Where's the Light Switch? Moving and Low Vision

Moving is _____. Fill in the blank with any word that equals awful or hard work or royal pain.

Two days before Thanksgiving in 2023, I was in bed with something like a cold or flu. My husband came into the bedroom, sat down beside me, and said, "You know I wouldn’t wake you, but... they are not going to renew our lease.”

He meant our lease on the townhouse we had been renting for 2 years. The owners were selling, something the real estate manager said was "never going to happen." Never say never.

Everything changes, including your vision

We had 60 days (2 months) to find a new place and move.

Anger, grief, anxiety. While the place wasn’t perfect, we had wonderful neighbors, and it was a beautiful location. And yet, everything changes, from where you live to how well you see.

We were fortunate. We found a better place and could afford it. First, the good things: There are great overhead lights in the kitchen. Lots of wall plugs for floor and table lamps. We are now on 1 floor. No stairs, so there’s a reduced risk of falling. Doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Just less likely.

Storage rooms have let us organize the stuff that doesn’t fit in our living space. The bins of Christmas decorations, excess clothes, paperwork, all those photographs we promise to go through and never do. Out of sight and mostly out of mind.

Using bump dots and more for new appliances

There are still challenges for someone with low vision, including with the appliances. I had to put bump dots on the new-to-me dishwasher. Designers are determined to make buttons disappear against a shiny black surface. You can either make a flashlight into kitchen equipment or put on those wonderful bumps and dots. No bumps on the microwave. I’ve memorized how it works, which to press for what.

Why don’t people leave instruction booklets behind? We always bequeath a stack of them to the people following us when we move.

The clothes washer and dryer have gotten bits of tape for the most-used settings. The flashlight still gets used. We need it to explore our downsized CD collection. Such tiny type.

Some upsides about our new place

There have also been some good things we did not expect. We’re on the first floor of a mid-rise building. The apartment came with blinds. We haven’t added room-darkening drapes or curtains. Just as well.

The high-intensity parking lot lights give us enough light to navigate most rooms at night without turning on the lights — not every room, as I discovered. I walked into the edge of the bathroom door and broke a toe. Turn on the lights, Beverly!

Our new neighborhood has more diversity

Our former home was in a large development targeted to retirees and those getting ready to retire. Half of them were snowbirds who arrived in November and went north in April. At times it felt like a ghost town.

Our new place has diversity — young couples with children of various ages, single people, couples. Free coffee in the lobby provides a gathering place for the retired and those who work from home. There are a lot of the latter. Various food trucks stop by once a week — one night off from cooking. Dogs of all sizes. We sit on our balcony in the evening and chat with the passersby. Dogs get a treat if their owners agree. We’ve met Matt and Jackson, Craig and Rocko, Brandon and Murphy, the odd couple Lorenzo (a standard poodle) and Louie (a Yorkshire terrier) who shares my interest in all things Italian. We recently spent a wonderful few minutes with a Corgi puppy and his new parents.

Change happens

Loneliness is a killer for those of us of a certain age with some chronic conditions. It is easy to retreat into ourselves when we have trouble seeing as we once did. We stay home because it is hard to drive at night. We go from being alone to being lonely. We give up.

We did not know that the bad news of last November would turn into being good news. We all know that no place is perfect, just as not every unexpected change has a hidden gift — rather like my AMD diagnosis. There are some not so good parts, but there are good ones as well.

Meeting the MacularDegeneration.net community is high on that list as well as becoming an advocate for early diagnosis. Change happens. You can either manage it or it will manage you. If you are lucky, it will include lots of dogs.

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