Photo by Jamie Nix
Oh My Shifty Eyes
On any casual afternoon, I walk through the store and scan the items displayed. There’s one of particular interest, yet the focus isn’t there. I try to decipher what’s written beyond the blur…what does it read?
I can feel it almost every time it happens. When my eyes start shifting, such miniscule movements that are so untameable. I blink repeatedly, squint to narrow my periphery, and walk a little closer. Yet I’m forced to look away, walking away, and hope for better success the next time…
As usual, my neurologist tells me to look at his finger and follow it as he moves it swiftly from side-to-side, up-and-down; holding it at the end of each direction. However, in this last visit, he asked me if I could feel the bouncing. I DID indeed! Then he said it wasn’t as bad as it was last year…hmmm, interesting. He said, it’s called nystagmus. A loud bell went off in my head! Nystagmus. I’d learnt about it in school – when the eyes oscillate, involuntarily – an association of some neurological disorders…to put it briefly. HA! I love it when I understand what my neurologist is talking about! AND, this…this eye-shifting beast, nystagmus, I then realized had been bugging me for years. I thought it was just a concentration issue; cog fog. Which, it may be as well. But, it all finally made sense; like puzzle pieces fitting into place.
So, why does it all make sense? For some years, I’d find myself beginning to read – perhaps an article online or my book I really wanted to finish – but I lacked the visual focus. It was like I couldn’t concentrate on actually reading the material, but it wasn’t exactly concentration-related…I don’t think. It was my eyes! Because they didn’t want to focus on the words – like they kept going cross; slipping on the words and smudging them into a blur. THEN, it became a concentration issue. So exhausting trying to get these tiny, powerful sensory pieces to cooperate that concentration just goes “out the window”…out of sight, literally.
I remember when I used to be able to voluntarily shake my eyes…kind of strange, I know…and laugh at my older sister because she couldn’t cross her eyes. How odd to be so proud of these abilities. And now, it’s as though all of my flashy eye tricks have come back to bite me – now that they just wiggle whenever they want.
Interesting to hear my neurologist say that my nystagmus isn’t “as bad” as last year…but, I definitely second his opinion, personally. Because, fortunately, I have noticed an improvement in my concentration/eye focus. And I am very happy with this change! Though, I can’t say that I enjoy when my eyes start doing their shifty-jig; screwing up my vision and ability to complete a tiny paragraph…or even do some basic grocery shopping.
Gladly, I can still use my eyes – even when they’re bouncing – it just takes a whole lot more patience. Patience that I am 100% willing to work for because I now understand why. Because now there’s been a shift in my sight of this disease. How empowering knowledge can be.