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Weekend Pancake Breakfast

** I apologize.  Blogger seems to want to put this up in ALL CAPS.  I can't figure out why...  I am not yelling, no matter what it looks like...  swan

I know this isn't supposed to be a "recipe" blog, but really, the food is incidental to telling you just a little bit about our mornings together...

Our weekdays start early, and between the moment when the alarm clock sounds and I need to be out the door, there is not time for anything extraneous.  Our weekday breakfast menu is healthy but pretty prosaic and unimaginative.  It keeps body and soul together, but no one is going to write home about our Special K and banana habit...

It is a luxury, on the weekend, to have something a little more "interesting" and satisfying for breakfast.  Most often, I'll make French Toast with a wonderful, hearty, multi-grain bread that we buy at Costco.  It is simply, made for being turned into French Toast.  I can also whip up a pretty yummy batch of scones, and we do that sometimes.  Or waffles.  Or, on a day like today, when He wakes up in the mood for pancakes, we like this recipe -- a modified copycat version of IHOP's Harvest Grain pancakes.


3/4 cup Quaker Oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups Silk Milk, Unsweetened, Vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/4 cup  Splenda
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, cashews, or almonds

**Other possible additions:  peeled, chopped apple; raisins


*Makes about 20 small pancakes*

1. Grind the oats, almonds, and walnuts in a blender or food processor until fine, like flour.
5. Combine ground oats, almonds, walnuts, and pecans with the whole wheat flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
6. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk-like mixture, oil, egg and Splenda and mix until smooth.
7. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients,and mix well.  This can be done in the blender jar.
8. Pour the batter onto a hot skillet, and cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes on each side or until brown.
9. Serve with sugar-free syrup. Enjoy!


Moobie Gets on the Table A Lot

Our Moobie has gotten to be quite the character.  Anyone who has ever raised a kitten knows that there is an "adolescent" period during which the once "precious" kitten can be alternately delightful -- and then just pure aggravation (not unlike human adolescents, I guess).  Moobie definitely has her moments.  She is unbelievably curious, and more than just a little bit stubborn.  Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, she wants to be right in the middle of it all.  A lot of the time, that is just fine and not any problem.  She is fun and friendly and very personable.  However, try to sit down and eat a meal when the curious, flying fur beast insists that she ought to be allowed to jump right up and check out whatever interesting things she might find on your plate...  The continual refrain, around here, is "Moobie!  Get off the table!"  It is a command that Moobie routinely ignores, necessitating some sort of intentional move from one of us to enforce the idea that cats do not belong on the dinner table.

When I am home, I can summon up my "mean Mom voice" and scare the heck out of her.  When I get loud and growly sounding, she will head for the hills.  The problem is that I am not here during the daytime.  Moobie and "her Daddy" are here all by themselves all day everyday -- and He doesn't seem to scare her even a little bit.  Somewhere along the line, I joked that I thought the best way to break the cat of her table walking habit was probably going to involve spanking Himself every time the cat got up on the table.  We had a good laugh about that one...  Now, however, it isn't unusual for our Saturday morning snuggling to wind its way around to the point where He will quietly mention that, "Moobie got on the table a lot this week..."  And the truth shall set you free :-)



Movie Review -- The Sessions

We saw The Sessions over the weekend.  It was playing at one of the three "art house" theaters here in our town.  We'd been waiting for it to arrive since seeing the trailer for it awhile back.  We were not disappointed.

It is, on the face of it, a movie about sex, and I can imagine that in our sex-negative culture, there will be those who will take issue with the content of this film.  That's sad.  It is, simply, a sweet, interesting, deep, honest essay about the nature of being human, and what intimate connection means to us.  The story of Mark O'Brien, who lives his life flat on his back, and mostly inside of the iron lung that keeps him breathing, takes an unflinching look at the part that sex plays in the life of a normal adult human.  The movie is surprisingly lacking in prurient or sensational cheap shots.  Even as the characters engage in frank sexual talk, and work their way along a path toward sexual satisfaction, and even with some significant full frontal nudity, the movie stays steadfastly focused on the human beings at the core of the story -- their hopes and fears and failings and triumphs.  John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy shine.  It is well worth a look.



Poopie Caves

Here we go -- another post that has nothing to do with spanking or BDSM, or any of the other "juicy" and "salacious" stuff that you can sometimes read here.  I know ... it is just that I am home today, feeling crummy with some sort of icky stomach bug (probably shared with me by one of my darling students), and I have lots of time on my hands.

