How I See Things

How I See Things
Cartoon-like drawing in shades of dark to medium purple. Eyes with beautiful eyelashes, looking through a pair of glasses.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Self-Care

For a while there, I saw a lot of people talking about "self care." There were items sold in stores labeled, "self care," that included things like candles, nail polish, soft socks, who knows what. It felt to me like luxury items.

I don't feel like I ever was specifically taught,  "this is what self-care is." In fact, in the Christian Science upbringing, I was actively taught to deny my bodily existence. If my body was hurting, I was to turn to god and pray. I was taught to be grateful for pain, because it was telling me I needed to pray more. 

The strictest Christian Scientists say that their version of prayer (called "Christian Science treatments") is the very BEST care. Doctors are 2nd in line. Praying to god is supposed to be able to heal absolutely everything. 

I am now out of the Christian Science belief system, and I definitely have a human body. I'm learning how to take care of it, too. It's a work in progress. But I am definitely working on making progress. 

I am starting to realize what self care ACTUALLY is. I don't believe it has anything to do with candles or nail polish or hand lotion or soft socks or whatever other things you can spend money on for things that look pretty in a store. 

I have come to the conclusion that self-care includes things like: 
  • drinking water
  • making good choices about what foods to eat and what foods to eat less of
  • taking care of your body by bathing it and tending to its needs
  • taking prescribed medicines when needed, and at the appropriate times
  • giving your body ample rest time, for me this often includes a nap in the middle of the day
  • exercising (this is something that I am still working on getting up to doing, but that is a whole other journey for me to work out. I am just not there yet.) 
Well, I have seriously struggled with ALL of those for YEARS. I think all of those, I haven't done for the bulk of my 48 years. Seriously. I had a friend one time (Stacey, who I mentioned in a previous blog post about vision impairment & accommodating our friends with low vision) comment that she had no idea how I could be up and walking around and presenting as basically a healthy, normal person, when I had so many issues. But when you're taught to deny your body's existence from a very young age (let's say: birth), you can walk around as present as normal no matter what you're feeling. People who live with chronic pain know exactly what I am talking about here. 

Anyway, so I have, FOR DECADES, tried to come up with "a schedule."  I know that having a schedule - a routine - would help me thrive. I just couldn't come up with such a thing! It was so frustrating and I am learning now that I have been very cruel to myself inside my own head about not being able to do something that so many people find to be easy. 

Oh, by the way, my vision issues can make me present as if I have ADHD. Folks who have ADHD also struggle to come up with a schedule or a routine. I don't know if I have ADHD. Maybe when my vision issues are resolved, we can see if things start coming more easily. (A psychologist did diagnose me with ADHD several years ago, though.)

I wanted to do the syntonics / light therapy, but didn't have a spot set up for me to do this, I had no consistency. I would do it at the dining room table, by shoving aside my watercoloring or homeschooling papers.  I tried it standing up in my kitchen with the lamp coming out of a cabinet (this was before I was given the spotlight I now have; I had a clip on lamp and needed a place to clip it on!)... I tried doing the syntonics in bed but then I needed a place to put this lamp when I was done.... A few times I forgot it was on my bed and I knocked it off in the middle of the night. Thank goodness the bulb didn't break!!!!

Well, I got to thinking about our living room and furniture. I had a sweet little writing desk that I love, and it was holding a lot of our dog items like dog bags and medicines and the paperwork for our dog. Meanwhile, other dog things were spread everywhere - toys, grooming, clothes for her ... 

I have a piece of furniture called a "bachelor's chest" that I love. I refinished it with black paint. It has 4 drawers and a pullout thing that can be used to write at. I had my sons move our furniture around. We replaced the little writing desk with the bachelor's chest, and now all of our dog's things are in the drawers of that. (Very tidy!) and we put the little writing desk in my room and got rid of one of my side-tables. 

I put the syntoics spotlight lamp on the little writing desk. it has a little ledge at the back for me to put my indigo and dark forest green glasses on. And I set my little Alexa / Echo timer on it, too. I also put my Thai Chi (vision exercises) paperwork on there too, so it is my little vision therapy area now!

Once I set that up and had a dedicated space for it, suddenly I found a new rhythm to my life! I am so excited to announce that for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I am starting to build a routine!

