Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Article I Found Regarding Glaucoma and African Americans

Nationwide Survey Indicates African-Americans Not Prioritizing Eye Care

According to a recent national survey, African-Americans are not making vision care a priority for themselves or their children, reports Derrick L. Artis,
O.D. Many health and vision problems disproportionately affect African-Americans. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans, and
is five times more common in African-Americans than in European-derived populations. Because of this, it is particularly important for African-Americans
to have regular eye exams.

More than 3,700 adults of varying ethnic backgrounds (African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Caucasians) expressed their attitudes toward, perceptions
of, and experiences with vision care in the nationwide Americans’ Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive
on behalf of The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

More than nine out of 10 African-American respondents (93 percent) agreed that maintaining proper vision is an important priority to them. Yet, 21 percent
said they do not have a regular eye care professional and one-quarter (24 percent) said it has been more than two years since their last eye exam.? Almost
one-third (30 percent) of African-American parents surveyed reported that their child has never seen an eye care professional. ??

National Glaucoma Awareness Month in January is a reminder to schedule an eye exam for yourself and your child. Some vision conditions, like glaucoma, have
no symptoms until the disease is advanced. Visiting your local eye care professional and having a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two
years can reveal risk factors, slow disease progression and save vision.


January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

While poking around on the internet, I found out that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. That news immediately grabbed my attention. Why? Well, I'll tell you why. I have Glaucoma. In fact, Glaucoma is the theif that robbed me of all my eye sight. Glaucoma is a merciless disease that sneaks up on its victims and takes them down before they realize it.

That's why eye health professionals have made sure that the month of January is dedicated to increasing the nation's awareness of Glaucoma and its dreadful effects if it is not detected early and properly treated.

Make a new year resolution. Make an appointment to get your eyes checked. Take a loved one to get an eye exam. Early detection is one of the keys to beating Glaucoma. An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma and many of them are at risk of going blind because they are not diagnosed. Don't be one of those that is forced to face blindness because of late detection.

Who's mostly at risk of getting Glaucoma?
Those with a close relative with Glaucoma...
African Americans
People over the age of 60
People with Diabetes
People with hypertension
Steroid users

For more information about Glaucoma check out the Glaucoma Research Foundation's website.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"They sure did train you good." What a thing to say.

It really amazes me how people open up their mouths and let whatever they want to come flying out of it. Which is more powerful, the mouth or the mind? Of course the mind is. In fact, the mind should control the mouth. But why in the heck do so many people speak without thinking? In fact the mouth should consider the mind a superior partner, always to be considered the authority on most communication matters. But maybe people really are not capable of using their minds as well as I expect them to. Maybe I give folks and their ability to think too much credit. I don't know...

Perhaps, I am rambling and really not getting to the point of this entry. (smile) I think that's it. Well, let's get to the point of this particular blog entry.

A couple of days ago, I went inside of my bank branch to make a deposit. While making the deposit, I mentioned to the teller that I needed assistance filling out the deposit slip because I'm blind. She was shocked. She along with countless other people must think that a blind person looks like something other than me. At least that's what they always say. "Oh, you don't look blind." That's a good thing. I would much rather look like Angela than Blind.

And what does blind look like anyway? Does blind look like big, darkly tinted glasses? Does blind look like a swaying head? Does blind look like it sits in front of a piano all day and night? Does blind look ugly or something? Does blind look clumsy? Does blind look plain stupid?

Well, the lady went on to praise me for being such a good little blind girl. In her words...

"They sure did train you good. Who trained you? They did such a good job training you. You act so normal. You do good just like Ray Charles. You don't look blind at all. You're so pretty. I know you went to a special school to get trained to do so well."

If it were not for the fact that I decided to look over her nonsense, I would have felt so reduced. My sister said she was talking to me like a was a trained pet. I vote a well trained child.

My mother said that we shouldn't be hard on the lady. She said that the lady meant no harm by her statements. Maybe not... But her statements were still quite inappropriate. Being sincere and having good intentions do not let you off the hook for being plain wrong.

In my opinion, her comments were the byproduct of ignorance and insensitivity. That may be a little harsh for some folks. But I don't think so. She's a professional in a public facility. Her customer service skills should be more advanced. Plus, I live by the rule of, "If you don't know what to say, then it's best to be quiet."

