A Dozen Ways to "Take Care of Yourself!"
How many times do you hear that phrase. Either saying it yourself or being told it. In the age of COVID-19 it seems to have replaced “goodbye” or “see you later.”
Take care of yourself!
I find it so banal, so trite. And, yet, we seem to be obsessed with taking care of ourselves. Google turned up 1.83 billion results with that phrase. Billion. And dozens of apps to help you track your sleep, heart rate, diet, etc., etc.
My guess is that I could fill this article with the list of things we should be doing to take care of ourselves. As people with macular degeneration, we know that taking care of ourselves means that we should be doing the following:
- Regular visits to our retina specialist (RS).
- We definitely do not skip our anti-VEGF injection appointment.
- Eat a healthy diet loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables especially tomatoes and leafy green vegetables.
- Wear our sunglasses any time we go outside. And a hat.
- Ask about taking the AREDS-2 vitamins and take them regularly if your doctor recommends them.
- Do not smoke. If you do, stop.
- Exercise and keep a healthy weight.
- I just learned another one. Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses all the time. The idea is that we should protect whatever vision we have especially in our “good” eye. If we have one of those.
- I’m adding another one. Learn all you can about the condition and be an advocate for yourself. For me that means joining online groups such as MacularDegeneration.net
and using it to ask questions of other people with our condition.
One of the advantages of living in southwest Florida is that because there are so many people over the age of 60, there is also a huge medical community and support groups. There’s a senior friendship center with many classes and the Lighthouse for the Blind. I do not have to drive or be driven 30 miles to get quality health care and support.
Ask for help
Confession: I am really not good at asking for help. In fact, I have a long history of being too independent and self-reliant for my own good. Sometimes I just need to suck it up and say, “I have this condition that makes life difficult. Can you help?
Last week I went out to dinner with friends. As soon as we sat down I realized that it was one of those low-light places. And my phone with its built-in flashlight was at home. Rather than faking it, ordering the salmon and a salad which are always on the menu, I asked to borrow a friend’s phone.
That may seem like a very small thing to many people. It was a big deal for me. Unfortunately, even my fancy hearing aids couldn’t compensate for the background noise. I don’t think I made any stupid replies to a friend’s comment.
Different kinds of help
Asking for help can also mean asking for professional help, from a therapist. They come in all disciplines including a mental health professional to help deal with anxiety or depression. Occupational therapists help us learn to use the vision we have to stay as independent as possible. Physical therapists and trainers can help us to be strong to prevent falls.
Faith and joy
I would also add that we need to take care of our spirit and our spiritual life. For some people that may mean belonging to a faith community; a place of support as well as a religious practice. My husband and I met at church so it is a normal part of our lives. Several years ago I added a 20-minute meditation first thing in the morning. That time helps me face the reality of life and loss, of joy and sorrow.
A religious group to which I belong includes joy as one of its seven ideals. That includes being thankful for what we have; to be regular in recreation; to avoid anxiety, discouragement, and depression; to check all complaints and bitterness. And, to welcome work or sacrifice which leads to the joy of others. There’s nothing quite so wonderful as making someone else joyful.
So, even though it is trite and banal, take care of yourself. Your health and happiness are important to a lot of people, many you don’t know.
Has an eye doctor ever left you feeling confused?