I also started going to physical therapy (3 times a week) for my shoulders. I have something called "armoring" due to my Complex PTSD. This means my muscles are ALWAYS tensed in my shoulders and neck. I never relax them. I have to consciously work very hard to relax them. Doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists have all commented on it - my muscles that don't relax. Believe me, I want to be able to relax them. The constant tension in them causes constant pain. Over time, it creeps up to my neck and I can't move my head, like for driving and checking the lane to my left when I need to merge. Combine that with my vision issues, and honestly, I am not sure I want to drive anymore. Sigh. 

Well, in typical Jodi-fashion, I have digressed from the topic - AGAIN. 

So I started this nightly routine of taking my medicine, going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, washing my face, putting on my night medicine on my face, then going to my room, changing into my pajamas, then sitting down with the spotlight to do my syntonics. It takes about half an hour to do all of this. After doing it for a while, I realized: "I have a routine! THIS is what "self-care looks like!" 

When I started the recent therapy on my shoulders, they gave me exercises to do at home too. I added in lying down on a yoga mat and manipulating my arms and shoulders in a way they told me to do. I also added in what my vision therapist has wanted me to do for a year now - Moro Splat movements. So my nightly routine now has vision therapy and shoulder therapy combined. I am so proud of myself for having come so far to do this basic self-care routine now. This is HUGE for me!

I also have a morning routine now - self-care. I have a shake I make for breakfast. I have a vitamin supplement in liquid form that I take. I take my heart medicine and other vitamins in the morning. And then I make some herbal tea. Because of my heart medicine, I am no longer drinking coffee (which I am finally admitting to myself that I never enjoyed anyway; it has never been my "thing" but I felt socially pressured to drink the stuff), and I also no longer drink any kind of wine or spirits. They are also not really my "thing." Although I also felt socially pressured to drink. I feel so much better now, drinking lots of herbal tea and also water. My favorite teas are either Dandelion Root tea or Lemon Ginger tea. Oh, also Peppermint tea. I should do a whole blog post just on tea. I really should. I have so much to say about it! Hahaha.

It feels so good to have the morning and evening self-care routines now. 

I hope that this post will help others learn what self-care means, and what a routine might look like. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Reading space differently

My vision therapist has been so helpful and kind. She is super creative and patient. I really like her and appreciate her. 

She learned early on during our therapy that I need extra kind kid gloves to be treated with. I have had so many concussions and my life is in a rough patch, and she just gives me kindness and gentleness with my eyes. Above all, she wants me to feel SAFE at therapy. She has worked very hard to make sure I feel safe. And I do feel safe at therapy!

She has told me myriad times that we can only heal when we feel safe. I am so grateful she taught me that. It makes so much sense. 

One time, which I wrote about in the 3 part blog post, "My life changed for 24 hours," I wrote that I had a different therapist as a substitute one week. He had me doing something called "the Infinity Walk." Walking in an infinity sign around tall traffic cones, as I looked at a 3D image. I exited that walk and for the first time ever, saw in 3D. It was so remarkable! I got home and felt like the ceiling was closing in on me. It was scary and I didn't feel safe in my own home. 

It was then that I saw and appreciated how much my regular vision therapist works so hard to have me make gradual, safe shifts in my vision. I told her this then, and I told her again at my recent appointment with her. 

In the last month, or maybe the last 3 months (it has been so gradual that it's hard to say when it started), my ceilings have definitely started looking closer. I no longer hover my hand over a nearby wall when I am walking in a narrow space. I think that's part of what is called "proprioception." If I am getting my vocabulary words correct, that means "awareness of space." I have become more aware of where I am in space. This is excellent!

I noticed this last week that once again, I am parking better. This is HUGE for me. I am straight in the spot, not diagonal, and I am parked at a more reasonable distance from the white line in front of me. 

I told all of this to my vision therapist at my most recent appointment. She said that I am reading space differently! She was having me touch beads and look at them, and move them. I was able to reach out and touch the beads the first try, instead of reaching out and having to adjust where my fingers were so that I could touch the bead. 

In other. words, it is possible that I am starting to very gradually see things in 3D. Things don't look that different to me than they did my whole life. But I think that maybe I am starting to get a bit of that 3D perception, 3D vision. I would love to give you more analytical folks a number so you can understand what I still don't have. So I am going to say that I feel like I probably have between 3% and 10% 3D now. Things are not at all like that post when I said, "my life changed for 24 hours." But something has shifted and I am seeing space better. I have more 3D now, apparently, than I have ever had before. This is wonderful!

