Broken China

Hello, there! I woke up at 3:30 last night with rotator cuff tendonitis pain. While the over the counter nighttime pain reliever got rid of the pain, it may have worked a little too well. I woke up at 9:30 to the remnants of a puppy party!

Crawling on the floor picking up pieces of whatever they had chewed, I discovered the knobs on the drawer in my father’s gun cabinet had been pretty thoroughly gnawed.

If I were fully sighted, would I have noticed it before this? Not sure, but my guess would be yes.

Putting away dishes a little later, I had several, small bowls leap out of the cupboard and hit the counter with a resounding crash. Thoroughly scared Maggie. Although she is the rowdy pup she is also the more sensitive one.

Of course I did not have shoes on again. Dealing with shards of white bowls on a light-colored floor, I had to call my husband for help. Why can’t any of my ‘disasters’ happen with good contrast!?!

If you have not been following along I want to mention this is the second time I have been standing in the middle of a mess of broken kitchenware. Sans shoes, of course. If Lin would be so kind, I believe we could get a link for you…here. There are some suggestions I stole from the experts. [Lin/Linda: Sue’s page is called Did You Drop Something?]

While I really cannot say any of the occurrences this morning incited a panic reaction in me – I actually thrive in chaos; tedium drives me insane – I suspect some of you might have had a meltdown. Vision loss plus insane, chew-happy pups plus broken china. OMG!

I remembered I was just given some 100% natural (and, yes, I know a good, stiff whiskey is 100% natural, too) ways of dealing with panic and anxiety. Thought I would share.

The sympathetic nervous system is the one that activates your fight or flight response. It is the one that causes your heart to beat faster and you to experience stress. Good when it is needed but not needed all of the time!

The system that brings you down again is called the parasympathetic nervous system. A big part of this system is the vagus nerve.

They are finding stimulating the vagus nerve helps with panic and anxiety. The most popular technique, as you may know, is breathing from your diaphragm. There are, however, a number more strategies you may wish to try.

In 2014 Newsmax published a list of simple tricks to reduce stress through stimulating your vagus nerve. Immersing your face in cold water is helpful. Another technique is to suck on something that will immerse your tongue in saliva.

According to a 2017 article in Optimal Living Dynamics, singing, humming and chanting are helpful in stimulating your vagus nerve. This article also suggests some of my favorite things: socializing and laughing, exercise and yoga.

Controlling your reactions to sight loss and its problems is almost as important as caring for your eye health itself. Next time you find yourself stressing, give some thought to your vagus nerve.

And repeat after me: Ommmmmmm…….

written Dec. 12th, 2017 Continue reading “Broken China”

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Some of Yours

Just logged on to check my email and the first thing I found was another phishing attempt. Oh, for crying out loud! These things are coming faster and the ‘phishermen’ are getting bolder.

This one was ‘from’ my email provider. Not only did they want my username AND password but they were also trying for a credit card number. Good grief. Do I look like I just fell off the turnip truck?

The problem is, for every 999 people who have not just fallen off the turnip truck, there is one who has. That is all the scammers need to make a killing.

So, just in case we have a reader who is not ‘scam savvy’, a couple of tips: scammers are often non-English speakers but the messages are in English. Misspelled? Clumsy wording? Be aware. Ask for your password? Run the other way. Soliciting a credit card number from you? Contact customer service and ask them. Do not give a credit card number out to anyone who asks for it. Lastly, check the details on the email. If it come from Sylvester in Syracuse you probably have a scammer.

Anything suspicious can get forwarded to your service provider. I also label anything from that sender as spam so I don’t have to deal with him again.

Just another public service announcement.

Oh! And I just noticed something wild. My service provider lists as ‘tells’ for phishing attempts the following: asking for personal information, mass mailings and details (show details). That spells AMD. How about that? [Lin/Linda: ::groan:: you are REALLY stretching it!!!]

And after all that, I want to talk about pessimism/optimism. Another good grief. I know the shady morals of so many is not necessarily a reason to be upbeat and sunny. My delivery and timing stink. However, if you look at it another way, we are looking out for one another and that is positive. Yes? Yes!

Lin asked me to read Dan Roberts article about how so many of us see a more dismal future than others our age who do not have AMD. The piece says we expect health deterioration and Lord knows how many other bad things just because we have vision loss.

