Behind the Wheel: Part 2

continued from Behind the Wheel: Part 1

In talking about why Yvonne drove after three years, she mentioned independence. Speaking personally, I would love the freedom of driving. The shared ride service here is a pain. The other night I was picked up at the Y and had to ride along to a local restaurant. We waited half an hour for the second passenger to get his ‘stuff’ together and get it on the road.

You have heard me scream plenty about rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn to get 10 miles down the road ‘only’ an hour early.

Unfortunately, shared rides come with many indignities and inconveniences.

Right now I have started ‘jonesing’ for a chocolate milkshake. The drive-in restaurant is only a mile away but it is on the other side of a busy road. I’m thinking that trying to get across that road for a milkshake – even a large! – may not be a good idea. Shared rides and going by foot may not leave a lot of room for spontaneity, either. (Yes, I do have a husband. He is dieting!)

I would love the freedom of driving. After all, this is the woman who renewed her license so she could feel like a big girl! But I don’t drive. The eyes in this head are too far gone.

Yvonne did her homework. Good idea. I did my homework for my bike riding. I know my routes pretty well. Today the Children’s Museum next to the Y had a street fair. The road was blocked. Detour ahead! On my bike, I just dismounted and walked through the fair. In a car, I would have been rerouted to a road I rarely travel. Things happen. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. You cannot always count on doing what you planned to do.

Yvonne mentioned problems with family members using the car, not transporting her and not doing basic maintenance. Without the family members she is on her own. Maintenance? I used the same garage for nearly 40 years. I think if I asked, they would have come for me. I find it is always good to inquire. You don’t know what people will do for you until you ask.

My license has not been pulled. A few weeks back I went and had it renewed. No one questioned me. No one threw me behind bars. I can legally drive but I don’t.

Many states are not good about making sure people who should not drive don’t. And even if they pull licenses, the roads are full of unlicensed drivers anyway. Driving or not driving is the decision each of us must make for himself.

Would I ever drive? Perhaps. With a very sick husband or a very sick dog or if I had fewer resources, perhaps. I have said it before: I am blessed with resources. What would I do if truly stuck? Dunno. Maybe, but right now, my answer would still have to be no.

But what did the Yvonne do?

written August 6th, 2017

Continue reading “Behind the Wheel: Part 2”

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Behind the Wheel: Part 3

continued from Behind the Wheel: Part 2

Did we leave you with a cliffhanger? Silly, of course: Yvonne drove! I am relieved to say she got home without injuring herself or others. The car still has all its pieces…but what did she say about it and will she make a habit of it?

If this were a TV show, we would have gone to commercial break, but since we have no sponsors, there will be no words from our sponsors…just returning to what she said:

Yvonne could not see any gauges – including the speedometer. Her dark glasses caused that problem. The lighting and shadows would change along the route and it was bothersome. She planned a route that took her a bit out of her way but allowed all right turns.

Yvonne felt a bit exhilarated she had accomplished the trip. She admitted she had been scared and said she would not make a habit out of it. Many places she has to go are in congested areas and she does not want to drive there.

So successful experiment for our reader. She tried it and I will not. I see waaay too many problems with it. What is the difference? And more importantly, should you try it yourself??????

I have no idea of how much vision loss Yvonne has. I know my loss pretty much precludes driving. But if no one ever said not to drive, how do we make that decision? [Lin/Linda: Yvonne lives in Alabama where they never check a driver’s vision. Also, her doctor never tells patients NOT to drive.]

I found a resource at AAA. That is the American Automobile Association. They have a special website SeniorDriving.aaa.com.  AAA suggests we try the informal driving self-assessment tool 65 Plus to start. If the informal assessment suggests we have problems, a professional driving skills evaluation can be conducted. This can be done at a driving examination site for your state DMV or by a trained driving instructor. AAA also suggests you might want to spend some time with an occupational therapist driving rehabilitation specialist.

Some of these services can be pricey. The OT evaluation may be between $200 and $400 according to AAA. If you need lessons, it may be $100 an hour. Rather doubt any of this is reimbursable by insurance but you can try.

When I tried to find the website for 65 Plus I came upon a number of things that look kind of cool. The self assessment is 15 questions. Also offered are videos with tips for dealing with physical changes that come with age and a site that will tell you how your medications may affect your driving.

Other resources are offered through AARP, American Association of Retired People. The AARP website page Driver Safety suggested there is a driver’s program only 12 miles away from me. Amazing.

My research also suggested some states do driver’s training for ‘mature’ drivers. Check in your state for information.

So, going back to my original statement. Specifically, I am supposed to be the only bad influence on this website.

Please, please, please do not try to drive just because one reader had a successful jaunt. Think you might be able to drive? Have your hunch tested by a professional.

