When Life Gives You Vision Loss, Make Lemonade

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Turn lemons into lemonade” which is used to encourage people to take difficulties and find something good in them. I’m here to add to that:

“Turn lemons into lemonade, just be sure to add the sugar!”

My health scare

I recently had a health scare - a big one! This isn’t about AMD directly (I don’t have it, but I help people who do). I’ll give you the short version of what happened and how I think it relates to any diagnosis that impacts our lives including the diagnosis of macular disease.

Chest pain

On March of 2019, I ended up in the emergency room with severe pain in the left side of my chest. Of course, all kinds of fears went through my head. Did I have a heart attack? That’s the first thing they checked since I’m a woman in my 60s. No, it’s wasn’t that. A very thorough doctor found that one of my many blood tests wasn’t right, and I immediately had a CT scan. It turned out that I had a hole in my esophagus which is something I never heard of.

I won't subject you to the gory details. I did have 2 serious surgeries and 3 hospital admissions for a total of 21 days.

Finding positivity

When I was in the hospital the first time, the only lemonade I could have made would have been SOUR! The kind of sour where your lips pucker up and your eyes squint! Awful stuff. I certainly didn't want any more of it.

It took me some time, but I realized that I’d actually been adding sugar to my lemonade. I’m not saying I could drink a pitcher of the stuff while I was going through all this, but it was much better. The sugar:

  • I did not die.
  • I had to face that I need to take better care of both my mental and physical health.
  • I found out how many people care about me. I was overwhelmed with well wishes, prayers, healing thoughts - and they are still coming.
  • I was reminded that everyone has their story. I asked questions of all the medical people who came into the room. It not only helped me get the information I needed, but it created a relationship with those who were taking care of me.
  • I also found out how some of them had faced difficulties to get there, so I certainly wasn’t the only one who struggled.

A vision loss diagnosis

Are your lips puckered from taking a sip of your lemonade and wondering how it will ever be good to drink?

  • Many of you, like me, had the diagnosis come out of the blue. You may not even have heard about macular disease. You and I weren't prepared, were we?
  • Just like me, I’ll bet you have many fears and you may feel depressed. You may still have them. Some turn out to be unjustified such as the fear of going completely blind from macular diseases. I use that word ‘blind’ only for the condition where there is NO sight at all. (AMD, myopic macular degeneration, and Stargardt’s Disease affect central vision and spares peripheral vision.)

Finding positivity in macular degeneration

Your first taste of lemonade was bitter, bitter, bitter just like mine. Awful stuff, not something you want more of, right?

  • Your diagnosis, like my illness, won’t kill you.
  • You, like me, are learning that you need to take better care of both your mental and physical health.
  • Many people with an unexpected diagnosis, like me, want to hear the stories of other people. You are here to ask questions of others and in the process you, like me, are creating relationships which not only provide you with information but also can take you out of your problems for a while. These relationships also provide you with support when you need it.
  • If you are willing to let the people in your circle know what’s going on, you will, like me, find out how many people care about you and who will send their well wishes, prayers, and healing thoughts. Some you may not have met personally, but a bond is created in face-to-face and online support groups.

Vision loss isn't the end

Just remember that even though you've been given a diagnosis of macular degeneration that you couldn't have predicted and weren't prepared for, there are ways that you can work to take away the bitterness.  There is sweetness in knowing that this disease is not deadly and that there are people who care and are here to help you.

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