Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Four month check-in

Hola amigos,

It's been a while since I rapped at ya, so I figured I would do a check in now that it's been four months since the eye surgery that more or less changed my life.

And to this day, all systems normal. There hasn't been any change in my vision since the last time I reported in. I have two eyes that work together, I am more of a citizen of the world, I have depth perception that informs and aids my navigation of the world, and I am so much happier with the face in the mirror. It is in fact so normal now that I really don't well remember how my vision was before. I can pull up memories of things like two sets of headlights coming in my direction, but in terms of how my vision pre surgery affected my life, those memories are melting away. It makes me very glad that I wrote about the experience in such detail. If I were to do it now my recollections and descriptions would be far more dull.

I have gotten used to the view of myself in the mirror to the extent that looking at old pictures of myself is kind of shocking. Oh god, that was me.

I do still marvel at some of the improvements, most notably with navigation. Maneuvering through crowded spaces is an exhileration and a breeze when it used to be a nightmare. My runs to and from work on busy city streets are so much easier, most notably the ability to look around as I continue to propel myself forward. Prior to surgery, when I wanted to look left or right, I had the feeling I would fall over. Not so anymore! I can be at a full tilt and look behind me to see if a bicycle is bearing down and can keep up my momentum. That's a lovely improvement that others enjoy without thinking about it. I haven't been on a bicycle yet, but I think that will be a lot easier to do for similar reasons. I will know more soon, as I am moving to a place where riding a bike will be much more a part of my life.
There are much fewer visual surprises, such as cars and people being in a place that was in a blind spot. I am far more aware, less surprised by the objects in their trajectories.

I still hate clutter, but I can navigate around it without tripping over every damn thing.

In compensation for my vision challenges, I have long learned to be very aware of sounds around me. This is most significant when I am running and I become aware of an approaching car. Now that I am better able to take information in visually, I sense a union of sight and sound that didn't before exist, that just makes it easier and less stressful to encounter the world.

Also, depth is now at the level of instinct that I can dodge out of peoples' way without thinking about it. If I open the cabinet to reach for a tupperware bin, and one drops, I can catch it without thinking, as opposed to letting it tumble out in front of me. Little changes like that are super fun and make me feel like I got a real power-up.

Some old habits are still hard to break. I am still TERRIBLE at eye contact. I look around the room, I look away. I'm still instinctively insecure about the way I look and having people look at me. There are other times I remind myself I don't have that wonky eye and it feels empowering, but on the day-to-day level, my old reflexes are still very active.

I still really concentrate on my right eye vision. I guess this is understandable since I get so much more power out of that eye. It's the eye with which I do everything, and most times this is how it is and how it's always been. One place where that is not doing me any favors is with my balance, which ias really not improved much at all. I have been going to yoga multiple times a week quite regularly now, and while I'm starting to really be able to contort myself and hold challenging poses with a smile, I still really suck at the simplest of balance poses. I know this also has a lot to do with the fact that my eyes still jitter uncontrollably, which makes it very hard to to maintain a drishti gaze. I had a breakthrough on monday night's power class when I really tried to zone out my vision, and also focus on trying to pull in my left eye, to really focus on it. I was able to hold a balance pose for a little longer - I think it was tree pose - but that emphasized what a long way to go I have to get better at that. I've always been so clumsy that I'm really yearning to fix that. I hadn't been thinking too much about going to a behavioral optometrist to work on eye exercises since I had been enjoying my improvements so much, but that experience with yoga made me think that maybe I should, that maybe there were additional things I could do to not only help my nystagmus (eye jitter) but also improve the cooperation between my two eyes. Maybe then I could stand on one foot for more than a friggin' second.

But all in all, life in the new improved normal is wonderful, but oddly normal now. It's really interesting how quickly we adapt to a new reality, to the point where the impact of the change recedes into memory. For whatever reason I had high hopes that this experience would leave me deeply changed not only in a physical but psychological way. But while the physical part of it is very much improved, I am still the same ball of stress, anxiety, insecurity and tenuous discipline that I have always ever been. There are no quick fixes to brain chemistry, at least not for me. But I do feel blessed, lucky, and thankful that I have been able to have this experience, and that I could bring you along for the ride.

Be seeing you!

No comments:

Post a Comment