#dSavannahDefects – V is for…

My theme this year for the #AtoZchallenge is #dSavannahDefects, aka “What’s it’s like dealing with #InvisibleIllnesses”. Or, in short, {some of} what’s wrong with me.

V … vision, pt 1

So, I just read this really interesting article/post/Facebook note by a dude who is a software engineer.

This guy, Blake Ross (that link is to his very own Wikipedia page), has just learned that most people can visualize things in their mind.

He can’t.

He has a condition known as aphantasia, or “a life without imagery.” Or, as he put it, a “blind mind’s eye”.

The condition only just this past year received its official medical name. Because, who goes around thinking that something you experience every day isn’t something everyone experiences every day?

(For me, the most “mind-blowing” related moment was when I learned that not everyone feels paralyzed in the moments before falling asleep. That the paralyzation is actually a symptom of narcolepsy. {Not that I’ve been diagnosed with it, not officially.})

So, Blake was randomly trolling on Facebook one day recently and ran across this article posted last June in the New York Times: Picture This? Some Just Can’t by , who had previously written about the research in 2010, for Discover.

Anywho, the article blew Blake’s mind, because until he read it, he thought that when someone said “count sheep to go to sleep” they were using a metaphor. Or, as he put it, ‘I was equally sure nobody could “see” them with some fanciful “mind’s eye,” either. That was just a colorful figure of speech, like “the bee’s knees” or “the cat’s pajamas.”’

He asked a bunch of his friends “If I ask you to imagine a beach, how would you describe what happens in your mind?” And was astonished when most of them talked about really imagining it. Because he doesn’t.

You really should go read his post. (You may have to be logged in to Facebook to read it.) I’ll wait. It’s really intriguing and interesting.

And it made me wonder: is there a disorder that is the opposite of that? Like, your mind’s eye sees too much? Because, when he says, “imagine a beach”, I totally do. I see, smell, hear probably all the beaches I’ve ever been on, at the same time. Or, I can flip through them like a slide-show.

I hear the “milk voice” he describes, but I also hear full conversations. And music. And before I ever write anything, I usually see myself writing it in my mind’s eye. And not like the way they show someone writing in movies – closeup of the face, wide shot of them hunched at their desk, shot of the screen, etc. – but as I actually see it when I’m writing. Like, in my head, I see my hands on the keyboard, I see the edges of my glasses, I see the tip of my nose, I see my computer, I see the words flying across the screen as I type…

And, I have super-vivid dreams, too. So realistic that sometimes I wonder later if what I saw and experienced in my dream actually happened.

And many times, I can’t sleep because of all the chatter and visions and images in my brain. Like, I haven’t been asleep all night, and it’s now 6:45am EST on Sunday, 4/24/17 (Happy 21st birthday, Spawn!), and I tried to go to sleep and I lay there and then the words for this post came and ran across my brain and ran across my brain until I couldn’t do anything but get up and write about this.

… vision, pt 2

Now, to talk about the vision in my eyeballs. I actually wrote about Vision in last year’s #AtoZChallenge, so I won’t repeat myself – you can go read that post if you wish to learn about my own personal history with sight.

To summarize:

  • Had to get glasses when I was 12 years old.
  • Have an allergy to protein in my eye, so couldn’t wear regular contacts.
  • Wore gas permeables until I started having real problems with that allergy.
  • Had LASIK in 2002. Went from -6.75 to perfect vision (20/20) in right eye.
  • Had issues with left eye; two additional LASIK surgeries and one Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) in 2009. But vision was pretty decent.
  • Had to get glasses in 2015, but didn’t have to wear them all the time.

So, now you’re caught up.

This January, I went back to my surgeon, and he confirmed that no surgery would work for me, and referred me to an eye doctor nearby who knows what to do with patients like me.

I went to see her (the eye dr), and the latest with my eyeballs is that I pretty much have to wear my glasses all the time, except sometimes I’m okay not to use them while reading a book. But computer work? Watching TV? Driving or riding in a car? I need glasses.

AND I had to get trifocals! AND I couldn’t get contacts! AND turns out I have thinning of the nerves and whatnot, so I had to start on eye drops for glaucoma! Oy vey!

What it feels like: Honestly, it doesn’t feel like anything. My vision can be wonky sometimes, and sometimes it is perfect. The eye drops dry my eyes out.

Of course, with my fabulous luck </sarcasm>, wearing glasses gives me a headache. My “insurance” only lets you get frames every two years, so next year, I’m getting some frameless glasses.

What it is: What exactly is glaucoma, you may ask. Well, according to ye ole google, “the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is damaged”. Or, as Mayo Clinic puts it, “a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve”.

Treatment: Eye drops! Apparently I’ll need them for the rest of my born days. (Sigh.) And Mayo Clinic says: “If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed or prevented. If you have the condition, you’ll generally need treatment for the rest of your life.”

Treatment can also include oral medications and surgery.

My eye doctor seemed confident we’ve caught it early enough – and I’ve been pretty faithful about getting my eyeballs checked out – that hopefully I’ll just have to use eye drops, without resorting to the other things.

I can only hope.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of me in glasses (and no, I am STILL not sharing the one of me in 8th grade with the giant glasses and what-was-I-thinking curled bangs). (Click to see them larger, if you wish.)

More ramblings / other posts you might want to read...


About dSavannah

~ #disabled #spoonie fighting numerous, chronic, painful #InvisibleIllnesses ~ also #wife #feminist #ally #advocate #papyrophiliac #DogCatTurtleWrangler
This entry was posted in #AtoZchallenge2016, #dSavannahDefects, health, illness, insomnia, memory. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to #dSavannahDefects – V is for…

  1. Elaine LeDoux says:

    I really feel sorry for the guy with no “mind’s eye”. I have a theory that people like you,who use all their senses are able to tap deeper into their memories….artists, writers, poets etc. kinda cool really. I have always had very vivid dreams…some of which freakily came to pass many years later. When I go to sleep I wonder what adventure I will have and I’m usually not disappointed!

    • dSavannah dSavannah says:

      I know, right? It’s hard to imagine not having that.

      I have used some of my dreams in my stories. I don’t know if any of mine have come true… How cool!

  2. Betsy says:

    How awful for Blake. How interesting that he just thought everyone was like him.

    I am thankful for my glasses and contacts. Being blind as a bat, I could never live without them.

    Such an insightful blog. ;).

  3. Wow, I’m thinking how fortunate you are to be able to see a “slide show” of an image, including the sights, smells, sounds.
    The super-vivid dreams and chatter/images in your brain should deepen/enhance your artistry.
    All you need to do is capture its essence, and then channel it into your art/writing/photography. (I’m sure you already know how to do so…)
    Writer In Transit

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