We have, as you may be aware, two feline creatures:  Callie, the old lady house cat, and Moobie, the magical summer kitten.  I know that some of you are cat people, so you will get it when I tell you that having two cats in the same house presents challenges.  Our crotchety old lady is not at all happy with our new addition, and while the household is not a war zone, the truce that reigns is not exactly peaceful either.

Early on, when we were first acquired by Moobie, it became very clear, very fast, that the two cats would not happily or nicely share a litter box.  It was also obvious that Callie was going to bolt from her litter box anytime that the little one bounced into view -- and the kitten just couldn't resist the urge to tackle Callie in the litter box.  Chaos!

I figured that things might be better if I could find a litter box that would give Callie some privacy where she would not be ambushed easily.  I found what seemed to be a great solution (although not an inexpensive one) at the local Petsmart, and so brought home for Callie the Cadillac of all kitty litter boxes -- The Booda Dome, or what has come to be referred to around here as The Poopie Cave:
The Booda Dome, works to give the cat privacy, and the steps help to prevent litter tracking.  It has a charcoal filter in the top and does a pretty good job of containing the smells.  Nice unit.  Big, but nice.  Callie was happy, and it seemed that all was right with the world, until Moobie fell in love with the thing and decided she liked it better than her kitten-sized litter pan.  Within days, the kitten had acquired the grand Poopie Cave, and Callie was contemplating turning the whole house into her own personal litter box.

So, I hauled myself off to the Petsmart, and bought another one.  Hence, we now have two Poopie Caves.  Tah Dah!  Happy cats.  They are a wonder, and I really like them -- now if someone could help me figure out an easy way to clean these behemoths...  Please.



Elite Seat -- A Rant

This post will have nothing at all to do with anything related to spanking or BDSM or any of the things that people come here to read.  So there's the disclaimer.

This post is a rant about a product that was supposed to help with the last bit of straightening on Tom's knee replacement -- a product manufactured by Kneebourne Therapeutic called Elite Seat.  It is likely that most of you will never encounter this beast.  It is, from all I can tell, a very specialized piece of equipment used mostly by physical therapists and sports medicine types...

The device is meant to help straighten the knee when it is bent due to muscle contracture or some other sort of orthopaedic injury or deformity.  In Tom's case, after the successful completion of his surgery, and after months of regular and intensive physical therapy, his affected knee still was not at zero degrees -- not straight.  He achieved great flexion, well over the 120 degrees that is considered successful after knee replacement, but never managed to get the leg straighter than about 3 or 4 degrees.  Being less than totally straight can lead to ongoing pain, and can also cause unwanted wear on the prosthesis.  Straight isn't just a cosmetic plus, it is a medical necessity.

When all the good efforts of a very good physical therapist, and all of Tom's hard work failed to get that knee all the way to straight, the PT recommended the Elite Seat.  It is a fairly simple, light weight, and portable contraption that exerts a (patient-controlled) stretch on the knee joint.  The goal is to, over time, correct the contraction in the muscles and allow the joint to straighten.  Using it requires several 10-15 minute sessions a day.  It is "out of network" for our insurance, and so when He made the initial arrangements for the device, He was told that the company would take what the insurance would pay, and our portion would be a one time, prepaid charge of $400 -- 20% of the monthly rental cost.  The rental term, He was told was unspecified -- "keep it as long as you need it."  We paid that $400 and the Elite Seat was shipped to our home.  He's had it about a month.

Today, He got a phone call from the someone named Brandy, representing the supplier -- the selfsame Brandy who had sold Him on the darned thing to begin with.  It turns out that, today, Brandy has a very different story to tell about the financial arrangements regarding to the rental of the Elite Seat.  Today, the story is that there is a MONTHLY $400 rental charge, and nevermind what you were or were not told at the outset, that is just the way it is.  Suck it up and send us the money.

It is the worst kind of durable medical equipment scam; a completely fraudulent business practice.  He is working to get some sort of resolution from the company -- seemingly three people doing business as both Kneebourne Therapeutic and AKT Medical.  Both use the same phone number, and both are located at the same address in Noblesville, Indiana.  Right now, the "business manager" is purportedly reviewing His file and has promised to call Him back.  If that call does not come fairly soon with some sort of reasonable resolution to this mess, I imagine that there will be phone calls to the Better Business Bureau, and the fraud unit of the state government.  What a mess!  I am sure that no one who reads here will ever encounter this company, or need this piece of equipment.  I sincerely hope not.  Still, this is the forum that I can use to vent about this rotten company.  It won't make any difference, but thank you all for being willing to listen.



