MD Conference 2017 Report.

 

MD conference 2017

 

On Saturday September 16th 2017, I attended the Macular Society conference in London with my daughter.

Right from the time we stepped outside the Tube station, I was astonished at how well they were organised. As we stopped to look at our maps of the location of the conference, we spotted two people in yellow teeshirts with Macular Society on them. Every hundred yards all the way to the hotel, on every corner, there were more yellow teeshirted people many with flags to attract our attention.

We were greeted at the Hotel by warm friendly volunteers and shown where everything was. Including coffee and pastries.

The exhibitions were many and helpful and as we entered the main conference room, my daughter remarked that she was impressed by the 600 people who were proactive and not just sitting back and being visually impaired.

At 11 am the conference began with a welcome speech. Followed by three speakers. The first gave a simple illustration of the mechanics of AMD, using a packet of biscuits as an example. When the lowest biscuit in a packet is stale, it crumbles and disintegrates. This is what happens in our eyes, and the cleaning cells wear out and crumble. (Not absolutely accurate, but that is the gist of the talk.)

The next speaker was a consultant from Moorfields who was more scientific. And due to restrictions in time he had to speak very fast. But he gave examples of the many experiences of how AMD can progress, both from the patients point of view and the consultants. He also said that while we question why there are so many cases now, we need to bear in mind that we have an increasingly ageing population. Our bodies are not meant to last that long! Which you can agree with or not.

The third speaker gave a talk on Charles Bonnet syndrome. People with AMD can hallucinate. Some hallucinations can be dangerous, for example one may see a brick wall in front of them that is not there. But there could be the day when there really is a brick wall!  There can be clouds of butterflies or people with odd clothes or shapes. They reckon that it is the brain compensating for the loss in sight. There is research going on about this, but no answers yet. However, at question time a woman in the audience said that, she had had hallucinations for some time, but since she had developed another age related disease they had faded away, and she wondered whether there was a connection and the brain was now concentrating on the more serious disorder.  The Speaker was very interested to hear about this and was going to talk to her more afterwards.

At 1pm, we broke for a delicious lunch of rolls, sandwiches, wraps and fruit. Coffee was in full flow all day long.

After lunch we went to the workshops of our choice. We went to the one on supplements and nutrition. Very interesting. The best thing that you can do with supplements is to study the AREDS reports. I will do a seperate blog about supplement and AREDS in a couple of days.

As far as food was concerned, eat the rainbow, which is what I have said in other blogs before. Include lots of veg, the darker the better, and fruit also darker the better. Red meat, (not processed) is good, especially liver.

It was emphasised that once we have MD all we can do through food and supplements is to slow down the process. But that if we take on a healthy lifestyle early in life AMD along with a lot of other diseases can be delayed if not eradicated. I will add that I believe that even if we do go on to have any disease, if our bodies are healthy in the first place, we stand a better chance of recovery or at least we help our bodies to fight it.

It was also emphasised, how much smoking can damage the eyes.

So for those reading this that don’t have AMD, bear in mind that it is another reason to live healthily.

We then went back to the main conference room and heard another speaker on the latest research. They are now in a position where they can announce success with two people who have received stem cell surgery.  Their eye sight was quite bad but they have now said there is an improvement. There are now another five waiting for surgery. It will be about five years though before they will be putting this treatment out for the public. Even then, at the moment it will only be available for the most suitable criteria.

I could not help but wonder what will happen when NICE get hold of it!!

But, my daughter who stands a big chance genetically of getting AMD was encouraged by the day and learnt a lot about how to lessen the chances of it happening. Especially the amount of time and money that is going into research and finding a cure.

There was an awards ceremony for the best team within Eye hospitals, kindest and most helpful Opthamologist, and the various volunteers within and out of the MD Society.

All in all a wonderful day, and all for less than £25 I must add.

I for one am going to become a paid up member of this marvellous society. You will see their leaflets and booklets with loads of information, in yellow and black enlarged print in the Eye departments of your hospitals. I have come accross their literature in my capacity as a volunteer for my local Guild, Improving Lives. I also belong to one of their loca groups who meet monthly.

There is a helpline for those who are worried and want to talk to someone. And there were also the numerous volunteers who guided us to the hotel, were around with their smart black clothing and scarves or ties with the logo on them, to help and support in many ways in the conference and hotel, many of whom have MD themselves, and prove that life does not end with this condition. We can still contribute to society in a way that will encourage those who are badly affected, and prove that.