By the way, I have been going to vision therapy for over a year now. The kids generally need to go for 12 weeks or so. And most folks don't go for more than 3 sets of the 12 week sessions. I am about to start what will be my last set of 12 week sessions. They said they won't let me work beyond that. I am not sure why. So I may never achieve the full 3D that normal people with healthy, normal eyesight have. But I look forward to more improvements during my next sessions and in the weeks between. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Syntonics

 I have mentioned that I am doing light therapy. I was given a spotlight to basically stare at. 

Throughout the days, my eyes get tired. I believe my vision therapist said that our eye muscles work harder than any other muscle in your body. If you think about it, you're probably sitting somewhere, reading this blog. Your eyes are moving but the rest of your body is probably fairly stationary, unless you need to scroll once in a while. It makes sense. 

Speaking of which, as I am learning new skills with my eyes (conversion is a lot of my therapy - that means bringing my eyes towards each other / approaching cross eyed in appearance, and HOLDING it there), the muscles in my eyes start to hurt. They hurt a lot at night lately. My vision therapist said that it is likely eye strain. She said she hears this a lot from most of her patients. I have experienced eye strain my entire life. 

Decades ago - back in like 1995, I started taking an eye pill made by Vaxa, called "Ocutane." Just for kicks. They sent me a free product every month, and one monty is was Ocutane. It was vitamins for your eyes. After taking this for a few weeks, I woke up one morning and realized, "I don't feel my eyes in my face!" I had NEVER had the experience of not "feeling" my eyes. Like, we all know we have knees or elbows or whatever. Forearms, forehead .... but we don't actively FEEL it all day long. It's there when we need it. We feel it when it is hurting or when we bump it. But it isn't a constant, "yes, I am aware I have all these parts to my body, they are there because I feel them."

I remember looking around my room that morning, having this weird logic going on in my head. "I can't feel my eyes! They must have fallen out of my head! Oh no!" .... "Wait, I see my window," tap tap tap on my eyes, I think they are there.... "That is my dresser. Yes, I can see my dresser, so my eyes must still be attached.... they didn't fall out, I better look at something else just to make sure, yes, that's my door, there is my cat ...." I finally concluded that my eyes were still attached and working; they just didn't have that feeling. I finally concluded that the feeling was actually long term, permanent pain. I had experienced that my entire life! It was so bizarre to have something so familiar suddenly be GONE. 

Well, in the last few months, the eye pain has returned. It started up gradually as I was going through vision therapy. I didn't really think much of it. 

In the last month or two, it has gotten to the point where I am telling friends when I am on the phone with them, "my eyes are hurting me right now." A lot of friends want to show me something online "go to this YouTube video, it is so funny...." "did you see this meme, I will send it to you..." And I just want to have my eyes shut. I am tired of using them and want a break. So I have to tell my friends I need them to describe it to me. 

So, I told my vision therapist about the whole experience when I woke up that morning about not feeling my eyes, and she said it was probably eye strain. And I started taking a vitamin made by Bausch and Lomb. My optometrist, Dr. Davis, approved it, too. It is just vitamins. It has made my eyes feel a bit better. Maybe quite a bit better. I am still experiencing eye strain (like right now, as I type this blog post). 

Well, so I have this light therapy I do. I put on cardboard glasses. The eye piece in them has a very dark indigo filter for me to look through. I stare at the light bulb for 10 minutes. I love my Echo device. I say, "Echo, count down 10 minutes," then I turn on the lightbulb. She goes off 10 minutes later. I tell her to turn off, and then I turn off the bulb. It is super handy not to have to put on the glasses and try to see a timer to set it ... the voice activation of a timer is excellent for me!

So, then I palm my eyes in between. The goal is to get the lightbulb circle out of my eyes before I start the next one. The next set of cardboard eyeglasses has a dark forest green lens for me to look through. (In theater lighting, they would call the material this lens is made from a "gel." It is a screen made of a thin, filmy plastic that they can place over spotlights to change the lighting on a person on stage.) I stare at the lightbulb through this dark green forest filter for another 10 minutes. 

I asked over the last few months, "what is this trying to accomplish?" And I finally got the answer that it is trying to help my eyes relax from all the input they got all day. It is like a reset button. I think that's interesting. 

