Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My shitty glove hand has a name: Exotropia

I've got a ton of real work to do today, so I'll just do a brain dump from my eye doc appointment.

First of all, she was awesome and I'll never see another eye doc as long as I live in Houston. The other guy I was going to was such a hack... Thanks for the recommendation, Fred!

Second of all, any time you have your eye doctor saying, "Yeah, that's REALLY off" you know you're in for it.

Turns out I have Exotropia, which means my eyes point outward rather than pulling inward to focus on the same thing at once. This means that basically I only see with one eye at a time, particularly at a distance. I can converge images a bit better at near distances.

Also, my right eye is much more dominant, and what the brain does, instead of giving me double vision, is basically just shut out the image I'm getting from my left eye.

So, think about that: Someone's shooting on me from the right circle but to my far (glove/left) side, I start off tracking it with my dominant right eye, and then somehow have to shift my vision to the left eye in the fraction of a second that it takes for the puck to travel to my net.

Yeahhhh, not exactly a recipe for a save, right? Any wonder a great glove save takes my breath away. It seems like magic to me!

On top of that, there's a secondary condition of my eyes not seeing at the same height. So one is pointing low and wide and one is pointing high and wide.

She said that the brain naturally prefers binocular vision, so it will try its hardest to merge the images, but for me, the eye muscles are pulling so hard in basically opposite directions, that any disruption to my visual attachment to the puck sends me all walleyed again.

It occurred to me on the way home that even the bars on my (certified) cage are enough to cause that to happen, so quick movements in close around my net are just a jumble of visual confusion. Throw in defensemen and opponents and sticks and it's chaos trying to sort out where the puck is and its trajectory.

And perhaps this explains my violent reaction to screens. Somewhere in my physiology, I KNOW that this person in my field of view is making my job nearly impossible. And they. must. pay. I may see about getting a doctors note allowing me to nut screeners without reproach. ;)

I told her that I felt like I could see better blocker side than glove side and she said that made total sense since my strong eye is already sort of wanting to turn blocker side anyway, so my vision is good that way. But crossing all of that over, and my non-dominant eye pointing glove side, is always going to be a struggle tracking the puck to that side.

What's next?

Well, she said my exotropia is so severe that she's not sure vision therapy will fix it. I've adapted so much in my normal life that untraining that and training something new will be very difficult.

She did, however, give me some exercises to do to try and get my eye muscles behaving at least a little better. So I'll be working on those diligently (they give me an eyestrain headache a little bit, but I can deal with that if it helps in the long run) and hope they help out at least a bit.

Bottom line in my mind is that while this may be a limiting factor in some saves, there are certainly workarounds. Playing with good positioning--angle and depth and lateral movement--I can be a decent blocking goalie. Making good decisions with my stick, covering holes, staying square... all those things will stop a lot of pucks.

Having my glove out and forward, maybe not in the right place, but just OUT somewhere when I can see a shot is coming glove side, may be as good as it gets for me for that kind of save, until I learn to read the puck off the stick better and just get a feel for where the puck is going to go in relation to my glove.

Tracking a puck bouncing around in my crease is also hard, but still something that if I can stay mobile and stay square, I can deal with that.

So really, while I'm kinda jealous of all those goalies out there with normal binocular vision, I'm pretty happy to know what's going on and have a plan in place. I otherwise have terrific uncorrected vision for my age and healthy eyes, so I'm very thankful for that. So I let a few pucks in... it's not life or death and hey, it makes a skater happy, right?

Ahhh, okay, I can't even pretend that I like happy skaters. Suck it, skaters!

But still, it's all about perspective, right?


Okay, worky time. Drop-in tonight, though my knee is finally starting to feel better, which kinda makes me wish I didn't have drop-in tonight so it could heal up for another few days. Oh well. Maybe there at least won't be an audience tonight. Last week, they'd just finished a public skate and the mall was open late for last minute shoppers, so we had quite a crowd watching us!

The only time it bothered me a little was when someone started banging on the glass behind my net. That was a first, and kind of a cool "pro moment" if you'll grant me that indulgence. But I recall thinking, "Wow, that is pretty distracting!"

So, you Aeros fans down behind the opposing net... bang away!


artandhockey  December 29, 2009 at 2:14 PM  

Oh my dear, now that you've posted this out there, all YOUR enemies will be aiming at the 'poor sight, ahem, side of you!
Just kidding, as you know me well enough, I hope, by now!
It's that d..n Galgenhumor which is inherent to most Viennese! After all whereelse in the world do you find people glorifying 'A schaine Laich'-roughly translated 'a beautiful corpse-meaning funeral'!
Keep on exercising and you WILL (!) overcome and stop the pucks from all sides!

Ms. Conduct  December 29, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

Oh trust me, there are any number of ways to easily score on me. Glove is only one of them. And they've all figured that out. Pick the left corner from pretty much anywhere, and it's a goal. Augh.

artandhockey  December 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

I don't believe you, really, you are much too involved in goaliedom! No need to hide your talents.
Off to San Antonio (again-groan) manana..Rampage/Crunch Game and celebration of 2010....
AND Ironman and Dimples's ways to AHL fame!
Any reason for hoisting a glass or two! Will toast on your behalf as well....;-D

Fred Trask  December 29, 2009 at 9:27 PM  

LOL at the thought of scoring oh H. :-)

Flat out Dr. Wedemeyer is AWESOME!!! Best eye Dr in the whole world. I've gone to her for years both with and without insurance. She's in Missouri City, I'm in Cypress. No big deal I'm making the drive from hell. She's THAT good.

Sorry to hear that your eyes are that messed up but if anyone can help, it's Dr. Wedemeyer. It may also make you a BETTER goalie position wise to compensate.

Maybe you need to adapt like a lobster. Turret eyes that go all over and one claw larger that the other. Yeah that's be one sexy goalie!

Oh and I'm pissed (ok, not really) that I didn't get a call right after your appointment was over.

Sweet new office she's got too huh!
And the entire staff are angels.

Fred Trask  December 29, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

I can hear the new chants now - He shoots, he Scores, hey goalie, you got Exotropia or something?

6 goals later the crowd chants Exotropia Exotropia Exotropia instead of Sieve Sieve Sieve.

CatTrick  December 30, 2009 at 11:29 AM  

LOL Fred!!! Hang in there, Ms. Conduct!!!

Ms. Conduct  December 30, 2009 at 11:57 AM  

I thought about calling you, Fred, but didn't want to bother you at work. And when I read this, I remembered that you're OFF! Damn. Shoulda called.

She was fantastic though, and pretty surprised I think at how much I've adapted (lobster like) to such an extreme case.

Reminds me, I need to do my "exercises". Lots of staring at fingers and pictures and trying to cross my eyes. Weird.

Anonymous  January 25, 2010 at 3:51 PM  

for exotropia get some surgery. i avoided it for a long time, then was surprised to find out what a minor procedure it is. vision therapy is ineffective (quacks). think about how much harder it is to get board-certified in ophthalmology than get optometry degree...

Ms. Conduct  January 25, 2010 at 3:57 PM  

Well, doc said surgery probably wouldn't work for me. Though I suppose I could get a second opinion at some point. It's not prohibitive in anything but goaltending though, so I'm not sure I want to go under the knife just for that, you know? Most of my goals against are due to mental lapses and not the exotropia.

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