Another symptom of my type of Ataxia, ARCA-1, is abnormal eye movements. I have found, that sometimes what I perceive with my eyes can get in the way. My eyes seem to have a mind of their own. For instance, getting a pan out from inside the cabinet can be a challenge I see the door opening. It’s plenty wide enough. I see what I want in the back of the cabinet. Oh no! I’m going to have to reach back there, putting my head inside the door opening. I see the sides, aim myself and BAM! I start banging my head from side to side in a game of what I call head-pinball.
Solution? Another friend with Ataxia, suggested that I close my eyes! It works! Ah, walking through that narrow doorway-just close your eyes. However, you can’t always get away with closing your eyes. Like walking outside. It does slow me down but if I’m not with Denim, I need to watch every step I take. (When I’m with my service dog, Denim, I walk much faster as I can focus on what’s ahead of me instead of on my feet.)
Another example is trying to maneuver around the Christmas tree. I see the tree. I see the coffee table. There’s plenty of room between the two. But I just can’t walk through there without doing a “dance” to avoid knocking the tree down.. Solution? Don’t go that way! Another tricky situation is releasing the steam from the pressure cooker. I see the nob. I just have to turn it. I’ve done it several times before. There’s no need to jump. However, I can’t help it, I turn the nob and “jump a mile”. (I don’t know about you but “jumping a mile” can mean a myriad of mishaps for me. I might totally fly my hands up, scratching myself in the eye. I could end up losing my balance and falling onto my butt…) Solution? Don’t look. Now, what I do is put my hand on the nob and then turn to look out the window. Releasing the steam no longer leads to bumps and bruises.
I guess it’s similar to the need to put blinders on horses. Like the horses, I get too distracted by what my eyes are seeing. So if I want to avoid a game of head-pinball, maybe I just need horse blinders.