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In the top half of the image an adult female wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt stops to smell a rose. The bottom half of the image her legs and feet are walking in the opposite direction away from her. There is a large crack in the sidewalk that she does not see.

Watch Your Step

On my way home this morning from my group’s walk (13,000 steps!), I was watching where my next step would land when I noticed a small broken branch on the sidewalk. It was five or six inches long, almost perfectly round and, to my eyes at least, about the same colour as the sidewalk. If I had been looking up at the trees or anywhere but down, I would have stepped on it and probably taken quite a tumble. At least I have some padding!

Keeping an eye out for obstacles

I’ve reached that stage where I need to look where I’m going, as a quick glance doesn’t quite focus in as quickly as it once did. It started me thinking of the last time that I actually did fall and the possible reasons why.

Why did I fall?

Did I fall because of my diminished contrast sensitivity from AMD? Or was it the reduced depth perception? Or did I fall because I’m old, and that’s what old people do? Or maybe I fell because it was twilight and the sidewalk was crumbling and old (maybe as old as me?). Most of us know how much difference the lowered light of evening makes to those of us with even the earliest symptoms of AMD. Whatever it was, that fall stopped me from walking for a while.

How vision loss changes our lives

This getting old is not for the weak. It takes determination and stamina. When macular degeneration reaches the stage where it starts to impact our vision, it changes our lives in often unexpected ways. We can’t do much without our glasses, even though glasses don’t really help. We don’t drive at night, or perhaps not at all. We don’t trust our own sight. We need to ask for help. And we worry.

A walking hazard in HO Chi Minh City

It was the second last day of my long-awaited trip of a lifetime. I was walking back to the hotel with a friend from our little group when we noticed a few people at the corner preparing to cross the street, so we hurried to join them. This was in Ho Chi Minh City, where crossing the street required bravery and the safety of a group. The cars and scooters don’t stop but drive around people crossing. It’s important to maintain the same walking speed; slowing or stopping will get you mowed down.

I took a tumble

Using a hiking pole helps with balance. If you can’t quite see the uneven ground that throws off your balance, the stick will be your friend. I had brought one with me, why wasn’t I using it? Whatever the reason, I took a tumble. I thought I was just bruised a bit until I tried to stand. Oops! that wasn’t going to work. A lovely couple who spoke no English helped me up, but I couldn’t put any weight on one leg. Being only one short block from the hotel meant no taxi would bother with such a small fare. Now picture this: A young man from a nearby sandwich shop took this grey-haired old lady there on the back of his motorcycle.

Stopping to smell the roses

Two days later, I arrived home safely via wheelchair and plane, vowing to try to be more aware of what I can and can’t see in different light situations.

That fall taught me to watch my steps more closely. If I want to appreciate the colours of the trees, or the flowers; I stop, and actually take the time to enjoy them. Aren’t we told to stop and smell the roses?

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