There has been quiet in writing the past few months, though my recovery has been far from quiet. The reserves I was running on ran out, giving me a new meaning to the words “burn out.” I was thinking about the various times I experienced burn out while working many long shifts in the emergency department and none of those times even remotely compared to this. Let’s just say the ebb and flow of this journey to healing has been a test of limits.
Since I last wrote, I traveled to the Mind Eye Institute in Chicago to see world-renowned optometrist and neuroscientist, Dr. Zelinsky. I am grateful to have had my sister there with me. We had some very funny and painful experiences. Laughter really is wonderful medicine. I love you, Quinn!
The trip was a quick 24-hour turnaround, though it felt like months. The day of the appointment was long and grueling. We walked from our hotel about a mile to the practice. We arrived early, beating the whole staff there and anxiously waited on a stoop outside. I sat there with many nerves and thought about how important this day would possibly become. My heart started pounding as we made our way to enter the office for the first time.
The appointment started with testing performed by a vision therapist, fatiguing me almost instantly. Challenging, painful, frustrating, exhausting, are just a few words to describe it. There were many breaks taken in pure darkness in an attempt to calm my nervous system. This initial testing lasted about two hours. We were then taken to another examination room where we waited to see Dr. Zelinsky. She walked into the room and meant pure business. We got to work, with even more testing. This is where it became quite mind blowing.
Dr. Zelinsky first showed me an object, a die attached to the end of a stick, and advised me to then close my eyes and reach my finger out and touch it. I was able to do that fairly well but then we moved onto Dr. Zelinsky’s patented Z-Bell test, which is used to assess and demonstrate the eye-ear connection or how visual processing is integrated with listening. The Z-Bell test is now used around the globe and recognized by scientists and eye experts. Adding the hearing component in addition to the visual component threw me for a spin. During my recovery, I have had my vision and hearing assessed separately and independent of each other countless times. This is the first time hearing and eyesight were fully assessed together to see if they were integrated and working together properly.
A person can have sharp hearing and 20/20 central eyesight, but if the senses are not integrated and the brain is impaired, then the entire neurological system becomes like an orchestra without a conductor. Each musician may be quite talented with his/her learned instrument, but they must play in sync. If they are moving through the composition at different speeds, the result is noise – not music.Mind Eye Institute
From this test, Dr. Zelinsky was able to identify underlying issues within the circuitry of my brain and quickly showed how we could make it better. The Z-Bell test was very challenging for me and I had started to wonder if anyone could perform it with ease and accuracy. So, Dr. Zelinsky demonstrated the test on my sister who did perform it accurately and with ease. I was amazed to see this in comparison to my personal performance.
With my eyes closed, Dr. Zelinsky rang a small bell in front of me in space. The bell added the hearing component to the testing. I was instructed to reach my finger out and touch the bell where I perceived it to be in space. I tried over and over to touch the bell, though kept missing by a large margin. My sister demonstrated what I looked like, which sort of resembled the arm movements of a zombie, seemingly aimless and random. With my arms flopping in space, I thought, alright you’ll be able to identify where the bell is at the next time and hit it. But this mind over matter mentality did not prove to be the case as I have learned repeatedly throughout this recovery.
The test continued as Dr. Zelinsky put various lenses and filters over my shut eyes, ringing the bell with each lens. How could these lenses have any effect with my eyes closed and allow me to locate the bell? We cycled through various lenses and filters, attempting to find the right combination. Yellow…no change. Blue…no change. Green…there we go! I almost immediately hit the bell with my finger – a direct hit.
It was a moment I won’t forget because I won’t forget the feeling associated with it. It was that whole body electrifying shiver you feel when something amazing happens, when you experience an overwhelming amount of joy, when you score that game-winning goal or when your team wins a championship.
When the right combination of lenses and filters were discovered, altering the way the light reached and dispersed across the retina, I was able to reach out with my eyes closed and touch the bell ringing in the space before me. This was and is so fascinating to me – that changes in light that penetrate closed eyelids can impact an individual’s movement, balance, attention to sound and spatial awareness. And fascinating that just by adding the sound component to the test with the bell produced such a profound difficulty.
In that moment, I opened my eyes, looked at my sister and we both said, “That is magical!” Dr. Zelinsky quickly responded, “It’s not magical; it’s mathemagical!” And that it is. There is so much science put into this technology and over two decades of research. I am very appreciative of her efforts and drive to continue this research stemming way back to the ‘90s when she was looked at as crazy by some doctors she presented this technology to. These were the same doctors who said the eyes and the ears are not connected. Where would we be without pioneers like this who persisted even though it was against the grain?
The eyes are a crucial gateway to the brain, and the retina itself consists of brain tissue. The very simplified science behind the Brainwear (eyeglasses) involves manipulating and altering the way in which light hits the photoreceptors within the retina, leading to changes in the brain’s interpretation and reaction to the environment. By stimulating peripheral areas of the retina, specific pathways in the brain are stimulated. The end goal is new and improved pathways in the brain and a synchronized internal and external environment.
Based on this testing, specialized eyeglasses (Brainwear) were made using just the right combination of lenses and filters. It has been about three weeks since I started transitioning into my new Brainwear. When we think of glasses, we think of how they will magnify words or clear long-distance vision and fine tune central vision. These glasses are not designed to do that. They will not make eyesight any clearer. They are intended to integrate the communication between the eyes and the ears, to balance central and peripheral eyesight, visual processing and positively impact whole body chemistry.
It’s a ‘new age’ in eye testing. The eyeglass prescriptions developed through the Z-Bell Test have been called nothing short of ‘amazing,’ even ‘miraculous’ by patients, because they have brought relief for a range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, difficulty reading, learning and behavioral problems, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety. Many patients now being treated successfully suffered for years with the effects of eye-ear imbalances, brain injuries and other neurological issues, because they were told by different health professionals that their eyesight and hearing tested as normal. Unlike 20th century eyeglasses that merely correct central eyesight, Z-Bell-prescribed glasses are therapeutic, intended to bring a person’s inside and outside environments back into synchronization. The common refrain of patients wearing the Z-Bell-prescribed glasses is: ‘I feel like myself again. I feel normal.’Mind Eye Institute
I didn’t realize that transitioning into these glasses could be so challenging. When I first opened the box containing my new glasses, I was excited to put them on. Only when I put them on, did I immediately feel off and funny. I developed a severe headache and eye pain instantly with associated nausea and the feeling of being out of sorts and off balance. As of today, I can only tolerate wearing them for about twenty seconds, five times a day with my eyes closed. Wearing them with my eyes closed is way more tolerable than with them open but still doing the trick, which is so fascinating to me.
In November, I will return to Chicago for another evaluation and adjustment of the lenses and treatment protocol. The existing lenses may need to be adjusted for new lenses at each visit depending on my progress. Until then, I continue my transition into my glasses and hope to add one second each day! The first four weeks are expected to be the most difficult with a significant amount of agony and discomfort.
This was yet another humbling experience to say the least and one that will hopefully be another tool to get me my life back. I now have two pivotal, brilliant doctors in my corner and I feel blessed to have both Dr. Donaldson and Dr. Zelinsky working hard to piece back together my broken brain.
I have many research articles on the science behind Brainwear stacked up and I very slowly plan on getting through them and will describe the science fully in a future blog post. Will Brainwear be a game-changer for my recovery? Stay tuned. I can’t wait to find out!