Saturday, December 6, 2008

Looking up


A few years ago I had a head injury that left me with a condition called "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo"--I look up and to the right and the world I see begins to spin. It comes and goes, and I've gotten used to it over time, so it rarely limits me. These days I seldom notice it at all, except when I am trying to find birds in the canopy of trees, or high in the sky. Birds are worth it, though.

Today I was looking for them in the pecan trees--goldfinches, mainly. I went out to the garden with the camera and waited for them to come to the thistle feeder so I could get a good shot. I could sense them flying into the trees, staging there while they decided that it was safe to approach the feeder with me standing so close. I waited, too, until my curiosity got the better of me and I looked up. The branches shifted and twirled as the vertigo was triggered, but I stuck it out. By and by the dizzyiness settled down, and thus I stood there, watching them watching me.

The goldfinches come to my yard every winter, part of a larger, seasonal cycle of bird migration that has gone on for millenia, and will, hopefully, continue ad infinitum. Seeing them return always reminds me that there is a whole world that spins out there--constantly, faithfully--even when I am not looking up to see it doing so.

22 comments:

  1. Wow, I feel so lucky. We get to watch the goldfinches year round. I just love that connection to nature.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also have BPPV and I find it alarming and debilitating. I wish I had the large number of birds in common with you instead of BPPV. I love birds and want to attract them, but over the years as surrounding gardens are demolished to make way for larger houses the birds are fewer and fewer, espcially the small ones I used to see. Now I do get brightly coloured parrots. Also crows and wattlebirds who seem to be competing for scarce resources.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry you are stuck with that condition, that doesn't sound fun at all. :( I agree that birds are worth looking up for, although I don't have to withstand so much discomfort to do so. Perfect shot of the goldfinch and its iron (?) partner on the feeder. I remember those birds coming to my grandfather's feeder when I was a kid but I never see them now. Wonder why.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Susan,
    I'm lucky too...like Michelle. They are plentiful here year round, and they are a very bright yellow when they molt during the warmer months. I hope you can continue to enjoy the birds and overcome your medical problem. Take care, Jan

    ReplyDelete
  5. Catmint--I'm so sorry to hear that the BPPV has been so troublesome to you. How long have you had it? I know my first year was the hardest. After that, I wasn't as bothered by it, even though I was triggering it eight or nine times a day. I remember realizing one day that some people pay good money to get the same effect at amusement parks. After that, I tried to be amused by it. However, I never got nauseous--is that happening to you? If so, geez, that's rough.

    One thing that seemed to help me was swimming. Maybe the motion of turning my head repeatedly settled the calcium deposits in a different location. Could you talk to your doctor about that?

    Now, fortunately, I might go for a whole month without setting it off.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Michelle--Then you must see them in their breeding plumage. I've only had that treat a couple of times. So pretty!

    Karen--Isn't that a fun shot? They look as if they are staring at each other. And as for the vertigo, it really isn't much of a bother--it passes after a few seconds.

    Tina--Thanks!

    Jan--Thanks for your comment. Sometimes toward the end of the winter season, some males will start to show a little breeding plumage before they leave. It is always so lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The photo is very amusing - both birds look as if they are communing in some way :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your words in this post are beautiful, poetry really.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh . . . poetic. Great photo too. The Goldfinch looks as though he's pondering the iron bird. Goldfinches come to Oklahoma too in the winter, and then they leave in spring. I don't know if I ever told you, but my mom had a terrible car accident almost 20 years ago. It changed her life and everyone else's around her. I think she's had 30 surgeries in the ensuing years.~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Susan, you are a real soldier to keep waiting for the goldfinches! I had a paralyzing dizzy spell, literally could not move at all, the spinning was so bad, after being shot in the ear at close range by the ocillating sprinkler with a hard spray of water the day before. That was several months ago, and it finally straightened itself out, but was the scariest thing that has even happened to me. I hope your spells are less violent, it seems they must be, for you to continue functioning, somewhat. Your bird shots are superb, and story telling matches.
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  11. EzG--It is true, isn't it? They do seem to be communing.

    Kim--Thanks for such a lovely compliment!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dee--It certainly changed my life. It forced me to take time consider my priorities and values, and how I wanted to spend my days here on Earth. My husband and I also felt such love from our friends, neighbors, and family--they took such good care of us for a long time after that as we recovered.

    It was a terrible, terrible thing that I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I certainly wouldn't want to go through again. But it was also a gift.

    I am sorry to hear that your mother has had to endure so many surgeries. I wish her and your family the best.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Frances--Paralyzing and terrifying is the perfect way to describe it! The first month or so I was completely distressed by it.

    Did you get the nystagmus--where your eyes flit around as if you are possessed? I turned it into a party trick for my friends and neighbors. I'd say, "Watch this!" and lean my head back to start the room spinning. Then I'd open my eyes and let everyone watch them flying around. Lots of squeals!

    Thankfully, it has gotten a lot better in the past couple of years. Now it mainly bothers me when I am tired, stressed, or about to come down with something. Plus, I'm a lot more relaxed about it when it happens, so I think that helps ameliorate the condition.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Susan I can hear your celebration of life in every word you write. I paused to look at your birdie looking at the feeder birdie. What a great shot and once in a life-time moments.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anna--I was lucky to get that shot, wasn't I?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi there Susan :-)

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful image of your goldfinch - they are quite different from ours in the UK. Yours really are quite golden! Sorry to hear about your condition. I guess its more a case of managing it now :-)

    Thanks too for faving me on Blotanical - will get over there soon but still having PC probs.

    Have a good week :-D

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, I found you via Blotanical. I'm hopping around your blog reading some old stuff, some new stuff. Love your banner; if that's your yard, it is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  18. A number of years ago, a little neighbor boy in the back was calling for his dad, but the house was dark, and there was no adult in sight. My husband was out mowing, so he came in and told me to go check on the boy. I put a bucket by the fence and stepped up to climb over it, but the bucket fell, and I did too.

    Shortly after that, I started getting dizzy when bending over. I was diagnosed with benign positional vertigo. I was given exercises I refused to do, because it involved bending over, and I really could not take the dizziness. I had this for a few years, and then it gradually faded away.

    I did not know that other movements could trigger it. Since yours was caused by an injury, I imagine it may not be as likely to go away. I hope it eases up for you, though. (I just decided to read your other comments, and see it doesn't bother you as much as it used to. I'm sorry catmint, if you're following the comments still, that you are having problems with it.)

    I love this bird photo. It's one for a frame!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi again, Susan, goodness, what a calm person you are to be able to use something like the eye movement of a dizzy spell as a party trick! I am way too high strung, or tightly wound as some would say, to be that relaxed about it. But mine was a one time deal, I so hope. Your writing is incredible, BTW.
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nancy--Calm? Hah! My Dh would be amused to hear that!

    As for the vertigo, however, the doctor told me I'd probably always have it, so I decided I'd better re-frame my thinking about it, or be very unhappy indeed. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Frances--oops! Don't know why I wrote "Nancy." Call me middle-aged...;-)

    ReplyDelete