Been told you should not drive? For your sake, my sake and everyone else’s sake, listen, for crying out loud! You don’t want to ruin lives.

And if you are being pigheaded and driving in Pennsylvania? Tell us where you are. I want to stay far, far away.

written August 6th, 2017

Continue reading “Behind the Wheel: Part 3”

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Behind the Wheel: Part 1

TGIF! Happy Friday! In real time it is the beginning of August, 2017. As usual, Lin and I have been pleading for ‘audience participation’ in the website and we actually got some! One of our readers who is also a Facebook group member has been sharing some of her experiences with Lin. Yvonne submitted a comment on one of the recent website pages.

Now a little background on how things work with comments. As I said when we started, Lin and I retain the right to refuse anything we do not think is appropriate. Advertisements are a no no. Anything too private or salacious may have us twittering over it but it does not get to the website🙈🙉🙊. Also, I reserve the right to remain the only bad influence for the site!

That said, Lin got Yvonne’s comment & did not publish it but asked her if we could share parts of what she wrote. She gave her go-ahead.

The topic? Driving with vision loss.

Why just pieces? First reason is this: it scared the bejesus out of us. Second reason: Yvonne outlined how she was going to try driving and we do not want any of you getting any ideas! We will not be responsible.

Yvonne said she was getting behind the wheel for the first time in three years. Oy vay. I would be afraid to get behind the wheel after a year and a half. I have asked my husband to let me drive in a huge empty parking lot and he has refused. He’s afraid of me behind the wheel, too.

I know riding my bike at 7 or 8 miles an hour there are some things I don’t see until I am right on top of them. At 4 times that speed I would be running right into them. Also, coming back from kayaking the other day my friend stopped for an accident. The cop was directing traffic but I could not see his hand signals. What would I have done if I were driving? Gotten out of the car and asked him what he wanted me to do?!?! Don’t think so.

Yvonne said she is not able to see the dials and gauges. Not sure what kinds of gear display her car has but I know I used to have one with the gears on the dash. Putting a car in drive instead of park or reverse instead of drive could be the last mistake I ever make….or ever want to make.

And even if a driver believes he is happily in control at 20 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone, what about the person driving behind him? Could he guarantee he is not going to pass on a double yellow and have a head-on collision? Or how about when he starts blinking his lights, honking his horn and screaming at you? Could someone even hope to maintain composure?

Another point: Yvonne was driving in a neighborhood. While I know kids don’t play outside as much as we did, some still do. Kids are unpredictable and do not follow the rules. Kill or maim a child? Kill me now because I am not sure I could live with that.

So those are my initial thoughts on that. Why did she want to drive? What happened? Tune in next page!

written August 5th, 2017

Continue reading “Behind the Wheel: Part 1”

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Too Much of a Good Thing

by Cora Lyn Sears (see her biography at the end of this page)

2016 was a bad year. In the Spring I lost my hair, in the Fall I was diagnosed with wet AMD. How much worse could it get?

About 11 years ago I was diagnosed with mild AMD in both eyes, and took the Vitalux brand AREDS2 eye vitamins faithfully twice a day. (my mother lost her vision to AMD).

At my regular optometrist appointment last Fall it was determined one eye had advanced to wet. I was devastated! I hadn’t noticed much change in my vision, except I needed slightly more light to read and the reading portion of my progressive lenses seemed to have gotten smaller. The Amsler Grid still showed the same few wavy lines and few very light ‘puffs of smoke’ but nothing terrible. The speed of what followed was a bit scary – an almost immediate appointment with a retinal specialist followed by my first injection the next day.

Before this I had known of the injections for wet AMD but hadn’t thought much about them, thinking incorrectly a few injections would stop it almost permanently.

To date I’ve had the first three injections followed by the OCT testing which showed bleeding still happening. Then two more and another test. Still bleeding. Now on my next group of three.

I had begun researching and discovered your Facebook page and website, spending more time online than I thought possible. The more I read, the more I needed to read. The links to articles about the amount of zinc in my eye vitamins being a possible problem led me to search for the ones with less zinc, which were actually not that easy to find. Someone on your Facebook page suggested Walmart, which is where I finally bought them and switched in the late fall. [Lin/Linda: there are several options from Walmart, only PreserVision have the exact ingredients from the AREDS2 research study.  Click here to see what’s available.]

Now the other part:

Last spring I started losing my hair and within three weeks I was completely hairless. Alopecia universalis!  I tried everything my doctor or I could find with no success. An appointment with a dermatologist confirmed my worst suspicions that this was permanent. Apparently an autoimmune problem. Zinc enhances immunity, right? And I had been overdosing on it for over 10 years. So less zinc should help the autoimmune caused hair loss, shouldn’t it?