Speaking of customer service... I am so sick of coming in contact with sales or customer service people that act all discombobulated when they realize I'm blind. I'm blind, not the elephant man. But I take that back. Even a deformed, mutilated person deserves respect. Yes, you might be caught a little off guard. But "train" yourself to manage your response when you come in contact with someone or something that you are not familiar with or don't understand.

Now, don't get me wrong... I do realize that I'm interesting, unique, or plain uncommon. I don't get all weirded out when folks express some curiosity or concern about me and my blindness. But it's all in how you do it. My only request is that you approach me with respect and dignity. Every human deserves that.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Few Lessons (Part II.)

After posting the previous blog entry, I now realize that I must recant my statement about not having learned much of anything in 2006. I actually did. Interestingly, the lessons that I will mention in a few minutes just didn't come to mind this morning.

It was probably because I hadn't been sleep in about 24 hours. Although I pride myself in being a pretty functional night owl, the older I get, I realize how a lack of sleep takes a toll on my ability to think and create. It's hard to admit. But it's the truth. At this point, I think I need to reevaluate my commitment to getting sleep. Staying up all night doesn't work very well, especially when you are not getting a chance to sleep in the daylight hours.

Well anyway... Getting back to some of the things I learned in the last twelve months. I will only list a few.

1. I learned that buying a house is easier and harder than I thought it would be.
I didn't understand anything about the buying process or home ownership before 2006. While I am certainly not an expert now, I did learn a lot from our home buying experience. I am committed to learning more. I want to learn more about buying real estate, in addition to and home improvement tips.

2. I learned that excessive weight really does weigh you down.
I have spent most of my life being overweight. While I always presumed that I would feel better if I were not "fat", I now know. Not only do I feel better, I feel younger, more healthy, alive, and much more energized. I use to feel like my excessive weight was my failure for all the world to see. So often, I would feel uncomfortable and ashamed for being so heavy. Thank you Lord... I don't feel like that anymore. Furthermore, I'm able to play with my sisters' kids without feeling like I need to take a rest in between each physical activity. I can walk and walk and walk, without feeling like I need a new pair of feet and an oxygen tank. I just feel better! Losing weight has got to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. I literally feel like I've gotten a second lease on life. What a fantastic feeling!

3. I learned that being blind really is okay.
About 10 years ago, I attended a blind convention. I was shocked and insulted that the participants of the conference were singing songs about being blind. One of the lines of one of the songs that stuck out like a mashed thumb was: "I am blind and it's okay." When I heard those folks singing that, I wondered what the hell was wrong with them. How is blind anything remotely close to being okay? I left that conference thinking that those people didn't have a grip on reality.
After 22 years of being declared legally blind and 14 years of actually being totally blind, I now realize that being blind really is okay. It's not the greatest thing that can happen to a girl. But it certainly is not the end of the world. Beyond that, blindness is nothing I have to apologize about, explain, be ashamed about, or hide. It is what it is. Don't get me wrong... Being blind is certainly a nail in the rear. But I finally have decided to be okay with it.
I had an awakening when I was in Florida last summer. As I was walking through the hotel in Jacksonville, I felt so self conscience. I felt that everyone was staring at me and my cane. And guess what... They probably were. But I had to deal with it.
The next week, I traveled to NYC. As we were roaming the city streets of Manhattan, I still felt so uncomfortable. I just knew that my cane was drawing so much negative attention to myself. It's one thing if folks were noticing how dang beautiful I am. But being noticed and stared at for having a cane and being blind is a whole different set of circumstances. After a couple of days of being in NYC, I realized that being blind is a heavy enough cross to bare. Why should I have to bare the burden of wondering what people think about me for being blind. Who gives a dog on what people think. Most of the people that stop and look at me will probably never see me again. And more than that, most, if not any of them, have never paid any of my bills and probably will never. So, really...Why should I care about what others think.

Well, I learned some more things. But I'm going to stop right there. I don't want this entry to be too lengthy. I'll post again in a few days.

Until we meet again, be blessed. To everyone: I love you. And to a select few: I love you a whole lot!

