Ten Years Left of Normalcy, Minus Three
One of the things I struggle most with when thinking about my macular degeneration is the feeling of running out of time. I can’t shake the feeling of it. No matter how strong I feel, how healthy I am, or how much I’m learning, the threat of total central vision loss crosses my mind every day of my life.
Losing my vision and my life
Running out of time, in my opinion, is what many of my loved ones don’t understand about macular degeneration. Right now, I may seem okay. In the present moment, I can see fairly well and I thankfully live a very normal and active life. I haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness...or have I? Sometimes I wonder if macular degeneration and vision loss can take away my life. Maybe I won’t literally die from the disease, but it sure has the capability to take away my life as I know it.
Three years ago I was told by my retina specialist that I most likely had about ten years left of ‘normalcy’ before I’d really need to start worrying about severe or life-changing vision loss. That news has made me feel like, "OMG, I have to accomplish all of my goals and dreams right NOW."
But, life doesn’t work that way.
Counting the days
I’m writing this article on my 37th birthday. I will celebrate life today and enjoy the day with the people I love and cherish. But, I have to be honest, a small part of me has noted that I’m now down to 7 years. 44...that’s the age I’m dreading.
There’s no way to know if my specialist was right about his prediction. I very well could keep the vision I do have until I’m old and wise. He’s no longer my RS due to insurance changes and me seeking the perfect doctor/patient relationship and my new specialist has never put a timeframe on things. But the thought of his prediction still lingers. This one comment has been the catalyst for many of my anxieties in the last few years.
Coping and going to therapy
If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you know I am proudly in therapy to help me learn how to deal with my anxieties in a positive way and help project me into a personal evolution of self that will ultimately help me live my best life. These thoughts that come into mind about possibly only having seven years left of normalcy sneak in and try to steal my joy. I’ve always, always struggled with keeping them at bay.
Living life in fast forward
Feeling like I’m running out of time has not worked well for me. Rushing things doesn't control the universe, it actually just makes things feel very out of control. Through therapy and some really amazing people in my life, I’m learning that fast-forwarding things isn’t the way that life works.
Sure, I can travel more. I can go to more concerts. I can work harder. I can try to fill more of my time with happiness. But, can I become the ‘me’ I want to be now by being in a hurry...instead of when the universe wanted me to? Can I reach all of my life goals and live my dream life at 37? The answer is no.
Rules to live by
I’ve given myself a few rules about this feeling so it doesn’t continue to rush me through my future as it has my past.
- First and foremost, I allow myself to feel it. It’s real and raw and deserves a little bit of attention.
- Second, I don’t allow myself to stay in my feelings for too long. I acknowledge them for just a few minutes, then think of a way that I can use this knowledge to make my day and my decisions better moving forward.
What I’m learning is that none of this is up to me. It’s impossible to rush things that aren’t ready for me yet. I can’t force growth and change and evolution for myself. Divine timing will tell what’s in store for my eyes and my life. In the meantime, I can only try to live my best life through working hard, staying present, going to therapy, and having healthy relationships.
Right about the time when I received this news from my RS, a dear friend of mine repaired my dad’s old grandfather clock. We were discussing whether or not to replace the entire clock face or keep the one that was already in it. He noticed some Latin words written on the clock face, "Tempus Fugit," and looked up their meaning. There was no way I was getting a new clock face when I learned what they meant. Those words on that clock were placed in my life right when I needed them. They serve as a frequent reminder to me, when I hear the chimes of the clock, or when I raise the weights, that...
Andrea Junge, officially 37
Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself?