Always a Silver Lining

by Vickie Hoecherl

I started noticing that highway overpasses had nonexistent “crimps” in them back in 2009, on a cross-country a road trip.

I already knew I had drusen, but the crimps were something new. I made an appointment with an eye doctor, who diagnosed me with macular degeneration. I was 56 years old and otherwise in good health.

Since then both of my eyes have progressed to advanced dry macular degeneration, also known as geographic atrophy. The crimped distortions have morphed into quarter-mile stretches of highway that simply disappear. Somehow, my brain fills in the blank spot with sky and empty road. (Disconcerting, to say the least.)

Because my geographic atrophy is central, it started messing with my vision fairly quickly. There’s a silver lining though. I became highly motivated to research any lifestyle change that could help me.

Along the way, I’ve discovered some things about myself.

I love throwing whole-foods together in new, creative ways. I take pictures of my creations before I eat them — compiling photos and recipes for a future website.

I’ve also learned that I actually CAN walk a 5K with running intervals every day. Now, on days I don’t run, I know that something is missing.

I’ve discovered that good and bad things tend to happen simultaneously. I lost my driver’s license, but now I cherish my walks outdoors even more. Some relationships have faltered, others are deeply strengthened. I have a deeper empathy for all handicapped people – my soul is larger now.

I never dreamed I would start to lose my vision. I was always the one who stopped to look at an exquisite flower or beautiful sunset. I still drink in beauty wherever I see it. But now I know that, sometimes, it’s a smile that lights up a room.


Vickie Hoecherl is 65 and lives in northern Michigan, where she managed a branch of her county’s library, part-time, for 15 years prior to her retirement two years ago.  Before moving to her current town, she  traveled with her husband in his Air Force career.  She also has worked six years as a journalist, writing and editing newspaper copy.  She loves the outdoors and she walks every day through whatever weather northern Michigan can bring. Each summer she travels even farther north for hikes along Lake Superior and for time at a north woods cabin.  She takes photographs (quite often of her lunch before she eats it) and is planning a website to share the nutrient-dense recipes she has developed.


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