Tunnel Vision

Laser Focus

When we deal with chronic health issues it is easy to acquire tunnel vision. Our peripheral vision is lost and we have laser focus on what is wrong with us. It is important that we step back and look at the big picture. Remind ourselves of everything that is right with us. A switch in focus like this can make a huge difference in our mental well-being and our overall thought process towards healing.

This week my dad said, “I wish I had a dad magic wand for fixing the things I can’t.” He was referring to my chronic back issue and pain. On February 1st of this year, three of my lower vertebrae herniated. It is now more than seven months since that day and no significant progress has been made. I am unable to take pain medicine because it affected my pancreas. As a transplant recipient, I can’t take anti-inflammatory medicines. When taking muscle relaxers, it induced seizures. My only option of temporary relief is icing my back. I told my dad, “I have no intention of quitting now. I look forward to when I can say, ‘Remember in 2013, when I HAD those back issues?’ I’m hoping that ‘this too shall pass.’ I have a lot more hiking and adventuring to do.” Unfortunately, there is no magic wand in life. We must create our own individual cocktails for success. For each of us will need different ingredients to empower us, and enable us to be as healthy and happy as possible.

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” – Jonathan Swift


I had an MRI done this past Saturday morning. My doctors want to compare it to the one taken in February to see if anything has changed before they administer a third cortisone shot. I went in very relaxed and open-minded as I am looking forward to getting answers so we can take action and move in the direction of me feeling well. I always enjoy ‘people watching’ and taking in my surroundings. You can learn a lot from others. As I sat in the MRI waiting room, there was an elderly couple sitting across from me. The husband was talking to his wife about his upcoming MRI. We made eye contact and smiled at each other. He then said to his wife, “I hope we get good results because I have a lot more living to do.” My eyes became moist as I was overcome with emotion. This touched me as I shared the same sentiments.

After the MRI, I proceeded to get my monthly blood work drawn. I sat in the lab waiting room anticipating my name to be called. A door opened and an elderly man walked out with gauze wrapped around his arm. He walked over to an elderly woman sitting behind me. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw him hold both of his hands out to help her out of the chair. It took a bit of effort to get her on her feet. When she stood next to him she gave him an endearing smile and said, “We are quite a pair.” Once again, I became misty eyed. It was such genuine love and wonderful to see them happy together regardless of the circumstances.

Tunnel Vision

By expanding my focus on my surroundings, I was inspired multiple times on my adventure to the hospital for my MRI and blood work. As the automatic hospital doors opened, I felt lucky to be exiting the hospital. I looked up towards the sky, closed my eyes, took in a deep cleansing breath and smiled as I felt the warmth of the sun against my skin. I reminded myself of what Noah told me this week. He said, “You live your life extraordinarily. It is either extraordinarily beautiful or extraordinarily challenging, but never normal.”

Embrace how extraordinary you are. If you feel you have tunnel vision when it comes to your chronic health issues, expand your vision. Celebrate all that is right with you. Be thankful for today.

What helps you to expand your tunnel vision? What ingredients make up your cocktail for success?


  1. Tina

    Ironically, it was a ruptured disc in my back that lead to my PKD diagnosis. While I know that your issues are far more complex then mine were/are, I do know that having the back surgery was the best decision I could have made.
    I spent 6 months in pt, getting injections, rest, etc. Everyone warned me about having surgery and that it would lead to bigger problems?! How much bigger could they get? I was in constant pain.
    The morning I woke up from surgery, the pain was instantly gone! Best of luck to you and your back!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Tina,
      There are silver linings to everything. 🙂 I share your same sentiments and thank you for sharing this encouraging news with me. I seem to be at the point that you were. It has been around seven months. I am getting my third cortisone shot today. I believe surgery will be the next route. As always, I am willing to do whatever is necessary to feel well again. I am so happy to hear that your pain is gone. Wishing you the best!

  2. kim owens

    just wanted you to know that you will be in my prayers for your back issues…thank you for this beautiful post. Your sentiments are so perfect. My hubby has PKD and we have had such a tough go for several years then a few bumpy ones with the Transplanted kidney. Blessed to have calm seas right now…take good care.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Kim,
      Thank you for your support and prayers. I hope those bumpy roads are all in your rear-view mirror and there are smooth roads to come for the two of you. Take good care.

  3. Amy Dixon

    I try to dwell on the good parts of life too, and try to cheer people up!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Amy,
      That is fantastic! You rock! 🙂


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