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 🙂 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? 🙂

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 😦 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

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 🙂 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

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

Exactly two years ago today I started the Shifty Eyes Blog!

Wow, what a couple of years it has been. I started this blog because i really felt like there wasn’t a lot of information about how people lived with Nystagmus available on the internet. Now there are so many blogs, I can’t keep up with them all! And I couldn’t be happier. I think connecting with other people is one of the best ways to deal with this condition, for both those who live with it and for their loved ones.

I’ve said this before, but Nystagmus really doesn’t take up that much time in my life. I’ve talked about Nystagmus more in the past two years than I have for my entire life preceding this blog. I swear, my dog’s allergies affect him more than my Nystagmus affects me. There are a lot of things I could say today, but I think what I really want to say is, turn off the computer and go live life.

We all run in to obstacles. They don’t define who we are. One of my obstacles happens to be Nystagmus, but for all I love my blog, I am not “woman-with-Nystagmus”. I’m Jo. I have a husband and a very naughty dog. I read too much, and worry about whether I should change my cell phone plan or if I remembered to make my student loan payment. I watch ridiculous reality TV shows and write a little on the side. I have poker night with my buddies and play video games with my nephew. I’m happy.

I’m Jo. Now, go be you.

ANN Conference

Hey everyone!

I’m getting really pumped about the American Nystagmus Conference in Washington D.C. I can ‘t believe it’s only a couple of weeks away. Time has gone by so quickly!

There are two reasons why I am especially excited…

I officially have ANN permission to blog live while I’m at the conference. This means I can post pictures, videos, and talk about what’s going on at the conference while it is all happening. I hope that all of you will one day be able to attend an ANN conference, but for those of you who can’t make it this year, do not fear! I’ll try to document as much as I can so you can at least experience a little bit of it. I only wish I could attend all of the panels and discussions they have set up. It all looks pretty amazing…

The other reason I am very excited is that I will be participating at the conference! I have been asked to moderate a panel  of young people who have successfully navigated their way through life with Nystagmus. Sound familiar? Those are my kind of people! It’s a big honor to be asked to lead this discussion, and I am really excited to sit down with everyone and open a window into what it is like for a young person with Nystagmus. I think a lot of parents with young children who have Nystagmus will find this panel particularly informative. One of my goals at the panel (and with this blog) is to hopefully alleviate some of the fears that parents have when their child is diagnosed.

I think one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to at the conference is just to meet other people with nystagmus face to face. I have made a lot of shifty-eyed friends over the internet who I wouldn’t trade for the world, but I have yet come in to physical contact with someone who has the same condition as me. It’s funny, in some ways the role will be reversed for me. I’m so used to seeing other people react to my Nystagmus that I’ve never really given any thought to what my reaction would be. I have heard that it can be pretty emotional. I guess we’ll see 🙂

To all my shifty-eyed friends, let me know if you are coming to the conference! Can’t wait to meet you! And if you won’t be able to make it this year, let me know what parts you would be interested in. I’ll have to be your eyes this time. Ha, that will be a first!

Jo

 

A Great Nystagmus Blog

Hey guys!

Life is crazy right now, my wedding is coming up (yikes!) so I’ve been VERY busy with last minute details. Work also always keeps me jumping. But I wanted to make sure I give you all a heads up: one of my fav blogs out there has recently been re-launched!

If you have been following The Shifty Eyes Blog, chances are you have already checked out this amazing nystagmus website  by a fellow shifty-eyed friend named James . He founded http://www.nystagmus.co.uk/ long ago, way before this little creation began. What’s great about his blog is that it’s not just his own musings and experiences (although that’s in there as well, and always interesting). This website hosts a forum for anyone who wants to talk about nystagmus, including people who live with it, their families, and even researchers who are involved in nystagmus studies.

It’s quite a community. While I love my blog and all of my shifty-eyed friends that follow me, sometimes you just need the support and ability to talk to multiple people who are experiencing the same things as you. The forum provides an excellent way to do this.

