Welcoming Lent in the Dark- My Experience Temporarily Loosing My Sight

Shrove Tuesday used to be one of my favorite days. The past few years it’s been a difficult day for me. My dietary restrictions and mold/chemical issues mean no Shrove Tuesday at church eating pancakes with friends. It was always a favorite day full of so many fun memories. This year I was already having an emotional day missing out. Little did I know I’d wind up welcoming Lent in the dark with little to no use of my eyes for the next week.

I’ve been spending the past week looking super cool like this

What happened to your eyes?!?

Oh dear readers, I almost feel embarrassed to share this with you. I wish it was an epic story of bravery or an act of motherly strength. In reality, most accidents happen at home and are semi-embarrassing stories. This is no exception. Those of you who know me IRL know I don’t like artificial lighting- especially overhead lighting. We’ve avoid artifical lighting as much as possible. We mainly use salt lamps and candles in the Airstream. Although we do have some Christmas lights hanging up that we used in the depths of the PNW winter. I can get headaches and nausea from artificial lights- especially from LED lights.

A light did it…

We’re grateful to have a full size fridge in the garage of the property we live in. In this garage there’s a bright pull cord light. It’s even too bright for me during the day. I turned it on once and said I’d never turn it on again. If I go out to the fridge after dark, I bring my flashlight. Usually my hubby goes out and faces the light on my behalf.
He was working Shrove Tuesday. I was emotional and my 8-year-old wanted to do an act of service for me. He crept out to the fridge while I was working and grabbed everything for dinner. He also turned on my light nemesis and got the pull cord stuck. He also didn’t tell me he’d gotten the cord stuck because he was worried I’d be mad. (The cord only gets stuck when he jumps to turn it on & he’s broken the cord twice doing this… he knew he got the cord stuck breaking a rule. )
We finished dinner and I headed out to put away leftovers. I approached the garage and saw the light shining through. The battle was on. I clinched my eyes shut and reached my arm out to pull that cord and turn the darn thing off.
No cord.
I opened my eyes to see the cord stuck. Usually it gets stuck on a rafter and is easy to get down. This time it was stuck on some sort of net.
I grabbed a broom handle to pull it down. It was the cord vs me. That thing didn’t want to come down. None of the tall people were going to be home for hours. I didn’t even think about my eyes. It took several minutes and a few choice words to get down. I soon felt the headache and nausea developing.
I stumbled back into the Airstream with our blissful salt lamp on. That’s when I realized my eyes were clinched shut and had that effect of an after image of the light. This lasted for at least an hour and my eyes all but refused to open. My hubby was going to be at work until around midnight. I managed to put my bluelight glasses on and text him to let him how what happened. There were tears from my son and myself as we wondered if there would be permanent damage to my eyes and I fell into a deep sleep.

Ash Wednesday in the Dark

Tall grey concrete cross against a cloudy sky

I tend to always assume the worst. It’s not a trait I’m proud of. I was certain I’d wake up on Wednesday morning blind. Dramatic much? Yes indeed… I woke up and put on my sunglasses and bluelight glasses before even trying to open my eyes- I wanted to mitigate any additional light damage. My eyes opened and I could see, thank God. Then they wanted to close almost immediately.
It felt like a migraine. Even with the blackout curtains up I couldn’t stand the bits of light that still got in.
I spent most of Ash Wednesday under a blanket with my eyes refusing to open. My husband called out for work. I wondered if I was giving up sight for Lent.
We got in touch with the doctor who said it should be temporary and give it a few days. My homeopath had a suggestion which helped a bit but my eyes needed rest.
It would be the most eye-opening Ash Wednesday of my life with my eyes hardly ever opening at all.
My Lenten intentions had been to work through “Bible Journaling Liturgically” from Morningtide to Eventide and to go through J Dana Trent’s book on Christian meditation- One Breath . Without my eyes- this wasn’t happening. Instead I found myself praying alone in the dark. My husband and son read to me as they were able and my hubby helped out with a few work tasks that couldn’t wait.
Now it was time to be in the dark and to wait.

Heightened Senses and Heightened Emotion

I’ve always heard that when one sense is damaged or absent the other senses increase. I never imagined I’d experience it myself. By Wednesday evening I was smelling things no one else was. I kept asking my family to stop talking so loud. Food had tastes I’d never noticed and my sense of touch was much stronger. It took me until Thursday afternoon to connect the dots and realize my eyes were hurt enough that my other senses were taking over.
Fumbling my way through the world without my eyes has taught me things I suspect I’ll be unpacking for months to come. Experiencing these heightened senses has been fascinating.
Unfortunately the experience has also left me exhausted. My body must be putting as much energy as it can towards healing. I slept about 18 hours in the first 24 hours of my injury and am sleeping 12-14 hour days even now. This has also meant that I’m not able to get much movement in.
Combine the lack of movement with being suck in the dark all day… not a great combination for my emotions. A lot of my anxiety symptoms have returned. I need movement and sunshine to help balance my hormones and emotions. I’ve been focusing on breathing work, and meditation to help control my mind. I cannot wait until the darkness comes back to light and I can blast Grace Vanderwaal’s “Clearly”and dance in the sun. For now I am doing my best to remember that these are hard circumstances for my soul, mind, and body.

