You've Come a Long Way Baby!

As I sliced celery stalks and green peppers into strips for snacks and placed them in a cup of water for easy access in the refrigerator, I laughed out loud and actually enjoyed the sound of my own merry self.

You’ve come a long way in nine months when you first found out you were going blind, I laughed.

And indeed, I have.

I remember nine months ago when the ophthalmologist first told me I had Aging Macular Degeneration and it had developed so fast and was so advanced that he did not think the injections he was proposing would do anything. Maybe, he said, he could halt any further damage, but he did not think he could make it any better.

I did not take the news very well. After all, the day before I called the doctor I was fine. It was when I thought the window in my bedroom was streaked with pelting rain the next morning and it was a sunshiny day, that I knew something was wrong. But even at that, I thought it was something temporary, maybe a cold in my eye, or a slight infection. I never though of AMD or it not being able to be cured.

So, I did what any octogenarian with a full life, a life dependent on reading, driving, traveling, being independent, working, writing and more, would do. I went ballistic!

I didn’t cry, I screamed. I didn’t sob, I yelled. I didn’t sit quietly and ponder what’s next, I ran around the house, screaming, crying, yelling, not believing, not comprehending. Not even thinking I’m not the only one. It was only after I did research that I learned AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. But I wasn’t thinking of that then. I was just thinking my life was changing forever and I would never be able to adapt to it.

It was the calming understanding of two of my children that made me come around. You can do this, they both said. You can handle anything. Remember that stroke you had ten years ago? Remember that breast cancer five years ago? You beat both of them, why not this, too? Learn more about it, like you always do.

So, I did. That’s when I realized I’m one of so, so many people with AMD, that’s when I became aware of people with so many other disabilities I had always recognized, contributed to for research and helped however I could. But I never fully comprehended what disabled people, regardless of the disability, suffered privately every day. So it did not take me long to get over feeling sorry for myself.

Strong in my faith, I turned to St. Lucy, the patron saint of the blind. I found prayers with devotions to her. I prayed them. Then months later, when those candles on the altar in church that had been crooked, or where I saw eight when there were really only four, and I was back to seeing four again, I thanked her. I thanked her for the part she played with modern medicine in helping me.

My research also made me pay more attention to my diet, something my children recognized before I did. So that recipe book from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation my daughter gave me, got me more intrigued with trying new recipes. My son from his out-of-state home had boxes of fresh vegetables sent to me. So I learned how to prepare kale and spinach in different, more appetizing ways. I roasted tomatoes and sauteed carrots and turnips in a spicy mix with ginger, peppers and garlic. I found I actually liked cauliflower and broccoli with new recipes to try. I learned that once again, even living alone after raising a family, cooking was really fun.

The new ideas in cooking led to other surprises. Without even trying, my weight went down, my blood pressure went down, my energy went up. Heck, I was feeling younger!

Who could believe a disease I thought was going to be the end of my life was actually the beginning of a brand new and exciting chapter?


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