Letting Go of Fear

Written By: ingridricks - Apr• 09•15

cherry tree for fearless pos

View More: http://heatherballisonphotography.pass.us/ingrid-2013When I walked out of the latest retinal specialist’s office a little over two years ago, I was consumed with fear. Like retinal specialists before her, my newest retinal specialist told me there was nothing I could do to stop the progression of my RP and save my eyesight. And when I pressed her for specifics, she indicated I had only three years of any sort of eyesight left.

I spent the next two days laying in bed sobbing. I was so terrified of the darkness that awaited me it was hard to even breathe. But the morning of the third day defiance set in. I was so angry with that retinal specialist for stripping me of hope I vowed to prove her wrong.

I decided to do everything in my power to save my eyesight—starting with switching my focus from fear of blindness to being determined to see. It’s why I started this blog and chose that name. I knew I was done giving the “b” word energy. I also started green juicing, exercising more, doing daily eye exercises, and incorporating regular intervals of intensive, specialized eye acupuncture. Between it all and despite the doomed prognosis from that retinal specialist, my eyesight began to improve a little.

Today—two years and two months into my Determined to See quest—my fear is gone. I feel confident in my ability to retain the eyesight I have left and no longer battle depression worrying about my future. Instead, I’m busy making plans for it, starting with annual trips to different parts of the world with my husband and two daughters that will kick off the summer of 2016.

This experiment with Jeanne to shift to weekly acupuncture sessions with a local acupuncturist who focuses on treating my whole body has been empowering for me. In addition to the peace and relaxation I experience, I can feel an increase of blood flow and circulation—which I know is helping me.

This year, in addition to my ongoing determination to see, I’ve embarked on a new quest: to find an affordable, accessible, balanced solution to my eye health. And I know I’m on the right path.

***

jmaI always considered myself fearless. Not a balls to the wall throw myself out of planes fearless but in a contemplative, zest for life kind of way that included world travel, unique sports and activities and sampling what life had to offer without hesitation or reservation.

When my younger sister died of cancer in her forties that fueled my quiet fire; live each day to its fullest and with no regrets. Before she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma she had gone almost completely blind from RP – a clear result of a stressful and chaotic lifestyle that rapidly consumed her sight. That was a lesson in and of itself.

But my eyes had their own agenda. How brave and intrepid can you be when you’re worried about hitting a child on a bike or perpetually afraid of falling down the stairs?

My fear relating to my visual impairment has never been about the future – I couldn’t let myself worry about that unknown when there was an overwhelming apprehension about living day to day with partial sight. That crushed my spirit in no time flat.

Travel is in my blood and that’s where the fear really took hold — through un-memorized streets and sidewalks and strange cultures and languages that used to fill me with relentless pleasure.

But oh what a difference a few months can make. Thanks in large part to my weekly acupuncture regime I have conquered a lot of that dread. The acupuncture works to keep the body in harmony and something about that balance has quelled my fears. The anxiety has faded and in its place i find a natural calm and even some humor in my situation by not taking myself – or my eyes – so seriously.

A while back I mentioned the theory that pain is 90% fear; but what about the other way around? I believe that fear is the ultimate pain – and living with that hurt is not a way to live at all. I’ve been through the wringer on this one and I’ve come out the other side a happier and healthier human being.

I’m in Japan while I write this and much to my husband’s delight (and dare I say a bit of horror) I’m freely roaming about without constantly grabbing his arm or stopping cold at every curb. The tension is gone, replaced with a sense of promise that’s the ultimate delicious mystery.

 

My RP Strategy? Get Healthy

Written By: ingridricks - Mar• 29•15

Enjoying_Life_by_BenHeine

I’ve spent the past two years searching for answers to save my eyesight. And from everything I’ve learned, it comes down to one key concept: whole-body health.

It’s not just adding a new vitamin or mineral supplement or changing up diet. It’s not just incorporating cardio exercise, reducing stress or adopting a positive outlook on life. It’s not just tossing in eye exercises, acupuncture or micro-current stimulation to increase blood flow and circulation. It’s a combination of all of this that will help prevent degeneration and promote healing.

