Commentary #12: The Woman Who Was Desperate To Become Blind (Body Integrity Identity Disorder)

I saw this story on one of my local TV stations’ websites on a Thursday afternoon. My eyes went wide; I couldn’t believe the headline:

Woman desperate to be blind had drain cleaner poured in her eyes, now happier than ever

Desperate to be blind?

Having drain cleaner poured in her eyes?

Happier than ever?!

I read the brief article, and then I immediately wanted to search for more. I wanted to try to make sense of this disorder that this woman had: Body integrity identity disorder, or BIID, for short.

These are the links I found when I Googled her name and BIID:

Her name is Jewel, and she’s 30-years-old. She wanted to be blind since she was six-years-old. She “felt comfortable” thinking about being blind.

According to Jewel, a psychologist helped her become blind – This person administered numbing eye drops first, then a couple of drops of drain cleaner in each eye.

It took about 18 months for the full effect. She has no contact with her mother and sister; she lied to them initially about how she went blind.

Despite some of her immediately family cutting all ties with her, Jewel says she has no regrets, and she wants to help others who are blind to live independent lives.


After reading these articles, I sat in my chair, stunned. I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Jewel insisted in her interview that she doesn’t think she’s crazy – She has a disorder. In addition, she says went public with her story to raise awareness of BIID and encourage those with BIID or suspecting that they have BIID, to seek professional help.

I immediately wanted to learn more about BIID. Thank God for the Internet!

I shared this strange topic with my friend Justin. He searched it as well and came up with this case:

David was desperate to remove his leg. He tried every method to amputate it himself. Finally, feeling helpless and feeling like there was nowhere else to turn, he called his best friend. His best friend was empathetic, telling David, ‘” … there was something in my eyes the whole time I was growing up … it looked like I had pain in my eyes, like there was something I wasn’t telling him.'”

According to this article, the first modern account of BIID came to light in 1977. A paper was published on “apotemnophilia,” or the desire to be an amputee.

And more stories and articles have been published since then. The following list contains a mix of scholarly articles, feature pieces, and resources.


Even though BIID is a relatively new condition, a lot of literature is out there. Many people have told their story. It is bizarre and strange, don’t get me wrong, but I have started to have a better understanding of this condition and this disorder. I have learned a lot by researching this topic for this post.

In first reading about Jewel, the North Carolina woman who wanted to be blind for over 20 years, she encouraged those suffering to seek professional help. That I definitely agree with.

These days, the stigma of “seeing a shrink” or seeing a therapist, etc., is slowly going away. I myself see a counselor on a regular basis. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) earlier this year. I wasn’t ashamed – In reality, I was relieved. I knew that I had been suffering, and I knew it was more than stress. Yes, I have a “label,” but I’m happy that I know what is wrong and how I can help myself. I’m also learning more about myself – My triggers, how to disconnect to calm myself down, how to make my “episodes” shorter and shorter, and so on. I’m very grateful that I’m not on medication to treat GAD, but I realize there are people who depend on medication every day to treat their conditions and disorders, and that’s definitely okay too. I’ve found myself to be a researcher and a reader on GAD, educating myself.

Back to Jewel – I’m happy that she wants to work with other blind people. She’s using her disorder to reach out to others and help them. I think that’s a wonderful thing. Her story is certainly strange, but I want to see her reach that goal. I hope the media does some sort of follow-up story in the future – I want to see her make good on her encouragement.


On the other hand, Jewel has received criticism as well. Those who advocate for the disabled and the blind have spoken out, saying that Jewel’s desire to become blind is like a slap in the face to those who were born blind or became blind from accidents or illnesses.

I understand that. I can understand that those who have desired to become amputees have also likely received criticism from people who work with amputees, and those who have lost limbs at or before birth, in accidents, from illnesses, from war, and so on.


What do you think? Did you know about BIID before reading this post?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Advertisements

Adventure Time: Richmond, VA Edition (Round 5)

Image Credit: Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

We had a spectacular weekend in Richmond!

A decision was made to come up with a solid plan and make it happen.

We wanted to get together in October, and this get-together started with a conversation about the concept of Escape Rooms.

