Vision Specialists of Michigan, Patient Stories

Through My Eyes

“Ok I have a lot of things to do today; huhh let me see……three English assignments that need to be done and I still need to finish the one from last week, the lesson from today’s math class…..not to mention catch up on the one from last week and the week before that, ok; oh that’s right there’s a history and Spanish exam tomorrow, guess I can’t forget that chemistry lab that’s due either, I need to practice my bass for at least an hour, find some fun activities for tomorrow evenings church’s church class, oh, almost forgot I have to research grants for Scholarship club. Huhhhhhh..…….I’m gonna get this done today! Why does my head want to start hurting now? I don’t care! I’m getting my work done today!” (Typing) My stomach starts feeling funny again. As usual, I ignore it. “I’ll just get some crackers or something”. “Good no ones in the kitchen, this should do the trick.” Ten minutes later, my head really starts hurting. “I can’t concentrate like this, forget it.”

I don’t remember it being this hard to do homework. Sure, I guess I’ve always had to press through but I like excelling and being an “A” student. So for me the press was simply part of the core. Maybe, they were right. Maybe this AP class was too much for me. I don’t know. It’s not like it’s hard work and for the life of me I can’t figure out what’s going on with my grades in math. I was always at the head of the class, I work hard and it pays off. But for some reason, I just can’t seem to get myself together long enough to do the work.

My face is developing anger lines between my eyes from squinting. I squint in hope of easing this subtle yet constant pain I feel. I have occasional headaches, well, every day to be more concise. I often close my eyes, unconsciously drifting off to sleep, to ease the pain. Headaches, stomach aches and nausea is starting to affect how often I attend school. I got to the doctor, but they always say I am perfectly healthy. I know something’s wrong, it cant’ be all in my head (no pun intended). I can’t stand to do homework. It’s just way too frustrating trying to concentrate on an assignment when I am trying to figure out how to ease this nagging pain.

I can’t tell my parents how I am feeling, they’d think I’m making it up or just being dramatic is more like what they’d probably say. Besides who cares how I feel? Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. I should be used to it; I feel like this all the time now. But it seems like it’s gotten worse for some strange reason. Sometimes I wonder when I’ll get the chance to be and feel free. It feels as though the weight of the world is binding me. I can’t escape it; nausea has become the norm for me. So I stuff my face with my own remedy bread, crackers or anything I think might help. Over time, of course I begin to spread and one day I look in the mirror at this chubby girl I don’t even recognize.

As I walk through the halls, head down, for some reason everyone bumps into me. It’s like I’m a target. “It’s because I’m fat. Right?” I think to myself. “That’s ok, I’m big enough to push the back.” I don’t think my weight is much of an issue, but this feeling of anxiety is progressing. The only place I want to be is at home: in my room away from the intenseness of light. I can’t understand this feeling of isolation I’m drawn to. I’m not depressed, and I enjoy the company of others; but the thought of a quiet, solemn, dark room seems much more appealing to me.
That feeling of the pupils struggling for time to adjust to the light is a constant drag throughout the day. The desire to burrow my head back under the pillow in order to avoid the shock of the rising sunshine doesn’t end until I lay my head down again for the conclusion of the day. “Awe finally, peace.” Some days I go to bed early to escape this agonizing feeling. I ask myself time and time again, “Where is this coming from?”.

My family is made up of a father and a mother who love each other. There is no broken home or domestic violence in my home. There are four children living under one roof, all of which have no dire or threatening issues with one another. We have a typical loving family. I don’t have the privilege of thrusting the issues or imperfections in my life or personality to the typical problems that many children of broken families present. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the things in my life. Yet I can’t seem to see anything right with them either. I can only make the assumption that something’s off with me.

So I know that I am the problem. I know that I have caused people to regard me as if I were a disgrace to society. I deserve the glances of disgust from strange girls and the confused looks from unfamiliar boys. I have done something to deserve mistreatment amongst the human society. I allowed myself to be different somehow, and for that society has the right to mistreat me.

Every new place I embrace is the same. Looks of hate and folded arms on top of attitudes directed at the thought of accepting me. I know that I deserve this treatment but I still don’t know exactly why. I eventually warm up to those faces that were and still are grim and un-accepting. They decided it doesn’t matter how often they have to see me every week in this dance studio; I’m still not to going to be apart of their clique.
Not being accepted doesn’t bother me much. I’m accustomed to it now. Rejection is like the sky to me now; I know that it is always there. Rejection is always the background to my sun, which is my life. And at night when the sun sets, I am able to escape it all.

I ask myself, “Why rejection as my background? Why not love? Why not acceptance? Why not trust?” I still don’t have the answer.