In the next few posts, I’ll drill down on each of these topics and the supporting research behind them.

  • Healthy Diet
  • Vitamins & Minerals
  • Lifestyle: No Smoking, Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol
  • Cardio Exercise
  • Positive Outlook
  • Reduced Stress/Negative Emotions
  • Therapies that Promote Blood Flow, Circulation

In the meantime, I’m stepping up my own Get Healthy focus – which today includes a relaxing morning, my daily green juice, a quick cardio workout and an afternoon performance of Mamma Mia with a close friend and our daughters.

Happy Sunday!

 

Focus

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Mar• 22•15

EyeWill pillows by artist Jeanne AufmuthFocus. The word is so pregnant with meaning when you live with RP. Not your garden variety focus on daily tasks and minutiae but the struggle of focusing on objects, the snags of focusing conflicted feelings and the very real fear of focusing on a future without sight.

I’ve been giving this thought since taking a step back from the incessant focus on my eyes. That distance has allowed me to focus more acutely on RP’s inexorable stages and they aren’t always pretty – from gloomy judgments on loss of independence to ugly yet inevitable “why me?” pity parties.

Most of us have been there – or continue to walk that path. It took the wise counsel of a good friend to pull me out of the latter when she told me the unhealthiest thing I can do is compare myself to others (those clean-sighted folks we envy so keenly) and compare myself to my former self – the one who could fleet foot it down stairs and maneuver the world with ease. Comparing yourself to that self gets you nowhere.

A large part of my new regime is to turn my focus away from the eyes. The irony is I focus away from my eyes to fully focus on the health of my eyes. Crazy but it works! I continue to eat greens, choose supplements or vitamins that suit my system and keep active and fit. The weekly full body acupuncture is a delicious and beneficial bonus — this simple combination is a prudent life recipe for every vital adult no matter what the limitations.

The benefits of moving on with life are legion. I’ve said this before and can’t say it enough – focusing on what we can see is much more rewarding – and far less stressful – than worrying about what we can’t, what we are losing and what we may lose down the line.

So cheers to a lovely Spring — and all of the bounty that nature, and we ourselves, have to offer!

 

Take Our Retinitis Pigmentosa Eye Health Challenge

Written By: ingridricks - Mar• 11•15

iStock_000016287253Medium

Having regained some eyesight over the past two years, I’m convinced that we have the power to save and improve our vision. The question is, what we are willing to do to save it?

For me, the answer has and continues to be a complete shift in lifestyle and mindset.

I get messages every week from people who are looking for answers to RP. I don’t have that magic solution. All I know is what’s been helping me: a combination of green juicing and all around healthy eating choices (except for on Friday evenings), daily cardio exercises, regular eye exercises and meditation, reduced stress, acupuncture and a POSITIVE attitude that includes believing with every part of my being that I will continue to see.

I’ve been reading a great book called You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter. It focuses on the mind/body connection and the power—backed up by neuroscience—of the beliefs we hold and the stories we tell ourselves. So many of us have been told by retinal specialists and official eye-focused organizations that there is no hope or cure for RP. It’s easy to let that message take us down and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what if we changed it around? What if choose instead to believe that our bodies can heal themselves if we give them the nourishment and help they need?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve realized that I’ve been missing balance in my life and have focused too much energy on my eyesight and healing quest. So to find that balance, I’m taking a step back from emails and phone calls and plan to spend more time just enjoying life.

This is a challenge to all of you to join Jeanne and me in our eye health quest. I know many of you are already doing personal experiments with lifestyle changes and whole body health. We’d love you to share your experiences with us in the Determined to See Facebook group.

Let’s make NOW the time that we all take charge of our eye health. - Ingrid

 

***

Healthcare is a personal choice. It doesn’t belong to your doctor, to your friends or to your family; it belongs to you. You choose how to live and what feels right for you – and only you know (in your heart, in your gut) those answers.