What is a Spanking?

I've been getting spanked, and spanking, inside of this relationship for over ten years.  I can't even begin to think about or count how many spankings that must be.  We've spanked across a wide spectrum of "styles" from erotic to disciplinary, and we've used just about every spanking implement there is.  We've used bondage furniture of various kinds, and we've done the almost "traditional" over the knee thing.  If there's a way to spank, probably that has happened in our house.  I've been inclined to think about spanking as just that -- spanking.  Period.  End of discussion.

And then, this morning, waking up slowly and snuggling and rubbing and thinking about an impending spanking, it dawned on me that, at least for me, a spanking is way more than JUST a spanking.  A spanking is ...
pain pleasure touch heat surrender battle obedience submission connection sex thud sting burn rhythm mystery energy dance power discipline joy anger fear triumph hope glory beauty shame prelude finale percussion muscles skin nerves heart mind breath physics love hate gravity resilience balance danger safety defiance risk trust gift ...  

Did I miss any?  I am sure I must have.  Feel free to add to the list.



Another annual Love our Lurkers Day has come and gone.  The cyber event, initiated seven years ago in our part of the cyber universe by Bonnie of My Bottom Smarts, is ostensibly an opportunity for those who "lurk" on our various blogs to come out of hiding and say "hello."  While I don't participate, and haven't for years, I observe the festivities played out on many blogs around the circle.  This year, I note two "new" manifestations around the whole business.

This year, it seems that there were a fair number of bloggers who chose to offer various incentives to their lurkers.  Apparently, many people have determined that it is not sufficient to offer an invitation to the ubiquitous lurker.  The consensus seems to be shifting toward the belief that the only way to get the hidden ones to show themselves is to bribe them into offering a word or two.

The other phenomenon that I noticed this year is that some bloggers feel disappointed in the "turn out" they got out of the event.  I saw several discussions about how many actual lurkers commented, and there is a bit of consternation that, in fact, many of the LOL Day comments are left, not by lurkers, but by regular reader/commenters just making the rounds and saying, "Hi" to friends and neighbors.  Again, the feeling I get is that the "invitation" doesn't seem to accomplish what is wanted.

I, myself, am bemused by the continuing dedication to this exercise.  By definition, a lurker is someone who reads but does not contribute.  At the instant that a blogger manages to convince a lurker to offer some form of participation in the discussion, that individual ceases to be a "lurker."  So, LOL Day is really not about loving those lurkers as much as it is, in reality, about converting them to participating partners in our blogging enterprise.  Too, in a more basic, pre-Internet sense, the act of lurking is about remaining hidden; existing furtively and unobserved; sneaking unseen around the edges; even lying in ambush.  Much as we might like to imagine that there are great, unseen hoardes of FRIENDS waiting to be met (just add water and stir...), the truth is that we do not know, cannot know, the motivation of those who lurk around our various blogs.

I have "met" some wonderful people through the act of writing this blog.  There are people who have become companions and even "friends," albeit with the caveat that we've never laid eyes on one another.  For those people, I have a deep affection and an enduring gratitude.  Those relationships are valuable to me, and I appreciate the effort invested in building relationship by the reader on the other side of the screen.  Lurkers however, do not enter into that sort of interaction.  They come here to read, and I choose to make this place open and available in that way.  I can "see" those readers in my statistics, but I know nothing at all about those people.  They are, for me, "audience" in some sense, but they are not people that I know or care about very much.

I think that, for many who blog, Love Our Lurkers Day is sort of fun.  It is an Internet variant of a neighborhood garage sale, or maybe that convivial Halloween Trick or Treating sort of wandering from house to house that happens in some places on the evening of October 31.  Sometimes, lurkers observing the merriment might decide to take a chance and join the party, but it isn't about them...  LOL Day is about us.  The community likes to do it -- and so it continues.