But then why is so much zinc in the AREDS2 formula when AMD is connected to the immune system as well?

In January I grew a few eyelashes, then came a few baby fine eyebrow hairs. Now, 14 months after losing my hair and seven or so months after cutting down the amount of zinc, I am starting to see a tiny bit of new growth on my head – only perhaps a few dozen or so, but it’s a start.

It’s amazing how everything in our body is connected and works in harmony, until it doesn’t.

An afterthought… Use the Amsler Grid by a window, not in the bathroom. I saw more wavy lines and puffs of smoke there than I had seen in the bathroom.

written July 23rd, 2017


I’m a healthy 70 year old woman. That’s hard to write as I really still feel 40. I live in Victoria, a beautiful city on the west coast of Canada. I’m divorced with two children and one older teenage grandson. I hike about 5 miles three or four times a week with a wonderful group of like-minded women. I’m a retired journeyman painter with varied creative interests such as sewing and photography. I love to travel, whether a road trip or something farther afield. I’ve followed a low-carb diet for years. I’ve had both hips replaced due to arthritis and sometimes I think if this was 50 years ago, I’d be sitting in a corner in a wheelchair going blind.

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The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 1 by Cathy Meggs

This has got to be some kind of mistake.

It was March 2008, I was 38 years old, married with an 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. I had just started a new career as an insurance agent. My calendar was FULL! On top of my regular schedule with a busy young family – Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, shooting club, & band concerts – I also had Chamber of Commerce meetings, Optimist meetings, and insurance training. So when I realized that I was about to run out of contact lenses, I hastily made an appointment at JC Penney Optical. I had a coupon for a free exam and discounted glasses.

When the day of my appointment came, I had scheduled a lunch with a client that afternoon, figuring an hour at the most for my optical exam. The optician at JC Penney was an older guy, kind of slow and deliberate. Why was he taking so long to look in my eyes with the magnifying eyepiece thingy? “C’mon dude, not another look!” He left the room and came back, looked into my eyes again! Then, he handed me a grid and said “Close one eye and look at the center. Can you see any wavy lines? Are all the grid lines visible?” “What the heck kind of test is this??” I reported that yes, all the lines were visible and straight. Now can I get my prescription and go? Then he stops me cold – he tells me he thinks I have macular degeneration. He sees drusen. He wants to refer me to a specialist and sends me on my way with an Amsler Grid. These are words I had never heard before – macular, drusen, Amsler Grid. ­­­­­ I had to reschedule my lunch, then back to the office. Where I Googled ‘macular degeneration’.

Well, that JC Penney doctor must be confused. Or maybe I heard him wrong. Macular degeneration is something that elderly people have to deal with. I’m sure this is all a mistake, but I made the appointment with the specialist anyway.

Two weeks later, I had my husband drive me to the specialist (RS#1). When I made the appointment, they told me to bring a driver because I would be dilated and unable to drive. So now my husband has to take off work, I have to take off work. What an inconvenience!! We get there, and the waiting room is full of canes, walkers, wheelchairs (and the grey haired people attached to them). “Oh whoa…this is definitely a mistake. I should not be here.”

But the doctor confirms that I do indeed have early dry macular degeneration, and explains what drusen means. He tells me to look at my Amsler Grid every day. If there are any changes, call him immediately. “Ok, bye-bye, see you in a year and go to Walmart to get AREDS vitamins”. Except he didn’t actually talk to me, he spoke to my husband only. So we left there with no intention of ever returning.

I had made a connection through the Chamber of Commerce of a local Optometrist who I really liked. I made an appointment with him to get a 2nd opinion – or 3rd opinion actually. Dr. Murphy would explain that macular degeneration was related to myopia (I was -7 and -7.5 at the time). He ran all the tests I would soon become so familiar with. He gave me the same advice – check the Amsler Grid daily and report any changes, take AREDS daily and fish oil pills.

And I did check it daily. And read horror stories on the internet of blindness, lacquer cracks, bleeds, wet AMD, dry AMD. I read so much, I overloaded myself. I had none of the risk factors – I have a slim build, never smoked a day in my life, no family history, general good health.

This has got to be some kind of mistake. I really don’t have time to go blind.


Cathy Meggs is 47 years old, married with 2 children – ages 17 and 19. She lives in a small rural town in southern Illinois, population 1900. Cathy is an insurance agent, School Board Secretary, President of the local newsletter, and involved in many different organizations in town. Her husband is amazingly supportive, but temporarily living in South Korea for a job assignment. Cathy’s children are well-balanced, achievement driven, considerate and kind. She and her family love to travel the world. Her daughter has been to Belize, Korea, Japan, Spain and Portugal. Her son spent his senior high school year in Japan, and currently attends University of Mississippi. Her hobbies include planning the ‘next trip’, writing, and community service work. She currently has wet myopic macular degeneration in remission (left eye) and advanced dry in the right eye.