So, watch this space for lots more to come as I learn more, and experience myself what can happen in our everyday lives with AMD. Everyone experiences it differently, but it is useful to find out from others how they overcome it.

There are groups on Facebook and here are the links.

First the UK MD group for the UK.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/589067591220411/

Secondly for the USA

https://www.facebook.com/groups/amdcommunity/

I belong to both.

The Macualr Society Website is;

www.macularsociety.org/

 

 

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Help! I’m over 65 and Ageing.

 

happycherry_cover

Have you noticed that on any forms you fill out, they have a box for 20-30; 30-40; 40-50; 50-65 (or similar)

When it comes to age 65, we are counted as +

What does that mean to you?

What it means to me is that society, in general, dismisses the over 65’s as a number when everything becomes indefinite.

Over 65’s, in general,  have become indefinite, written off, uncertain about the future, invisible.

But I am working on making certain that any of that will not apply to me.

Over 65 is an important passage in life, and in these modern days, we could still live another thirty or more years. That is a lot of years to dismiss eh?

What about you?

Is it time to change all that?

After all, if the Government want us to work until we are 70 or even more, why put 65+ on forms, some of which are important to our welfare, such as insurance.

What can you do as an individual? Could you be a spark to the fire that helps to change that thinking?

We will show them that there is no such thing as 65+

We are still an important number.

Many people in my circle are still coming up with visions and new enterprises for the future at age 65 +!

There are some Facebook groups that you could join, to help start the ball rolling. Ageing with Vitality and The Silver Tent are just two of them. There is also one called Humorous Ageing if laughing about it takes your fancy. Here are the links.

The Silver Tent for women over fifty.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1755706121345418/

Ageing with Vitality

https://www.facebook.com/groups/113172222365276/

Humorous Ageing

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1485161444859745/

Come on Baby Boomers, do your stuff, work your magic.

 

 

 

 

 

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Regular Eye Checks; Why?

Eye blue side

How often do you get your eyes checked?

 

 

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you eat plenty of vegetables, especially the green ones?
  • Do you know how many people are blind in the UK?
  • Do you have parents or grandparents who have AMD?
  • Do you know what your risk is of getting AMD or any other visual impairment?

 

AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration.) is becoming more common in the 21st Century because people are living longer.

Macular Degeneration as it is commonly known is the breaking down of the macula which is the part of the retina at the back of the eye that provides sharp central vision.

People with this condition can suffer increasingly blurred vision which leads to problems with reading printed or written text, colour, (particularly contrast) and difficulty recognising people’s faces. If you only have AMD and nothing else wrong with your eyes, you will not go completely blind. But you will lose your central vision.

There are other conditions with the eyes such as cataracts, glaucoma and Diabetic retinopathy. I recently heard a story about a chap who went for an eye test, and this was how he found out that he had Type 2 Diabetes. For an optometrist, our eyes are like reading a book. But as a friend of mine pointed out to me just today, you do need to be assertive and make sure that you ask the right questions, and what you can do about any conditions that they come across.

Also only today I heard of someone who had been scared by what the optometrist had said. That there is no cure for AMD and he was in the very early stages of the condition.

It did frighten me when the optometrist told me that I was in the early stages, but I put that fear into action by finding out what was available to help me. So don’t be put off by what they tell you, especially when they say there is no cure and there is nothing that can be done. They may be right that there is no cure, at least at the moment, but there is plenty that can be done to make life easier. I am afraid that many consultants and eye specialists have a habit of doing that, but they fail to point out that there is support available.

If you do find out that you have the early stages of AMD, you can take sensible precautions to take care of your eyes and help to slow up the process.

By wearing glasses or goggles and a hat to keep the sunlight out of your eyes. By learning what aids are available so that you stand a good chance of managing the condition.

So, the earlier you find out, the better. You may not notice anything wrong in your day to day life, except perhaps you may find that reading is blurred even with your reading glasses on. I found out from a regular eye check.

And don’t think that it is an old person condition, some people develop AMD in their twenties or thirties. I know someone who had junior onset AMD at the age of eight.

As a matter of interest here are some interesting facts for the UK. (You can google statistics or facts for your part of the world if you are not in the UK)

  • In the UK around 600,000 people currently have vision impairment caused by AMD, and around 70,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. (nearly 200 per day)
  • Over two million people in the UK live with sight loss.
  • Total sight loss in one eye is not counted against the legality of driving.
  • People with sight loss in one eye are not considered partially sighted.
  • Total sight loss is rare, only about 4% of people with vision impairment are totally blind.
  • Sight loss, in general, affects people of all ages but especially older people. 1 in 5 aged 75 and 1 in 2 aged 90. (This is in degrees of sight loss, from mild to being registered blind or partially sighted.
  • In the UK there are only 5000 guide dogs.
  • Every day more than 75 new people are formally registered blind or partially sighted.
  • 75% of blind and partially sighted people of working age are registered unemployed.

