Just a couple of weeks ago, we attended my yearly appointment with my Retinal Specialist. The day comes every year and it’s not looked forward to. I had been preparing myself for the day for months in advance and whether or not that is helpful is arguable. I worry, I fret and I constantly prepare myself for the news of notable decline.
For the past 6 months. I’ve noticed things. The things I notice are measurable differences in my vision because when your vision is deteriorating, you have to find ways of constant measurement. Whether it’s seeing a part or screen on your phone, computer or even the gauge cluster in the car, what was once visible, becomes harder to decipher.
I’ve been doing this for years, far before we had been told the name of the actual disease that is taking my vision. Street signs, clocks, store signage, price tags, things that can’t change continue to change for me. It’s frustrating and downright depressing at times. The process of seeing things one month and not being able to the next is a feeling that I don’t wish on my worst enemy because it’s not because of lighting, exhaustion or fatigue, it’s because the cells, rods and cones of my eyes are dying.
When your vision is leaving, I find myself trying to pretend that it’s not. Mainly because I don’t want it to. I don’t want to go blind. I don’t want to see less of what I saw last week, month or year but the hard reality is that it’s happening, whether I want it to or not.
This year, the doctor confirmed with my wife and I that my vision is worse, as we had expected. He provided confidence in that we are adapting to the new way of life great and that our outlooks are the keys to unlock the next chapters of this challenge. His words were fantastic but the truth still hurts. We left the appointment and walked outside where the bright sun of San Diego looked like the brightest light i’ve ever seen. As my beautiful wife took my arm to guide me to the car, I lost it. I hate this disease. I hate that she has to see me face this and face the ongoing challenges. I hate that my daughters won’t have a fully sighted dad. I hate that I can’t be the man I once was.
It’s easy to stay in that mindset of hate and anger. Very easy. However, i’ve learned in the past year that there is no good that avails from it. Only more despair, depression and anger. As we pulled out of the parking lot, still not able to see a damn thing, I felt the feelings that erupted in me like a tsunami making landfall.
It’s heavy. Really heavy.
It’s been two weeks since our appointment and life is all but back to normal and the measurable differences continue to find their ways into my day to day life. Just a few nights ago, as my wife and I prepared for our “tax prep party,” I walked right by my wife sitting on the couch in my office and never noticed her. I was actually looking for her around the house. It was only when I walked back into the room and she said something that I noticed her sitting on the couch, the same place she had been when I walked into my office the first time. Ugh. Another notable loss of my vision noted.
While I wish I could say that positivity is the key to accepting our ongoing reality change, it is not. Positivity is the fuel for the fire. It is the coals going into the burner and the water for the trees to grow. However, accepting the future requires all realms of emotion and outlooks. Reality, sadness, anger, loneliness, disparity, confidence and lack of, happiness, proudness, depression and so many more. It takes all of these things to accept the future of my vision. Without one, another grows and without all of them, i’d still be in denial about this disease. I’d still be pretending to be clumsy, or drunk. I’d still be pretending to see things instead of asking for help to actually know what it is i’m looking at. I’d still be falsely hoping that a surgery could fix it.
We all, even you reading this, face challenges every day. It’s how we deal with those challenges that define us. It’s the ways we deal with the hard times that make us who we are. So today’s message is to pick yourself up, feel the feelings and move forward because the story of life doesn’t stop writing itself unless you stop moving forward.