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”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Make the Safe Call
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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

Continue reading “Just Relax”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Just Relax
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Looking for Answers
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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

Continue reading “Practice What I Preach”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Practice What I Preach
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Get Busy Living

Closing the pool has been an adventure every year.  Today I discovered the diameter of the drain on the new sand filter was much larger than the old one. The standard hose I usually put on it was not going to cut it. Off to our local do-it-yourself store!

Once I got there and got someone to help me, I realized this was not going to be an easy fix. We were going to have to rig it. I had presented the store guy with a ‘problem’.

Problems energize people. Before we had put together a ‘fix’ we thought would actually work my little problem had engaged three of the store guys for over 15 minutes. They were scurrying back and forth, consulting on all sorts of possible solutions.

If the problem-solving process had gone on any longer, I bet I could have netted two or three more helpers. They acted like it was the most fun they had had all day!

Got me thinking. Got me thinking about part of the reason I am not interested in retiring. I thrive on the challenge.

Many people say they long for the easy life. I sometimes wonder what they would do if they got their wish …day after day after day. Shudder!

The blog Get Busy Living agrees with me. The author points out we all started out attacking challenges.  However, he (she?) says as we have gotten older we have lost our sense of fearlessness. We have abandoned the struggle in favor of lives that are ‘safe’ and ‘secure’. No problem. No risks. No fun.

In patheos.com’s blog entitled The Value of Challenge they talk about the sense of satisfaction and purpose we get when we tackle challenges. Challenges bring richness to our world. Much better than spending all day telling people plumbing supplies are in aisle 40. Ask the guys at the do-it-yourself yourself store!

How can we maintain challenge and accomplishment in our lives now that we are older and have a vision loss?  Looking at the more professional literature I discovered Hans-Werner Wahl in Heidelberg wrote about the psychological challenges of late-life visual impairment. Wahl quoted research on secondary control strategies, disengaging from no longer attainable goals, and accommodative mode. Accommodative mode is finding something that can be done rather than giving up.

I won’t be able to work in the school forever, but maybe I can do more counseling at the office. I cannot drive myself anymore but I am planning on doing more bus trips. Both examples of ‘accommodative mode’ will provide me with new experiences and challenges.

How can you disengage from old goals and substitute things you are capable of doing?  Listen to books on things you have never explored before? Learn how to use new technology for low vision? Cook foods from different ethnic groups? Read this blog? …I know; don’t be silly!😊

I was always told that when God closes a door, He opens a window. And yes, sometimes it is an attic window three stories up. But just think of the stories you will have to tell after finding a way through that window!

Enjoy the challenge!

written September 4th, 2017 Continue reading “Get Busy Living”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Get Busy Living
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 2 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

No Brainer

I have not been able to get my act together all weekend. I have had low motivation and not a lot interests me. Depressed? Not exactly.

To ‘fess up’, I must admit what I have been doing all weekend is listening to an audiobook. I have been sort of ‘into’ Kellerman’s The Golem of Paris which I discovered is actually the second in a series. Now I have to listen to the first one!

My head has been full of the legend of the Golem of Prague and the Book of Enoch (weird, I know, but I kid you not. They are integral parts of the story line.) But what if my head were full of worries and hopelessness and dread?

I would not, by a long shot, be alone. PsychiatryAdvisor reports 57.2% of older people with vision impairment have depression. That is up from 43.5% of older people without vision loss. If those numbers are accurate, half of you folks are depressed. Crap. This is not good!

Some of this will be a recap, but I like to think it bears repeating. For example, I want to repeat gradual vision loss or loss in one eye but not the other is very anxiety producing! Where do you think the saying “waiting for the other shoe to drop” came from? Waiting for something bad to happen ain’t good.

Then there is the interaction between loss of everyday competence from vision loss combined with the loss of everyday competence from age-related cognitive decline. There is a one, two punch! Facing loss of independence from that combo is depressing.

This combo leads me right back to what I have preached and preached and preached some more. Exercise helps to keep you sharp. Learning and using low vision strategies and technology helps to keep you competent. Sharp, competent people keep their independence. Independent people are less likely to become depressed. End of lecture once again.

