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When Macular Degeneration Is Triggered By Everyday Moments

I was in my kitchen last weekend cooking up some chili for a family chili cookoff. It was a beautiful fall morning. The kind where the windows are open and there’s a slight chill in the air. One of those mornings where everything just felt good and right in my own little world.

Cooking is a gift

You guys, I love cooking and baking so much. Especially in the fall and during the holidays. Not only do I take pride in filling the bellies of those I hold near and dear, but I also love to feed them meals that make their souls content and provide their bodies with nutrition. To me, feeding my family is a gift. It makes my heart happy.

I was really enjoying my time making chili on that beautiful fall Saturday when suddenly my macular degeneration decided to creep in and try to ruin my morning. I was reading my white chicken chili recipe on my phone and realized I had to zoom in to see the hand written, red-penned words clearly. Hmmm... “Did I have to zoom in like this last time I made this recipe?” I wondered.

Suprised by my fear and anxiety of vision loss

You see, we can’t always know when our emotions or worries will pop up unexpectedly. Or when something might happen that triggers a sudden fear of vision loss and anxiety about the future. This is why it’s so important to understand our emotions and feelings... so they don’t take hold of our joy and control our lives.

Reading my holiday recipes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and my mind is wandering, going even deeper down this ‘how long will I be able to read my recipes’ rabbit hole that I found myself in. But, it’s a reality that I will have to face at some point... possibly not being able to read small print on these recipe cards.

It’s not just words on paper

These recipe cards are more than just recipes, they’re traditions. They mean so much more to me than words on paper. They’re my late grandma’s love being added to my homemade dishes. Her handwriting somehow gives me comfort and confidence while making those finicky recipes. They're small hellos from friends who shared these recipes with me after a gathering of some sort. These words have meaning, they breathe life into my kitchen and feed my soul.

Time to adjust

When things like this happen, I try to remember that I can’t change what’s happening to my eyes, I can only live a healthy lifestyle and revamp when needed. I wonder how long I may be able to read these handwritten recipes I have in my recipe box, or the recipes I have saved on my phone that have small print. But I’m not allowing those worries to steal my joy. I know that I can adjust and make changes so that even IF that happens, I can still do what I love to do and cook for my family.

Changing my how

Looking ahead to my future, I realize I may want to consider transferring my recipes over to large print. This stings some of the deepest parts of my soul, I’m not going to lie. But, after a few years of the hard work it has taken me to evolve and heal, I know that this is okay. It just is what it is. As long as I get to continue cooking and feeding my family, I’m going to choose to find the joy. This is what really matter... The ability to continue doing what I love, not the ‘how’.

Either way, I’ll keep all of the original handwritten recipe cards too so they can keep breathing life into my kitchen.

Here's to adjusting and finding the joy anyway,
Andrea Junge

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