How do you develop empathy and appreciation for diversity? It helps to travel, and I was lucky to grow up in a family that enjoys traveling and doesn’t like to leave the kids behind! Can you think of a better classroom than the world? I was also lucky to grow up in an era where parents could take their child out of school for a week or two, visit another country, and not worry that the state would label the child truant and prosecute the parents. There was, of course, a small mountain of homework to catch up on, but that was far better than missing out on one-of-a-kind life experiences. I got to wondering, finally, just how many places I’d visited so far. My husband likes to keep track, but I’ve never bothered with sticking pins in a map. I’m not sure I should count Arizona or Utah, given that they were merely airport layover stops. My grandmother used to say that it counted if you left a bit of yourself behind, but running to the airport restroom seems like cheating. The map of places I’ve visited has been stored, somewhat jumbled, in memories – stunning visual snapshots, the sweet and savory tastes of exotic foods, the sounds and scents of nature and cultures that are both different – and not so very different at all – from my own.
A few key common denominators: Most of us love our families and want the best for them. Most of us love to eat, and talk, and share our experiences and opinions. Most of us would do well to listen more. In these things, we are more alike than we know, and more alike than we are different.
Anyway, if you’re like me – lazy and lacking red pins – you can create your own online map of places visited.
Or states visited in the USA:
More than I thought I had! Although I still probably shouldn’t count Arizona or Utah. AmCharts should expand their states and provinces breakdown to other countries! But this is a start, I suppose.
And of course, there’s Google Maps. Let’s face it, I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag without a map, most days. And this is doubly bad for someone who struggles to use a map at all, and prefers directions like, “Go about a mile, look for the Stop-and-Go on your left, and turn right just past that first street after the sign with the little pointy flags.” I have to turn the map in the direction I’m going. I mentioned once that perhaps I shouldn’t use sunflowers as a landmark…
If you look hard enough through Google Maps, you might even find the Tardis.
I’ve seen a topographical map of my cornea. It’s interesting, but it would be more interesting if it were a map of hiking trails through a small mountain range. It would be more interesting if the ophthalmologist hadn’t called my cornea “wrinkled,” bringing to mind words like “old” and “Shar–Pei.” If you hadn’t guessed, the normal cornea is smooth, like a marble. Mine is an interesting mess of microscopic ridges and valleys characteristic of Map-Dot-Fingerprint (MDF) Dystrophy. This isn’t a deadly disease, nor is it likely to lead to blindness. What it is, is a pain.
My first hint came the morning I described in the post “Dry Eyes and Fire-Breathing, Eyeball-Munching Bugs.” That first diagnosis – dry eyes – was dead wrong. Turns our that I have Recurrent Corneal Erosions (RCE) due to the MDF. It’s been almost nine months since I wrote the last update on that. There is no cure, but I’ve found ways to cope that don’t leave me wanting to dig my own eyeballs out with a rusty spoon each morning:
- TheraTears Nutrition Omega-3 1200mg Supplements
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!! (Also limit or avoid alcohol consumption and drink lots more water on hot days, if walking or exercising.)
- Reduce screen time (PC and cell phone)
- Get more sleep (and keep Air Optix lenses, saline solution, and single-use vials of preservative free Retaine MGD or Refresh Plus drops handy, on the nightstand)
That’s about it, in order of importance. But I have to add this – until this year, I’d have pooh-poohed the importance of supplements, and thought Omega-3s were a fad. Turns out that no, Omega-3s make a world of difference if you’re suffering dry eyes or dry mouth. My High-Potency B-Complex vitamins make a noticeable difference in my energy levels. Most nutrients, I do get from food – IF I’m mindful of the nutritional value of what I eat, and eat plenty of fresh, lean meats and veggies. Vitamins don’t work in the absence of carbs, proteins, and fats, so there’s still no supplement that lets you eat nothing – or nothing but crap – and be well nourished. But some supplements are needed. If you track what’s in what you eat, like I do on SparkPeople.com, you can see where you may be lacking essential vitamins and minerals.
Uncharted territory; abandon hope, all ye who enter here!
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