Truth Telling

Working with our therapist, Judy, Friday, she suggested a new strategy for me.  She called it "truth telling" and described it as coming out of Buddhist cosmology.  I have this troubling on-going issue.  It is distressing for me and is hurtful for sue and t.  The concept of the truth telling technique, as I understand it, is that when I feel betrayed in my ongoing obsessive thoughts that t and sue called 9-1-1, and had me hunted by swat teams, and jailed twice, and convicted of two very stigmatizing crimes, and forced into mandatory participation in A. A. for over a year, and costs of over $10,000........When that happens I need to stop.  I need to recognize that I know there was no malicious intent on their part.  I need to recall that they did not know what would happen when they called 9-1-1.  I have to realize they did not want me put in jail, or to be treated as I was, or to be charged and convicted or any of the other things that occurred.  I need to remind myself they did not develop A. A., or have anything to do with its being mandated for me.  Now the twist in this is that Judy recognizes I do feel that...that I can't prevent my mind from having those thoughts and feelings.  She knows I recognize intellectually those thoughts are irrational, but that my dilemma is, they occur repeatedly daily, obsessively despite my knowing they are irrational.  She asked in this "truth telling" technique that I simply do not say them out loud.  She reminds me that if I say them out loud, they will only exacerbate our relationship issues, and that makes all three of us feel immensely worse.  So I have undertaken truth telling and therefore belying my obsessive internal thought process.

I struggled with this much of the weekend.  I can do it easily enough.  Like most of my various changes the last two years the things I change center, not around doing things, but about not doing something.  It is easy enough for me to just not say those things out loud, but somehow too, this easy exercise had me  in emotional knots.  As the weekend progressed I went on to become ever more morose.  I was thinking that I have no pride, no honor, only self-hatred, weakness, shame, self-concept the last two years.  Sunday came and for the first time in three weeks it was not a day long shouting and screaming match between sue and I.  We were tentative but pleasant.  I was pensive and plagued with internal monologues like the one I described.  As we progressed on to late afternoon, I felt like I had to do something to change  the way I felt....I needed to find something to divert me from, or blast me out of, what I was thinking and feeling.  Our repertoire of  "things we do" has become pretty limited, but we do go to movies, and there were some that have recently opened (or are coming up soon) that we have been interested in.  I suggested we go see the movie "Flight" at 5:30.  Fortunately t and sue were amenable.

As we sat in the theatre watching the twenty-seven minutes of previews that preceded the showing of Flight (yes that is right 27 minutes of previews!) I was mulling over my internal monologue.  I began consciously chanting to myself there was no maliciousness intended when they called 9-1-1.  They were afraid.  They didn't want to hurt me.  All the harm I experienced had nothing to do with what they did.  They were afraid for me and for themselves and tried to get help.  They didn't want to hurt me.  This became a mantra like........ cyclical.  Suddenly I had this warm feeling....this sense of freedom.  For the first time in two years a terrible burden felt as though it was gone, and I felt a warmth for t and  sue that I haven't had for two years.  It was an amazing moment!

It was short-lived...the movie began and I focused my attention on that.  This movie's occurrence in my life at this moment was, at the least, amazingly serendipitous synchronicity....or maybe something more magic...who ever knows.  "Flight" is a story of a commercial airline pilot who makes a heroic landing of a jetliner which saves most of the plane's passengers and crew in a situation in which any other pilot would have lost everyone on board.  The rub was that when he did this he was drunk.  The movie turns out to be the story of his coming to eventually deal with his prison.  There are many graphic scenes about his alcoholism, drug addiction, and myriad related life issues.  The unique thing about him was that his professional functioning was above was superior to his sober peers. It was his health and personal life that was an ever worsening disaster.  My life was like the one depicted in Flight in so many ways.  I was watching the behaviors that t and sue dealt with in me.  I was watching someone rationalize that his life was good...after all look at how well he functioned?  At the end of the movie, in prison, at the end of his first year of sobriety, speaking to an AA meeting, he talks about  how wonderful it is he is free for the first time in his life, and for the first time he begins to discuss the quandry, "Who am I?"

These two experiences, the pre-movie revelation about my feelings regarding sue and t, and then this powerful film and its relevance to my life, left me shaken...but in a positive way.  I kept thanking t and sue last night. They were trying to care for me and for themselves.   I needed to thank them.. They didn't try to harm me.  They didn't mean to betray me.  I feel devastated by what happened and feel betrayed. That is not their fault.   My feelings are my feelings....nothing more nothing less.

When I was in graduate school in counseling psychology I volunteered for a suicide drug crisis hotline agency as a crisis interventionist.  Once I did an outreach to the home of a very poor hispanic migrant worker family.  The mother in the family had a psychotic split, and the result of the outreach was our driving her to the hospital to stop her from chasing her family up and down the street with a knife while she rambled incoherently.  (I am amazed, as I recall this, that she didn't wind up in jail...but I digress:)  I visited her several times in the aftermath and will always recall her looking at me and calling me "her big chicken" (in her state of mind that morning when we came to her home she for whatever reason decided I was "big chicken" and the name stuck for the rest of the times we talked.) As we spoke she would frequently repeat "crazy is crazy" no mas o menos, a mixture of Spanish and English meaning crazy is crazy no more no less.  My feelings are my feelings....crazy is mas o menos.