The first thing I thought about was why should vision loss lead to worse health than any other sensory or orthopedic or general health issue? Sounds like the depression talking to me.

Roberts emphasized there being so much reason for optimism with all the tools and medical breakthroughs. I agree with him totally on that. That is part of the reason we continually share news on research and ‘toys’.

However, what I think his real message was was this: the study did not differentiate between those actually getting the information, the training and the support and those who are not. Roberts asks what the differences would be. He also asks – about knowledge and skills training lapses – the question “why not?”.

You see things and ask “Why?” but I dream things and I say “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw

(And, yes, JFK paraphrased it a bit but he took it from Shaw.)

Part of the reason for this website is to spread knowledge and to spread hope. Every day progress is being made. Every day things are happening to make our lives – as the visually impaired – easier.

Know someone without knowledge? Someone without hope? Give him some of yours. We want to be able to say “Dan, we hear you and we are trying to do our part.”

Written October 29th, 2017 Continue reading “Some of Yours”

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Come Dance with Me – Again

End of a busy Saturday. The big news of the day is we met our puppy! She is all picked out and will be ready to come home to her new mommy and daddy on November 18th.

I also got back to my exercise classes. My routine will only be in place for about a week before I go running off on vacation but that is alright. Things will settle down soon after. I hope. No more ride snafus, food poisoning or adventures for a bit.

While I like a little adventure (but not ride snafus or illness!), sameness and predictable are really good. I like the familiar, too.

Such as the Eastern screech owl ‘whinnying’ outside the window. He has been there most nights for several weeks now. According to web sources, that is a territorial defense cry. Wonder what he is defending against? Apparently there is a hidden drama unfolding in the backyard!

One of the other things I got done today was going through some Healio and Medscape posts for articles. They are still publishing that Manchester, U.K. research saying eye shots cause anxiety and depression and my reaction is still “Duh! Ya think so?”

But the next things I came upon were actually related to that article – about depression and mental functioning – and gave me more reason to harp on exercise again.

I absolutely love it when things I enjoy doing are found to be good for not only physical health but cognitive and emotional health, too! It makes me feel so righteous to say I am doing it because it is recommended even though inside I know I would do it anyway. Like being told eating an entire chocolate cake with a half gallon of vanilla ice cream is a nutritious meal! Recommended at least three times a week!

Oh well, that might be a little extreme (a girl can dream; can’t she?). However, the Medscape article ‘Dancing Keeps Older Brains on the Ball’ gave me a rationale for being the ‘grand old lady’ at hip hop class as well as one of the ‘dowagers’ at Zumba.  The article talked about how the integration of info from multiple sensory sources such as hearing the music, watching the instructor and feeling how your own body is moving in space is good exercise for your brain. The researchers discovered the demands of learning new dances every week or so in addition to the balance demands of dancing literally beef up your hippocampus. The hippocampus (seahorse in Latin as I mentioned before) is your memory center and tends to shrink in old age. The researchers ended by saying “our study results suggest that social enrichment and a combination of physical and cognitive activities influences neuroprotection best”. So there!

And of course I got so excited about having a SCIENTIFIC rationale for putting on my boogie shoes a couple of times a week, I did not leave myself space to write about the other two articles I found. But good news: one of the articles on exercise and depression talks about the levels of exercise effective for battling depression and guess what? It was practically nuthin’. See? You can read the next page even if I am being a noodge!

October 22nd, 2017

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Make the Safe Call

Hey. I had a real chock full day planned today and what do I do? Nothing. Pretty much nothing. Bummer.

A friend and I went for a Japanese hibachi meal last evening. About three hours later, my system revolted. I will spare you the details, but it really was a waste of what had seemed like a nice meal. After I was finished ridding myself of dinner, I slept poorly. (Wasn’t food poisoning. I KNOW how that acts. Just got a hold of something my system refused to digest).

Now, my plans for the day had me in town, navigating from one activity to another from morning to mid-afternoon. I would have been on my own. My husband was motorcycle riding with a friend.

Had it been two years ago, I would have tried it. I could have taken myself home when I needed to. Cut the day short. Now I don’t have a car. Now contingency plans like that don’t exist for me.

