Aging Macular Degeneration

So it is now five months since I first agreed to let an ophthalmologist stick not one, but two needles in my eye. And I’ve let him do it once a month ever since. At the very beginning, it was downright frightening if that’s worse than scary. I don ‘t wear glasses, I cannot put drops in my own eyes without getting physically sick and I certainly don’t let anything near or in my eyes. Heck, I even object to how close the face mask comes to my eyes and am convinced an irritation I had a couple of weeks ago was the direct result of wearing the mask and breathing. So the idea of appearing in this doctor’s office every month to let him stick a needle in my eye was at first simply beyond comprehension. But I sat and considered. I talked to my daughter and son. I cried, I screamed, I ran around the house like a madwoman. I got out a lot of anger and angst. So then I could think a little more reasonably. Of course there was an alternative. I could simply say thanks, but no thanks. But there was no doubt about it. The Aging Macular Degeneration I had in one eye was at a fierce level as it was. The doctor explained he would not be able to cure that. Though it happened literally overnight, unusual but not impossible, it was really bad and would only get worse. Worse. That means make me see even less. Blindness. In one eye. Unfixable. For the rest of my life. Nope, I couldn’t live with that either. OK, Doctor, I’ll be there, I’ll be praying to St. Lucy the whole time, the patron saint of eyes and persons who are blind, and I will be praying that you, Doctor, have steady eyes, great eyesight, and have had a good night’s sleep and feel relaxed. OK, I’ll do it and commit to doing it every month you tell me to. Armed with all those prayers, all the self-confidence I could muster up, offering it all up to make up for the bad things I’ve done in my life, I ventured into the office for my first shot! Technicians do so much before you even get to see the doctor. They take pictures, dilate your eyes so they can check for everything from cataracts to glaucoma and anything in between, take measurements, have me sign that I agree to the injection and off I go from their several offices to the doctor. Even then I had to admit they all gave me confidence. They were pleasant and friendly, they acted like they knew what they were doing and they really liked their jobs. They even explained every step of everything they were doing when I said I wanted to know what was going on as we went along. Everybody doesn’t, they explained, but so long as you asked, sure, we’ll explain. By the time I got into the doctor’s office, complete with his desk and computer so he could review everything that had been done, I was slightly less tense. Sitting talking to him for a few minutes made me even less tense. By the time we got to his saying, “so, are you ready?” Yes, I was really ready. It’s a quick procedure, though there is time between the time he numbed my eye…of course with a needle…to ensure the numbing took. He covered my left eye with a gauze pad, whether to keep me from seeing what he was doing or to keep him from seeing sheer terror, I’m not sure. But in a way, it was a comfort. Like his technicians, at my request, he explained everything along the way. And that was it! He wiped my eye, complimented me on staying calm and told me he’d see me in a month. I went home, laid down for a few minutes simply to reassess what had happened, and to get my sight back to my new normal with the wearing off of the dilating drops and that was it. By the next day, it was a thing of the past. The second month was even better. Same routine, same technicians, same confidence in an eye surgeon who certainly is not only adept at his work but seems thrilled to help people. It got even better when he told me there was a slight improvement, something he liked but had not expected. That’s all I needed to hear to be certain I made my appointment for the third shot a month later. And so it went. The third visit also showed a slight improvement; heck, I was delighted in the fact nothing had gotten any worse. He could see from all the eye tests, but I also told me everything still looked cloudy, I couldn’t recognize peoples’ faces, (but I was getting better at voice recognition) and telephone poles, candles, fence posts, building columns, all looked crooked, bent towards the left. My friend in Utah who is an artist was outstanding help. Actually, without meaning to, she also made me feel very sheepish for my fears. She had AMD for years, she told me, but she continued to follow her dreams as the artist she is. Yes, she used a ruler some time to be sure her trees were straight, and yes, she covered branches of her trees with lots of leaves. And when her AMD gets worse, as she knows it will, she smiled and said she would just start drawing and painting flowers. She’s doing that now, and has some spectacular artwork for sale online all the time. The fourth visit was downright easy. I knew what was going to be happening, knew the doctor was so precise and careful, knew he would answer all of my questions, and knew it would be over in a second. Between the fourth and fifth visits, I began to notice a couple of other things. At Christmas time, the wreath on the altar with four candles looked like it had eight. The six tall candles at the top of the altar looked like 12 candles sometimes. The wreath was gone after the Christmas season, but the six candles still looked like 12 most of the time. By the fourth shot, I was only seeing six candles every day. Sure, they were still crooked, but here were only six. Only Six Crooked Candles. About a week before my fifth visit this week, I also noticed something else. One morning the candles were straight! Standing up there on the altar proud as they could be. The next morning, they were there again, tall, skinny white candles, everyone of them straight up. It happened every day so by eye injection day, I was really eager to go in and tell the doctor that even I could see improvement. He checked all the tests, checked all the charts, and there was no doubt about it. One more month, and one more Improvement. That shot that day actually even felt pretty good! Hours later, I kept an appointment to share cocktails with some good friends at the Proving Ground in Highlands. No, you’re never going to have perfect eyesight, the doctor told me. Yes, you are making some improvements because of the injections. And yes, we have been successful in halting any further damage so far. Yes, taking AREDS2 capsules once a day is a good thing, yes, your new diet heavy on greens, seafood, and olive oil and nuts is a good thing, and yes, having a positive attitude certainly appears to be helping. So yes, I’ll see you in another month for your six injection. And that works fine for me!


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