There are plenty more statistics that you can find, and some of them are quite revealing. Many people, including myself for many years before I had this condition, get confused when observing people with vision loss. They cannot understand why the person can see some things and not others.

I cannot go into the details here, but I have written some of what I experience as an example here;

http://www.patriciacherrylifecoach.com/category/amd/

As far as the legality of driving is concerned, it is a minefield. The law may say that you are safe to drive with a vision impairment, in fact, some people with an impairment may be able to see the required reading of the number plate. But the insurance company’s may have something else to say about it.

For example, I was told twelve years ago that I could drive under the law. I have other things wrong with my eyes as well, and one of them is double vision when my eyes are tired. I was issued by the Eye Infirmary with a pair of glasses with one lens blacked out (don’t ask about the technicalities please!) and told that I could drive while wearing them. If I were in an accident, I would be covered by the insurance as long as I was wearing them. If I were not wearing them, then I would be liable.

No-one seemed to take into account that wearing them was a hazard for me because I could not see properly with them on. So I had to make a choice not to drive at all. Driving for me, just as it is for millions of people, was freedom and giving it up was painful. But not as much as if I had taken the risk and failed to drive safely.

The main purpose of this article is to point out how important it is to look after your eyes. The main cause of AMD is not known. But the contributing factors are genetic, diet and smoking.

It is a myth that we can get AMD from bad light or too much exposure to computers, etc. But UV light is a factor and another reason for protecting your eyes in the sunlight. The jury is still out on whether computer and smartphones can cause AMD, but there is evidence surfacing that you can suffer what is known as Digital Eye Strain. Eye strain, however, is not a contributing factor to AMD.

https://www.ft.com/content/435eef82-654e-11e6-8310-ecf0bddad227

Looking at my earlier reference to contributing factors, let’s look at the genetic factor more closely. The genetic factor is only an increased risk. It is not a guarantee that you will get it. But, if you have someone in your family, particularly your parents, with MD, then you need to be extra vigilant with eye care. CauliflowerGet plenty of green leafy vegetables which contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two antioxidants stored in the macula.

See more about this here:

http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/foods-for-eyes/spinach-kale-leafy-greens

As for the other two, diet and smoking; just give up smoking, and eat clean as well as including the green vegetables.

And last but certainly not least. GET YOUR EYES CHECKED REGULARLY. At least every two years. Don’t take your eyesight for granted.

One of the most difficult things for me as well as the other 600,000 people in the UK to come to terms with, is that except a miracle, my eyes are not going to get better than they are now, and they are going to get worse over time.

At the moment, because I have developed wet AMD, I am waiting for my eyes to get worse before I can begin to have injections to make them better. Don’t ask!

The only things that I can do are; to make sure that I get the nutrients I need; to shield my eyes from the sun; to eat clean and to take the supplements that I take, to try and slow up the progress.

It is important to stay positive and just let AMD be part of my life and not rule it! But that will take another article, and again let me refer you to the link for my other blogs on AMD.

http://www.patriciacherrylifecoach.com/category/amd/

The other important issue for people with AMD is to get support. You can get it with the Macular Society. Tel 01264 350 551

https://www.macularsociety.org/?gclid=CL-fk6m66tQCFdYYGwodMnQCgA

I belong to the Macular Society, and there are groups that meet up all over the country in the UK.

And in the UK there is a support group to be found on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/589067591220411/

And in the US:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/amdcommunity/

There are other support groups on Facebook.

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Transformation in Ageing.

flower fairy Florence

I have just been through a vital transition in life.

Through the last six months, I encountered “The Dark Night of the Soul.” A time when I was brought low and was forced to look at my life; where I was going, what I was doing. What was working and what was not.

There are times in our lives when we need to go through these dark nights. It is as if the Universe is saying “You are not listening to me, and you need to.”

I do not believe that the Universe, or God or this higher power, whatever you may like to call it, makes us ill, or depressed because I believe that we bring it on to ourselves. We think that we know best. So we will go on working, doing and striving, and wearing ourselves into the ground, or bed or onto pills, simply because we are not listening to that still small voice.

And that applies to anyone of any age.

