An eating disorder by Trevor Plumbly

Food for thought

An increase in mishaps involving stained clothing along with the newly proven fallacy that ‘I can manage!’ has forced me to accept that a change of diet will be needed if I want to continue to eat in public.

It’s not the quality of the food or the presentation; it’s the mechanics of the thing. The stuff’s perfectly OK left on the plate, but when I try to eat it, it seems reluctant to accept its final destination, preferring instead my shirtfront, lap or the table-top. Being blind, I’m unable to visualise the colourful effect of my endeavours, but I doubt that my efforts to emulate Jackson Pollock on a white tablecloth adds to anyone’s appetite or artistic appreciation.

My fork doesn’t work!

My new diet will require a degree of thought, with the food’s texture overruling personal taste. I have considered seeking advice from other ‘blindies’ about this, but who needs to share failure? My problem is that I like the wrong cuisine and, unfortunately, in my hands, basic cutlery doesn’t stand a chance against pasta. Italian food is intensely conversational, which I find mildly depressing; whilst fellow diners twirl and stab, pausing to chat with the stuff halfway between plate and palate, I grub around my dish searching for something edible to safely transport mouthwards. The odd slurp may be perfectly acceptable in polite circles, but I’m convinced that folk with low vision should not eat spaghetti in public.

Gone but not forgotten

Home is the haven for the messy eater, a place where anything that fits on a plate can be considered ‘finger food’. But some things have had to go and among the most mourned is the lightly poached egg, the bastion of the British breakfast ritual before muesli became compulsory. The inability to accurately stab the yolk with a finger of toast underlined the seriousness of my sight loss. Deep bowls are replacing plates, knives represent accidental self-mutilation and I’m having flashbacks to wearing a plastic bib. At present we are in the experimental phase and thus far fish and chips, soup and toast, pies and burgers have been approved for consumable ease rather than health reasons. Rejected thus far are steaks (too risky), noodles (too slippery), and pizza (burnt fingers). I am daily striving to strike a balance between my junk food addiction and Pam’s plan for me to live forever. I’ve cut down on the alcohol intake, increased the exercise, even started having fresh fruit for breakfast, but temptation’s always there (thank God!), mostly in the form of fried egg sandwiches. With a couple of those tucked away who the hell cares about the mess, longevity or even blindness.

Cheers, Trevor.

4 Comments on “An eating disorder by Trevor Plumbly

  1. Thanks Trevor for sharing your stories with us about how hard you are finding it to eat with dignity with low and failing vision. You obviously have a good sense of humor which no doubt helps you to keep your sanity in this situation.

    But I urge you to keep striving for better. Most blind people, even totally blind, can easily master the techniques of eating with dignity so you need not feel afraid to eat in public. I can assure you there is no need for steak, pizzas and spaghetti to be off the menu, or to only be eaten at home. When it comes to learning to live the best life you can after losing your sight, you really need to push yourself hard each and every day. Lots of things will seem hard but they will get easier over time.

    I am sad that in sharing this article with us, the Foundation did not take the opportunity to include even a brief note about the services it offers that actually help people learn to live with blindness and overcome the very problems Trevor has described.

    • Hi Clive
      Thanks for the comments: these things were principally written to show my grandsons that blindness can have a humorous side and it’s sort of grown from there! I do however agree that it’s important to make consistent efforts rather than drop things in the ‘too hard basket’.
      Kind Regards, Trevor.

  2. I totally understand where Trevor is coming from.My husband struggles with his blindness. Always worries about making a mess at the table. I don’t think it gets better with time. Every day is a struggle.

    • Hi Patricia
      Honestly it does get better! Not easier, just better. Blindness isn’t a personal fault and, like most things in life, manageable with support from family and friends. But from my point of view, if you take it too seriously, it can cause lasting damage, so if he drops a sandwich, have a giggle, there’s plenty more of those around.
      All the best! Trevor.

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