December 01, 2007

Go home, then go blind

I never mentioned this before, but, around seven or eight years ago, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. I never mentioned this before, because I'm not too fond of talking about my personal life online but it seems that a lot of readers of Smooth Stone want to know a little bit more about me.

Macular degeneration is usually an age-related disease. I was in my 40's when I was first diagnosed, so my retina specialist told me that my particular case was familial, not age-related. Not good news.

What is macular degeneration? The macula is at the back of your eye in the center of your retina. You need a healthy macula for normal central vision acuity. The worst news I was given was that macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease. Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. My grandmother suffered from it, and my uncle suffers from it. Baruch HaShem, I see well at this time. But when I think long and hard how I will eventually go blind, when I think about my future, I become alarmed. How will I see? How will I get around? How will I occupy my time? How will I type? How will I study? How will I see my husband's handsome face? How will I play my video games? How will I see oncoming traffic? These worrisome thoughts devastate me.

The disease has begun to impose itself upon me in the form of a little, little, dot, like the period at the end of this sentence. It is so tiny, this dot, that nothing is obscured right now, but I do see the dot, when I look about. In the past three or four or five or six months, when I wake up in the morning, my vision is worsening. It's hard to explain, but, imagine looking at something, anything in the world, or better yet, imagine looking at a bright light, through a Kleenex tissue. It's not the experience of looking through the tissue that I suffer from - that would indicate that my vision is obscured entirely. Instead, what I see is as if I were looking through a Kleenex or a Bounty paper towel throught those tiny pinholes that make up the material. Over time those pinholes will grow. Right now I see as well as this. But in a few years, I will see the world like this.

I tell my husband, every now and then, that maybe he should ditch me; with my Dad suffering and dying from Alzheimer's, the chances of me getting Alzheimers seems quite high, and the probability of me going blind is even higher. I tell my husband, he should get out now. He just listens and then when I'm done yapping, he tells me to shut up.

Perhaps I will become a dribbling fool. Perhaps I will wander out of my home with no notion of where I am. Perhaps I will mistake a potted plant for the toilet, like my father did, in his latest stage of Alzheimers.

But I pray, even if and when I go blind, or even if I get Alzheimers, that when I die, I will be worthy of entry into Heaven, where I can sit to the Right of HaShem, in total worship of Him, the Father. I can not think of any greater act, any greater mission, than to worship the One and Only for eternity, to worship here and be merited to know the world to come. May HaShem find me worthy of His Loving Kindness to merit me worthy enough to receive His Mercy now and to lift me into His Kingdom of Life Ever After. This is what I pray ; that although I may go blind, or, that I may lose my mind, that HaShem finds me worthy of His Blessings and LovingKindness.