Sometimes You've Just Got to Laugh

This fall, I decided that I needed to improve my workspace.

I read about a gizmo to hold my laptop. It adjusts so that the screen can be at eye level. No more hunching over my desk. And I found a keyboard that has lighted, white keys. The only issue was that the new keyboard and mouse were designed for Bluetooth, and my laptop was bought before Bluetooth was everywhere.

A technical debacle that made us laugh

I bought an adapter and tried to make the 3 devices talk to each other. No luck. Hours with an online service. Nothing. Turns out that the laptop was dying. Restart the process with the new machine. No need for a battery with the keyboard, but the mouse needed a AA.

The interior of the mouse was black, and I couldn’t read the diagram. I tried a flashlight. My husband tried a flashlight. Finally, we got the battery properly installed and the system started working.

We laughed. Such a simple thing, being able to see a diagram — but such a frustration if you have low vision caused by macular degeneration. Things that were once so easy aren’t.

Another lesson learned

Last week, I bought a folding shopping cart. We’re moving, and the new place will likely mean a longer walk from our parking space.

Of course, the cart required "some assembly." I had a friend to help. We carefully read and reread the instructions. We identified the parts. Easy? No. We needed a flashlight to find 4 tiny holes in the axle and a pair of needle nose pliers (not included) to bend another part.

Forty-five minutes later, 2 women, both with master’s degrees, finished the job. We laughed and took our picture with the final product. I don’t know if it would have been any easier if both of us had perfect vision.

No matter our age, aging comes with change

I love watching young children deal with the challenges of being a small person in a world designed for adults, and babies learning to control their bodies. All those waving hands. All those efforts to get the cake in their mouth rather than on their cheek.

It takes time and effort to go from being a toddler to a teenage gymnast or painter. We don’t expect perfection without practice.

Change happens. Babies start growing older the moment they are born. We find it natural to accept the changes of moving from infancy to adulthood. It is when our bodies stop doing what they once did that we get nervous.

Strange that, in a country with an aging population, aging is seen as a curse rather than an achievement. We talk about vision loss rather than vision change. Or, we don’t talk about it all. Walkers, wheelchairs, and white canes make us nervous. We don’t want to admit that we are aging, that we no longer can do what we once did.

Vision loss is not the end of the world

I’m lucky. Macular degeneration is (so far) my only chronic condition. No diabetes, no high blood pressure, no heart issues. A little bit of arthritis, but that happens when you are sliding into 80.

Sure, it can be tough. That grocery cart was a pain to put together, but we did it. I’m working on shedding the attitude that growing older and dealing with the reality of vision loss is the end of the world, or even the end of my world.

My hope is that, if you’re reading this part of my story, you’ll cut yourself some slack when things aren’t the way they were, when those package directions require a magnifier, a dim restaurant your flashlight. Things change, and so can we. And maybe we’ll get a laugh out of it.

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