Update

Hello Shifty-Eyed friends!

I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this blog. So many things have happened since I started it back in 2009. I guess I can’t really say I’m a “young person trying to navigate through newly acquired adulthood.” I’m in my 30’s now, I’m married. I’ve had my first child ūüôā I feel bad for neglecting this project, but at the same time, my life has been so busy, so fulfilling, so AMAZING, that I haven’t really had time. Which I hope is great news to the parents out there who are worried about their children with nystagmus.

I thought I’d give you all a bit of an update on what’s been happening with me. I may have mentioned some of these things earlier, but here’s a summary anyways:

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I Got Married

To the wonderful boyfriend who used to drive me everywhere ‚̧ Our 6¬†year anniversary is coming up. He is an amazing partner.

I Got My Drivers License

I did post about this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again, right? ūüôā

I Had a Baby!

And to answer your¬†first question, she does not have Nystagmus. I wouldn’t have cared either way, but as you can imagine, we did look carefully for a few months. Jury is still out on whether or not she will inherit my astigmatism. She is my best girl, and so much fun. The biggest problem we’ve had so far was that she would only sleep on me for the first four months of her life. Needless to say, I¬†learned¬†to live on much less sleep O_o But she’s sleeping great now, and¬†is the joy of my life.

I Advanced My Career

I now work in tech startups, and it’s pretty great. After working in a very corporate environment for a long time, I’m now in a much smaller, more casual place. It is however, further away from where I live, which leads me to…

I Extended My Commute

To one of the worst commutes in the United States. It’s less than 10 miles from my house, but it can take me up to 2 hours to get home on a bad day ūüė¶ But the good news is, I’m sooo much more confident when I drive now. Because it forced me to be. By challenging myself in this way, I’ve gotten more comfortable driving than I ever thought possible. Congested Los Angeles traffic? No problem. Freeways? Annoying, but doable. Driving at night? No big deal. I’ve done it all. And now with a baby in the car! I honestly didn’t know if I could ever say that. I’m so grateful.

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This blog has been a wonderful way to process my feelings about Nystagmus as I made my way to adulthood. The Nystagmus community online has seriously flourished since I started this. There didn’t used to be much, but now with the advent of social media, more and more people are connecting every day. It’s lovely to witness. I encourage all of you to continue to connect, write about your experiences, and talk to each other.

I will probably not post on here very much going forward, but I will always keep this blog live so that you can see my experiences, and you can connect through the comments as much as you want. I do read all of your comments and follow your responses to each other. I’ll try to chirp in when I can.

My parting advice for you is this: Never set limits for yourself or for your children. You don’t know what you can or cannot do unless you TRY. Sports? Yes! Driving? Yes! Jobs? Yes! And maybe you try something and it doesn’t work out or it isn’t for you. That’s ok! Now you know, and it’s on YOUR terms. And you never know, it may work out later.

Live your life to the fullest, and don’t let anything – not even shifty eyes – stop you from achieving your goals.

xoxo

Jo

Nystagmus and Driving – Part 2

Today I got my drivers license. 

I know I haven’t posted on this blog in a long time, but I wanted you all to be the first to know.

I am 28 years old now. This has been 12 years in the making. There were no tricks, no hoops to jump through. I had to pass the eye exam to get my permit, which I did (with glasses). I then had to pass the driving test, which for me was the hardest part. I don’t know if it was just the importance I had put on¬†this particular milestone, general¬†fear of actually operating a vehicle, or some sort of test-taking anxiety, but¬†when it came to taking the actual behind-the-wheel test, I completely lost my cool. Which is very unlike me in other aspects of my life. It was an issue.

But after several failed attempts (I honestly don’t know how many over the years; I lost count), today I passed. Not perfectly, but I passed. ¬†

So to my shifty-eyed friends out there who were told you would never be able to drive, don’t let that stop you from trying. And failing. And trying again. Because I swear to god I thought I would never be able to do it, and I DID.

xoxo

Jo

ANN Conference 2011 – Kick Off

Wow!

The ANN Conference started this afternoon. Today was mostly¬†checking in and meeting everyone; the official workshops etc start tomorrow. But I gotta tell you, it’s been really amazing so far.

