It's The Little Things with Vision Loss

In real-time, it is still mid-May, 2020 and we are still in lockdown. One of the many “joys” of the pandemic has been artificial shortages. For the past month, I have been putting dishwasher detergent and toilet paper on my list. I was disappointed three weeks running. Today I scored!

Joy and deprivation

My husband made some comment about how little it takes to make me happy recently. He is absolutely right. These days, give me things like ground beef, dishwasher detergent and potty paper, and you might see me dancing in the streets.

The reason is simple: I have been denied those things at the store for a while now. Before I was used to having them and it was no big deal to put something on the list and have the order filled. Now, getting what I ask for is a nice surprise and I am pleased and grateful.

Getting used to the good life

Remember I told you I took a Coursera course entitled The Science of Well-Being? This idea was in that course. According to the instructor, Lori Santos, one of the annoying things about our brains is we habituate to the good things in life. Live on a beach in Tahiti for long enough and it is not that nice anymore. In short, we get used to the good life and it does not seem that good.

The course suggested we actually deprive ourselves of something once in a while. When we get it back, we are more likely to savor it, appreciate it, and be grateful for it. Oh, and by the way, savoring and gratitude are two “happy” habits that everyone should do more of.

Back to macular degeneration

OK. So here is the leap to age-related macular degeneration. Scoring dishwasher detergent and potty paper and how happy it made me to get them after weeks of no luck got me thinking about other deprivation, like vision loss. No one certainly likes losing vision but maybe we can maneuver this all around to see vision loss as a way to get more happiness in our lives... maybe?

Alright, alright. Bear with me here... I am not talking about losing vision and having it come back. For me with dry AMD, that is not happening anywhere in the near future. Medical science is not there yet. However, if you have wet AMD, anti-VEGF treatments can sharpen things up a bit. That is a reason to be happy; yes?

Rediscovering pastimes and skills

How about things you have not been able to do in a long time because of vision loss and then you get to do them? Case in point, the evening I got to go to the theater and actually be in town after dark, I was almost giddy. I was out after dark! Most of my life, that was something I took for granted. Now with vision loss and transportation issues, it is something to celebrate!

And how about those skills you are mastering again as a VIP? Don’t look now, but from my initial vision loss until a few months ago, I had major problems putting plugs in outlets and connecting zippers. I was in my mid-60s and asking people to zip my coat! Not to sound too much like a five-year-old but I can do it myself now! I get a little twinge of pleasure when I connect a zipper. Pitiful? Maybe, but it makes me happy.

Appreciation

My point - and I do have one, to borrow from Ellen Degeneres - is we habituate to the good things in life all too easily. Sometimes it takes a deprivation such as vision loss to make us appreciate them again.

If you get something back you thought you lost due to vision loss - a chance to go somewhere or do something you liked, mastery of a new, old skill, whatever- take it and cherish it. It can bring you joy. After all, who would have thought I would be so happy about buying potty paper?!?!

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