How I’m Healing My Eyes

Evidently I needed another aspect of healing to share with you all… I can’t believe I’m healing my eyes after all I’ve gone through… For. The. Love.
I’ve been spending lots of time in prayer and others have been sending me their prayers as well. As always, I’m intentional about my healing- here’s what I’ve been doing to help heal:
-REST- sleeping as much as possible
-Food- Citrus, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, carrot, and leafy
Greens are all foods I tolerate that are excellent for the eyes

  • Plenty of water- Our bodies always need extra water when healing
  • Homeopathy & Flower Essences- I’ve been working with my homeopath & using a few different flower remedies (Self-heal, Aspen, Mimulus, and Dandelion)
  • Cold compresses- This is one I should be doing a lot more often because it feels amazing but I keep falling asleep and forgetting!
  • Darkness- This is the hardest and the most essential. We’ve had some beautiful PNW days this past week. If you have talked to me for more than about 15 seconds you’ll know how much I love the sun. The last week in the dark has been HARD
  • Talking to my loved ones- As I said above, the darkness and stillness is hard on my brain. Open communication has been huge to help me move forward.

An Unexpected Neural Retraining Experience

I was a Psych major in college and continue to research and learn about that field. I have been studying brain regeneration and neural retraining for the last couple of years. My journey with meditation, the 21 Day Brain detox, and focusing on mindfulness have been playing a part in my own personal neural retraining.
A major aspect of neural retraining is finding different ways to do things to change habitual patterns and create new neural networks. After I got done feeling sorry for myself I realized this as the ultimate neural retraining opportunity. I had to tell my husband how to get into various platforms to help me with work. I had to fumble my way around my home to get tasks completed- I am Even more thankful this place is only 210 sq ft now! Even figuring out how to homeschool this week has been an adventure. As I’ve had these heightened senses and am experiencing the world in a new way, my brain is forming all kinds of new connections!

Gradually Improving & Catching Up on Podcasts!

I’m a podcast addict. I don’t get enough time to listen to them between school and work. Each day I’m finding my eyes can handle being open a little bit longer at a time. Friday I overdid it and spent the weekend trying to recover.
I’ve decided to take this as a blessing to rest my soul and body.
I can handle screens for 15-20 minutes as long as I turn the brightness way down and wear my super-cool bluelight glasses. That’s all the time I need to put on my favorite podcasts and catch up on a few essential work tasks. I’ve been able to pull up emails on my phone and write responses on the AlphaSmart (God bless that machine). Then my hubby or son helps me transfer everything from the AlphaSmart to the computer, edit, and send. I’m actually enjoying primarily writing on the AlphaSmart and may continue to do so after my eyes are healed.

I miss books so much… oh how I miss my books. My TBR stack and launch books are calling to me.
When you take an avid reader and tell her she can’t read, at least she can turn to podcasts with her favorite authors.
I’ve been enjoying a chance to to catch up on podcasts and re-listen to favorite episodes. I’m welcoming words of truth, encouragement, and love. We’ve also listened to episodes to help with school since I can’t read aloud right now. I’ve loved podcasts since all the things happened a couple years ago. They’ve been the background to my life and helped me keep moving forward.

Wearing bluelight glasses over sunglasses and holding an AlphaSmart
Thank you God for the AlphaSmart

The podcasts I’ve been loving during this season of darkness-

  • For the Love with Jen Hatmaker
    • I loved the episode with Hillary McBride about body shame- WOW! I’d like to write a reflection post on that one.
  • Bravewriter with Julie Bogart
    • – The Ages & Stages of Awesome Adulthood episode is one for all Mamas to read and Community is Self Care
  • The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman
    • My favorite podcast ever. This season I’m loving the “receive” series from last summer & episode 73 on theme days (which I’m totally going to try!)
  • To Love Honor and Vacuum with Shelia Gregoire
    • 2 Keys to Successful Marriage episode. This is the best podcast out there for married Christian women. Imagine my surprise in this episode when one of my favorite college professors was mentioned!
  • Anything & everything Dave Ramsey
  • The Liturgists
    • The Social Media episode is one I’ll re-listen to a couple times a year, I listened to it for the first time this week and it got me thinking. Their meditation podcasts for Patreon subscribers are helping me control my mental health and keep me close to God
  • Stuff You Should Know/ Stuff they Don’t Want You to Know/ Stuff You Missed in History Class
    • We’ve been using these to help with school this week since I can’t do our regular read alouds. They’re designed for adults but J LOVES them and we all learn from them
  • But Why
    • This is a self-proclaimed podcast for “curious kids.” We’ve been studying space and money in school and have been pulling up as many relevant episodes as we can.
  • The Sleeping At Last Podcast
    • I’m loving hearing about how they wrote all their Enneagram songs!
  • Homeschooling IRL
    • The mid-year slump
  • Wild + Free
    • The Making Much of Little episode nurtured my soul in so many ways

I’m sure there will be more in the next couple weeks as I continue to heal and rest my eyes. Thanks for your prayers sweet readers. This season of darkness is creating a lot of beauty that I can’t wait to share (and I can’t wait to get on here and add a few more links for you!).

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