I started at a round table for adults with nystagmus. And can I just say, I have never felt more comfortable with a group of perfect strangers in my entire life. There is just an instant connection; an understanding. It’s not that I feel particularly¬†self-conscious¬†when I meet people without nystagmus, it’s just always there in the back of your mind. You get used to expecting that look of recognition when people realize that your eyes move unexpectedly. Here, I feel an incredible freedom to look around anywhere I want and not have to potentially have that moment with someone¬†. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.

And that’s just it: I don’t have to explain. Everyone just… knows.

I can’t wait to get started tomorrow. I’ll be blogging straight from the conference, so there will probably be a few posts throughout the day. I will not be blogging during the Youth Panel because I’ll be leading discussion ūüôā but I will post something about it later in the evening.

I’ll also try to pick up a few more personal nystagmus stories from individuals. Maybe I can even recruit a guest blogger for down the road. If you are at the conference, hit me up people!

Talk to you soon!

Jo

New Job, New Challenges

Hello my faithful shifty-eyed friends!

You can’t imagine the past few months I’ve had! New job (actually, new career), wedding planning…. well ok, that’s about it. But¬†it is¬†all-consuming! A few things I have learned in my little blogging hiatus:

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1) You can have nystagmus AND have a job that requires regular contact with high-profile executives (CEO’s, CFO’s VP’s, etc).

I now work in the corporate office of a Fortune 500 company. Crazy, right?? And I didn’t get this job through any connection or as a favor for someone. I applied, interviewed, and got the job all on my own. I find that the more I attempt to do, the more I am able to accomplish. Just imagine all the awesome things I would miss out on if I let my nystagmus stop me.

Do people notice my eye movement? Absolutely. I can see that they do. But I try very hard to choose not to worry about it. I know for a fact that people who get to know me hardly notice it after a while. It hasn’t hindered me at all.

2) Wedding planning is proving to be a larger life challenge than my nystagmus.

No joke. What I had originally intended to be an intimate gathering of people I know and love has ballooned into a 255+ member event. And a giant dress. Which I love, but makes me break into hives when I think about how much money I spent on it.

Oh well. At the end of the day, I’m just happy to marry the person I love more than anything in the world, no matter how we get there.

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Well, that’s it for now! I will really make an effort to post more. On a lovey note, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support this little blog receives. Your comments always make my day, and I encourage you to keep talking to me and to each other.

xoxo

Jo

Personal Nystagmus Experience – Johnathan

Hello my shifty-eyed friends!

I’m coming back to you after some time off with an awesome personal nystagmus experience from our friend Johnathan. He originally left a comment about this brilliant blog (natch), but he shared so much of his own life with nystagmus that asked if I could repost it here. He graciously gave me permission. So without further ado‚Ķ

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Wow I never even knew they had a website like this lol I was just bored an started web surfin. Its kinda cool knowing theres a support group for nystagmus. I wish I knew how to post something on here bc I feel as if I have an amazing story to tell. I do have congenital nystagmus with all the horizontal eye twitches an head movements and yes it affects me physically an mentally but Ive somehow fought through it. I was always teased as a kid an still receive it today at times but this has never stopped me from making many friends, having best friends, or even having many great girlfriends who were all btw absolutely gorgeous lol (Im very picky for some reason). Anyways Im 18 years old. I played football in high school where i received many scholarships but I was just a normal sized player with a little bit of talent nothin special I was actually undersized for my position which was quarterback an linebacker. It was bc I had more heart then anybody else on that field. My mentality was an always will be is the bigger they are harder they fall and Ive gained a lot of respect/friendships due to that aspect in me. Ive been a fire fighter since 16 an have received many awards from life saving awards to top runner of the year and last year I received fire fighter of the year and was the youngest person to ever do that. Jo Im sure this will surprise you more then anything else. I broke the barrier. I am a United States Marine. Not just any Marine either, My job is infantry which means Im a grunt fighting on the frontlines of afghanistan. Anything is possible you just have to have heart. Jo this is just a summary of what Ive been through. Im kinda new to this Ive never posted a blog on a website before. I have the whole facebook an myspace page get up but not like this. I wish there was something I could do to help others.

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Woohoo! Let’s here it for the Marines!

And in case you are curious, I asked about how he is able to do that. You should know that nystagmus is usually an automatic disqualification in the US military. But he fought it, and won, which is HUGE.

