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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This Journey Together

I have had a few days of frustrating myself. I have not been ‘all there’ in Zumba or yoga. Not sure if it is the stress of puppy parenthood, the change of seasons, my bum arm, or the fact that I am 64. Probably a combination. Whatever the cause, I have not been up to par.

Then, I have noticed lapses in visual attention. Details are getting by me. Of course, we all know what that is. Whether I know the reason or not, it is irritating. I am frustrated with myself. I should know better. I should do better. I should do more.

Since I am back to teaching emotional regulation in DBT, I have been back to doing a little research. (I don’t like to do the same presentation every time since several of our students are ‘repeat customers’.) It appears DBT and a little thing called self-compassion therapy have some overlaps.

Self-compassion, or lack thereof, has to do with how people respond to themselves during a struggle or challenging time. According to Wikipedia, my ever reliable (I hope) source, self-compassion is positively correlated with life satisfaction, wisdom and emotional resilience among other things. Self-compassion has been found to be negatively correlated with rumination while rumination has been found to be positively correlated with anxiety, depression and eating disorders. (Aldao et al, 2010). In other words, cutting yourself a break means you won’t be as depressed, anxious or have as many really maladaptive eating habits.

Neff, a big name in self-compassion, postulated there are three parts to be considered. These are as follows: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness (of course!). Looking at the explanations in Wikipedia, I discovered self-compassion involves observing the situation in a non-judgmental way and accepting it is what it is. Observe, accept, non-judgmentally. Hmmmm….where have I heard that before? 😎

It appears rather than be frustrated and criticize myself, I might accept as my body and eyesight deteriorate I am not going to be able to do what I once could. Rather than berate myself I might commiserate, encourage and be a friend to myself. If you had a friend who gets on your case as much as you get on your own case, would you keep her around? Doubt it.

Common humanity goes back to a guy name Siddhartha Gautama. Also known as the Buddha, the enlightened one. The Buddha declared that life is pain. This is the common condition of man. In other words, you are not alone. If misery loves company, you have a lot of it!

Of course, the Buddha also said pain becomes suffering only when we wish to escape it (very loose interpretation there). That takes us back to observe and accept. (See the Four Noble Truths if you want to understand it more thoroughly.)

Mindfulness! I get a little crazy with all the hype and would get crazier if it did not work so well. Mindfulness is derived from Vipassana, which means to see things as they truly are. It is a nonjudgmental observation of what is. Seeing what is truly there, suggests acceptance, warts and all.

So we have come full circle again. Self compassion: slightly different packaging of some wonderful, tried and true ideas. What it boils down to is this: see yourself for what you are, accept yourself, be your own best friend and remember, we are on this journey together.

Namaste (just felt the need to add that!)

written December 10th, 2017 Continue reading “This Journey Together”

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Puppy Parenthood

Greetings from Puppyland. It might be optimistic to say things are ‘good’ but they are definitely better. The puppygirls are closing in on 20 pounds each. You can practically sit and watch them grow. They have discovered they can use the doggie door and most daytime pee pees and poops are independently taken outside. Nights? Better but definitely a bit more lax than when the sun is up.

Of course now that they are bigger, they can destroy bigger things. A step stool just went flying across the room! Really?

We have started to leash train. Or I should say I have started to leash train. Note to self: wear sensible shoes with treads. I had them on the road coming down a little hill and fell…twice. My knee looks like it should belong to a nine-year old. Boo boo! The combination of two, tugging puppies, the incline and smooth bottom shoes did me in.

Of course, ‘poop’ remains the word of the hour, day, week… Right down to finding the decapitated head of a toilet brush on the bed last evening. Really? Yuck!!!! That was the third toilet brush destroyed. Or was it the fourth?

And speaking of poop, still waiting for the poop test results. Do you want to know what they actually wrote in their instruction manual? Too bad. I am telling you anyway. It says…and I quote: “your stool sample may look different from the stool sample pictured.” Really? Is it my imagination or do people think we are idiots?

