Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dinner With Doctor Seiderman

Dr Seiderman had me and another middle aged patient present our cases at a dinner with his staff.  We both have similar problems with a lack of depth perception.   I am quite honored to be worthy of the attention as Dr. Seiderman is one of the pioneers of vision therapy.

I told the tale that my Gentle Readers know so well.  Getting lost on the way to Dr. Herzberg and driving over the bridge to New Jersey instead of circling around the Pennsylvania Turnpike.   Being late because I've dropped something out of the refrigerator and had to clean it up.  Problems with mashing up Powerpoint presentations and formulas in Excel spreadsheets. Not being able to put on jewelry or tweeze my facial hair very easily before I took vision therapy.  I had held jobs in my younger days that were just insane for me to have.  Waitressing requires a lot of spatial awarenesss and hand eye coordination.  Being a secretary involves a lot of eye tracking as you move from written draft to typewriter (yes, I am that old) or proofreading.  I did some econometric forecasting which involved printouts with rows and rows of numbers.  Also, just how exhausting living a life with so many physical problems can be.  When I was working, I would come home and fall asleep around 8 pm on the couch.  My husband would poke my lifeless carcass around 10 pm and convince me to haul it up the stairs and into bed.  My problems are genetic as I remember my parents doing the same thing.

"L", the other patient, was a dental hygientist who taught at University of Pennsylvania Dental School.  One of her patients happened to be Dr. Seiderman.  Apparently, Dr. Seiderman spent a fair amount of time looking up into her eyes as she cleaned his teeth and being an optometrist knew what well-aligned eyes were supposed to look like.  He told her something was not quite right and got her to come in and see him.  Poor "L" had gotten a lot more pooped out than me, to the point that she had gotten Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and had spent a year in bed totally wiped out. 

"L" also has problems processing auditory information.  She says that she always seems to have an internal dialog going on inside her head and is juggling processing that dialog at the same time she is trying to hear what is going on. 

The vision therapists were already impressed by both of ours work ethic.  Both of us approach our therapy and try extremely hard.   I work till I want to knock my socks off.   But  I can understand why "L" would work as hard as I do.  Since up until recently, everything was so darn hard and to get to where everyone else is, you had to work flat out or there would be dire consequences, you got in the habit of trying really, really hard.  They find both of us to be perfectionists... but they don't realize that in order to approach the level of functioning at an average level we have to try to be perfect.  If we didn't try to be perfect and use what strengths we have, we would have been really thrown in the dust bin.   So when you are in the habit of trying hard to make up for your weakness, when you do what comes naturally to you and apply that work ethic you can really succeed at some things.

Dr Seiderman wants "L" and I to really start working on activities in space.  He points out the difference between some of the top athletes that have come to see him and us.  These athletes are very aware of their bodies and their relationship to the world around them.  "L" and I are not so connected to space.  We are starting to step into the world but we haven't connected to it yet. 

Dr Seiderman is going to be writing a book called "Overlooked", about our generation who had never gotten diagnosed.  I think he is quite right to raise awareness.  These problems that "L" and I suffer from are genetic ones.  So much is going into screening children and no red flags are being raised for adults.  Adults don't know that many of the problems that they may be suffering from are vision/auditory/motor skill problems.  Instead, my generation walks into a family doctor's office with physical complaints of fatigue or high blood pressure or into a psychologists office with complaints of stress, anxiety or depression.  These doctors are ill-equipped to spot "learning disabilities" in adults and are not getting to the route cause of the problems. 

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