AND he’s a man after my own heart who doesn’t let the nystagmus stop him from doing what he wants to do. The fact that he chooses to use his abilities to risk his life and benefit other people makes him the best kind of hero in my book.

This blog is all about supporting each other and giving each other encouragement. All of you contribute when you interact on here and on the other amazing sites dedicated to nystagmus. Just sharing our frustrations and accomplishments with each other lets us know that we are not alone, and that we are extremely normal, capable people who can contribute to society just like anyone else.

Thanks Johnathan! You are helping so many others right now by just being who you are.

xoxo

Jo

Personal Nystagmus Experience – Mike

You guys have to read this, it’s pretty awesome.

Our friend Mike introduced himself in one of the comments on here, and told me he was writing about his personal experience with nystagmus, which I think is great. The more we share, the more we can help each other.

So he¬†wrote this great post¬†called¬†‚ÄúNystagmus? Oh, you mean like¬†astigmatism!‚Ä̬†on his blog. Here’s his description:

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This article is no more than my personal version of a story you can find elsewhere on t’internet from others in the same, and often a far worse, position than I. It is a work in constant progress. At my last look I think it had undergone around twenty five significant revisions. You can surmise from this that perfection is some way away!

The ‚ÄúShifty Eyes‚ÄĚ blog is a good place to start if you want accuracy and brevity with a positive and informative slant.

Editorial thoughts

What follows is extremely detailed as I have tried to do a number of things I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Firstly, I have covered my entire life from diagnosis upon starting school to date. That’s (ahem) four decades. I could have skimped but the act of writing itself triggers memories and new insights and I want this to be my one and only definitive statement.

Secondly, I made a conscious decision to put in as much detail as possible. Basic descriptions of nystagmus are easy to find. Detailed descriptions of the effects are less so. The effects vary between individuals so there never will be a party line but many people pass through life with no diagnosis, or a diagnosis but no insight into the impact, so I wanted to highlight those things I attributed to other things like short-sight but which should rightfully be attributed to nystagmus.

Thirdly, I wanted to try and capture how the many tiny aspects of it can vary over time. What seems major as a child is inconsequential now but vice verse.

Fourthly, I made a conscious decision to make this a work in progress. However, the idea was to get it out there and tidy it up later. It may well turn out to be akin to painting the Forth bridge.

Finally, I have yet to enable ‚ÄúComments‚ÄĚ for this post. I wanted to see where my thoughts took me. Once I am satisfied I have something near finished and I have linked appropriately elsewhere then I will welcome comment.

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I’ve been reading over his post again, and realized I had forgotten how honest, forthright, and¬†hilarious¬†it is. This is probably my favorite personal account of life with nystagmus that I’ve seen yet. And that’s not just because he gives this little blog a shout out (Woohoo!).

No, I like his post because it’s very unaffected. As for myself, I unfortunately have a bad habit of squishing a moral in with almost every story. Sometimes I feel so protective of my fellow shifty-eyed friends that I forget to just tell my side of things the way it is without trying to teach anyone some sort of lesson. Mike has the gift of letting his true personality just exist while contemplating on his life experiences with nystagmus. Sometimes that’s the best way to try to explain to others what it’s like.

It’s a long account, and at times hilariously tangential, but completely worth the read. So to my shifty-eyed friends and family alike, I encourage you to go and read his excellent ¬†post.

 xoxo

Jo

Nystagmus Q&A

We need a good place  for questions and answers here at the Shifty Eyes blog.

I know a lot of people reading this blog are parents and loved ones of people with nystagmus. Sometimes it can be hardest on those who do not have shifty eyes. It’s very difficult to understand what it is like, especially for those with smaller children. I mean, I have a hard enough time articulating my experiences with nystagmus. It can be almost impossible for children who may not even realize that they have it.

So, if anyone has any questions for me on what it’s like to live with shifty eyes, please feel free to comment me here.

xoxo

Jo

P.S. My expertise lies in day to day living and social situations. And by “expertise” I mean I live from day to day and encounter social situations :p I’m not a doctor, so I’ll do the best I can with medical questions, but you should always always refer to a specialist. If I can’t answer, I’ll certainly try to help you locate the information you need.