After some research, Laser Quest came into the picture. Then, thanks to Justin, we found out about the Key Quest Escape Room. Turns out, Laser Quest and the Key Quest Escape Room are in the same building!

We knew we wanted to go to Mama J’s for one meal, and then Bottoms Up came into the conversation.

In planning the weekend, I offered to call the places and make any reservations that I could. Mama J’s doesn’t take any reservations, so it was decided that we would arrive right as they opened for the day.

That weekend, Laser Quest was offering a Triple Play event, where we could play three games, back-to-back, for $20 per person.

And then the Key Quest Escape Room was only $15 per person. Not too shabby!

I was able to make the Laser Quest and Key Quest Escape Room reservations on the same day, and in the same phone call! Score!!


Al and I arrived at Drew’s around 9:30 on Saturday morning, October 10th. Drew, Justin, and Heaven greeted us. Katie arrived shortly thereafter. We split up into my car and Drew’s mom car, and we were off to Mama J’s.

Clockwise, from far left: Drew, Justin, Heaven, Laura Beth, Al, and Katie. Image Credit: Drew Brink

Waiting for awesome Mama J’s food! Clockwise, from far left: Drew, Justin, Heaven, Laura Beth, Al, and Katie.
Image Credit: Drew Brink

We had a Halloween theme for Saturday. Drew wore his shirt with all of the classic horror movie characters. Justin wore a shirt that had the character Gasai Yuno on it from the anime “Mirai Nikki (Future Diary in English).” Heaven won the day: She had on her reversible Nightmare Before Christmas hoodie, plus some awesome barrettes and bows in her hair. I wore my Longwood Oktoberfest 2010 shirt. Katie wore her Steelers jacket, but underneath she had the Baltimore Ravens shirt that Justin bought for her for our Kings Dominion adventure.

At Mama J’s, we stuffed ourselves silly with amazing soul food: Fried chicken, pork chops that were smothered and covered, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and some of the most amazing cake!


After lunch, we headed over to Laser Quest. We were early, so we hung out and waited for our first start time. Shortly after we arrived, one of the employees saw us sitting and asked if we were the party of six 🙂

For Triple Play, we had signed up for three games, back-to-back. It was awesome!

The first game was the best – It had the least amount of people. You can have up to 32 people play a round. The first game had maybe 10 people total!

The second game was a little bigger. The third game almost filled the arena – There were birthday parties cycling in and out all afternoon.

Having bets or agreements between members of this group is becoming tradition. With football season in full swing, there was a NFL bet on the line. Justin, Katie, and I had our team shirts and our rival shirts packed. It was a battle for first place.

I ended up wearing my Denver shirt on Sunday. Justin bested me by almost 1,000 points! It was still fun though. Running around, shooting your friends with lasers? Awesome!


We then headed to downtown Richmond for dinner at Bottoms Up. We parked across from the canal. Walking in, we saw the silver line – The silver line of paint marking six feet, two inches. This was the height of the floodwaters that Hurricane Gaston blew into the restaurant! Fortunately, they rebuilt and reopened to serve some of the best pizza!

Everyone got something a little different, but all equally delicious. My “slice” was technically a quarter of a whole pizza! I tried to eat it all, but couldn’t. The leftovers were just as good on Sunday night though!


We had some time to kill before going back to LQ for the Escape Room experience. It was chilly, but the canal was right there, so we explored a little bit!

Al and Laura Beth :) Image Credit: Drew Brink

Al and Laura Beth 🙂
Image Credit: Drew Brink

Katie and Drew :) Image Credit: Drew Brink

Katie and Drew 🙂
Image Credit: Drew Brink

Justin and Heaven :) Image Credit: Drew Brink

Justin and Heaven 🙂
Image Credit: Drew Brink

It was interesting to see the history markers and walk a different part of Richmond. We discovered that there are boat tours, so that was added to the list for next time!

Hey, look at the camera, quick! Image Credit: Drew Brink

Hey, look at the camera, quick!
Image Credit: Drew Brink


We got back in the cars and headed back to Laser Quest for the big event of the weekend: Key Quest Escape Room.

We knew the basics – The six of us would be locked in a room together for up to an hour, and we had to solve a series of clues and puzzles to escape. If we solved everything before time was up, we would be winners!

