Hand holds up an eye as music notes float around

12 Steps and a White Cane

Last updated: June 2022

"We are shadow and light. We're not supposed to know this... We are raised to be bright and shiny, but there is meaning in the acceptance of our dusky and dappled side, and also in defiance." – Anne Lamott

Shadow and light

It is interesting how words and quotes about light and dark and shadows creep into or pop up in the things we read as we live without macular degeneration. Sometimes it feels as though there is only dark. I focus on the vision I have lost and the effects of that loss on my life.

Several weeks ago I was wrestling with a non-eye-related issue, feeling overwhelmed and anxious. And then... On one of my social media feeds, I read this:

"Last night was the first time I used my new cane. It's amazing, but instantly it seemed to fill a place that may have been waiting for it. Right now, I wear sunglasses and turn on a bright headlamp so I can see when I go out at night... With the cane, I can turn off the light and roll..."

"Tonight I took it to my AA meeting... I've lost so much that's why I'm laughing at myself for actually enjoying where I am at this moment in time. The less I see physically the more I see spiritually and that is a truth. I think my sight, whatever it looks like, is turning out to be quite the gift... Nothing wrong in my world..."

12 Steps and a White Cane

I immediately thought of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its 12 steps program. Some have called it the most important religious movement of the 20th century.

Reading this person's comment, I am leaning toward believing that it can help those of us with macular degeneration refocus our approach to our journey.

The first step

At the core of AA is an acceptance that alcoholism is a chronic disease and a person is powerless to overcome it alone. Macular degeneration is also a chronic disease. It is not going away.

We can help our eyes stay as healthy as possible with diet, exercise, and injections. We can make changes to our environment to make it easier to negotiate with our low vision. Yet, our eyes will do what our eyes will do.

In AA, a Higher Power, however the person defines that, keeps them from being alone; that and the groups and sponsors that are at its core.

My Higher Power has angels to help with dealing with my AMD. Doctors and their staff. My husband. My best friend who will let me cry on her shoulder. The waitress shares her phone’s flashlight. And the people on MacularDegeneration.net who come up with ideas and support. And the man who wrote about his new white cane.

And then there’s music

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast" – William Congreve

It may even lighten our AMD load.

"I have gone back to playing an instrument. Not even one but two I played 45 years ago and two new ones. I am reading music and keeping my eye muscle going. I look at it as an opportunity to learn something I love that vision cannot rob me of... We need to look at different ways and blessings in our lives to keep us going."

Staying optimistic with AMD

Thanks, anonymous angels. You come along just when I need you. All I have to do is listen and watch and trust. If or when I need to use a white cane, I’ll do it with an appreciation for someone who showed me that it is a gift, not a curse; part of the light rather than the dark.

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