Continuing right along here, puppy parenthood at 64 and with a vision problem is supposed to be my topic. Not all that bad. Puppy parenthood at 64 with a vision problem, that is. But remember I have a high tolerance for chaos and dogs are at the top of my list of favorite things. If you want to throw away shoes if you step in – here we go again – poop or cannot stand to have a few things ‘accidentally’ gnawed, puppy parenthood may not be for you.

I am still not noticing anything about my vision loss that is making having puppies really onerous. If I had to do it again, I might buy pups that contrasted with the carpet a bit better. They do get stepped on. With housebreaking progressing, there are fewer dark-colored – here we go again! – poops on the dark rug for me to step in.

The problems I am seeing would, again, be more physical. I am still doing my share of picking the pups up and relocating them. If you cannot repeatedly lift 20 pounds…buy a smaller dog. I met this wonderful ‘little monster’ last evening. She was a Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie mix) and weighed less than five pounds fully grown. That pup might be a wise alternative to two, lunatic chocolate labs.

So, basically we are good and making progress. The problems are still not vision related. Minus stepping on them due to poor contrast, of course.

In other news, $178 later I got my CCTV back. I have a new charger and my tray again locks. The techs wrote a note suggesting I refrain from picking it up by the tray. Probably has something to do with my pop rivet problem. For future reference for you.

I go to see Regillo Thursday. Even if he has nothing for me now, I want to be a presence.

Let you know. Bye!

Written December 8th, 2017 Continue reading “Puppy Parenthood”

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I Tried My Best

I was raised to be responsible. I am responsible. I go to work and the job gets done. I have done the job between bouts of vomiting, with fevers and with migraines.

I am responsible but I am not crazy.

OK. Maybe the word is not crazy. However, I am definitely not one for not using good judgment or not looking at the big picture. Now, this is especially true when it comes to my vision.

I was at a professional gathering on Friday. One person there asked me about the circumstances of my sight loss. This person had an eye bleed that had started on Tuesday! That is three, count them, three! days. I advised an immediate trip to an emergency room. I told this person his sight could be very much at risk but was told in turn he had other, important obligations to attend to and he would, essentially, get around to it later.

I tried one more time and was again rebuffed. Are we truly our brother’s keeper? I wanted to call 911 and get this person to the hospital. That would not have been appreciated, but would he have appreciated my efforts if I had saved his sight? If he gets to a doctor sometime next week and gets told he has done irreparable damage to his vision will he appreciate I tried? Will he wish he had listened?

I assume our readers have more common sense, but since assuming can make an ‘ass of u and me’, I am going to spell it out. Never, as in NEVER, ignore an eye bleed. Mary Lowth wrote about vitreous hemorrhages for Patient. She stated vitreous hemorrhages are one of the most common causes of sudden, painless vision loss. Vision can be totally obscured by blood in the vitreous. Even if nothing serious is wrong that caused the bleed to begin with, you can be left with floaters. Not to mention blood is cleared from the vitreous at the rate of only 1% a day. That is over three months of impaired vision!

There is a whole list of things that can be horribly wrong to cause bleeding in the eye. Because I have dry AMD and have been warned about the potential of developing wet AMD, a bleed due to neovascularization was the first thing I thought about. There is also diabetic retinopathy and posterior vitreous detachment. PVD can be associated with a tear in the retina. None of these are problems to take lightly. [Lin/Linda: if you ever see what looks like a curtain drawing over your visual field or part of your visual field is obstructed, that IS an emergency which requires IMMEDIATE attention because it can mean that you do have a retinal tear. Most PVDs are accompanied by lots of floaters & sometimes flashes of light that are more noticeable at night (that’s the vitreous tugging at the retina. If in doubt, call your doctor.]

Lowth stated “retinal detachment must be excluded urgently”. In other words, should you have a bleed, run, don’t walk to the doctor and make sure your retina is still where it is supposed to be. Waiting three days is not an option.

