Cruel Curve Balls of Shit

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Yeah it’s a cliche but have you ever really experienced it? I have physically a few times and last week I experienced it emotionally. I have 1 goal really for the next 5 years and that is to set things up so that when I retire I can travel a lot. I always assumed that financial restrictions would be the only thing between me and my dream. Well I was wrong. Since I have always been so healthy that it never occurred to me that my body would betray me…that only happened to other people. So I was taken unawares this week when I was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration… dry in the left and wet in the right.

The right eye is what got me to the ophthalmologist in the first place. I thought it was cataracts since that had been the diagnosis last year. It took a bit of work to reconcile that but I did it. After all it is a quick, simple operation and poof! Good as new. So when my eyesight in my right eye radically deteriorated I got my ass to the doctor. You can imagine my shock when he announced that no, I didn’t have a cataract, I had burst blood vessels in the back of my eye and he proceeded to get his receptionist to book an emergency appointment with the retina A-team. Heart pounding I got my ass over there and proceeded to spend 2 hours shuffling from room to room enduring assorted drops, massive machines and professionals while trying to keep the panic from stealing oxygen from my brain. With moderate success.

This looks like fun.

This looks like fun.

Finally the doc arrived and after doing his drop/exam/questions routine (do these people not share?) he explained that I had age related  macular degeneration and that there is no cure and it will get worse!!!!!!!!!! … after which I only caught every 5th word or so until we got to “and you will need to come in and have a shot every month”. What? Where? “In the right eye.” The left can be helped with massive doses of vits and omega 3. My heart pounding blocked anything else. I managed to make my appointments, catch transit home before I started to cry. I felt like all my dreams unravelled in minutes and with them myself.

I define myself as artist, writer,traveller and reader so sight is pretty high on the list of tools for all of them. It’s not like I can get stronger glasses to fix it, nothing will help. All I can hope for is to slow down the progression. This weekend has been about trying to move past the bad news and trying to weave the threads back into some kind of pattern I can live with.

Funny this. During the condo adventure, even when I felt stressed, I revelled in doing it on my own. Loved that this experience and the condo would be mine. No consulting with a partner, no sharing of glory and I didn’t really mind the thought of not having someone to share the tragedy, if one would occur. I was proud of what I had managed to accomplished. The truth is that it likely wouldn’t have even happened if I had a partner, the bureaucracy of even 2 defeats as many  dreams as not.

But this? This is definitely partner worthy (a nod to Elaine’s classic sponge episode :)).  To not have someone to hold me and tell me it will be ok, that they will be with me all the way and we will make it work… well it is a dark small room with nary a sliver of light. It is all on me and the Goddess to make it work. Even as I type this I feel my head leaning into a chest… you know that feeling? That wonderful resting feeling you get when life sends you a shit ball and you have someone you can lean into, even for a moment.

When the dung is too much for the beetle.

When the dung is too much for the beetle.

Ok, shake the shit off and trundle on. I have had a couple of important epiphanies (of course, right?) :

#3570 –  If you are young, don’t waste it on drinking, partying and drugs. Seriously. I think back and imagine what I could have been doing with all that youth-juice? Using my powers for good and making a difference in the world, that’s what.

#3571 –  I am going to cram every little bit in while I can. To the people who are waiting till they retire to travel and experience the world – HELL NO! Yeah, there are lots of gray-sters out there trucking around but it is a crap shoot (hmmmm shit seems to be a theme today)… the reality is that as we age, so do our parts. Logic dictates that those parts are going to wear out. Don’t wait. Go outside… your home, your town, your country and most of all, your comfort zone. Be prepared to be amazed.

#3572 –  Eat your freaking vegetables and omega-3, they actually do make a difference to your eyes. Who knew? Yeah yeah, Mom knew.

So now I am the proud owner of a juicer powerful enough to send small mice to the moon (but I wouldn’t do that), a fridge so full of vegetables that I can barely get my wine in there and I am planning a trip in January. I was going to forgo travelling this winter because of the condo but the hell with that! I might have to train Sadi  (my kiity ) to be my seeing eye-cat soon. And lets face it, the places I usually go to are not all that kind to the olfactory nerves.

Not Sadi, she refused to pose in a harness... said it was too S & M for her tastes.

Not Sadi, she refused to pose in a harness… said it was too S & M for her tastes.

All I can do is everything I can and then hurtle into denial and let the Goddess have her way with me. Frankly, denial is highly underrated, I believe that it is what allows us to leave the house every day. The people who suffer from anxiety and agoraphobia are actually the ones that experience the world without the blinders on. But in this moment, before denial’s kind spell? This really really sucks cruel curve balls of shit.

31 thoughts on “Cruel Curve Balls of Shit

  1. I feel for you…I know the problems of macular degeneration, my mother had it but…she lived to 93 and never stopped going and doing until she refused to get her colonoscopy and died from colon cancer. Thank you for sharing. I will be eating more veggies and not miss taking my omega-3. I

    Best of luck to you.
    Karen Teeple


  2. This hit me sideways! I don’t even know what to say except keep asking and looking for solutions because sometimes there are answers out there but the doctors just don’t know it. This news does really suck and if there is any way I can help just ask- I’m here, always…sending love and positive energy your way, Dana


  3. Very sorry to hear this…so the end result will be total sight loss? Will you keep traveling until it gets too bad? You’ve got enough spirit to hold it off for as long as possible. Take care.