Even those who say that they are living their purpose and carrying out what they know they are here on this Earth for, can be so busy doing, that they forget to be still, forget to listen, forget to notice things synchronising or not, and go ahead thinking that we know best.

I came to a place where I was forced to listen to that still small voice, and during that time I became quite ill, physically and mentally, but thank God that I still held on to my Spiritual life.

I realised that I had not been listening, I had been striving and worrying and pushing ahead, doing things that I thought I was meant to do.

I had a family problem to deal with, and although it was settled in a way that we thought was not possible at first, at the end of it, I had a meltdown. Not because I doubted, not because I was weak in any way shape or form, but because I had failed to notice that I needed to go through a transformation in my life. A passage of life that has taken me into my fourth age.

I run a group on Facebook for Ageing with Vitality. I blog about ageing. I talk about how we are still vital, but I had not taken into consideration that the physical body does age, whether we like it or not.

I was proud that I had reached the age of 72 and am still active, vital and healthy, but was finding the lower energy and the ability to multi-task, difficult to come to terms with. Along with a visual impairment that I now have.

We hear so much about staying active; keep exercising, keep walking, keep doing things, keep your brain active and on and on. But we can sometimes, be, so hell bent on doing those things that we ignore this important passage of life. Which is transforming into an older person, but one who can still have a good quality of life.

It may happen at different ages while growing into that fourth age. Some are ready to relax at sixty, while others will still be working at age 70, 80 or even more. But the important thing is that we do need to recognise that there will come a time for transition. It may not be an obvious one, but we need to be mindful of subtle changes.

I don’t mean that we wake up one morning and find that we are suddenly old, although for some who are taken ill this may happen of course. But I am talking about looking at why we are feeling more tired than we used to.

Is what you are doing working for you and the other key people in your life?

And I certainly do not mean that we have to “give in”. What I mean is that like a teenager who has to make the decision whether to go to Uni or the twenty-year-old who decides that life is going to change, they have left their teenage life behind and now have to settle down to life. Or the person going through a midlife crisis and decides that they want to change careers. We need to look at what our purpose is for the rest of the time that we are here.

For me, my transition has shown me that my purpose does not look like what I have been striving after for the last six or seven years. Even though in that time I have been more aware and conscious than ever before.

But I am at peace, and simply want to serve.

Nowadays, when I have a decision to make I ask myself what purpose it will serve?

I am so grateful that I do not have to work for a living now. I am grateful that I have accepted a simpler lifestyle and do not strive after belongings. My income is modest, and I love having no responsibilities.

I am healthy and do eat a healthy diet; I love walking and make sure that I walk at least an hour most days. I stay active; I love the Internet, Facebook and the groups that I belong to on there. I love the women’s group “Damsels in Success”.

I belong to a Women’s over fifty group “The Silver Tent,” whose purpose is to raise the consciousness of the world.

I love going to the Macular Society meetings with others who have sight problems. We have a laugh and obtain lots of important information.

I love eating out with friends and my beloved husband. I love writing and reading. Most of all I love my times with God, in quietude and meditation. Listening to the music of Taize, Snatam Kaur and other inspirational music.

My life is full and rich again after spending the last few months in transformation and healing. The transition into being a Wise Elderwoman.

Look out for regular blogs again now,  about Ageing with Wisdom and Vitality, Death and all that it encompasses, (I am a Funeral Celebrant) and the eye disease Macular Degeneration and what it can be like to live with it. I will also still dabble in eating healthily and supporting people with issues around food and their eating patterns.

It is good to be back again renewed and with a fresh vision.

How about you? Are you listening to that still small voice that may be telling you it’s time for that transition?

 

Life is a beautiful cycle

 

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Staying Vital as You Age?

Pair of red wet cherry fruit on stem with green leaf isolated on whitecherry blossom

The blossoms are the essential part of the progession to the fruit; and the fruit is just as vital.

Have you noticed when you are filling in a form, they put the age brackets into such an order that when you reach 65, it just becomes 65+?

Society spends a lot of time, worrying, fretting and resisting the very idea of ageing.

But as we evolve as humans in the 21st Century, isn’t it time for us to embrace the idea? Especially as many of us are living for another thirty to forty years after retirement.

We still matter! Because as long as we have breath, we are still vital.

Illness and disease can occur at any age, so why do we think that old age has the monopoly on it?

Yes; our bodies do wear out and become weaker and frailer, and the chances of succumbing to degenerative disorders are stronger.

But being Vital in our older years is still as much a part of life as when we are younger. There are many younger people who don’t realise how vital they are to society, so why do we insist on giving old age the honour?