The theme for us was “The Basement.”

It was disorienting at first – We were blindfolded and led into the room in a line, holding on to each other’s shoulders. Then, we had to listen to a recording for our first instructions and clues. After that, we took off our blindfolds and realized that the room was very dimly lit, making it difficult to see things and solve the clues and puzzles.

Those 45 minutes we had – It flew by! There was a timer running, and when it beeped, we knew were done.

We had a walkie-talkie where we could call a team member for one clue.

It was a tough challenge – Tougher than most of us thought.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to “escape” before time was up. But, it was a good experience overall. We were dissecting it in the cars on the way home, later that night, the next day, and even a couple of days afterward!


When we got back to Drew’s, we put on Dracula Untold. I hadn’t seen it. Unfortunately, I missed most of it too – I kept falling asleep. We were planning to play some games, but after the movie ended, we decided to call it a night and play the games in the morning.


On Sunday morning, five of the six of us were up early. Drew’s mom made us an amazing breakfast – Cinnamon rolls, biscuits, sausage, bacon. Yum!!

After Drew got up and ate, we settled in for a lively game of Munchkin. We easily killed several hours. It was full of monsters, fights, a little bit of backstabbing, and twists and turns. Heaven was the winner!

Once we cleaned up Munchkin, Drew and Katie were talking (actually, raving) about The Cookie Monster Cafe, a local place about 15 minutes from Drew’s house. We headed there for lunch. It was an excellent decision. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich and house-made onion rings! And they had Nantucket Nectars, an amazing line of juices! We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the hometown feel.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes as Al and I headed home. Justin and Heaven headed back to Drew’s.  The original plan was for them to watch the Broncos (Justin’s team) play the Raiders, but since we’re in Virginia, the Patriots game was aired instead (Boooooooo!)

So, instead of football, they watched Criminal Minds, a show that many of us have watched over the years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been on the air for 10 years now! I also heard that Cards Against Humanity was played, at some point, after Heaven headed home.

Katie also texted me a photo of Justin – He was wearing his Steelers shirt, Packers shorts, Broncos necklace, and drinking from his Ravens tumbler with the purple crazy straw.


It was a fantastic weekend. My question: Where has 2015 gone?

We look forward to more adventures – Our wedding in a few weeks, then getting together for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, and then ringing in 2016 with a new Secret Santa gift exchange!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #11: “Keys, Cash, Passports: Nine Everyday Objects That Are About To Disappear”

Image Credit: cnn.com

Karmid Rashid, author of the CNN Style article. Image Credit: cnn.com

“I love the fact that very often the most everyday objects take on another level of importance.” ~Nick Veasey


While perusing CNN.com around the end of September (It’s part of my daily routine), this article caught my eye:

Keys, Cash, Passports: Nine Everyday Objects That Are About To Disappear

I was so intrigued by this article. I first saw it at lunchtime on a Wednesday, and I sat at my desk and read it straight through. Then, I went back and read it again.

I kept going back to it, and for me, that’s a pretty good sign I should write about something.


Here’s my take on Karmid’s list. Enjoy, and let me know what you think! I love reading your comments.

Keys and money

I find the whole fingerprint identification thing very interesting. I’ve seen it on the new smartphones, in place of typing a numerical password. That, I agree with!

However, I don’t think keys will become obsolete, at least not in the near future. I personally very much appreciate having deadbolts to lock at home and work; that makes me feel safe.

Money – Now that’s another story. I’ve watched cash, in particular, become obsolete with my own generation. For me, however, I still carry cash. I give myself a small cash allowance after every paycheck. Plus, I always get extra cash before I travel, for emergencies.

I have a ceramic bank, shaped like a frog, that I painted at a local paint-your-own-pottery place several years ago, and I enjoy filling Froggy up with coins. It’s interesting to see how much I save. Over the last few years, I’ve rolled and wrapped around $120 in change almost every year. I haven’t filled Froggy to the brim in 2015 just yet, but I think it’s gonna happen soon.