As Ingrid and I go down this road of a less stressful, more positive approach to preserving our sight, I have noticed some remarkable changes. These are real life measures. Distinguishing the purple from the brown yoga mat, walking solo to the restroom in a darkened restaurant. Even managing dinner prep without every light in the house turned on bright!

Not only is acupuncture helping to foster this feel good approach, attitude plays a big role too. The confidence of making your own choices, the strength and courage of your inner voice (good cop, bad cop!) and a conscious decision to just feel better about every day and what you CAN see as opposed to what you can’t.

I have my own good reading to add to your list: Healing Back Pain by John Sarno. No I don’t have back issues — and the title is a little misleading as the concept is, like Ingrid’s read, all about the mind/body connection. How our minds control the onset and placement of pain and resolute in the theory that pain is just a roadblock to something your conscious brain does not want to acknowledge.

My acupuncturist trotted out an intriguing theory this week. There is a saying that pain is 90% fear —  can that knowledge be applied to visual impairment as well? Food for thought.

I echo Ingrid’s sentiments regarding a healthy lifestyle (with the occasional steak and martini thrown in for good measure), lots of physical activity (take a walk!) and, once more for good measure, a very positive outlook. Make some changes – and send us your thoughts and results. The world throws curve balls – let’s field them with grace and aplomb and as much goodwill and humor as possible!  - Jeanne

 

 

 A Fresh Approach to Eyesight Preservation

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Mar• 03•15

jma mex oneLiving with RP is a journey—a fact that is hammered home countless times a day and over the course of time.

The obstacles are familiar and legion – from a small barking of shins on an open dishwasher door to the larger more difficult loss of independence and a driver’s license.

Like all journeys, this one is a true expedition. I started mine by exploring the miraculous mysteries of traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture. Acupuncture specifically targeted for the eyes – twice a day, five days a week, for two weeks.

This phase of my adventure gave me a desperately needed boost; by jump-starting dormant cells I gained a positive outlook, fulfilling friendships with fellow RPers , and the will to continue to fight for my sight.

But as the physical results of dedicated acupuncture slowly faded, it dawned on me that a weekly regimen of needles couldn’t hurt. I researched acupuncturists and discovered something both timeless and new: acupuncture isn’t meant solely for eyes (or fertility or pain et al). Traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture is a whole body experience – and that whole body works in unison to learn to cure.

The weekly treatments – one hour a week – have made a marked difference in my sight. I can discern colors, I can recognize faces, I can see my food in a darkened restaurant. More importantly, by NOT focusing so intensely on my eyes, I feel more confidence in them as they should be – a natural and healthy measure of my being.

This relaxed and balanced approach is a personal choice. My gut says its right and it’s working.

In order to further understand the whole body approach to acupuncture, I enlisted the help of my friend Ingrid Ricks, who is exploring this symmetrical style of treatment along with me. We are embarking on a six-month investigation of weekly whole body treatments, about which we will chart our progress and post notes and observations. Stay tuned! – Jeanne Aufmuth

 ***

 

Ingrid blogLike Jeanne, I’ve benefitted greatly from the specialized eye acupuncture treatments I’ve received during my eyesight healing quest over the past two years. Along with regaining a little eyesight, I’ve regained confidence and hope. But the stress and juggle of leaving home every three or four months for a week of extensive acupuncture treatment has taken its toll on my home life.

I decided that this year is about balance. And like Jeanne, I’ve started thinking about the whole-body philosophy behind traditional Chinese medicine. So I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in this real world, balanced eyesight-preservation experiment.

I’ve found a local acupuncturist who comes highly recommended and works in my husband’s office building – which means I have to walk only one flight of steps to get to her office. I see her once a week and her treatment changes each time depending on what my body tells her. I can’t tell yet if it’s making a difference in my eyesight. But I know my weekly treatments are increasing blood flow and circulation because I can feel it throughout my body. And I know that’s a good thing.