I thought about it. What would happen if I got sick again? Huddled in a corner somewhere until someone had pity on me? Spend 20 minutes praying I did not vomit in their car? Nothing like that seemed like a good option. They were not good options at all.

So I allowed discretion to be the better part of valor. I turned off the he alarm and went back to bed. Spent the day hanging out at home.

I like to think something like this won’t happen again but I know it will. Without the ‘escape hatch’ having your own transportation can afford, many of the marginal calls that I would have said “go for it!” before will now have to be “no”. That really is limiting. It is depressing. I do not like it at all.

So, the game plan? Keep myself as healthy as possible. Be grateful for everything I am able to get to, everything I am able to do. Beyond that I guess it just comes down to acceptance. I cannot cut it as close as I used to. I cannot make the marginal call any more. Sometimes I need to use a little discretion. Make the safe call. Damn.

written October 15th, 2017 Continue reading “Make the Safe Call”

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Just Relax

Hello! Woke up this morning to find my husband online shopping! This is a great move forward considering how technophobic he used to be. I may not be 100% crazy about his purchases (do we really need that?) but it is a bit comforting to know he will know how to get online, shop, pay, etc. if/when my eyes get too bad.

My husband found an ad for Labrador Retriever pups so I called. The litter they have now will be ready right before we leave for vacation but a second litter they knew of will be ready right after we get back.  Cautiously hopeful. We will go and look at the set-up, parents, pups next week.

And yes, I know, I should get a shelter dog, etc. I am guilty but …..puppy!

I am about halfway through my crazy list of activities for October. Sort of loaded heavy in the beginning of the month. Gives me time to load the back end. I did NOT say that! Did I?

Anyway, so glad to hear our guest authors are also busy people. Riding horses and volunteering for all sorts of community projects. You go, girls!

Any of you guys want to volunteer for a page? I think Lin said at least 25 or 30% of the Facebook members are guys. How about a male perspective ? I also was told some of you are eye care professionals. How about the view from the other side of the machine?

We never did fly yesterday. Point of information: balloon pilots (captains?) will not launch if the winds are more than 8 miles an hour. Nate is making its way up the coast and we got some of that. Maybe. Anyway, it was windy.

My friend who took me (you ever feel like baggage when you say that?) is my fitness freak friend (alliteration!) and was driving both herself and me insane when we had to wait two hours to see if we could fly. I sent her to run – literally! – twice. She did about four miles.

My friend does not know how to relax. It is an art many people do not know. I can do it for short periods. For those two hours I lay on my back, watched the clouds and listened to the entertainment. I am not looking forward to two days of downtime when we are literally at sea on the upcoming cruise. Last time that happened I did a lot of pacing.

So how to relax when you cannot run it off or pace the deck? I found a Psychology Today article from 2013. The author, Will Meek, had distilled the relaxation process down to five steps. His process involved ways to change your physiology to change your emotions. Dr. Meek, Will, suggested orienting yourself to your environment. You do this by taking in sense impressions to recognize where you are. Then you ground yourself by noticing how you are connected to your environment. Right now I am noticing my butt on the couch, my laptop on my knee and the dishwasher humming in the next room. Next Will suggests an inner focus on your breath and heart rate. Deep breathing. While still breathing deeply give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself you are strong. Tell yourself you have supports. Tell yourself Jesus or Allah or whatever deity you believe in has ‘got’ this problem in hand and will help. Tell yourself what you need to tell yourself to feel more in control. The last step is emerging. Focus on bringing yourself back to your problem with a relaxed attitude.

Now this page is about 100 words too long already so I am signing off here. May be back later. Never did get that article critiqued. Bye!

written October 8th, 2017

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Looking for Answers

Lin gave me a preview of the page Nancy submitted as a guest writer. I am so glad Nancy took our invitation! Hoping that more of you do the same. [click here for Nancy’s page.]

Now, we all know I am a little ‘different’. Might as well embrace it. My immediate supervisor at school loves to tell me “You are such a psychologist!” She’s telling me I’m weird; right?

Anyway, even though I am not normal, I see parallels between Nancy’s experiences, my experiences and maybe even your experiences, too.

We are all “of a certain age”. At 64, I think of myself as a youngster with AMD but Lin tells me new Facebook members keep getting younger. What the hey is happening there?!?!? Anyway, this is not a disease of the young.

