“Why Me?” is a frequent question I’m asked. It’s a question I’ve asked myself in regard to the challenges I’ve had. I never get good answers which is what many others tell me. Why, then, do we keep asking it?
Making sense of a diagnosis
From personal experience, it’s an issue of trying to make sense of things that, well, don’t make sense! It’s been a way of keeping myself looking into the past for answers as if the answers will help me now! A Psychology Today article says that the question is self-defeating, “This way of thinking fuels resentment, envy, and self-pity.”1
Those negative feelings are common for anyone who is given a life-changing diagnosis. However, we know that if we stay in that negative place for too long, there will be no way to move forward and make the best of the “cards we’ve been dealt.”
Risk factors for macular degeneration
When someone in my Facebook group for AMD asks, “Why me?”, I turn the question into a discussion of risk factors. We don’t yet know what causes AMD in any person, but we have a long list of possible risk factors, some we can change, some we cannot.
We can’t change...
- Our age (which is a big factor in Age-Related Macular Degeneration)
- Our hereditary factors
- Our eye color
- Genetics not related to family history
- And more.
- Change our lifestyle regarding our overall health including uur nutrition, our activity level, or weight
- Manage our diet and exercise
- Work with our doctors to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Change our way of managing stress
Why NOT me?
When the topic of risk factors comes up, I use the letters of the alphabet for each of the known risk factors. I ask people to go down the list and share their letters. What becomes obvious is that none of us – or at least very few that I’ve seen – end up with the same list of alphabet letters of the risk factors. So if I’m an almost-66-year-old Caucasian woman, for this discussion, let’s say that’s the letters are:
- A for age
- B for hereditary since my dad had AMD
- C for Caucasian
- D for woman
- F since I’m overweight
- G since I'm sedentary
My ‘risk factor code’ is ABCDFG...at least! There are more risk factors including lots of early-in-life exposure to sunlight, recent prolonged exposure to sunlight, blue eyes, light skin, AMD in one eye, early menopause, and more! I’m sure we haven’t discussed them all.
We have an answer
It may not make us feel any better at first, but we do have an answer to the “Why NOT me?” question. That’s a good thing because now we can look at the list and ask, “What can I work on?” I think the Serenity Prayer tells us how to start: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Rather than this line of questioning being self-defeating as the article I used above says, this turns into a lesson in taking control of our health as much as we can. Once we identify the risk factors that can be changed, we can make better decisions about our health care. We can do our research on each factor, make a list of questions we have, find the right people to guide us.
What are YOUR letters?
Do you still drive?