Some of you are also sadly aware that bleeding can cause scarring and even more significant vision loss. Bleeds should be diagnosed and controlled as quickly as possible.

So, there you have it, some people believe they have more important things to do. They believe satisfying responsibilities is more important than taking care of their eye health. These people are wrong. If you even think you have an eye bleed, get to your doctor.

As for this person yesterday, I tried my best. Matthew 10:14 [“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”]

written December 3rd, 2017 Continue reading “I Tried My Best”

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Reflections on 2017

Tomorrow is the first of December. Another year is winding down. Lin asked if I wanted to write a bit about 2017. What did the year bring for me? What did it mean?  What has happened in my journey?

Excellent questions. I am sitting here waiting for my ride – do I ever do anything but wait for a ride?- and trying to formulate some profound answers for them.

First of all, while I do a lot more waiting for rides than I ever cared to do, I do do other things. Normal things like work, shop, exercise and travel. I  just do some of those things differently and, in some cases, with a little more difficulty.

If 2016 was the year of change and challenge and adaptation, 2017 has become the year of The New Normal.

I have a routine. My routine is not much different from my pre-sight-loss routine. Initially the planning requirements were overwhelming. (When things break down, the planning can be overwhelming! ) However, most times now things just flow. I know where I need/want to be at a given time and I have good, reliable people who will get me there. Week after week we get the job done together.

I continue to be dependent upon my totally awesome community. I am blessed to be surrounded by kind and caring people who make the effort to look out for me. What I have lost in independence I have gained in relationships and connections. People whom I never would have sought out as friends have become such simply because they happened to be going my way (Bing Crosby, 1944). These people are some of my most faithful drivers.

Although I often feel I am receiving much more than I deserve and more than I could ever repay, I believe my impairment has put me in a better position to help others. I am not only talking the talk now, I am walking the walk. Being visually impaired has given me street cred. Suddenly I am seen as knowing what I am talking about!  I have been able to pay forward some of the help that I have received. Helping others is a heady feelings.

What about my fervor for a cure? It is still there. I have every intention of getting into a stem cell study. Call me tomorrow and I will be there. That said, I am not living and breathing the quest for a treatment or cure every minute of every day. My desire to see well again has developed a more quiet urgency. I am learning patience. Things will come and they will come in their own, good time. My impatience is not going to make them come any faster.

My job now is to live as good a life as I can with what I have and, yes, as hokey as it may sound, be a good example of living with an impairment.

So, that is what 2017 has meant to me. That is also my wish for you for 2018.

  • I wish you all of the dullness and lack of adventure a smooth-running routine can provide.
  • I wish you helpful and caring people and I wish you the strength to get out there and show people how it is done, vision loss or no. You can do it and you can make a difference.

Peace. Love. Charity. Hope.

November 30th, 2017 Continue reading “Reflections on 2017”

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AMD 101 Lecture

I got to go to Walmart today. Not a big thing but not happening as much as it used to. My husband cannot see to drive in the dark and since it is dark by 4:30 now, he cannot take me after I get home from work. Usually it is a lot easier just to give him a list and he can go during the day. Acceptance and adaptation do tend to be watchwords for the visually impaired life. Having my proverbial wings clipped also cuts down on the frivolous purchases!

Speaking of transportation – one of the eternal thorns in my side – I wanted to once again push self-advocacy. With my ride home from school facing a lot of possible medical nonsense, I asked once more about the transportation people actually getting me home from school. Their previous hours were such I would have had to miss an hour of work daily to ride home with them. It now appears things have been amended and they can actually take me home two hours past the old time. Yahoo! Remember nobody ever tells you when these things change.

You have to ask and keep asking. You also have to make sure they know there is a need. Demand can affect supply. Basic fundamentals of economic thanks to Smith and Marshall.

And economics gets me back to Walmart where they are playing the devil out of Christmas music and hawking everything you never really needed. It is the holidays!

