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, November 25, 2019

Past Concussions

Since 2004, I have had 3 concussions. I am positive I had at least 1 as a baby, too, and there were probably others that I don't remember. But since 2004, I have had 3, well, now as of last week, I have had 4.

Concussion in 2004

In 2004, I was carrying my 1 year old son to the car. I slipped on horrible ice behind my car and fell and whacked my head on the ice over asphalt. I was able to hold my son in such a way that he was completely protected. He laughed; he had a good time falling. I was so grateful I had protected him.

I forgot my name, I forgot my phone number. I forgot a lot of things that day. I remember praying. I should have called an ambulance but I didn't know who would watch my son if I did that. Somehow, I got through that experience with no medical care. It was my religious beliefs at the time not to seek medical care about anything.

That concussion - my fall on the ice - was the worst concussion I have ever had.

Concussion in 2011

In 2011, I was on a caving expedition with a bunch of folks from the same church belief system I was in. We all carried flashlights and were on a guided tour of a cave named "The Creepy-Crawly Cave."

I had told the tour guide that I wasn't sure but I might have some claustrophobia issues. I had toured caves before and loved them. Muddy caves where you carry a flashlight in your mouth because you need your hands to help guide and pull you in to tight spaces. He said, "we will go in the Creepy-Crawly Cave; the walls are about 11 feet wide. You'll be fine." Indeed - the walls were about 11 feet wide, but the ceiling was about 3-4 feet off the ground for a lot of the cave.

Well, we got to a room in the cave somewhere, where we could all sit around and rest for a bit. I was near the end of the group and saw a bunch of people sitting on the rock, sort of in a U-shape. Plenty for all the people to sit and see each other.

I smacked my head - HARD - right as someone said to me, "watch your head." Seriously. They warned me AS I hit my head. Not BEFORE.

I hit my head so hard. I looked at the room full of people and fully HALF of them were sitting there in severe pain, holding their heads.

It appeared to me that the first person hit their head, the person behind them saw and didn't hit theirs, but failed to warn the person behind them. And so it repeated. Not one person was warned about hitting their head in time to keep them from hitting their head.

Later that day, I remember someone asking me, "how is your head?" In that religion, we tried not to talk about or mention any illness. It was called "a false belief," and if you talked about it, the idea was that it would "become more real." So illnesses and imperfections were to be ignored.

I told this kind, thoughtful person: "I am trying not to think about it." My head hurt, I assure you. It ached and hurt so badly. I had no pain killer. The religion "didn't believe in pain killer." So we didn't buy any (to buy pain killer would to admit that we might, at some future time, be in pain. So to not buy it, was to deny pain's existence), or take any: ever.

The man who asked me looked a little embarrassed. The poor man. He had tried to be kind and empathetic. And I had answered his kind question with "I am trying not to think about [my aching head]." He apologized and we moved on. I felt sad that he had expressed care and I had dismissed him due to the nature of the "religion's rules."

I never got medical care for that concussion, either. I think this was my 2nd worst concussion. I don't remember how long it hurt.

Concussion in 2014

We moved to a new home in 2014, and I was mowing the lawn. I walked straight into the underside of our deck. Ka-blam.

I cut my forehead. it was ugly and bleeding. I went inside the house and just sat on the stairway and cried and cried. I was so upset that I had had yet another "probable concussion."

I was still in the religious belief system where I didn't get medical care.

My partner came in the house, saw me, and went back outside to talk with a neighbor. I wish I was joking or exaggerating. Lovely religious belief, isn't it? I wanted care. I wanted to go to the doctor. I sat there, on the step, crying and alone, trying to ignore the fact that my head hurt like crazy.

I have an odd-shaped scar in the middle of my forehead from this concussion.

Concussion in 2019

It's been a hell of a year. My most recent concussion, I blog about in the next post. I would say it's the concussion that hurt the least.

It was also the first concussion I've had where I got medical care. It was oddly reassuring that this one was a concussion. It verified for me that I have had previous concussions. Worse than this one.

Going Forward ...

The doctor at the Emergency Room recently told me that over time, the symptoms (from this concussion) would abate. My worse double-vision, the pain, the nausea, and other things.

So, a medical nurse acquaintance told me: "don't get another one for the next 6 months." Good to know. Too bad I banged my head on my car door the next day. It was more of a "swipe," actually.

I took some Aleve to handle my pain that evening, and some more in the morning. I often forget that pain killer exists. I am starting to remember that it exists. So, that's good.