I am grateful for my sobriety.  It occurs to me that however I got it it is worth it.  I am sorry for what my family had to suffer through with me.  I am devastated by what I went through on the way.  I hope that will get better.  If not there is a great deal that was gained in the exchange and the harm that was done was not done by my family.  They were not punishing me.  They were trying to survive, and wanted good things for me.  My god!!!!!!!

Now I am on to the next day and dealing with more.  I awakened happy in this new realization but seemingly unable to let myself be, I am now onto mulling over how empty life feels now.

The wild thing is ("crazy is crazy no mas o manos") that I felt relatively good about myself two years ago, when I drank, before there was jail and police, and convicitons, and treatment, and AA.  I apparently was alone in that perception ...but then I didn't have to deal with me drunk:)  Now I feel terrible yet, now I am, and feel, healthier.  I enjoy really sleeping.  I enjoy no hang overs.  I can remember the ends of every evening.  I don't have to ask what awful thing I did at the end of an evening when I wake up the next morning.  We could no longer support my drinking financially what with our changed economic realities and the legal expenses this has cost us. So there are many good things in the transition.

Maybe someday I will feel like a man again.

In ten weeks and 2 days I will be sober two years.  All of the health benefits I mentioned, and more, have come to me, and my family never deals with me drunk.  That is good.

I never feel as though I celebrate being alive.  I used to like to feel that I enjoyed my life and thrilled at what a gift life was.  I ate really well.......Now there is gastric bypass surgery and I am way healthier....there is no celebration.  I drank. I firmly believed alcohol was the aqua vita of Roman mythology, and felt the spirits literally and figuratively in my drinking.  I am much healthier and feel much less alive.  I used to smoke.  I chose to end that one.  I felt smoking was a continual momentary pleasure that celebrated life.  I am impressed with how spiritual native American mytholgies are about tobacco.  I am much healthier now...I have not smoked for 12 years.  I will live longer.  I save lots of money.  I have way fewer health issues.  I am  much less happy.

It is amazing that through all of this I still have sue and t.  They are hurt by my feeling less than animated by my "new life."  sue has posited numerous times, that if the absence of these things in my life makes me unhappy, then I must not love her.  If I loved her enough she would be all I would need to be happy.

"Truth telling" not only intervened into the external dynamics between sue and t and I, but effected a much more potent change in my emotional experience.

If I am so much healthier, then why don't I want to be alive like this, why don't I feel like a man, how do I manage to feel like I have my life back, or a new life, or whatever it is that is the mythical "recovery?"


Crazy is crazy no mas o menos


Turning the Queen Mary

There are things that happen quickly and easily, but turning an enormous, ocean-going liner, like the Queen Mary is not one of them.  In the days of screw driven ships, turning around in the open ocean was an undertaking that might take two or three hours.  Today's modern ships can be turned in as little as 30 minutes... although probably it takes longer in the tight quarters of a harbor.

Sometimes, I think that what we are trying to do, as we work to bring our relationship around and set it on a new heading, is a lot like that... turning the Queen Mary.  We have to overcome the momentum that carried us along our previous path. We have to overcome the inertia of a long-term relationship with plenty of history.  We have to create new patterns, find new currents, learn new habits, try to understand an intimate world that is completely "other" than what we recognized before.

In the world of big ships, the thing that does the work of making that turn happen is a small flap on the main rudder called a trim tab.  In terms of the physics, a small adjustment in the trim tab, changes the dynamics of the ship's motion, and so creates the turn with way less effort and energy than you might expect.  A small, effective change can be the beginning of a much bigger movement.

For us, the small triumphs; the seemingly ordinary moments, the otherwise unremarkable happy events act as that relational trim tab.  And so, when we find our way, as we have this weekend, into spankings that leave us flushed and giddy, when we make love, when we enjoy a pleasant meal, when we come out of  a movie feeling like we've shared something special together...  it is way more than what it might seem on the surface. What those things become for us, are the trim tab that helps us change the direction of the ship we've been sailing.  If we are to finally succeed in turning the Queen Mary here, then I think this weekend was a beginning.