Continue reading “The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 1 by Cathy Meggs”

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The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 4 by Cathy Meggs

I have enough shoes.

I now have advanced dry in both eyes, with some distortion. I’m officially at 20/50, but I have to struggle to see that line. I drive during the day, but read street signs? Heck no! I have a magnifying app on my phone (Galaxy Note 5 with a good size screen, extra-large font and bright back-light). I have a flashlight app. I have motion sensitive LED lights in all the closets, and my bedroom & bathroom. I have a magnifying mirror mounted in my bathroom so that I can see my face better. I try to look at restaurant menus online first so I can magnify the screen and read the entrée choices and not struggle in the dimly lit restaurants to see the menu. I sit with my back to the windows so my eyes & brain don’t struggle trying to adjust to light, dark, light, dark. I cut my toenails and pray I don’t clip my skin in the process. I read on a Kindle, or my computer. My kids are 17 and 19 now. My choice to stop driving at night coincided with my daughter getting her driver’s license. Ever had the stress of being with a new driver while also not being able to see very well at night? Not fun! But, it was actually very good timing – she could take me places at night, and I didn’t feel like a nuisance because she needed the supervised driving hours.

My vision is distorted as I look at the grid, or at my computer screen but not so much when I look out at the world in general. I just bought a 43-inch television to use as a computer monitor in my office. My work is very much connected to the Internet and computer, so I spend many hours a day looking at the screen. I have blue light filters on everything I can think of. I have a strong support system with my husband, sister, and children. I have many people in my community that I call friends, and can depend on to help me with rides at night if I need them. I belong to many organizations in town, and I run the local monthly newsletter. I have deadlines, appointments, and meetings to go to. My son is away at college, my husband is on a temporary job assignment in Korea (1 year left to go), and my daughter is an independent young lady.

Sometimes, the frustration of no night-driving gets to me. Sometimes, the feeling of impending doom of vision loss is hard to bear. “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” is a phrase I feel in my soul. (I actually looked up how that phrase came to be – pretty interesting!) I am blessed beyond belief. I still don’t have time to go blind, and I have finally been forced to admit that macular degeneration is a big deal. As for the future, I guess I really don’t like to think about it. Whatever happens, I will handle it and adjust.

And frankly, I have enough shoes – “so whoever is in charge can just keep that ‘other shoe’”.

Continue reading “The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 4 by Cathy Meggs”

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The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 4 by Cathy Meggs
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The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 3 by Cathy Meggs

The diagnosis was not a mistake.

My worry and anxiety kicked into high gear after this. Ok, so clearly the diagnosis of macular degeneration was not a mistake. This is happening. For real. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t get my mind off of it. I got a prescription for a low dose anti-depressant that I took for a year and weaned myself off of. I had two more bleeds in the next few years. One happened while I was loading the washing machine – all of a sudden, there was a dark spot in my field of vision! The other happened while I was driving home from lunch with a friend. Poof! A dark spot in my field of vision. One bleed & injection happened the day before my 40th birthday party which was planned at a bar – a smoky, loud, fun bar. I wore one contact lens (because I didn’t want to wear my ugly glasses to a bar) and went to my party anyway! You only turn 40 once!

Each time, the Avastin doses cleared up the problem and my vision went pretty much back to normal. The recovery after each injection was about 48 hours. I consulted with RS#3 after a few years with RS#2. I still thought maybe there is some mistake with this diagnosis. Maybe there is some treatment that was being overlooked. RS#3 gave me the same tests, and the same advice. His equipment seemed newer and less noisy. Do you know how hard it is to hold your eye open while they shine an extremely bright light into it, and not blink while a random loud shutter-closing noise makes you jump? It is pretty near impossible! Injections administered by this RS are not as painful as RS#2, and the recovery time seems like hours rather than days. I am staying with RS#3. And my trusted local optometrist Dr. Murphy.

Over the years, I have made some adjustments to my life. I have not had a bleed in 4 years. My night vision is horrible. I stopped driving at night about a year ago, only night-driving around my little town that I know like the back of my hand. A few weeks ago, I stopped night driving even here in town. Everything is getting blurrier in general. When I was at 20/30 corrected. I thought, oh man – if this is as bad as it gets, I can totally handle this! 20/30 is no big deal! Then, at 20/40 corrected , “meh it’s not so bad! I can handle this, it’s no big deal.” Continue reading “The Other Shoe, My Journey: Part 3 by Cathy Meggs”

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