Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
On Seeing Life
March 9, 2007
This column is entitled, "How to live with macular degeneration and still be
a columnist" It ain't easy, but it can be done.
I have written a little bit before about age related macular degeneration
(ADM), but it has now become a big part of my life.
It is an insidious but not life-threatening disease of the eye. It affects
nearly everyone over 80 to some degree. You lose a portion of your sight,
but not all of it. And it affects distance judgments and proportions.
For one thing, I can't recognize faces at a distance of more than three
feet. I can see a person's size and clothing and the way she – or he –
walks, but I can't recognize the identity.
One man wrote me a very nice letter. He said that his wife suffered from AMD
and had become depressed. But she snapped out of it and adopted the
philosophy that, "I will enjoy the things I can see and not fret those I
can't." That is a great attitude.
People ask me how I can write if can't read. Ernest Hemingway probably
couldn't have. He wrote with a pencil. But computers, for all their
irritations, are wonderful machines. I use 28 point type to write the
columns, and I can read it quite well.
Here at the Commons, many people have AMD, but I usually don't know it until
they tell me. That is because we function normally in ordinary activities.
People who are diagnosed with ADM tend to panic. I did. But it does not mean
the end of an interesting life. It just means a change. That is when the
philosophy of, "Enjoy what you can see and don't fret about what you can't"
I can lie in my bed in the morning and look out my window at the Bookcliffs.
I can see the top of the Mesa from another window. And if I walk out into
the big "play" room the whole Monument is visible.
I can see my friends and Mercury the Wonder Cat. I can still comb my hair
fairly neatly and dig a piece of candy out of a box.
But I can't read which makes looking up research for columns fairly
I have been debating for a very long time whether or not to write a column
every other week. My friends are tired of having me say yes one week and no
I think I have given this more thought than I did to trying to understand Trig at C. U. in 1932.
My editor at the Sentinel has been very good about my whole decision making
process, I thank Denny Herzog for being a great editor. But for several
reasons I have decided to do it – write a column every other week.
I will continue to write and enjoy doing it. I do hope you will stick with
me. I have every intention of writing as long as my computer holds up, and
so do I.
And I will continue to be the Sentinel's only Liberal, Feminist, Democratic
voice. Stick around. There is an election coming.