Going forward, I will try not to hit my head. I will try to navigate this world where I see everything in duplicate. Seeing double is no fun, I assure you. New things are confusing and take time for me to interpret. But that's a subject for another blog post.

Friday, November 22, 2019

High School Driver’s Education

In high school, a lot of people take a class called “Driver’s Education.” It’s a classroom setting, with a teacher and all your classmates. In the class, students are taught the differences between the lines in the road. We’re taught that a stop light means “stop,” even if you can go right on red - you stop first, then look. If no one else has right of way and the intersection is empty, you can proceed to turn right on red. Did you know New Jersey was the first state to say it was ok to turn right on a red light? My dad thought that was pretty cool, that New Jersey was progressive like that. 

One of the classroom tests we took that was self-directed, was a tool we used to determine our peripheral vision. The person taking the test puts their head in a little U-shape and looks straight ahead. Someone else starts moving little yellow discs - on one or the other side of you. The person taking the test is supposed to say “stop” when they first see these discs moving. 

My friend who was moving the disc got almost to my direct front of vision when I said, “stop.” She was pretty startled that I hadn’t seen it sooner. I was too. I was mad at her for moving it so slowly. 

I think the teacher called us to the front of the class at that point (we had all been taking different tests around the room and were reconvening). He told us we could finish doing the different tests later. Later, I saw what others had written on their papers in regards to the peripheral vision discs, and sort of averaged what a few of my classmates had written and fudged a reasonable number on my own chart. I figured I just couldn’t see the yellow on the disk because the paint had chipped off so it looked like the dull pewter color of the rest of the instrument. 

Well, I am now 47 years old and I went to my vision doctor. He was testing me in so many different ways, to determine what was wrong with my eyes. He used a silver rod with a gold ball at the tip of it. He used this rod for several different tests for me. He had put the rod down for a while and tested me in other ways. A bit later, he picked up a similar rod and held it just outside of my vision. I could see it, but it was clearly a silver ball on the rod, and no longer gold. I thought, “oh ,he has 2 of these rods for different tests.” 

He said, “tell me when this ball turns gold.” I thought, “what? What on earth does that mean? It will change color?” He started moving it from my left to the center of my vision. Suddenly, about 3 inches from the center of my vision, this silver rod with the silver ball on top - suddenly, the ball at the end was brilliantly gold! It shocked me. I had no clue it would suddenly be such a vibrant gold. I probably looked startled. I know I felt completely startled. I consider myself to be a connoisseur of color. And yet, I had completely missed that this bright, vibrant, gold ball was a bright, vibrant gold. I could have sworn it was a silver monotone pole nearly identical to the other pole I had been following with my eyes. I hope I have described this adequately. I feel like I have more words in my head that want to come out, but I can’t figure out what they might be. Hopefully you’ve understood me. Thank you for following this quirky journey the best you can.

The optometrist magician did this same test for me. He took the ball out of my vision to my left, and asked me, “when does it turn gold?” And, once again, I was completely startled when, about 3 inches from the center of my vision, it went from a dull gray / silver color to a vibrant, polished, gold ball. I even wondered if he had polished it a few minutes before, it was so shiny and bright. 

He told me this meant I have tunnel vision. No wonder, all those years ago, doing that test in Driver’s Education class, that I couldn’t see that girl doing the test for me, doing the peripheral vision until it was nearly in front of me. I have tunnel vision. 

I am 47 years old, and I just learned that I have tunnel vision.  

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Wife of The Father of The Internet


Note: I wrote this blog post before I received my new glasses.

Once upon a time, I worked for Vinton “Vint” G. Cerf. He is often referred to as “The Father of the Internet.” I worked for him when he was one of the Vice Presidents for a large telecomm company named MCI/Worldcomm. My dad was once friends with the founder of MCI. Here’s a little tidbit - “MCI” stood for “Microwave Communications Incorporated.” Kind of interesting, isn’t it? 

Vint Cerf was one of the coolest guys I have ever met. He is kind, smart, funny, clever. He was one of the technical advisors for Star Trek for a while. He may still be. I am not sure, actually. He is also on the board of directors of Gallaudet University. Vint Cerf wears hearing aids, or at least he did when I knew him. He also happens to be an excellent lip reader. I really enjoyed working with and for Vint Cerf. Last I heard, he was one of the big guys at Google. I wish him wonderful things. He wants to see Internet Protocol on everything. 

