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A person sits in their pajamas on the edge of a bed with their eyes closed. Sun is shining through a window forming a bright patch on the ground.

Sunshine on the Floor

I noticed a tendency in myself and others after a diagnosis of macular degeneration to become depressed and to play the “what if” game,  this is, I think, a mistake and difficult to work past.  I cannot spend my days imagining the “what will happen” rumination mind game.

The danger of "what if?"

My dad is 90 years old and still living at home.  His care is my responsibility, what if I can’t do that, what will happen?  My husband has congestive heart failure. What if I can’t take care of him anymore? I love my daily walks in nature. What if I can’t do that anymore?  I can drive but what if I can’t drive anymore?  There are thousands of what ifs that Could make me crawl into the fetal position and fret hourly over “what will happen if..."

Being intention with macular degeneration progression

I have made a conscious decision about "what ifs". I won’t do it and I am intentional about it. AMD is progressive and if I focused on that aspect of this condition, I could drive myself over the edge. There is a positive to be found in any and everything, you just have to look for it (no pun intended).

I study the faces of my grandchildren every time I am with them. I listen to their voices with my eyes closed, often. I have learned their voice inflections denoting their mood. One gift is the way our remarkable brains compensate for the loss of one sense by enhancing the others. I listen more closely, I touch, I pay closer attention to voice inflection. It is amazing what we miss when we are not fully engaged with all of our senses.

Finding humor

I have a friend whose family has a genetic predisposition to hearing loss. I have always admired and been amazed at the way they use humor with this loss of hearing. When they are standing in front of each other yelling “I love you," they see the humor in that. From the outside looking in, I’ve often thought, “How do they do that, find this funny?” With the gradual loss of vision, I now understand how they do it. You play the cards you are dealt to the best of your ability.

Picking up sunshine

When my mother passed away two years ago, she was legally blind in both eyes. This loss made her angry and bitter. It was sad to see a vibrant active woman, deteriorate into anger and bitterness at the end of her life. 

About two years before she died when she still had some vision, we were visiting her. Sunlight was shining through her bedroom window and landing in a square on the carpet. We watched her walk across the room and bend over to reach for the square of sunlight on the floor. We were puzzled and had no idea what she was trying to do. We asked and she replied, “I’m trying to get this piece of paper off the floor.” It was heartbreaking and funny at the same time.

Grateful for the vision I still have

I’ve thought of that day often and picking up sunshine off the floor of AMD is my mantra. There is gratitude and a gift to be found in AMD, you just have to look for it, again, no pun intended. This morning, I woke up, I can see! Tonight, my grandchildren will be here for their weekly sleepover; I can study their faces and listen to their voices. I know who is about to get into a rumble. I can see the grown man hiding behind the face of my grandson. I can feel his sweet spirit of kindness and generosity in his words.

That is a gift I might have missed without AMD and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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