Jeanne and I are taking a low-key, “unscientific” approach to our study. We’re not undergoing testing each time. In fact, rather than eye charts and visual field tests, we are using real-world measurements to determine what, if anything, changes in our eyesight over the next six months. I’m picking two key measures: how much of my daughters’ faces I can see when I look at them across our dining room table, and how many keys on my computer keyboard I can clearly see when I’m looking at it (currently I see two clearly – though I can see most of the keyboard in a blurry sort of way.)

Jeanne and I have also decided to ditch the cabinet full of herbs and supplements we’ve each amassed and replace it with Retina-Complex, an eye formula from Europe that my good friend and fellow RPer, Natalie Watkins, recommended. It costs $55 for a one-month supply – but seems to have all of the necessary eye nutrients and is less complicated and costly than all the other supplements we’ve been juggling.

I will also continue to eat healthy (except for on weekends), exercise and think positive thoughts. But most of all, I’m focusing on enjoying life and not being so obsessive about my eyesight. Like Jeanne says, it feels right,

We’ll keep you all posted. Ingrid Ricks

 

 

Two Years Into My Eyesight Saving Quest: What I’ve Learned

Written By: ingridricks - Feb• 15•15

View More: http://heatherballisonphotography.pass.us/ingrid-2013I’m writing this from a ski resort in Northern Idaho—the same ski resort where I hit rock bottom two years ago and decided to do everything in my power to save my eyesight.

I started this quest hoping that if I fought hard enough, I could regain my eyesight and get back to a normal-sighted life. What I’ve learned is that this eyesight-saving fight is a slow, hard process—and that if I want to preserve the vision I have, it’s something I’m going to have to work for the rest of my life.

Today I have more eyesight in my outer periphery than I did two years ago. My central vision hasn’t changed: I still see life through a hole that amounts to the size of a letter slot at the post office. And when the light is dim, I have a hard time seeing at all. But the good news is that I still have a small opening of central vision that enables me to see my family, write on my computer, read, walk in the daylight unassisted, and go to the gym for regular workouts.

What I’ve learned is that preserving our eyesight is mainly up to us. It comes down to the following—and there’s plenty of research to back this up.

  • Healthy diet
  • Good base of vitamins & minerals
  • Lots of clean water
  • Regular, vigorous exercise
  • Healthy lifestyle: no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, limited coffee, reduce stress
  • Positive attitude
  • Eye exercises
  • Other stimulation to keep the blood and oxygen flowing to the eyes: micro current stimulation, acupuncture, etc.
  • ENJOY LIFE

 

This year, I’m taking a more balanced approach to my eyesight saving quest. I’m putting emphasis on all the things I can do on my own—things that require time and commitment, but not a lot of money. I’ll touch base occasionally to update you all on my continuing eyesight saving quest. But as part of my more balanced approach to life, I’m also cutting back on my blog posts.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me. We CAN save our eyesight. It’s starts with believing. If you want to engage in regular dialogue, please join our Determined to See Facebook Group.

Here’s to our eyesight — and to all of us.

 

 

An Interview with Eye Acupuncturist Lizbeth Ryan

Written By: ingridricks - Jan• 21•15

1469930_10202573960978607_901742538_nI’ve been hearing about Lizbeth Ryan, an eye acupuncturist in Bentonville, Arkansas, for a few months now. Several of her patients have contacted me to tell me about her; and speak highly of her comprehensive treatment and her affordable treatment prices. A couple have also shared with me eye image scans from their visual field tests in her office—which show clear improvements.

I recently talked with Lizbeth to learn more about her background, her practice and her Retinitis Pigmentosa treatment approach. Here’s what she had to say.

 IR: How long have you been treating patients with degenerative eye diseases? And why did you start?

 Lizbeth Ryan: In 2003, Per Otte (who developed the micro-acupuncture system for eye treatment that many eye acupuncturists incorporate) hired me to work with him at his Arkansas practice and trained me in his methodology. I worked with him on and off for six years. In 2008, he shut down his practice there—eventually reopening it in West Virginia, and I moved to northwest Arkansas to be closer to my family and opened up my own practice here.