Verdict:

Keys – Not going obsolete

Money – Going obsolete, for some

Bottled water

I carry Tervis Tumblers with me wherever I go. I very rarely drink bottled water, anymore. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of water! We use the Brita filters at work, and there’s a pitcher in Mom and Dad’s fridge.

Verdict: Going obsolete

Passports and eyeglasses

This post is reminding me to update my passport (It’s probably been 10 years, or more, since the last update), although I’ll probably wait until I officially change my last name in about a month and a half. It’ll be easier that way.

This also reminds me of how people are going paperless with every single fucking thing, particularly travel documents. When Al and I were going through the airports back and forth to Florida in January, I was amazed at how many people used their phones to pull up their boarding passes. For me, I’ve always used paper, and I always will use paper. Seeing both the passengers and the airport security people struggle to scan the boarding passes on the phones was enough proof for me!

In terms of eyeglasses, I wear them. I also have contact lenses, but with my job requiring a computer all day long, I can only wear the contacts on the weekends. Several people I know have had LASIK surgery, and my own eye doctor thought I would be a good candidate. However, I don’t mind having my glasses and contacts. As long as I have my vision, I’m good.

In general, though, I think eyeglasses will eventually be replaced. However, given that I know so many people who use them, I don’t think it will be anytime soon.

Verdict:

Passports – Not going obsolete

Eyeglasses – Going obsolete, eventually

Parking meters

I observed this while in Richmond with Al and our friends last weekend. Instead of the traditional feed the meter with loose change, I had the option of swiping my credit card or inserting cash into this kiosk. Once I paid my $5.00, the machine spit out a receipt that I put on my dashboard that was good until 1:20 a.m.

Personally, thank goodness. I have a film canister with loose change in my car in case I run into the traditional meter, but honestly, where I live, there are far more parking garages and lots that charge more than a handful of change. We watched our wedding photographer, unfortunately, get a ticket from one of the traditional meters after our engagement photo session, but that’s the only instance that I can think of that’s happened with a traditional coin meter in recent memory.

Verdict: Going obsolete, definitely

Buttons and pockets

I agree with Karmid, in a way – I like my clothes to have a little stretch, be minimal, and be super comfortable. I see his reasoning that if keys, passports, and cash go obsolete, then there’s little need for pockets.

However, I bring in the cargo pants debate here. In the last few months, the media kind of exploded with the thought that men should ditch the cargo pants and shorts once and for all …

Not me! All of the shorts that Al owns have cargo pockets, and damn, they are the best things EVER! It’s perfect when I don’t want to bring my purse somewhere (Not often, but hey), and he holds my keys or phone that way. The perfect scenario is amusement parks! If I drive, I can give my keys, phone, and essential things from my wallet to him, and they’re safe and protected in those pockets!

And then for the ladies, it’s been nice to discover some dresses that have built-in pockets, too!

For buttons, there are days where I wish they weren’t around. I’ve had to re-sew many in my time (So fucking annoying!) There’s gotta be a better way. Zippers and those little slide doohickeys work for me; that’s why I’ve kept my black dress pants around for so long!

Verdict:

Pockets – Not going obsolete

Buttons – Not going obsolete

Furniture

Karmid’s brief explanation about this sounded completely off-the-wall, straight out of a sci-fi script.

There’s too much money in furniture for it to go obsolete, period.

Besides, furniture has been considered art for, well, forever. It can do so much for a space.

There is such a thing as too much, but it’s definitely not going away.

Personally, I’m excited to get our own house to find the perfect furniture for it!

Verdict: Not going obsolete


In response, here’s a few everyday objects that I think are going obsolete:

  1. Nail polish – I love the Jamberry nail wraps! Sure, it’s a bit more time-consuming, but they’re so pretty with the seemingly endless designs, and they last so much longer than regular mani-pedis! And, did I mention they’re cheaper?
  2. Regular soap – Good gracious. I feel like everything is anti-bacterial now. There’s so much hand sanitizer. I carry it with me, but I try to have a balance. I don’t want to kill the good germs!
  3. Printed photos – I personally love filling frames with printed photos. Nowadays, there are less cameras, and mostly phones. Most photos are stored on Facebook. I love photo canvases, but having a variety of frames is fun too.
  4. DVDs – Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube. I rest my case.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