Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: A Diagnosis

Recently I've been having some trouble with my eyes. I have very good eyes, but many eye issues, some of them genetic, and in addition a really high myopic prescription. I've also had a retinal detachment--about 15 years ago--and eye surgery. Over the years though, my eyes have done a yeoman's job of consistent hard work bearing up with all of the paces I've put them through with voracious reading, computer work, and other types of close work.

About every decade or so my vision changes and it's a big huge deal. Everything I do involves my vision and so it is a challenge to get through my life while dealing with the old glasses that don't work, traveling to get the new prescriptions when I can't see, discovering and dealing with incorrectly made glasses, coping with the frustration of prescriptions that unavoidably need to be tweaked, etc. I need to see at least an opthalmologist, optometrist, and optician and they all have to work together. I now have a good team but it will still take some time to get glasses that work.

I haven't been online as much, and each time I do go on it means dealing with eyestrain, headaches, etc. No more keeping up with my Twitter stream, and barely keeping up with Facebook, everyone's blog, etc. I haven't read a book or written an Amazon review in quite a while.

Then yesterday I had the exam with the opthalmologist. I'm supposed to go every year, but have put it off for three years because I really--really--dislike the retinal exam, and my eyes have been fine. No good excuse, but still...He found two new diseases. The first one is probably/possibly inconsequential--Fuch's guttata--I don't have it too badly at this point. The second one is serious.

So I have macular degeneration. I am pretty young to have it. It may progress slowly or quickly, and there is no way to know, but I need to be very careful with my diet to maximize a slower progression. I may die still being able to see or I may lose my ability to read, see faces, and drive "soon"--whatever that means. Since this was just yesterday I am reeling with the shock of the diagnosis and random ideas like:

  • I may only be able to read 100 more books. (See, this was actually true before but I didn't know's true for everyone.)
  • Last week I was worried about having time to do I'll be lucky if I can see art.
  • I may see my last Maui sunset on our vacation to Maui next month. (Better to be grateful to ever see a Maui sunset!)
  • I may someday not be able to keep up with my online community. Or google things.
  • My life may be limited in ways I can't imagine soon. 

At the same time I am having other more positive random ideas like:

  • I fell several times in the last ten years and never lost my vision (I have weak retinas)--I have been blessed every time. 
  • My life is not in danger from this.
  • Some things are way, way more important than they were a couple of days ago. Some things are much less important. Things are moving into perspective--a good thing.
  • Many people have low or no vision and have full lives.
  • Change is inevitable.
  • Each one of us has challenges and limitations due to disease and/or aging, and I am incredibly blessed to have health insurance, the financial resources to address this, and nutritional knowledge which may now help to save my sight. 
  • God and/or a Loving Universe will not give me more than I can handle, and all will be well.

It takes time to process a difficult medical diagnosis. Doing so is life-changing. Having lots of feelings--even being an emotional basket case for a while--is totally normal. So that's what I'm up to. I've been having some tough days...and...all is well.

All is well.


patti said...

I'm so sorry to hear this O. You are certainly keeping it all in perspective. I can't imagine being without my eyes.

I really hope diet can make a difference to your outcome. There is much support & many resources out there for the sight-impaired, even though you're not at that stage now.

Sending you hugs and saying some prayers for you O. xx

Olivia said...

Thank you Patti. One of my biggest fears is being cut off from my online community...every day is precious...thank you for your support and friendship.

It is almost impossible for me to imagine life without my eyes. Yet this current difficulty has given me a taste of it...and it's just impaired vision, not really doing without.

Thank you for your prayers, Patti,

Much love, O

Anonymous said...

Olivia, I feel privileged that you shared this here with us. There is really not much I can say other than that your friends are here for you as you make your way through the roller-coaster of emotions. One thing I do want to add, though, is that people with zero vision still enjoy online communities through adaptive technology. That said, I personally do not believe it will ever come to that for you. I think you are going to be one of the slow progressing cases.

Olivia said...

Thank you so much, Kelly. I fervently hope you are right. I don't know anything about adaptive technology, nor can I imagine it, but it is very comforting to know that it exists. Thank you so much, my friend. Much love, xoO

Kate said...


I so agree with Kelly. I also think its a wake up call, one where you can do things to make it better, to slow the progression and so forth. I'd be looking into alternative ways to help or even a spiritual solution. You're in my prayers sweetie.


Olivia said...

Thank you, Kate. I hope you are both right. I am inclined to cover all bases, and am very open to alternative and spiritual solutions. Absolutely. Thank you for your prayers, Kate. Much love, xoO

kate i said...

Olivia I am so sorry to hear that you're having to face this challenge. I so hope that it progresses slowly and you can find ways to slow or even correct the degeneration. You are in my prayers dear friend. ((hugs)) and love, Kate

Olivia said...