I have so many more things I want to say about the syntonics / light therapy! But this blog post feels long enough and veered around in a few directions that I didn't intend to go in, so I am going to sign off this post. 

I hope you're doing well, wearing your mask when you have to go out, and drinking water & staying healthy. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Parking the Car

In previous posts, I have mentioned my dad and my grandfather. My dad passed away at the end of 2014. There was a very nice tribute written about him on YoYoNews.Com. You can see the post here. My grandfather is still around. (This is my dad’s dad.) We visit him as we are able to. He especially loves my sweet puppy, Bella. She is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a friend to everyone. A funny side-note. If we are out walking, “everyone” wants to pet her or meet her. Occasionally or probably rarely, we meet someone who isn’t a dog person and doesnm’t even glance at her. Bella always gets confused by such people. She wonders why they aren’t petting her already? It’s really cute. She is a sweetheart. 


[This is a photo of my sweet dog, Bella. She is a fawn and white colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Her spaniel ears are the fawn color. She is curled up in a sleepy ball, lying on a turquoise blanket.]


Grandpa loves dogs so much. He told me a story about a dog he knew when he was a boy. I will share that in another blog post. I like to write stories, and I wrote down the story that he told me. It’s a good one. Glad I wrote it down as I am already forgetting the name of that dog!

Anyway, so I have been learning a LOT from my vision doctor, Dr. Tod Davis, and his Vision Therapy team. 

One thing I learned recently was that people who Dissociate (this will be more blog posts) often have a lot of similarities with each other. He said that Vision Problems and Dissociation often go together. It’s a thing. He didn’t say whether one causes the other. He just said that they seem to often be connected. 


He gave a lecture that I got to listen to. I am hoping to see if he can lecture a few more ways, and then I can share the links here for you to listen to, too. Anyway, in the one lecture, he told of an older teenage gal and the issues she has, and then he told about me (with my permission / he interviewed me for the lecture). As he shared the teen girl’s issues, he said that she has trouble driving, parking, gaging her speed when driving …. And I thought, “I have all of those issues, too!” 

It made me think of my dad, and then it made me also think of my Grandpa. 

I think Vision Therapy is a relatively new field, so it is possible that my dad and my grandpa also have or had the same problems that I have. (It turns out that my younger son does, too, and that will be future blog posts, too.) 

I remember being a little girl and my dad talking to me about where he parked the car. He always parked the car at the far end of a lot, where there were lots of empty spaces. He said he didn’t want someone to ding his car with their door, and that’s why he chose the farther, emptier spots. 

It turns out that I also do the same thing. I find it easier to park when there are 3 empty spaces together. I can’t tell how far things are away from me, so I just would rather have nothing near me when I am pulling in our out. I have never hit another car when parking, but I am sure I park more slowly than other people when it is a tight space. Because I can’t judge and have to trust that I won’t hit the other car. So far, so good. 

Anyway, this teen gal said that she also parks far away, where there are many spaces. And I immediately jumped to that little Jodi inside me, walking across a whole parking lot to get to the door of the place we had driven to, listening to my dad tell me about not wanting his car door to be dinged. And I thought about how I park far away, under the trees when I can (just like my dad did), at my local Aldi grocery store. I guess I kind of feel like “that’s my spot.” 

The teen has worked with Dr. Davis now for a while and is driving and parking better. She is now able to gage her speed and how to park. I know I was doing better for a while, before the Corona virus hit and I wasn’t allowed to go to Vision Therapy for a few months. I slid downhill; I park 3 feet away from where I mean to park, again. Hopefully I will get better again now that I am back at Vision Therapy doing the work with a trained therapist.

It is super interesting to see similarities between me and other folks.  I don’t feel so alone or “weird.” 


Monday, September 28, 2020

Resting Your Eyes vs. Palming

When I was little, I remember my dad saying, “I’m just resting my eyes.” I am not sure if it was because I was talking too much and he needed a break. (He did, one time, yell at me: “You talk too much!” I went next door to the widow and asked her if I talked too much. She so graciously replied: “I like it.”)

So, Dad would be sitting up, and “rest his eyes.” He would close his eyelids and sit there for a while. 


When I started Vision Therapy, they taught me palming. Well, I had read about it in a book years ago called, “You don’t have to wear eyeglasses,” that my violin teacher had loaned to me at one point. I never really did it. I didn’t think much about it. 



