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Category Archives for human interest

My Brain, My Eyes, and Cataract Surgery

a whole lotta learnin’ goin’ on

It has been one year since I had cataract surgery and so much has happened in this time with the communications between my brain and my eyes that I felt the need to write about it — I hope you all find it as intriguing as I did.

I know that eyes and brains are intimately hooked up. I took a neuropsychology course in graduate school and I’m sure I learned about brains and vision in high school and college.

I know the basics of how my brain and my eyes work together. And I know it’s complicated!

But – knowing this and going through a relearning process post-cataract surgery are two different phenomena. My brain was not ready for the onslaught of new information that it was getting.

[I contemplate the workings of my brain a lot — so I found it fascinating to be aware of what was going on.]

A bit of my eye background….

I am astigmatic — oops change that — I WAS astigmatic. I am also far-sighted. At one forgotten point in my life, my astigmatism was bad enough that I needed glasses most all of the time because my astigmatism issues were fixable with glasses.

At another also now forgotten point in life, my driver’s license got marked with “needs corrective lenses” which didn’t surprise me because I was wearing glasses every minute of being awake.

I did not like wearing glasses all the time and tried contact lenses, but mostly they didn’t work or they fell out or they were annoying — but I liked the idea of not having glasses on so I kept trying different contacts and finally gave up on those because the annoyance factor won out.

Then I developed cataracts which happens to many as we age. Of course, the cataracts got worse as they are prone to do, and those, along with my astigmatism made it very difficult to drive at night. I’m a good driver and I did not wish to create problems for me or anyone else so I stopped driving at night and decided it was time for cataract surgery.

[That in itself is yet another issue..why insurers balk at cataract surgery baffles me.]

Back to my brain and eyes….

Over years of driving – back and forth across the USA, across Canada, driving day and night in snow, sleet, rain, and all sorts of weather and driving conditions, my brain learned how to deal with changes in light, changes in weather, and frequently, a quick change in any or all of these things. My brain and eyes were perfectly in sync.

For example, if I got to a tunnel my brain knew that it was going to take a nanosecond to adapt from light to dark and it knew how to do that, and I knew it knew how to do that and we were safe while going into tunnels. Ditto when skiing in bright sun bouncing off the snow and then going into a ski lodge — my brain and eyes figured it out and it never was an issue.

Then came the cataract surgery — YEA — and pre-surgery, I decided that the lens that also corrected astigmatism would be best for me and my eyes!

More YEA!

My weaker eye [left] got done first, and the subsequent difference between my left and right was very discombobulating — even with my now one lens glasses on for the right eye — it was no fun to do much of anything. Two weeks later I had the right eye done and suddenly both eyes were perfect — and balanced.

I was binocular, bionic — I could see. It was a fascinating experience and I was in constant amazement that I could see very far, further than I remembered I used to be able to do. It was one of those “I forgot how good my eyes used to be because I got so used to them not being too good” kind of moment!

Every. Time. I. Looked. Anywhere.

Then I started driving. It was weird, especially as I have been driving forever! This is when I really noticed that my brain had a lot of work to do and I was fascinated by the interchanges between my eyes, my conscious brain, and my subconscious brain. They were putting together a new reality.

At first, I only did daytime driving because I quickly recognized that I needed time for the brain and eyes to adjust to the new norm. It was pretty quick learning as I was driving on very familiar roads and did not make any “road trips.”

Then came a time where I again drove through a tunnel. A very short tunnel, one I have been through a lot — but still — a tunnel. The brain went: “Get ready for dark. Get ready for dark adaptation” — followed instantaneously by: “Wow — nothing happened, everything is fine.”

By the third or fourth time through that tunnel that I realized there was no longer any “discussion” going on between my eyes and my brain about that situation.

It was when I started driving distances, and at night , that I realized the brain and eyes were still trying to figure something out. The first night-time drive, where I was also in traffic, with headlights coming at me and behind me — the brain was like “Wow the eyes can see everything again. I have nothing to do.” No issues at all.  And my subconscious brain registered that fact.

The conscious brain, though, was still asking itself questions and waiting for answers!

Because I live in the Northwest we have rain — not a lot when I was newly driving again, but enough with some added oddball Spring weather — like thunderstorms, drizzle, and weather that puts you on alert that traffic, lighting, and road conditions might change — and the brain and eyes were coordinating easily about this — the conscious brain was still going: “We got to get ready for this” but it was then an immediate: “Nope, we don’t have to do anything.”