We got together with some extended family for Thanksgiving. I usually arrange things so I can talk to my nephews on these occasions. However, this time I got ambushed. Okay, I actually think the ‘kids’ were the real target but I got caught in the crossfire.

This person inquired about my ‘condition’ and then launched right into the “you don’t look/act blind” routine. I know other people get this because there are a couple of dozen posts about it online. Annoying people with their annoying questions.

Not sure exactly how to handle this situation. I don’t have prosthetic eyeballs and even if I did, throwing my eye on the table in a chain restaurant would probably get me thrown out (although in some incidences that ploy has worked for people). Also, as much as this person and I have a ‘history’ and I could have blasted her, my husband would not have approved. That leaves out the caustic zinger. He has to deal with his family more than I do.

Another thing that aggravated me was she was asking the most basic of questions. Everyone else at the table knew the answers. If she had been interested before, she would have known the answers. Although she thinks it has been a year since I started to lose my sight, it has been nearly two and a half years since my first eye ‘went’. I think that is plenty of time.

But barring the bad relationship, how much do I want to subject my nephews to the AMD 101 lecture? They have heard it. They ask sparse but pertinent questions and the conversation moves on. I have tried to integrate AMD into my life. Not the other way around. I have lots of dimensions.  I have other things to talk about.

Just asking. Anyone?

written November 27th, 2017 Continue reading “AMD 101 Lecture”

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The Puppy Zone

Lull in the action here. The puppygirls had a rip and tear session, a potty break and are now asleep. Not, really NOT, guaranteeing how long this is going to last.

Getting odds and ends done. Two, wild pups are very demanding on time. You also need the agility to get to them before you have an ‘accident’ (even though she did it on purpose!) on the carpet or an electrocuted dog.

Since I cannot see what they have, I am probably up and down more than I was 14 years ago with my last puppies. I could probably contain them better and limit what they can get, but I have a theory that dogs who are restrained more tend to run when they are not restrained. Besides, I like to have them where I am.Thus, they keep me hopping. They have found things I don’t remember seeing in years! Into everything.

My husband has more physical issues than I have and they are wearing him down. It is harder for him to respond as he should and he probably doesn’t physically intervene consistently. I housebreak by grabbing the pup and rushing her outside. No sense in just yelling.

If I could not sweep in like some sort of avenging angel and run for the door carrying a 5 pound or so pup, I would have to think twice about having one. At least one that is not penned a good part of the day.

So far, after a full week of puppy parenthood – with twins, thank you very much – I cannot say there have been too many vision-related concerns. No, I don’t always know what they have and I am frequently retrieving things from their mouths. Sometimes one or the other will disappear into my blind spot. Then I have to scan with my peripheral vision. Very often movement will give them away. The pups are chocolate labs and the house came with a burgundy-colored carpet. In low light I have already fallen over one of them. Low contrast.

Also, the poopy ‘presents’ that sometimes appear are brown on a burgundy background. That can make for a rude discovery. We are working on limiting those. Just the same, not seeing something like that because of poor contrast is a concern.

Oh well, when I was a kid and stepped in dog poop – in bare feet with it squishing between my toes – my father would tell me not to worry; it would make me grow! In our neighborhood both the dogs and the kids were free range.

Like I said, the physical limitations have been more a factor than my vision. I am able to run, stoop, snatch and grab, not to mention carry. With his back, my husband has limits in those areas. Lost a puppy? Last night I was on my hands and knees crawling around the furniture. At this size, they crawl in small spaces.

Crate? Yeah, I could, but what would I do for cross-training?

So far, those are the observations from the puppy zone. I am sure there will be more. The adventure is just beginning.

Oh, and actually talking about vision, I wanted to revisit the subject of contrast and low vision, specifically colored acetate sheets. One of my clients who happens to have a vision issue was very pleased with what a yellow overlay was able to do for her reading. Sometimes it really is the little stuff that is the most helpful. Check it out.

Written November 25th, 2017 Continue reading “The Puppy Zone”

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