Looking Back, So You Don’t Have To
There are things that happened and there are things I wish had happened. There are things I’m sorry that happened and things that I’m glad that happened. What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about my past as it relates to having age-related macular degeneration.
A macular degeneration diagnosis
Eight years ago, I visited my optician for new glasses and to make a long story shorter, I was referred to an RS (retina specialist) for further testing. The results were the discovery that I had early dry MD in my left eye and wet MD in my right eye. The young doctor was harried, seemingly overworked and not sympathetic delivering this bad news to me. That is what happened, what I wish had happened was for him to inform, educate and console and encourage me. None of that happened. As a result, I was scared and confused and not sure what to do.
While I was waiting for my next appointment to the RS to begin my first series of injections for my wet eye, I visited the optician who first discovered the shadows in my retina. He is a very nice and well-intentioned person, he sat down with me and tried to calm my fears and console me.
I wish this had happened at the RS visit but it did not. This optician in one shocking statement (looking back on it I find it morbidly funny) said: “Look Richard, you are probably going to die of something else before you ever go blind from AMD!” And I was 62 years old when he told me this! What a weird but strangely comforting remark this was. That is what he said, I wish he’d said it in a kinder, gentler way but hey, I guess I’ll take what I can get.
Let me take a moment to give a shout-out to all those hard-working opticians out there! If you think about it, they are the harbingers, the canary in a coal mine. They are the point of the spear for most of us that are diagnosed with this disease. And I for one applaud them for what they do and have a deep respect for them.
It truly underscores the importance of regular yearly scheduled wellness exams and by that I mean everything, not just the eyes. The sooner the better here. I have been guilty in the past, especially in my younger years of only going to the doctor when I was sick and otherwise avoiding them at all costs. In youth we feel almost immortal and that bad stuff only happens to the other guy, the school of hard knocks soon teaches us otherwise, doesn’t it?
Let me stumble and bumble back to a closer version of the title of this piece, Looking back, so you don’t have to. There's a plethora and amazing abundance of information out there for all of us, not just the newly diagnosed. This site, MacularDegeneration.net and others like it exist for the sole purpose of educating, informing and yes, consoling us.
So I say get on board, strap in, and participate! Ask questions, state your fears and it’s ok to just whine and complain if you want, we’ve all done it and venting and questioning is all part of it! Thank you for suffering through my attempt at sharing what resonates with me.
Richard, MacularDegeneration.net team member
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