Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting used to things I don't want to be used to...

is a challenge. It's tempting to get used to some things that are inexcusable, like oppression, discrimination, poverty, that sort of social ill, and I work at avoiding that kind of acceptance.

But aging is not avoidable and while it's possible to stay healthy and active and productive, it turns out it is necessary to get used to it. I had hoped this was not so, but I am forced to take a second look. Of course, I've always been one to heehaw at the magazine and TV ads that promise rejuvenation on a grand scale if one just buys certain products. I wasn't born yesterday, folks---I was born LOTS of yesterdays ago and I know better.

But that doesn't make it any easier to accept that I have wrinkles on my face that will never go away, even if I exfoliate down to the bone. I have a tummy that is a permanent fixture, partly because of aging, partly because of my fondness for snacking. My hair is at that point where you can't really tell if I'm blonde or gray or both. My fingernails look just like my mother's---soft and easily torn. My toenails look just like my dad's, and we won't go there except to say that he never wore sandals either. My bosom is okay but trending downward.

But these are cosmetic features, for the most part. The one that has troubled me most, especially since the eye doc told me it might be permanent, is the slight distortion in the vision in my left eye, which makes it hard to focus easily on the written word. That's life-changing. I have been pretending it doesn't exist, and actually that helps. When I think about it, the line of words goes askew, a little like my bosom, trending downward. And since my right eye sees perfectly well, I get a little 20 degree angle of 2 lines of type, if that makes sense. Picture the form of an upside down stapler, with the level base having legible letters and the downward-angled stapling part having distorted letters.

I have discovered that when we rehearse and I'm singing, the distortion pretty much goes away. I think my brain is affected by the combination of singing and focusing and I'll bet there's research to support that somewhere. I'm learning not to be distracted by the distortion, but it's hard work to maintain the focus. The overall effect is of ultra-3-D perception, nice for the movies maybe but a little tricky when I'm trying to light the chalice and overshooting the wick with the candle. So I have to learn to see things in a different way.

Maybe that's the whole trick to aging, to accepting the inevitable slides of physical functioning. I haven't had any major slide until now; my eyes and teeth and other essential functions have been pretty stable---until now.

But just as I learned that open heart surgery meant opening my heart in a new way, maybe I will learn that having a different kind of vision means I will see things in a new way. I'll let you know.


LinguistFriend said...

My experience has been that there can be more accommodation of the central part of the visual system to the periphery than one would expect or than surgeons accept as real. It is rather surprising, but you may well find the same, in a constructive sense. I do not have much of an idea as to how this accommodation varies with age. Some optometrists (and perhaps others, I don't know) are good at teaching one how to facilitate this accommodation, although the system may learn without instruction. I have in mind, by the way, particularly the phenomena of binocular vision, a weakness of my own visual system. Good luck.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, LF, I think that's encouraging information.

Mile High Pixie said...

LF hits on something important and interesting there. Because vision takes up more of the brain than any other sense (according to a variety of brain research books I've read, including "Brain Rules" by John Medina PhD), it finds a way to compensate and recuircuit itself when something goes awry. I've spoken to people with nerve damage who have told me that when they think about their nerve damage, suddenly it's really hard to write their name or stand up straight. Sometimes denial has a purpose, eh? :-)

ms. kitty said...

Pixie, that is so true of my situation. When I think about it, I find it hard to make my eyes behave in sync. When I'm not thinking about it, somehow they manage. It's when I obsess about it that I get the headaches! Yay, denial!