Most of us had parents or relatives with AMD. Nancy worried about developing it herself. I never did but Daddy was into his 80s when he lost his sight and his condition was never named for me. Since relatives were pretty few and far between on my father’s side, he was a sample of one for me. I never gave a thought to it being hereditary. Oops. Maybe you were not so obtuse and worried like Nancy.

Both Nancy and I have had the anxiety of waiting for things to go to hell in a proverbial handbag. One of the problems with a slowly developing condition is it lulls you into complacency and the next thing you know WHAM! No longer so complacent.

Many of us are facing limitations. These are limitations we don’t like and don’t want. Limitations that hit right at our independence and threaten who we are and how we interact with our worlds.

Then there are the attempts to combat this stuff. I went research and science. Fits me. Nancy went nutrition. Me? Not so much. Even though my ‘little’ nephew – 6’5” and possibly still growing – assures me food is the most important drug you can put in your body, I am not going there.

And in keeping with the season I just had a really excellent piece of pumpkin spice cake. What? Don’t give me grief; it was orange! Antioxidant color; right?

Back on track – but it was yummy cake! – we are all looking for answers. We are all hoping for the miracle cure. Is it coming? I truly believe so. Just don’t expect it by next Tuesday. In the age of great medical breakthroughs, you would think our little problem would be easy but it’s not. It is a frustration we all feel.

Then…the elephant in the room: depression. We have talked about it before and will talk about it again. We have all felt it. Some of us have the resources to help us bounce back. Some of us need help finding those resources. Lin said something about citing pages, etc. about depression so I am sure several of these words will be blue soon. [click here for an article about depression in people with AMD.]

What I learned from Nancy’s page? We are all having similar experiences. Nancy, probably you, me, too. So maybe I’m not so weird after all? Maybe?

written October 2nd, 2017 Continue reading “Looking for Answers”

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Practice What I Preach

At present I am waiting for the van….again. These pages seem to turn into one big tirade about the truly crap public transportation we have in this rural region.

I got up to get a 6:54 am van to work (having told them I need to be there at 8:30) and I just got the call it would be another 45 minutes until they arrive. Really?!?!? This is on top of being told they could not bring me home Saturday because my seminar is in another zip code, 5 miles away.

I am angry. I am frustrated and I am resentful. Resentment is defined as bitter indignation. It implies unfair treatment.

From the complaints I have heard from the other people who ride the vans, I suspect I am not being discriminated against. Everyone is getting the same lousy treatment. Just the same, it is not fair!!!!!

Yes, I know fairness is an illusion. I know resentment is, as published in Psychology Today way back in 1995, futile and destructive. I am aware my resentment is most likely disproportionate to the damage that has been done.  I am still pissed!

Psychology Today goes on to talk about how resentment is based on internal need rather than external circumstances. If I did not believe I DESERVED better treatment, would I be as resentful? I would say not. I am arrogant enough to believe good things should come to me almost all of the time. Having those ‘shoulds’ in my head sets me up to see things as unfair.

Resentment gives us a target for our frustrations. “This damn transportation company is to blame for my life not being easy! I could do so much more if I only had decent support!” Resentment allows us to forget that while things are caused, sometimes we are not staring at the cause face to face. Things could have been set in motion a long time ago. Your ‘injustice’ may be just another domino ,’victim’ not the agent that set things in motion. Easier to assign blame to what you can see.

So, recognizing that venting my spleen (who said THAT, anyway? Shakespeare?) at the van people may not be productive, I went online and found a couple of articles. PsychCentral.com pushed the empathy angle. Remember “walk a mile in his shoes”? It helps to look at the other party’s viewpoint, their situation. Are they doing the best they can under the circumstances? Psychology Today suggested something’s that sound, well, rather DBT-ish. They suggest you observe your resentment and sit with it for a while. They also suggest relaxation and self-care.

DBT as one-step shopping?

If I actually try to practice what I teach, I would have to admit rehashing all of the nonsense with my transportation situation is not being mindful in the present. The only thing I can deal with is the now. I should also practice some gratitude. Do I have a lot of freedom because the system exists? Yep. May not be exactly the way I want it to work, but it works…sort of.

So, in consideration, perhaps I should be a bit more tolerant. Deep breath…I feel better now. Thanks for listening!

written 9/22/2017

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