Always learning and evolving,

Miss Angela L. Braden

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Few Lessons

The last ten years of my life have been filled with tragedy and triumph, sadness and joy, pain and pleasure. hatred and love, strife and unity, explosive confrontations and unexplainable peace, brokenness and healing, sickness and improved health, and lots and lots of lessons. Ten years ago, I sincerely thought I was pretty smart, advanced, and mature for my age. I now realize that while I may have indeed been sharp for my age, I basically was young and inexperienced, which often translates into dumb. In the last ten years, I found myself in so many situations that left me feeling helpless and utterly baffled. So many times, my youth/inexperience left me searching for answers, advice, and direction.

But I don't despise the experiences. Those painful, confusing, and sometimes shattering experiences molded me into the woman that I am now. For many years, I didn't feel like an adult. I was an adult by age. But for some reason, I thought of myself as a girl. Now, I know that I am a woman. To tell you the truth, I feel that I have developed into a fine piece of work.

I'm kind of ashamed to say that I haven't really learned much in 2006. So, I won't say that. I'll just say that nothing really comes to mind. 2006 was kind of like a breather for me. The formidable years were filled with such hardship, I really got a chance to recover and rest in 2006. Well, not really... But 2006 was definitely a change for the better.

So, I will take this time to focus on what I have learned in the last 10 years. I'll be brief. In fact, I will only make mention of 5 important lessons I learned. There not the most important lessons... Just what comes to mind this morning...

1. Self care should top our list of priorities.
While putting others before yourself may indeed be noble on some level, it's not always smart. We must learn to take care of ourselves and then shift our strength to taken care of others. If we are not healthy/whole, we will continue to fracture and fragment ourselves when reaching out to others. Before you know it, you will have diminished and withered into what you do not deserve to be.

2. "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove."
A line from one of my favorite films, Training Day. Unfortunately, I learned that hard lesson first hand. Our family was embroiled in a heated legal issue. Boy, that set of circumstances still makes me feel dizzy. One thing I learned is that you should rely on facts that can be tested. I learned not to accuse someone of doing something, unless I can prove it. I also learned not to make judgements based on rumors and hearsay. That ain't cool.

3. I learned that it is always better to be smart and not emotional.
Well, maybe I should say that I learned to balance the two. Too often, women abandoned all sound reasoning and jump on the bumpy hay ride of emotions. Being an overly emotional sister, who makes all of her decisions based on how she is feeling, is not a good look. It's okay to listen to the heart. But some emotions are not even logical. If sisters would think, rather than relying on their feelings, they would find themselves less likely to be stuck in the turmoil that they so often find themselves pinned under.

4. Life is not fair.
I think I have always thought that life wasn't fair. Well, I know it now. I saw the woman I love, my mother, transform into a less vibrant, confused, angry, sometimes hopeless woman. Who was the culprit that cause that sudden change? A stroke... It changed her life and ours, her children, forever. I know that she doesn't deserve the deck she's been dealt. I'm not saying this because she's my mother either. She really did deserve more than the life is she living today.

5. I am in charge of my happiness.
Basically, I'm in charge of all of my emotions. Because they are my emotions, I should budget them like I would do anything else. Plus, it's no one else's job to see to it that I am happy. That's my job. I'm on a quest to discover, apprehend, and handcuff myself to what makes me happy.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to post lately. The main reason is because the holiday rush had me a little entangled. Although I try my best to not get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, I still find myself becoming a victim of a commercially driven and stained holiday. Christmas should focus completely on my Savior, but unfortunately it doesn't... But I'm not going to complain too much. I'll just try not to get so taken next year.

Another reason I haven't blogged lately is because I'm having computer issues. My main computer has some type of virus. Well, that's what I'm saying. It won't boot up. So, I'm left with a substandard computer to use in the meantime. Although this computer helps me get most of what I need to get done, I still keep what I do on it short and sweet.

Well, I wanted to take the time to wish each of you a wonderfully blessed new year. I pray that God's glory is reflected in your life. My wish is that you experience His fullness and captivating power. May good health, peace, love, forgiveness, joy, understanding, patience, strength and grace be yours to experience and to share.

In a few days, I'm going to share what I've learned in the last 12 months. I'll also post what some of my resolutions are for this year.

Again, I bid you grace and peace for the new year.

Much love,

Angela L. Braden
Child of the King