alt=a sad woman sits on a bench holding her bandaged wrist, looking at trekking poles.

A Wake Up Call

I like to think I have a clear understanding of my dry macular degeneration and its impact on my life. I have intermediate stage in my right eye and early stage in the left. Coupled with my chronic dry eyes, I have significant blurring.

Still managing with smaller things

I still manage to care for my home with little difficulty, or so I tell myself. On bright sunshiny days, the light hits just right and I realize I haven’t noticed cobwebs or dust accumulating in out-of-the-way places.

I have to ask my husband to make sure I am not wearing black slacks with my navy jacket. Not long ago I went to church wearing two different earrings. They were similar in shape and color but a friend noticed right away.

My first wake up call

I am still legal to drive in my state. I have self-limited myself to only driving at night in areas I am familiar with and stopped city driving. I recently got a late-night call from a friend with stage 4 cancer. Her only words were, “I need you." My husband offered to go with me but I assured him I could find my way. I struggled, slowly driving as I looked for the road she lived on. I finally thought I recognized it and turned up the dirt road.

It wasn’t long until I realized I had turned onto a logging road. It narrowed with pine trees pressing close to the road. I drove on as I couldn’t back down a narrow mountain road and couldn’t turn around. Crying now, I called my husband telling him I was lost. He kept me calm and after a couple of miles, I was able to turn around and return to the highway. As I frantically searched for the road without success, I was forced to call my friends’ husband to come to find me and take me to her.

Lesson learned the hard way, I won’t attempt driving alone at night in unfamiliar areas again regardless of the circumstances.

Second wake up call

As my macular degeneration progressed, I noticed a lack of depth perception. I love to walk outdoors and began using trekking poles after a fall on the gravel road. The use of the poles provided me with stability and I was no longer fearful of falling.

After months of using the poles, I got lax and occasionally walked without them. On a walk with my husband, I decided to make one more lap after he returned to the house. Almost back home, I stubbed my toe and took a hard fall. I was unable to get up.  I wear an Apple Watch with fall detection. I didn’t think I needed 911 services. Using my Apple Watch, I called my husband. He was able to help me get to my feet. I had cuts, bruises, and a badly sprained wrist.

Keep safety in mind

Another hard lesson was learned that day. No matter how short the walk, if outdoors, I use the trekking poles. Most days now I walk indoors on the treadmill.

Following these incidents, I am now facing my limitations. I swallow my pride and ask for help when I need someone to drive me. When walking in or outdoors I keep safety in mind.

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