I’m not permitted to trust. Rejection forbids trust. I’m kind. I’m love. I’m a friend. I can be trusted. I just don’t trust. In order to trust you must be able to see and recognize a pureness in someone that gives you a reason to feel like you can confide in them and depend on them. But with trust, there is commitment. I cannot commit to those who reject me.

I have no reason to hang my head in dismay. Have no reason to walk around with an attitude. I have no reason to hate or to treat people badly. Everyone who takes the chance or time to know me thinks I’m great. I tend to ask people what they thought of me when they first met me. I always get a response similar to, “I thought you were going to be mean and stuck up. But now that I have gotten to know you, I can honestly say that you are one of the sweetest people I know.” I have no idea why people feel this way. I at least try to look nice when meeting someone for the first time. I make sure I smile, and nod my head like I’m interested in what they’re saying. I even try to laugh at a few jokes. Yet people still don’t accept me as a kind to the core kind of girl.

I decided I’m going to focus on me. I want my hair done. I want my nails done. I want contacts. I want to accept myself. So, I got my hair professionally done. And, I do my nails in my favorite shade of pink.

The Vision Specialist of Birmingham did such an amazing job with my little sister, whose a traumatic brain injury patient, eyes that my parents made an appointment for me with the same doctor. They didn’t expect them to find anything wrong, they just wanted to send me to someone they knew would give me the right prescription. I get to my appointment with anticipation of my new look. She asked me a few routine questions and the exam began. She stopped in the middle of me rambling off the letters on the eye chart. “Look at me.” She said. “Your head is tilted, Dad do you see this?”. My dad looked at me and nodded his head yes. She measured the diameter of my eyes and said my eyes were way off. She asked a few more questions and pulled out some kind of awkward miracle box on a tripod with holes in the front. “Where is the line? Is it to the left, right or in the middle?” “It’s to the left”. . Then she gave me a pair of glasses and said, “Now where’s line?”. I was amazed the pressure in my head left immediately. I smiled. She continued to add lenses until I saw the line was in the middle.

She made reference to my sister’s condition as a result of a traumatic brain injury then added I was born that way. “One of the many effects of a head trauma causes a displacement in the alignment of the eyes”. This is called Vertical Heterophoria Syndrome. Peoples affected by this are either born that way or suffered a blow to the head. “You were born that way” she added. Finally, someone who not only understands me but can give a name to what’s going on with me! The more she talked the more I nodded in disbelief and excitement. “Yes, yes, yes!” It was as if she was singing my life with her words. She could articulate exactly what was going on with me and how I’ve been feeling. She helped me understand myself.

Somehow, someway fate has brought me to Dr. Debby Feinberg who has taught me about my condition.
“You might feel really sick or nauseous. You might feel anxiety, like you do not want to be here. The light may really bother your eyes. You may have frequent headaches. When you walk you may drift to a particular side instead of walking straight. It may be difficult to read or follow along when reading. You may feel fatigued quickly. You may find yourself tilting your head to one side. You may often feel dizzy…”

I am astounded by her knowledge of what I have experienced my entire life without knowing more than fifteen minutes. This is amazing. It took seventeen years to figure out what was wrong with me. I cannot believe that my anxiety and so much is connected to my eyes. The body is completely intertwined and works fine if everything is in its proper place working together. My eyes are not aligned. The answer to my question was a simple as that. My background was not trust because my body could not even trust itself.

Dr. Debby has given me glasses with prism lenses that will help my eyes work together in order to see correctly and efficiently as well as eliminate the ill feelings I’ve been having. My eyes will no longer work against each other. They will work together; create a trust through the prism glasses that will allow my entire body to work together with commitment.

I put on the glasses and Dr. Debby began to instruct me.

“Stand up, how do you feel?”

“I feel taller, like a weight has been lifted.”

“Good, good. How does the light feel? How much does it bother your eyes?”

“It feels ok, It doesn’t really bother my eyes as much as before.”

“Great, great and you’re not tilting your head to the right anymore. Did you notice that? I want you to see how you feel when walking.”

She takes me into the hall and as I walk, more confident than ever before, I feel tall and comfortable.

“How do you feel?”

“I feel great. Like I can trust each step, like I know that I will not fall or miss a step. This is wonderful.”

“Yes, that is amazing isn’t it? SO many people suffer from this and do not even know it. They think that there is something wrong with them but there is nothing they could have done to prevent that. I always say our bodies are symmetrical, but to what extent are they asymmetrical?”

So many people suffer with Vertical Heterophoria Syndrome and do not know it. The symptoms seem so minor but they make the biggest impact on how you feel, how you behave, and how you react, and how you see.