IR: Tell me about your treatment protocol for RP.

 Lizbeth Ryan: I offer a comprehensive treatment that incorporates the micro acupuncture system I learned from Dr. Otte with the Acunova system that was developed by the Boel Clinic in Denmark. I’ve found that I have the best treatment success when I incorporate both of these methodologies. I usually do two Acunova treatments in the morning, followed by two micro acupuncture treatments in the afternoon, with a total of three treatments on Mondays and two treatments on Fridays.

IR: Why do you do so many treatments each day?

Lizbeth Ryan: Because I think it’s critical to the treatment’s success. The points we use are very precise and we are going deep into the network of a patient’s blood vessels. By hitting those areas again and again, it helps stimulate blood flow on a very deep level—which in turn helps stimulate the eyes.

IR: Pretend I’m a new patient; walk me through the treatment I can expect.

 Lizbeth Ryan: The first day, patients are given a visual field scan and acuity testing for distance and near vision to see exactly where their eyesight is at.  I also do an individual consultation with them. Then we start the treatments. I do my treatments in group sessions so we can have a group discussion about eye health and overall health, and I can answer any questions that arise. Then, on the third day of treatment, I do another round of tests to see where patients are at. At that point, almost everyone can see some sort of improvement — which is important because positive attitude contributes to treatment success. And then we keep going with treatments.

IR: Why do you do the visual field scan on the third day vs. end of treatment?

Lizbeth RyanI repeat the visual field scan on the third day because by the end of the week, eyes can get blurry from all the treatment – which just means that the treatment is doing it’s job. But this way, both my patient and I get a sense for how the treatment is working for them.

IR: How often do you recommend that RP patients return for treatment?

Lizbeth Ryan: That’s a hard question because there are so many different types of RP and so many different patient attitudes –which all effect treatment. There is no real standard. For the first time, I recommend patients come for two weeks if they can so we can really hit it hard. After that, it all depends on the patients. Some patients return three times a year for a week of treatment. Others only come once a year and that’s enough for them. I usually tell them that if they notice that their improvements are slipping, they should come back for another round of treatment so we don’t have to start from scratch. What I’ve found is that if they stick with a protocol that works for them, they will see improvement over time.

IR: How much does your treatment cost?

 Lizabeth Ryan: I charge $55 per acupuncture treatment. I also charge $55 per visual field test, which includes the eye image scan for the patients to take home with them. If patients do the full treatment I recommend for a week (seventeen treatments along with the two visual field scans and acuity tests) the total cost for the week is $1,045.

IR: As you know, there are so many people struggling with RP and accessibility to this treatment is a huge issue for them. We need skilled eye acupuncturists who are willing to offer wide scale, comprehensive, affordable training for interested acupuncturists. Is this something you have considered offering?

 Lizbeth Ryan: Absolutely. In fact, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while and have started outlining. I envision it being a comprehensive 15-hour online continuing education course that would feature videos with me demonstrating the points. This is important because the points are precise and it’s not enough to just tell people which points to hit. It requires training them on how to find those points, and how to go deep enough to really hit the network of vessels that will get the blood flowing. I also plan on spending a lot of time educating practitioners on how to do the visual field tests and read the scans because the testing is so key to objectively demonstrating the benefits of this treatment.

For more information, visit www.macupuncture.com or call 479-464-4000.

 

 

Calling All Eye Acupuncturists

Written By: ingridricks - Jan• 11•15

Conceptional chalk drawing - Help needed

It’s my birthday. And of all the birthday wishes and gifts I’ve received, the best is that I have my health and that I can still see my daughters and my husband, and every other beautiful thing this world has to offer. I rarely allow myself to think about the challenges associated with a sight-stealing eye disease such as RP, but recently I was asked to share what it’s like to slowly lose your eyesight for an online magazine called Science of Us. And when I started talking about it, it really hurt. Here’s a link to the interview for those of you interested. I hope I captured it well for all of us. To read interview, click here.

