When my friend Lisa and I set out for one last camping hurrah on Friday, I figured I might do a blog post. The weather was looking iffy and we exchanged texts and changed plans 100 times in the 24 hours before our departure. Things going amiss always makes for a better story.
However, sitting at the car wash this morning, waiting for Beatrice to have all the mud, snow (spoiler alert), and bug guts power washed off her, I opened an email I had not gotten around to last week. It was from a genetic testing company I had sent a vial of spit off to some time ago. They often send updates and new reports on ancestry and health which sometimes I open and sometimes don’t. I almost deleted this report without bothering to read it as it was on the genetic variants for Macular Degeneration and Hereditary Hemochromastosis. I have better than 20/20 vision and I never heard of Hereditary Hemochromastosis so what’s the worry? But the car was taking a while and I had nothing better to do than read it. So as the elevator music played benignly in the back ground and the car wash whirred, I read
“Age Related Macular Degeneration. The most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. Krista, you have BOTH the genetic variants we tested.” I skimmed the rest of the report and to summarize,
“While we aren’t saying you are 100% going to go blind, you are at higher risk than the average bear. There is no prevention or cure for this disease which less than 2% of the US population has. May we suggest you print this out and take it to your doctor sooner rather than later.”
While I tend to be a overacheiver, this isn’t a test you want to score 100% on. My vision? Really? I have seriously joked over and over that my vision is my super hero power. I used to spot wildlife for a living. My boss would say he never met anyone with such acute eyesight. I always test over 20/20 vision at the doctor. I can read street signs a block and a half away. Wouldn’t that be Murphy’s Law if it turned out to be my Achille’s Heel? Honestly, I am expecting, someday, to be told I have cancer of some sort. I have many risk factors, like having played in the apple orchards and smelled the fumes of pesticides as a kid, I’ve never had children, I started my period before I was a teenager, I lived in Maui and Panama and don’t love sunscreen. If someone told me I had skin cancer or breast cancer I would be sad but not shocked. This shocked me. While I’m not on Amazon comparison shopping for white canes just yet, it certainly got me thinking about all the beautiful things I saw this weekend and how it would make me cry if I didn’t get to see those things any more. I’d like to share some of those beautiful things with you.
As I sit here and write, I heard a loud buzzing and banging outside. I got up and looked out the window and saw a dragon-fly had gotten trapped in a spider web. Because I can see, I was able to get a broom and carefully pull the web down. Because I can see, I was able to get the sticky web off her delicate, lacy wings. Because I can see, I could keep my fingers out of reach of her mandibles that were furiously chomping. And because I can see, I got to watch her fly away off into the blue sky and feel happy that I saved the life of a small creature.
I hope I’m not being overly dramatic or a downer, but geeze, sometimes life just hands you a set of cards and you get no say in the matter. I see it every day at work in the hospital. I may or may not go blind as I age, but today I have an intense gratitude for my sight.