Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What Caused My Blindness, And Other Questions Answered.

This will be a short post answering several questions, I just forgot to answer in my profile, or in other posts. I have updated my profile, but here is the low down on what caused my severe vision loss.

I was born almost three months prematurely. It was a miracle I lived at all. My poor mother, from her accounts, had a very difficult delivery. I am grateful I was born on April 2nd and not April 1st. I regret I gave my mother a rough delivery.

In 1953 in the United States, it was standard procedure to put a premature baby in a pure oxygen environment. Unfortunately, it was later discovered, that a pure oxygen environment caused several serious problems. The growth of the retina is fostered by oxygen, but too much oxygen and it short circuits the retina. I always think of this like running too much current through a toaster, or other electrical appliance. It will fry the electronics. That is a crude, non-medical, version of what happens to a retina when there is too much oxygen. RLF also causes some brain damage, for me it is mild Cerebral Palsy. I am extremely fortunate that I only have balance and some coordination difficulties with my Cerebral Palsy. My spine is also curved like the letter s. I count my blessings that I can speak, read and breathe without assistance. My right leg is also one half inch shorter than the left leg. I believe that is again, from the Cerebral Palsy.

About twenty years ago, law suits were filed on behalf of us RLF people. I had a chance to get involved, but decided not to. There was evidence as early as 1947, that excess oxygen was a problem, but the US doctors hadn't proved it to their satisfaction, until, I believe 1954, or 1955. Before you get all worked up about how the US was slow to react to research, or new developments. I want to remind you of the Thalidomide tragedy. Again, the US hesitated to approve this new wonder drug as fast as Europe, and our population was spared a very sad batch of birth defects. Science is not perfect.

Mistakes get made. I have a good life and don't care to go trying to make a buck by punishing doctors, hospitals and insurance companies for following accepted practice at the time of my birth. I regret wasting so many years in being angry, mainly about how I was raised. I spent too much time playing "The Blame Game". I heard once, that God shows His love to you by giving you life. You show your love back to Him, by how you live the life you are given. As I continue to mellow out, taking reality as it exists, instead of cursing what ISN'T, my life keeps getting better and better. I wish I hadn't taken thirty years to arrive at this place, but I go at life now, like a happy puppy with a beautiful piece of steak. I am getting to experience a kind of joy and satisfaction, I truly didn't think existed. It is really out there. Never give up, give in or run away.

There is a difference between running away from something you can do, verses refusing to keep pushing for something that is not realistically possible to do. As as example, with my balance difficulties and coordination problems, not to mention being 52 years old, overweight and out-of-shape, I'd be foolish to go for becoming a professional ballerina!

Now, on to a completely different subject. I mentioned that, for a while, I took a drug called Zaprexa. I neglected to explain what it was for and how it helped me. Zaprexa is actually an anti-psychotic drug. It stops visual and auditory hallucinations. It also tones down the overall intensity of an emotional reaction. For me, I had a fear problem and an over reaction to everything problem. There was so much violence and chaos in my early childhood, that I was scared all the time. I always woke from sleep ready to run. I would cry and get hysterical and sometimes lose the ability to see, feel and hear. I'd come out of this state realizing I was screaming and couldn't stop. Looking back, it must have scared the hell out of my parents and my aunt. They gave me phenobarbital, to stop fever induced seizers. I believe part of that dynamic had to do with the extreme child abuse I suffered for the first five years of my life. I have always had the fear or ending up as crazy and violent as my mother. When she went off, she truly wasn't human any more. Only someone raised by a psychotic will truly understand what I'm talking about here.

The second time I was hospitalized, when I was afraid I'd try and kill the man who was beating me, I panicked and really cried. That was when my psychiatrist offered me Zaprexa. When I read what it was, I got hysterical again. I liked the idea of not crying so hard, for so long. I took a very small dose, as I am at the very fringe of psychotic symptoms.

For the first time in my life, I slept and didn't awake to every little noise. I dreamed in a way that felt really good, like some real healing was happening. I wasn't afraid all the time. This made my abusive lover angry, as I was so doped up that after he'd hit me for awhile, I'd respond with: "Are you finished, good, I'm going to study now." Eventually, I lost patience with his violence, but for awhile, he was angry because I was not a scared deer-in-the-headlights anymore.

I stopped Zaprexa because it is $8 a pill and I had to get my medication expense down. What is wonderful, for me, is that the new brain patterns of not being terrified constantly and having a little control over how upset I get have remained, even after stopping Zaprexa. I am truly grateful for the medications I take, and have taken. They have delivered me from a maddening cycle of chronic hysterical behavior, flashbacks and the dreadful full collapse of my life every ten years or so. I plan on researching how my drugs were discovered and showing you all some of the behind-the-scenes struggle that I'm sure went on getting these medications to patients. Drugs aren't a cure-all, but, for some of us, they have returned us to a level of successful functioning that has made a good life possible.

1 comment:

steven edward streight said...

I was turned into a freaking vegetable in 1999, the year I switched from ad agencies and direct marketing...to ecommerce and internet marketing.

I broke me back, low spine, for the second time, epidural steroid spinal injection slipped, hit my sciatic nerve...

...and the onset of paranoia, panic attacks, violent behavior (nearly killed a Mexican cop), severe depression, yada yada yada, etc.

They gived me Paxil, Xanax, Vicodin ES, Darvocet, Buspar, Elavil, shoot, can't recall all 13 pills I was on.

Soon, I could NOT think two sentences in a row. Cried hysterically all day everyday. Slept 20 hours a day. Mind was now mush.

Jesus reached down, healed me, and put a fire in my bones to wage war against His enemies.

The awesome New Reformed Insane Blog Media Network is my satire/humor blog release 0.0.1 that is being launched soon.

We shall overcome with God's help.