Oh thank you kate. I am indeed a blessed woman to have so many people praying for me. Thank you and hugs back to you, Much Love, O

groovysabrina said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Olivia, what a challenge for you. You are strong to be handling it in the way you are. You will overcome this as you are not only blessed but very intelligent and resourceful. It's a powerful combination. Sending you a big hug and keeping you in my thoughts.

Olivia said...

Thank you so much, Sabrina. I appreciate your support greatly. You know how crushed I would be to not be able to read! I have Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics sitting on my shelf right now :) Ah well, life is a process of adjustment.

I was just thinking today how much easier it is to deal with this being older than being younger...hopefully I have the wisdom to adapt with dignity, grace, and strength.

Thank you for the hug and I'm sending you one back Sabrina. I am grateful that you are my family. Much love, O

Seeking Simplicity said...

Wow Olivia; you are far too young to be diagnosed with macular degeneration. I have read articles about the importance of omega-3, aloe and other vitamins in your diet and their effect of this degeneration.

If you ever need to talk I'll give you my phone number....I know you will do research on this, perhaps go to another doctor just to confirm the diagnosis, adapt your diet but the most important thing right now is to know you are loved; that our bodies are amazing things and miracles happen every day.


Olivia said...

Yes, EB I am unusually young. I normally eat healthfully but am turning my diet towards one that is even more therapeutic and that includes green superfoods and different supplements. Dietary interventions are the best way known now to slow down the progress of macular degeneration.

Thank you for what you wrote about our bodies. I know that you know what you're talking about as you've gone through lots of things with an incredibly positive attitude. This is what I want to do too, so thank you for modeling it for me!

Thank you for your support, EB. Much love to you today and always, xoO

Inner-Creative-Voice said...

Hi Olivia!
Learning from a friend who works with UDL in education, you will be able to connect on-line in many ways as your eyesight changes.

Technology is an amazing thing:)

Thinking of you...

Anonymous said...

Yoo hoo, where is Olivia? I am starting to worry about you.

Olivia said...

Hi, Susan,

Not sure I'm quite ready for that yet, as I'm hoping that my eyesight will change super-super-slowly.

But it is very good to know that there are options out there. I'm still adapting to the diagnosis, and probably will be for quite a while.

Thanks for your support, and it's good to see you here! It's been a while :)

Peace and blessings,


Olivia said...

Aw, Kelly, thanks :) I appreciate your sensitivity to what is going on with me, and your support---SO MUCH!

I am okay. Right now my vision is uncorrected so being on the computer is just draining. I've been keeping up for the most part at about about half of what I used to do but it's so much eyestrain. And then I've been doing research about AMD (the official name for age-related macular degeneration)...more eyestrain.

However, I do plan to do a post very soon (tomorrow I hope) about some of the changes I've been making that I think can help people and inspire people. I thought I'd do it today, but "watched" a movie with LoveHubbie instead and used up my eyestrain level with that :)

Thank you, my dear, for caring, I'm sending you a big hug, xoO

Kat said...

Nothing much to add that all these women haven't already said, but I am thinking of you Olivia, and feel convinced that your journey to health will not be easily sidetracked. xoxo

CrystalChick said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are going thru this difficult time but I know that you will do everything you can to live the fullest life possible. Rest, diet, research, etc., I know you'll find the best way to handle all of this.
Thinking of you with many good wishes for the most positive outcome.

Anonymous said...

Olivia, I don't want you to strain your eyes, but thank you for the "peep" to let us know you're okay.

Olivia said...

Kat, thank you and you're right about that! Obviously my weight takes a back seat to everything else, but as obesity is a risk factor for macular degeneration, I want to pay special care to my diet.

You're right that my journey to health is still on full-bore :)

Peace and love, xoO

Olivia said...

Thank you, Mary. Yes, you are right, and thank you so much my dear :) Blessings and peace, xoO

Kim Mailhot said...

Sending extra love and light your way, beautiful Olivia.

Olivia said...

Thank you, My Queen. Big love to you, my dear, xoO

laundrygirl said...

I read this the day you posted it.
I was left without words and felt like anything I'd say would sound trite or nowhere near convey what I feel about this or how much I care. I've been thinking about you and praying for you. For some reason the idea of 100 books has stayed in my mind and I have fallen asleep at night picturing you moving beyond that (because I know how much you love to read) even if it means learning braille. (I hope that doesn't sound insensitive.) I feel very sad about all of it but what rings in my heart more is that I see you as OVERCOMING it all, no matter what the future holds. I love you.

Olivia said...

Thank you, Kristine. It means so much that you see me as an OVERCOMER, because that is who I want to be, no matter what my medical condition or the condition of my eyes. Your comment is not insensitive and I do get it and it is perfect. I love you too, xoO