We had an awful Sunday last weekend.  He reacted to the post I wrote about Making Space, and I, sensing attack (where there probably was none), went immediately into a snarling defense that left us both shaken and exhausted after an hours long standoff with one another.  In essence, His question was about what, exactly I meant by that phrase, and because I did not really know what I might mean by that, I could not tell Him in any sort of coherent and succinct fashion.  That frustrated Him, and His seeming inability / unwillingness to hear my metaphorical, allegorical musing made me feel as if I could not BE heard under any circumstances.  It was a mess.

Eventually, we wore ourselves out, found a quieter way to approach each other, and resolved to start again. We made it through the week in a sort of sad and tentative truce, and slowly, slowly relaxed toward the weekend.  Today, has been pretty good again, although we are both (I think) wary with each other.

I still don't entirely know what I mean exactly with regard to the notion of "making space."  I don't feel like it has to be a literal "moving apart" as He insists.  I feel like the idea of "space" is more complex and more subtle than the prosaic and expedient path of packing a bag and moving away.  That isn't something I want to contemplate.  I've fought hard to still be here.  I am invested.

I just keep thinking that there is space that is full of stars and planets; space that I create in the early spring as I thin the seedlings in my vegetable garden to allow the remaining plants room and resources to grow; space between the notes in a bit of music; green space that makes my neighborhood lovely and relaxing; space in my closet; spaces on a checker board; parking space; space around my dinner table; space within the atoms of the universe...

I don't yet know what I need in the way of relational space -- what we might need together.  I have not spent much time, in the last ten years, thinking about space.  While I think about it all, I offer some of the thinking that others have done about the subject:

Humor does not diminish the pain - it makes the space around it get bigger.
Allen Klein

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl

We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.
Max de Pree

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.
Joseph Campbell

The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.
Napoleon Bonaparte

As long as you don't forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy rent-free space in your mind.
Isabelle Holland

Love is space and time measured by the heart.
Marcel Proust

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.
Orson Scott Card

Our time here is magic! It's the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It's the only space.
Ben Okri

I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.
Luis Barragan

When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly.
Hilaire Belloc

Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.
Dee Hock



I have what is called Normal Tension Glaucoma.  It is an unusual form of glaucoma which usually manifests with elevated pressures in the eye.  That high intra-occular pressure damages the optic nerve resulting in progressive loss of vision.  In normal tension glaucoma, the pressures that are measured within the eye are within the range that is considered to be "normal."  However, even though the pressures seem normal, the disk of the optic nerve, visible at the back of the eye, shows clear evidence of damage.

In the early stages of the disease, there are essentially no symptoms.  One doctor described it as being in a room filled with 1000 lamps.  If one lamp, here and there, gets switched off, odds are you won't notice -- unless you are looking right at it.  The progressive loss of visual function is not easy to observe until the damage is well advanced.

I have been lucky to be monitored by very good eye doctors, and my glaucoma was detected very early.  It has been watched carefully for many, many years, and has been "stable" for about four years.  I don't notice that I have diminished vision, although the visual field tests that my doctor performs twice a year clearly show the damaged spots in my field of vision.  He says that I have moderate to advanced damage...  but it has been controlled by medication, and kept stable.  Until today.

Today, my regular checkup showed progression in the damage visual on my visual fields test, and the measured pressures in both eyes are higher than they have been for years.  Not dangerously high for a normal person, but too high for me.  The recommendation is to increase and expand my use of three different prescription eye drops to try and bring the pressure back down.  He'll check it again in about 3 weeks.

And then...  He told me that he is moving his practice to another office, and limiting his hours to mornings only.  There are other glaucoma specialists in the practice that I can see, but I am worried.  I feel uncomfortable about losing this doctor (who is no charmer) because he is very good at what he does, and he has followed my case from the very beginning.  It scares me.

The whole thing scares me.  I have lived with this for many years, and not really looked at it very closely.  I have lived with the fantasy that I could just go on as I have been, taking my eye drops and seeing the world as I do today.  Now, I am faced with the potential that this may, over time, result in a significant loss of functional sight.  No one can tell me when or how much.  The prognosis is unclear and unpredictable.

I am shaken.  Worried.  Afraid of a future that I cannot control, and cannot avoid.  Tonight, I want to sit in the light, write on my computer, watch the television, and look at the faces that I love.  I feel, somehow, that I ought to remember, everyday, that I will not ALWAYS be able to do that.  The things that I love; the things that fill my world with visual interest and joy -- they will be taken from me, bit by bit.  And I cannot even begin to guess, how long I will have...