And after a brief down-period between Christmas and New Years, it’s back up with new content and all shiny and new looking! I encourage you all to go take a look and talk to people (if you haven’t already). I know we have a lot of new nystagmus-parents out there; here’s another great place for you to get some information and feedback.

Say hi to James for me!

-Jo

A Love Letter to Parents of Children with Nystagmus

I have had the opportunity to view a lot of blogs popping up about nystagmus (yay!), and I noticed that the majority seem to be by parents and not by people who actually have nystagmus.

At first I was rather surprised. And then I thought about it. For the most part, children don’t really notice the nystagmus. They don’t know the difference between what they see and what is “normal.” I myself did not even know what it looked like until I was a young adult. And when I did finally see it, it freaked me out! Even though I knew a decent amount about the condition and have lived with it forever, it was still unnerving.

And now I know why there are more blogs by parents than by my fellow shifty-eyed friends. It can be scary as hell to see the first time, and I can’t even imagine what it feels like to discover it in your newborn, especially when you have no idea what it is. And you know what? I officially give you permission to feel the following:

Scared

Because holy crap, their eyes are not supposed to move like that! In the beginning, parents can go into a headspin about all the different things they think it could signify: loss of sight, neurological disorders, etc. etc. This is a condition that is not widely known, nor is there a great effort to educate the public.

Mad

Because this is not what you signed up for. You signed up for a normal child, not one with a disability. Yes, this is a common emotion, and that is totally ok. Be mad! It sucks! but then I promise after a while, you will realize that your child is totally normal, and that this is not necessarily a “disability.” I encourage you to experience this emotion as a part of processing the diagnosis, but I also encourage you to after a while, be open to the fact that this may not be as big a deal as you think it will be.

Frustrated at the lack of information

And let me tell you, I am with you on this one. I think it’s especially hard on parents. You want to be as informed as possible so that you can help your child deal with it. And you know what? You and I together, along with all of our other shifty-eyed friends and parents, we can change the lack of information out there. Write your blogs, talk to the few people who are conducting research. And talk to people like me and to other parents who are going through the same thing. In this way, we can get our own “research.” We can learn from each other.

But I hope that after a while, you step back from all of the hard core scouring of the internet and enjoy time with your child. Because it will make you crazy. And because, look! Your baby is so freakin’ cute! It is WAY more fun to play with them than to be glued to the computer screen! And oftentimes, it is more beneficial to them in the long run. They know there is nothing “wrong” with them; they just want to spend time with Mom and Dad!

Frustrated at some doctor’s “bedside manner” or lack thereof

Man, I’ve heard some awful stories. My own pediatric ophthalmologist was a saint, and I associated going to the eye doctor with watching Yogi Bear cartoons and getting a toy afterwards if I did not cry (As a side note, bribing works. I’m still able to take eye drops without a problem). But not everyone is so lucky. Also, many eye doctors are dismissive. My secret belief is that it’s because they only know enough about the condition to diagnose it and rule out other more “serious” conditions. Which is frustrating.

Ashamed

This one is the extremely large and sensitive elephant in the room. Many, let me repeat that, MANY parents experience shame of their child. They feel ashamed when someone looks at them funny or makes a comment. They don’t want people to see their babies. They wish their children were like other children.

And this comes with a huge amount of guilt.

Parents, I want you to know that it is TOTALLY NORMAL to feel this way, and so, so common. And you know what? It will go away, I promise. Please do not beat yourself up over this. I have nystagmus, and I do not blame you at all. You are human beings. The only thing I ask is that if you do experience this, you never let on to your kids, even once the feeling goes away. If my parents felt ashamed, they never ever told me, even after I grew up. And I think that it’s because of this that I can look at it more objectively now. But please, find an outlet. Blog! Talk to others who have felt the same way! It’s amazing how a little understanding can help heal all wounds.

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So Parents, thus ends my love letter to you, and it is a love letter. You have a tough job, way tougher than us shifty-eyed people do. I so admire you and appreciate all that you go through for your children. Remember to relax and enjoy them.

I will end with a little note from me to you: It’s going to be ok 🙂

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