[A photo of me covering my eyes with my hands. Left hand's fingers overlap my right hand's fingers.]


I got to Vision Therapy and on the first day of therapy, they told me to Palm. I cupped my hands over my eyes, and rested my eyes for a bit, wondering how this was different from what my dad did when I was little. 


After more than a year, going to Vision Therapy, I was, once again, Palming in between activities. As I sat there, palming, I asked my Vision Therapist “what is the difference between closing my eyes to rest them, and palming?” 


She gave me a great reply - she said that closing our eyes is fine. But if we palm, then the warmth from our hands can cause our eyes to tear up just a little bit. It gives our eyes some moisture. 


What a fantastic reply! I had no idea! New information! I love learning new things!!


Thinking back about my dad “resting his eyes,” now that I am a parent, I wonder if perhaps he was napping. 😆😂


Monday, September 21, 2020

Dissociation

My Optometrist gave a talk on Memorial Day. He interviewed me and I was 1 of 2 current patients of his that he featured in the talk. In order to see the talk, you need to have a membership to an optometry website: I heart VT. Like - I love Vision Therapy. I think this is the link: https://www.iheartvt.org 

[Photo: the iheart VT logo. There is a black heart to the left of the words, and the photo has a magenta offset heart above it and to the left, and a turquoise offset heart below it and to the right.]

I wonder how many of you relate to some of the things he said?
The topic was Dissociation. He was explaining how Optometrists can recognize that many of their patients probably do it. And how to help them with Vision Therapy.
There are some of the symptoms -
  1. Tunneling. Meaning, focused so intently on what you are looking at, so that the background disappears. This can show up as a person walking and staring at the ground, unable to look up as they walk. This can also show up with horse back riders - they stare at the horses head to the frustration of horse riding trainers.
  2. Sensitivity to light. Keeping lights off in the house. Walking around in the dark.
  3. Issues with driving and parking. Not able to gage what speed you are going. Not able to park straight.
  4. Being startled easily when things come in to your visual range.
  5. Unable to focus on reading. Unable to focus on studying.
  6. Things (like furniture, the floor, fixed objects) “move.” (Jareth has this. It was my normal; I didn’t realize I have this until vision therapy made things stop moving and then it was AMAZINGly calm.)
  7. Perhaps existing in a “fictional world” in your head. That can feel very real. 
  8. Isolation. This one struck me big - because I see me having been doing this over the years, more and more: Isolation, over time, means "not wanting to leave the house." Closing curtains and closing yourself in. It doesn’t start when someone is younger but increases over the years. I just blocked off my windows with contac paper maybe 2 months ago. My decluttering expert unblocked windows of mine. And I have basically re-blocked them off. Remember, I am approaching 50. So if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you may not relate to this one. No worries.
The exercises they have given me - wear ankle weights during vision therapy and at home now and then (light weight: 1 pound weights) and use a weighted blanket have helped me. There was a time during Vision Therapy with my therapist, A, when she asked me "how are you doing?" And I replied: "I think I am dissociating." She got into gear and made the exercise much harder so I was forced to pay attention!

That moment was a pivotal moment for me - I need to pay attention to the HERE and NOW. Smells, sensations, my 5 senses ... these are the things I pay attention to much more now after months of vision therapy with their focus to help me not dissociate anymore! I don't think I dissociate anymore, but I will get back to you on that. This is HUGE!

By the way, people who dissociate in their childhood (as I did), have large chunks of their memory missing. I have large chunks of my memory missing. I do remember, as a child, thinking, "I need to remember my memories, or I will forget them." And I would sit there and intentionally review my memories. I wonder if other people ever did that too? Please let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments, below. Thank you!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Migration Complete

I have moved the posts from the very expensive blog host to this much less expensive platform (and much easier for me to use) to Blogger from Google!

I hope you will subscribe to my blog posts, so you will be notified when I post new blog posts!

The mail chimp newsletter service no longer works from the old blog, I am not sure why. But Blogger has their own "Subscribe to my posts!" Link - it's in the right side bar on every page - just under the "About Me" photo. 

I have typed up a few posts and they will run soon. I will keep the posts coming on Mondays. My vision therapy days have been changed to Thursdays now that we are doing Vision Therapy back in the office in Manassas. 

Flickering Eyesight

So, I have known for a long time that my eyes don’t work together. It has taken me almost 50 years to be able to describe what I see to peop...