His wife, to whom he’s been married for decades, was deaf when they got married. I am not entirely certain of the entire story, but my understanding is that she had always been deaf. She went through surgery to get a cochlear implant. I hope I spelled that correctly. It is an implant that goes on to the back or side of your head and helps a deaf person be able to hear. After she got the implant and the doctors turned it on, she called her husband on the phone. My memory says they had been married 20-30+ years at that point. He answered the phone and she got to hear his voice for the first time in their marriage. 

Can you imagine someone’s life changing so drastically in that way? You’ve been married to and in love with someone for decades. And: you have never heard their voice. And suddenly, technology springs up, and now: you can hear your spouse’s voice for the first time. Wow. 

I feel like when I get this new pair of glasses with their PRIZM technology, that my world will radically shift, too. I keep thinking about Vint’s wife’s world shifting when she first heard his voice after decades of silence. 

Can you imagine having a decade of walking through 2 Dimensional moving pictures, and suddenly now you can see in 3D? My life is about to radically change. 



Friday, November 8, 2019

Am I Safe To Drive?

Note: I wrote this blog post before I got my new glasses.

Am I Safe To Drive?

I told someone that I was diagnosed with having tunnel vision. Their immediate reply was: “are you safe to drive?” 

I have been asking myself the same question since the moment Dr. Magic Optometrist told me, “you have tunnel vision.”

I know I have to turn my head and look very carefully when I am driving. I also know I have to leave large following distance compared to so many people. 

I mean, I have been driving for 31 years at this point. Am I safe to drive? Would the Department of Motor Vehicles have said to me: “you’re not safe to drive, you have tunnel vision.” 

I have been compensating for this for as long as I have been driving. Am I safe to drive? I don’t know. 

When I get my new glasses and they let me see in 3D, will they radically change how I drive? Will I be able to drive then? Someone I know is taking me to the appointment when I pick up my glasses, and I think it’s probably a good idea to ask them to drive and drive me home. My eyes may be very tired from the exercises and looking through new glasses experience I am going to have. 

I guess these are questions I will be able to ask when I get the glasses. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Tunnel Vision

There was a tv show perhaps some time in the 1990s, that talked about a dad and his son who had some sort of degenerative eye disease. Meaning, their eyesight was being eaten away by something like maybe a bacteria. Whereas once upon a time, they could look and see everything, now their eyesight was becoming more and more narrow. 

It sounded like they were gradually starting to look through a more and more narrow tube, like a toilet paper tube. And all you can see is the circle out the other side of the tube. 

I remember being fascinated with this story, and also frightened. I love color so much. There is a question sometimes that people ask each other: “if you had to lose either your sight or your hearing, which would you rather lose?” I have never known what I would answer to this question. I love music with a passion. I have played violin for as long as I can remember. I have listened to all kinds of music my whole life. My mom used to take me to jazz bars when I was a kid. My dad would take me to go hear folk singers.

Some day, I will share stories here about my dad’s encounters with Bob Dylan and Ella Fitzgerald. My dad took me to the Smithsonian Folk Life festival. I sat in orchestras playing music for decades. I love music with a vibrant passion. When people ask me, “what kind of music do you like?” The only response I can give is: “everything except church organ music and bluegrass.” I love music. 

I also love color. I love using my eyes all day long to look at the sky, the trees, my sons’ faces, my sweet puppy girl. I love to paint, draw. I used to draw cartoons for my school newspapers. I have even illustrated a few books on “how to yoyo” with my dad who wrote them. My dad was Stuart Crump Jr., “Professor Yo-Yo.” You can find his books on Amazon.

I love matching colors and thinking about colors. 

My life feels completely rich with color and music surrounding me. 

I can’t imagine having to choose between “if you had to lose either your sight or hearing, which would you choose?” I don’t think I would be able to choose. 

I use my hearing (I memorize voices) to compensate for the fact that my eyesight is so poor. People call me on the phone and I know who they are from the moment they say, “hello.” I may not be able to picture their face, but I know their voice. 

One time, our family found an old cassette of our grandmother’s voice reading a paper she wrote. I knew instantly it was her voice. Her own daughter didn’t even know what the recording was. She said, “what’s that?” And I was perplexed. I finally realized she didn’t even know the sound of her own mom’s voice. To me, it was as clear as a bell coming through the cassette speakers. 

Would I choose to lose my sense of hearing or my sense of sight? I hope neither. And, I hope my eyesight will get better and better. I hope I don’t lose the extra amount of hearing I have long relied on. I love being able to hear things from far away. Birds, my sons when they were babies, music at a festival from far away, the band practicing at the local high school — drums reverberating around the neighborhood. 

Would you be able to choose - between having sight or sound taken away? What would you pick? 


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...