One had a squint: The cross-eyed bride

Zeno\'s Conscience : A Novel (Vintage International)In the novel Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo, the fictional Zeno wrote of meeting four sisters whom he considered as possible marriage prospects. However, one had a squint — another name for strabismus or a crossed eye. Zeno journaled how this one, Augusta, was eliminated from the prospects immediately, because of the squint Yet it would eventually be Augusta who would become his bride in a long and happy marriage.

But first, he considered the other sisters. Anna, was soon eliminated because she was only 8 years old. Alberta was set on a career instead of marriage. Zeno’s choice was the beautiful Ada, but she felt only disdain for him. Zeno often told the girls stories, not altogether true, of adventures he had.

“A long time afterwards I learned from Augusta Continue reading One had a squint: The cross-eyed bride

No excuses

You’ve probably heard of 19-year-old Kyle Maynard, a congenital amputee who became a champion wrestler. He’s been featured on ABC’s 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Larry King Live. The part of Kyle’s story that struck me most is this:

…his grandmother refused to let other people look away from him.

“She brought me to a lot of grocery stores and she’d set me down in the cart. She told me, ‘You don’t have to be afraid of people. Look them straight in the eye and let them know that you see yourself as normal, and that’s the way that they should perceive you, too.’ “

To me, this grandmother was right on track. Children with a turned eye need to be helped in this way also. Getting help in the form of vision therapy and/or surgery is important. But they also need to be told from the beginning that they are as normal as everyone else. They need to be taught that everyone has some things about them that are different. Since we are all different, how can anyone be “normal?” What is “normal?” The best definition I can come up with is this: “Normal is being different.”

Sometimes parents tend to make helping a child with a handicap or disfiguring difference the major focus of their own life. They measure everything by how it might affect the child. Yet authorities say that we should not make accomodations for these children, or treat them differently, unless it is absolutely necessary for them. They need to learn, as much as possible, to adapt to the world around them rather than to expect the world to adapt to them.

Every child is different. That is what makes them special. The goal is not to be “normal.” If we are different, we are already “normal.” The goal is to neither empahasize nor hide our differences. The goal is to be who we are, and to celebrate the differences God gave us by using them to the best of our ability.

Kyle Maynard’s new book, below, is definitely on my “reading list” for when I am able to read again!

No ExcusesRead “No Excuses,” by Kyle Maynard, The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.

From the inside flap:

NO EXCUSES is the inspiring story of Kyle’s battle against the odds. You’ll learn about the family who supported him, the coach who trained him, and the faith that strengthened him to face the toughest fights.

BONUS included with the book:

  • Kyle’s very own diet and exercise regimen, which helped him compete at the highest levels
  • Thirteen ways to live a No Excuses life

Audible books: The fun way to read!

Open book with reading glasses on top
“I want to tell you about this wonderful book I’m reading. It’s a big book, and I am half way through. I’m reading it with my ears! I joined an audio book club. I am so excited about it!” That’s what I wrote to some friends a few weeks ago after I discovered audible books.

I “read” that book in just a couple days. Before, a book might be so interesting I could hardly put it down, but I’d have to because my eyes would no longer stay focused on it.

Not so with the audio books. I don’t miss a beat! It’s been years since I’ve been able to read well enough to have that feeling of not being able to put a book down!

The really cool part is that I can read while cooking, cleaning, or exercising. Try reading a regular book while making the bed or going for a brisk afternoon walk!

The readers all have good voices and they make the books come to life. I can listen to excerpts of the books online, and choose the ones I like. Some of them have animations, for example travel books take you right to the harbor and you can hear the fog horn in the distance, or to the metropolis where you can actually hear conversations with the locals. Pretty cool stuff.

Books, books everywhere, and not a one is read

The doctors I saw were often hesitant about strabismus surgery. They frequently warned me that it is such a precise surgery that it could make things worse instead of better.

As I entered my 50’s, I still bought books, but it was getting harder and harder to read them. The internet was coming into bloom about that time, and I found it easier to read things online. The nature of web pages is that they are brief and concise. I could often read an entire website without losing my focus.

That soon changed also, as the web flourished and websites collected more and more material. But I never imagined a day when I could barely focus long enough to read even a few paragraphs. Surely the doctors would rescue me with surgery before that happened.

If your strabismus gets bad enough…

During my 20’s and 30’s I continued to be an avid reader. My family used to quickly steer me away from books when we were shopping. “Don’t let Mom start looking at those books, or we’ll be here all day!”

I had discarded my prism glasses while I was in nursing school. My Ophthalmologist said they would weaken my eye muscles by allowing the eyes to drift and still see. By forcing my eyes to focus without them, I’d be strengthening the eye muscles.

I saw several Opthalmologists and Optometrists during the next 2 decades. When I was in my late 30’s, I had to have glasses again, but only for reading. I always asked them, “Isn’t there anything else we can do? It is getting harder for me to maintain my focus to read.”

The answer I most often got is, “If it gets bad enough, we can do surgery.”

I always wondered, “What do they consider ‘bad enough’?”