63: No Complaints

63: No Complaints

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

No Complaints

A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Macular degeneration didn’t sound scary when Mom first mentioned it. She told me her cataract surgeries the previous fall had been successful. Her eyesight had grown worse over time though, not better. Her ophthalmologist had referred her to a retina specialist for more tests. She’d let me know what happened. No big deal.

Two months later, Mom called to share the test results. She’d been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD as it’s known in medical circles. Her macula, the central part of her retina responsible for detailed vision, was deteriorating.

“Remember I told you about the two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet?” she asked. I remembered; I’d researched the condition online.

The “dry” version of AMD moves slowly. People with dry AMD may retain good vision with no other symptoms, or their central vision may gradually start to blur. The “wet” kind of macular degeneration moves fast. Abnormal blood vessels in the retina begin to leak and bleed, usually causing visual distortions and rapid vision loss.

“I’ve got the dry kind,” Mom said, “so there’s good news and bad news. Here’s the bad news: Doctors have no viable treatments for the dry kind. There’s nothing I can do about it. But the good news is I’ll go blind less quickly.”

Blind? I couldn’t imagine my mother blind.

Images from the past raced through my mind: Mom devouring a new book with a mug of hot coffee in her hands; Mom reading her Bible in the early morning light; Mom glancing at a recipe card while she stood over a mixing bowl; Mom and Dad on the couch watching a football game; Mom reading a story to her grandchildren. I wondered what images the future would hold.

“I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

I didn’t know what else to say.

“Oh, sweetheart, you don’t need to feel sorry for me,” Mom replied. “God has blessed me so much. I’ve seen a world of beauty with these eyes. I’ve seen sights I never imagined I’d see. If I go blind, I’ll have nothing to complain about.”

Mom may have said more, but I heard nothing else for a few minutes. I was replaying her last four words: nothing to complain about.

Mom told me later she chose her response to AMD ahead of time — before she received the diagnosis. She knew the choice would be harder if she waited to see how the condition might change her life. And she wanted to focus on her blessings, not her losses.

When Mom’s macular degeneration moved from dry to wet a few years ago, she didn’t grumble. When her doctor recommended monthly eye injections, she took the plan in stride. She’s received twenty-eight injections in her right eye so far. They’re not fun, but they haven’t slowed her down.

I can’t imagine someone sticking a needle in my eyeball, but my mom handles the process with humor and grace. Her attitude isn’t surprising, I guess. Why would you whine about a needle in the eye if you were okay with going blind?

~Donna F. Savage

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners