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I am Loving Glaucoma

Submitted by dave on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 8:16pm

I am loving what glaucoma does for me on a daily basis. I have changed so much. I am a different person now -- and much healthier than ever. How did this happen? 

When I walked in to my ophthalmologist's office for the first time, he found that the intraocular pressure in my right eye was 48 mmHg. The ophthalmologist said that was the highest intraocular pressure he had seen. That was enough to shake me up a bit. On my very first visual field exam, I had already lost a significant portion of my eye sight. The rapid loss of my sight was enough to scare the crap out of me! And that was before my optic nerve scan showed damage of 99 on a scale of 2 to 99 (99 being the worst)!

I have experienced fear, depression and a whole range of frightening negative emotions related to glaucoma and the prospect of losing my vision. However, those of you who read my blog know that those fears are largely a thing of the past for me. I have said many times, and it remains as true as ever, that glaucoma is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It is one of the best things because I have made it so.

That doesn't mean I am making a mood -- I'm not. I'm not pretending I'm happy when I'm really not feeling so well. As you know from many articles (such as Glorious Illuminating Glaucoma) the positive changes in me and in my life (and my relationships) are very real and very profound.

Glaucoma is one of the best things that has happened to me because I chose to use it as an opportunity. Several people have responded to my articles about my positive experiences by saying things such as, "I have not found a single positive aspect about the prospect of losing my eyesight. It has certainly not helped me to become a better person, or find new meaning in life, or anything like that." I can see why people think like that because I've been through that. But thinking that way ("there's nothing positive about glaucoma") doesn't make it true. However, believing it is true does cause you stress, anxiety, fear and a host of other negative emotions. And those negative emotions do contribute to poor health. So one's beliefs -- whether true or not -- can lead to the type of thing one is resisting.

The reality is some of us have health issues related to our vision. That is the reality. To argue with or deny reality is a mentally unhealthy state. Feeling negative, angry or upset about what is can't be a healthy state of mind. Those feelings are simply a manifestion of our disagreement with reality. Our level of suffering is in direct proportion to our distance from truth. When  we argue with reality, we lose -- and we suffer. When we love what is, including the reality of our current health situation, we begin to find inner peace. We begin living life directly and fully.

We can all always find a way to become a better version of ourselves as a result of any adversity in our lives. The method I advocate for making lemonade out of lemons is not spin doctoring. I did experience the same fears and emotions about blindness. I don't believe in suppressing emotions. I do believe in feeling what is. Only through directly participating in the present moment reality can we have a chance to change how that reality evolves. This is part of the truth behind the saying,that which we resist persists.

I have evolved away from dwelling on the prospect of losing my eyesight. However, there is even a positive side to my earlier very real and very scary experience of losing a significant amount of my eyesight. I believe the impact on my emotions -- right down to the core of my being -- was so great that I found the motivation to break out of all the old patterns that had put me in the position of developing glaucoma. I was willing to change anything in order to maintain my vision -- and I still am. If there is one thing I have an abundance of it is motivation to properly care for my remaining eyesight.

I walk for an hour almost every single day -- even if it is raining and cold outside. Why? Because I have found that walking helps lower my intraocular pressure. I pay for the very best medical care out of my own pocket. I have radically changed my eating habits and almost every single aspect of my life in order to care for my eyes (and my general health). Please don't assume from reading this that I have more innate self-discipline than you do -- I don't. What I do have is the benefit of significant visual field loss and significant optic nerve damage.

That brings me to another statement someone made in response to my positive experiences with glaucoma. The person said, "I think I would find it easier to believe that by changing my thoughts I could conquer glaucoma if I knew I had a kind that can be self-limiting." Of course we all think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. However, let's assume it is true that my form of glaucoma is easier to treat or to deal with. Is that better? Is that better for me to have an easier to manage disease?

In actuality, I believe it is due to the fact that I have a particularly aggressive form of glaucoma and that I was losing my vision so fast -- and that I had already lost so much vision so quickly  -- that I have experienced all these wonderful things in my life from this point forward. Before this experience I would not have believed it was possible for something considered "worse" to actually be better for me. But in reality, no one knows what's absolutely good and what's absolutely bad.

I doubt I would have found the courage to be willing to change anything and everything in my life had I been faced with a minor condition. Indeed, I would probably be stuck in my old ways were it not for the fact that I was in a very dire situation.

Therefore, the correct statement is that it is harder to make the changes to create health in one's life when one is faced with a self-limited or minor health condition.

I have the benefit and the blessing of significant visual field loss and significant optic nerve damage. You may ask how those things can be advantages, but as I hope I explained above, without those negatives I doubt I would be in the positive place I am now enjoying in my life.


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