The second installment of the article starts with what I consider to be a ‘no brainer’. To wit, if you can save your vision, you can help save your mental health. Like I said, no brainer. Go for your shots. Investigate changes in your vision immediately. Hard to get more basic than this.

Next the article talked about using your low vision skills and technology and a little thing called behavioral activation. What behavioral activation basically is is getting back into life. Too bad transportation is a pain in your sweet, little tushie. If it gets you to your activities – even an hour and a half early – use it. Swallow your pride and ask for a ride. Remember Cabaret? “What good is sitting alone in your room?” Good for depression! Instead,”go taste the wine! Go hear the band!” I bet Liza Minnelli never realized she was a behavioral activation therapist😋.

There are several paragraphs on what psychotropic medications NOT to use when you are depressed. I think those deserve more research and their own page. For here, just remember, question your doctor about the vision side effects of EVERY medication you are prescribed. You are your own best advocate.

OK, I have nagged you enough for one page. What did mother say? “I only do it for your own good.” Me, I’m going back to my book. Did you ever hear of the Golem of Prague?

written August 27th, 2017 Continue reading “No Brainer”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
No Brainer
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 2 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

One Foot in Front of the Other

We recently had a reader ask how it is possible to maintain hope, faith and optimism, etc. when “everything” is slipping away. She stated she does not want this disease because she had watched it “destroy” others. Her friends do not want to associate with her because of the “doom” she is facing.

Oh, my…where to start. First of all, I guess I need to say “I’m with you! I don’t want the damn thing either.” But wanting it or not wanting it really does not make a bit of difference. We do not get to make decisions like that in our lives. We only get to accept (or reject, but if you fight reality, I can practically guarantee you will waste a whole lot of energy and in the end, still lose. To paraphrase “I fight reality, reality always wins!”). We also can find ways of coping.

That appears to be a magic word: cope. This is not a fatal disease. If you are still breathing and conscious, you are capable of dealing with things and trying to make them better. Your hope is in every breath you take. Breath.

Remember one of my favorite people whom I never met, Viktor Frankl, said “the last freedom left to any man is determining how he will react to his circumstances.” This disease will not destroy us. It may take things from us, but not destroy us. We destroy ourselves through our reactions to it.

Our reader may not realize it, but she IS coping. She reached out to this website. She has sought professional help and she is involved with the state services for the visually handicapped. She is doing what she can do.

We don’t have to like having AMD and losing sight. We don’t have to be happy about it. We just have to keep moving. I mentioned this before but another one of my favorite, never met people, Winston Churchill, said something like “when you are going through Hell, keep going!” It is in pouting and denying reality – in stopping in the middle of Hell – that we are destroyed.

To address the part about being hopeful, optimistic, etc, a bit more, there are times all of those pretty thoughts are going to desert us. Times there seems – as in appearances and impressions – there is no hope. Those are the times we simply put one foot in front of the other. Determine what is next and do it.

I have been told I am “in love” with DBT. I am, for the simple reason it works. Mindfulness and staying in the moment work.

For example, the Beastie Baby has been diagnosed with lung cancer, but right now she is sleeping peacefully on the floor next to me. Right now, life is good. We will take one day at a time, one hour, one moment if need be. We will not grieve (much) and ruin life when things are good. Lesson: stay in the moment. Deal with the now. By dealing with each moment as it comes, we can handle a scary future. Buying future grief and hardship is a bad investment.

I could address the absolutes – always, never, everything – but I won’t. Not much, at any rate. We just need to remember few things in life are truly that black and white, that cut and dry. Every dark cloud has a silver lining and every silver cloud has some dark inside.

This has been a little jumbled, but that, after all, is my mind. I guess in summary, what I want to say is:

Accept this is happening, Recognize you are not powerless, we all have choices we can make.

Understand if we take care of each moment as it comes, the future will take care of itself. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

We don’t need to be hopeful or optimistic all of the time (even though there is reason for hope). If you cannot muster any faith in your future, just put one foot in front of the other and move. You will be surprised where you end up.

Continue reading “One Foot in Front of the Other”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
One Foot in Front of the Other
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 4 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me