After weeks of driving under different circumstances, my conscious brain began to relax and not be in the “we have to get ready for something” mode anymore. It had had many many years of dealing with astigmatism, eyeglasses, and the issues that came with both and now it no longer had those issues to contend with and was finally exiting learning mode.

Over Spring, Summer, Fall and now Winter, my eyes, brain and I have driven in many different conditions. Fog, heavy rain, heavy traffic, highway traffic, traffic circles, road construction, to places I had never been, etc.  I saw that we are fine! We are cool! We are coordinated! We are good to go!

My brain had obviously been going back and retrieving what it used to know from pre-glasses and early-glasses learnings — those memories are still there in spite of years of inaction or not needing to be accessed.

Most of the time we don’t pay attention to the connection between our eyes and brain. I certainly never did. And then: WOW did I pay attention!!

It has been fun! It has certainly has been interesting! And – it has been very educational!

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Growing Older? You Need A Sense of Humor

Ah aging! 

As I have gotten older, especially since I turned 65, I have been inundated with mail that goes into a category that I now call.......

junk mail in box

Information for those about to die

The mail is about falling, tripping, funerals, cremation, or selling me insurance so my family can pay for the funeral or cremation expenses.  

But I get nothing that ever tells me how to enjoy the rest of my life. It's all about "you're going to die so do something about it."


One of the mail pieces I laugh at is from an insurer who thinks I am about to fall - so I am told I need to keep my floor free of things I might trip over.

But I seem not able to get my dog and cat to pick up after themselves, and so my floor has an array of balls, chew toys, and other roundish objects all over the place.

All this is in addtion to my having cords to and from charging phones and computers - as well as the fact that keeping my house clear of clutter is lower than lowest on my priority list.

I plan on enjoying my lfe;
not worrying about dying!

Comments? Thoughts? Thank you!

I'm curious about aging....I'd like more info

Wallets and History

The wallet above is more than 20 years old. It has a history and I've had it for so long, I keep forgetting its history.

I bought the wallet on April 19, 1995 at Potomac Mills Mall in Virginia. Why do I remember the exact date? Because it was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing - but I did not know about the bombing until I was driving home from Potomac Mills.

My son and I went to that mall more often than I'd liked because, in 1995, it had the only IKEA within striking distance of Washington, D.C. and it had a Chico's outlet - as well as many other outlet stores. And that week was his Spring break - so we went shopping. 

While walking throughout the mall [which is large,] I saw the occasional television set in store windows showing a bombing. I didn't think anything of it other than all of the TVs were showing the same movie. On the way home in the car we heard about the bombing and that's the first my son and I knew of it. [And that's why I remember the exact date I got the wallet.]

Since that time, the wallet has led a long life in my pocket, in my backpack, in my fanny pack. or in whatever. In those 20+ years, the wallet has been drenched in the Connecticut River, been dampened by Atlantic and Pacific sea air, been dampened by New England and mid-Atlantic snow and thunderstorms and by the Pacific North West rains and Cascade snow.

It's been part of my life through many moves, lots of mileage in cars, lots of ski trips and lots of life. My son has gone from a teenager to a young adult in his late 30s. Latly, as part of my end of year cleaning, thinking of cleaning stuff up, etc., I took a good look at the now very dirty [almost Velcro-less] wallet and saw it was no longer a bright purple and decided I finally needed a new wallet. 

And here it is. A black wallet! My very first thought on opening the wallet was wow - I forgot how good Velcro can be when it is new. And I saw on the tag that it's made by the original Swiss Army Knife makers. I think it might outlive me and it will have its own history to tell at some point.

Mother’s Day – 2014

The original mother’s day sentiment was put forth in an anti-war poem by Julia Ward Howe.

peace

I doubt many modern day Mother’s Day shoppers even know how this day came to be – so please take time this weekend to reflect on the original thought.

Mother’s Day Proclamation – 1870
by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then…women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,

For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

 

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with

Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor,

Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil

At the summons of war,

Let women now leave all that may be left of home

For a great and earnest day of counsel.

 

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means

Whereby the great human family can live in peace…

Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,

But of God –

 

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,

May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

And the earliest period consistent with its objects,

To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.

Moving In With Your Parents. Not Just For Young Adults Anymore

homeIt is not just new college graduates and young adults moving back home.

Now the 50-64 year olds  are moving back home too.

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents’ homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.

Another sad commentary on the economy and the futures of middle aged parents…not to mention what happens to the next generations…

And why I redesigning my main website to include information on earning more income.

[You can sign up at gray wolf productions to receive information.]

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