  4. So sorry to hear about this! I think you’ve done the only right thing you can – get set to squeeze every experience you can out of life, whilst trusting to Fate and the Goddess to see you through your dark days…
    Sending love!


  5. Damn, this truly sucks. And leaving that note in the dust and moving on to… I know we just “met” but I have a feeling you will rise up to this challenge with fists in the air and your traveling pants on. You can still travel, experience things, type, write, dance, eat, taste, listen, drink, smile, cry, laugh and love without the sight in one or both of your eyes. Be that awesome woman the Goddess knows you are and continue stomping through life with purpose and intent. Huzzah!

    I would absolutely be interested in reading about a woman who goes on trips and writes about her travels without being able to see or maybe see very well. The smells, tastes, sounds, vibrations, etc. Maybe it’s a new niche to explore. Just a thought.


  6. What a great post, TC. I’m so sorry about your prognosis but I’m certain you’ll be just fine. My Dad had this. He did the shot thing every month and from what I understand, the condition can’t be “fixed” but with maintenance, it can be controlled. There are doctors who have a better “touch” when it comes to these shots — my Dad found this out. So make sure you find that one and don’t settle for anything less. Good luck to you. Your wisdom and humor will get you through this. Good thoughts to you!


    • Brigitte, thank you for your input and support. I’ve already had a shot and it wasn’t too bad especially considering I had just found out about all this. He has a good steady vib, which is key in dealing with me when my monkey mind is reving. Hope your Dad is doing well.


  7. Awwww Donnae – I will be that person you can lean on for emotional support if you need it and whenever you need it. 24/7 access is what I’m offering to you .

    Go for your dreams and goals sooner. The more you pay attention to other positive aspects of your life – the less you will notice the presence of this condition. Also try meditation. Visualize the process slowing down . Miracles do happen 🙂 btw if you need a house sitter in April – I’m lifting my hand . I’m back in Vancouver then . In the mean time come to South Africa for a lovely visit 🙂
    Hugs to you my dear friend.


    • Thanks Natasha, your support means a lot to me. SA is tempting, there’s a wonderful Vervet monkey rescue place there that I’ve been itching to get to but looks like the Yucatan in Mexico will be my destination in Jan. When is the last time you were home?


  8. Let me tell you about my grandfather, who lived with macular degeneration for over forty years – half of his long life. He retired early on a tiny government pension, for his hearing had also deteriorated: to zero on one side, to about 50% on the other; he called it his “good” ear.
    If he had dark times because of this, we never knew, for he remained cheerful. And though his circumstances denied him the active participation in the life he dreamed of, he snatched as much of the world as he could through the limited windows of sight and sound that remained.
    He read newspapers with an impressive magnifying glass and followed his beloved sports with a chair drawn up close to the TV, delighted by the newly available headphones. But most of the time, a small radio set was held firmly to his good ear and linked his enquiring mind to the world.
    Granddad would sing as he went about cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and indulging his passion for ironing shirts. On familiar ground, none of this posed a problem, for his sense of touch replaced his clouded vision with many little tricks.
    In his seventies he discovered a new and somewhat surprising interest: photography! Entirely self-taught, he took his cherished camera on excursions to wildlife parks. This was before the digital age: Grappling patiently with the tiny numbers and dials of the manual settings, he produced impressive and occasionally stunning portraits of flowers and exotic birds – his favourite subjects. Then he would disappear into his self-made darkroom (a converted closet in his small flat) and develop the colour prints himself, joking that he did not need a red light bulb in there since he could not see anyway … It made the quality of his images all the more astonishing.
    Sometimes he would take a train journey abroad to visit us, his beloved grandchildren. This must have been difficult for him, yet he never betrayed anxiety. I remember how vulnerable he looked as he got off the train, thanking people who helped with his suitcase, waiting for us to find him. We raced towards him, calling out, and his face lit up as he swept us into his embrace, booming, “There you are, my little rascals!”
    His greatest gift was storytelling, and many happy hours were spent listening to his imaginative tales, mostly picked up on the radio and embellished for our benefit. The rich world he unfolded before us showed that his inner vision remained sunny and unclouded. And thus he lives on in our memory.


    • Fabienne, I am touched that you would share the story of your grandfather with me. He sounds like such an amazing human and how lucky for you to have known and loved him.
      I am fortunate that I live where and when I do and that there are options that were not available to your grandfather. Awareness of that helps to balance the fear.
      Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me.


      • You’re right, Donnae, he was amazing in his humble way. But do you know, I never really paused to consider what his life with this affliction must have been like until I read your post. Then sleep was impossible until I had written this small tribute to his spirit that would not be defeated, and I wanted to share it with you in the hope it might bring a little light into the gloom. My impression is that you are not easily defeated yourself …


  9. Sorry to hear this about your eyes. We have family members going through it. I also agee with you about travel – go out and see the world now before it’s too late. You never know what shape we will be in when we are older.


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