That interview reiterated for me the importance of doing everything I can to continue to save my eyesight, which, along with diet and lifestyle changes, includes ongoing acupuncture treatment. But it also drove home for me the challenge those of us dealing with this eye disease face – the ability to access this potential sight-saving treatment.

Though my eyesight is a daily challenge for me, the acupuncture I’ve received by practitioners trained to treat degenerative eye disorders has helped me and I want everyone who is interested in giving it a try to be able to access it and at a price they can afford. So I’m making it my quest this year to raise awareness about any eye acupuncturists I come across (especially those recommended by other patients) and to spread the word about the need for widespread training in this area. With so many people suffering from RP and other devastating blinding diseases, it’s unconscionable to me that there are only a handful of practitioners in the world who can currently help us. This is an open call and bottom-of-my-heart request to all eye acupuncturists out there: please help us by sharing your expertise through affordable, comprehensive continuing education courses that can be accessed by every interested acupuncturist out there.

Here’s the list of eye acupuncturists (in no particular order) that I’ve compiled so far. This is in no way an endorsement of these practitioners. I’m just providing it as a resource for all of you. Along with different treatment methodologies, prices vary greatly.  Speak with the practitioner; speak with patients who’ve been treated by them, research pricing and treatment protocols, and then select the practitioner that best resonates with you.

Acupuncturists Specializing in RP Treatment (and Other Degenerative Eye Diseases)

 

And here are three practitioners who focus on natuorpathic medicine and alternative therapies to treat RP and other degenerative eye diseases

 

 

Eye WILL Continue to See

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 22•14

photo

I received this early Christmas gift from my new friend Jeanne Aufmuth, a San Francisco film critic who also happens to be stuck with RP.

It’s already become one of my favorite possessions because every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my determination to see.

My pillow—called Snake Eye–is one of a series of unique Eye Will pillows designed by Jeanne as part of an RP fundraising effort. They sold out quickly but I’m hoping she’ll create more of them so the EYE Will message will make it’s way into homes across the globe.

Jeanne’s efforts to raise awareness and funding while doing everything in her power to save her eyesight has inspired to do more to raise awareness about the eyesight-saving benefits of specialized acupuncture and other integrated health approaches. I plan to start a movement in the acupuncture/naturopathic community that will lead to more trained practitioners and, in turn, make treatment more accessible and affordable for all of us.

That’s my Focus for 2015. Hope you’ll all join me.

 

 

My Holiday RP Strategy

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 09•14

greenjuiceI’ve been trying to find the energy to post about micro-current stimulation and fulvic acid for the past few days. But between Christmas tree hunting, holiday shopping, having fun with my family and …well…parties, it’s been pushed to the back of my mind.

What I know for sure at this point is that there is no quick fix to saving our eyesight. It’s a continuous journey with a constant focus on diet, lifestyle, emotional health, physical exercise, eye exercises, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and ongoing stimulation through alternative therapies such as micro-current stimulation and specialized acupuncture.

microstimFor this holiday season, I’m choosing to make emotional health and FUN my biggest priorities (while still trying to maintain some semblance of my eye health plan). So here’s my strategy for the next few weeks:

  • Green juicing every day
  • Daily morning eye exercises
  • A healthy, vegetable-filled lunch
  • Ongoing vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Regular cardio workouts
  • Twice daily microcurrent stimulation (that’s a pic of my microstim unit, which I purchased through www.bettereyehealth.com)

1C5277066-tdy-121221-holiday-wine-tz.blocks_desktop_largeAnd as much fun as I can manage –including occasional glasses of wine, coffee with Baileys, all my favorite foods and desserts, and lots of holiday music blaring from Pandora.

I’ll be back in January with more informative posts, including an interview with Dr. Marc Grossman, an optometrist-turned-natural eye health practitioner who is at the forefront at integrated, holistic eye health.

Until then — wishing all of you an amazing holiday season.

P.S. If you haven’t already joined and are interested, I’ve started a Determined to See Facebook group that features ongoing, interactive discussions on integrated eye health. To join, click here.

 

 

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