wake of the example these athletes had shown me in just two short days (and nights!). This experience undoubtedly helped me through some very dark days (no pun intended!) and laid the foundations for the (blind) person that I have become.
I fully appreciate that not everybody is fortunate enough to find themselves in the same position in which I found myself, hence, the inspiration for my blog. Hopefully my stories might do for others what my teammates did for me.
26 years of living as a totally blind person, competing and winning medals at three Paralympics (and numerous European and World champs), qualifying and working as a solicitor, having three kids, breaking two guide dogs, getting divorced after 25 years together and subsequently dating again has given me so many great stories to tell, and then there is my all-too-frequent catalogue of calamities/embarrassments/accidents/faux pas!
I want to show that losing your sight need not necessarily be the end of the world and that you can reach your potential with the right attitude, help and support. Most of the achievements that I'm proud of occurred since I lost my sight; in fact, had I not lost my sight, I doubt I would have achieved half as much as I have. Knowing that you are going to have to fight hard for everything that you want certainly helps to concentrate the mind!
Hopefully, my blog will also amuse and entertain, mostly through exposing the predicaments in which I find myself in due to my blindness. It helps engender a really positive way of viewing such events if your first thought is, "I can't wait to tell the rest of the world about this!" Such an attitude even helped me to see the positive side of getting dog mess on my nose, mouth and chin after misjudging the distance between my nose and boot whilst exploring what I'd stood in one morning whilst taking my dog for his morning walk!! That really did leave a nasty taste in my mouth!!
So, please visit my blog; I hope you find something that brings a smile to your face and perhaps even resonates with your own experiences.
You can read more from Andy's blog at www.ivetriedcarrots.com or follow him on Twitter with @ivetriedcarrots. Why not get in touch with Andy with your own story - just remember to hashtag #ivetriedcarrots!