The word vitality is being used too loosely these days. It is used to promote products, and ironically anti-ageing foods and creams. Consequently, we think of vitality as something that is easily lost and associates that loss with ageing.

Some of the synonyms for the word vitality are; Liveliness, energy, animation, spirit, passion, sparkle and vibrancy; the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things; Vital force or energy.

If you study those words and bear in mind that we are all made up of Mind, body and spirit, you may realise that you can retain them.

Liveliness can remain in the mind and spirit, along with vibrancy and passion.

Every one of us, from birth to death, have something to contribute to the world. No matter where you are, where you live, the state of your mind or health, the state of your finances, whatever your intellect or culture you have a VITAL role to play. At any age.

You may not ever become rich, a writer, an artist, a teacher, a celebrity or earn lots of money. You may even be thinking at this moment that you are not successful because you haven’t reached a goal that you had in mind. You may have just been diagnosed with an illness or condition that you perceive as a road to failure.

You may even be thinking that you are already a failure, let alone when you get older.

You may have just retired or are coming up to retirement, and you see the future as bleak and that you will no longer be a vital part of society.

On the other hand, you may be looking forward to a bit of peace.

Do you have the thought at the back of your mind that it is downhill all the way after the age of 65? Do you think that you must do the things on your bucket list before it’s too late?

Too late for what? Perhaps too late to be able to travel freely, too late for certain activities, yes. But have you thought about what else it may be too late for? Are you seeing the time to come, the “too late” as a time when you are sitting like the proverbial cabbage?

The truth is that; As long as you have breath, you are still vital!

But how can I remain vital when I am too weak or helpless to do anything?

All of us have energy running through us as long as we are alive.

Most of the time we are unaware of it and only when we are active in some way, we become aware. But it is there; how else would your heart keep beating, your eyes seeing and all the other organs in your body stay working?

Collective energy is what you feel in a crowd at a football stadium or when the whole world stood still when we were witnessing 9/11.

We are part of the Universal energy, and what is more, it is Vital to every one of us, it is what keeps us alive. You are part of that collective energy.

Even people in a coma, or under anaesthetic have an energy running throughout their body. And they are still vital to the planet and in turn to society.

And even the person in a state of weakness, infirmity and very old age, have that energy and vitality.

People become “old” at any age. The physical process starts at age 27. But in many peoples minds, they begin to feel old as soon as they see the first grey hair.

We put people into categories or brackets. We have expectations of what we can do at any given age. We use the expression “I’m too old for that.”

The perception is different in all of us. Some may still be playing football or running at age ninety; others may need to stop being physically active at a much earlier age due to injury.

When we run upstairs and forget what we came up there for, we fear that it’s the ageing process setting in. Forgetting that most of us at any age do that. What about the schoolchild forgetting his sports kit, or losing his jacket? Do we ask if he or she is getting old?

We think of the darkest fear that we have with the process of old age as a line of events.

  • We retire; we travel or join things; take up mew hobbies.
  • Next; we expect we will start to suffer from disease which disables us from doing all the things that we like to do.
  • We then expect that it’s downhill all the way to becoming useless, a burden on society, and want just to die.

But guess what? That vital energy is still there.

Remember that the Universe does not centre around you, but that You are simply a vital part of it.

So as you become weaker and frailer, you can have either a positive effect on others or a negative.

Prepare for your older years with the thought in mind that you are vital to those around you at this time, and you are on the road to FEELING vital until the day you die.

Another synonym for vitality is spark or sparkle. Are you going to be the spark that lights people’s fire, even when you simply smile at people around you?

Don’t tell me that you can’t do that when you are old and frail. I know many who do. 

Having the spark that lights people’s fire starts at any age. Think of the effect that even the youngest baby has when they smile for the first time.

Are your family and friends going to be drawn to see you? You can do this by staying energised while you can by listening, learning, reading, writing and creating new things.

If your niche is gardening or craft do it, while you can.

Stay informed, be active, eat well.

Research drugs before you take them. You do not have to just go along with what the doctor says and jump on the roundabout of taking one drug after another that dulls your brain and mind.

Make younger friends, don’t just join the local senior citizens club and talk about the weather or your latest illness.

You have a lot to offer younger people coming along. Only three days ago, I was lunching in the centre of London with a young student from Singapore. How did I get there? I was at a Seminar on making choices with people of all ages.

The turning point for me was when at the age of sixty, a friend of the same age commented that she hated this business of getting old.

I thought “I’m outta here!” No way was I going to join that bandwagon.

Yes, I am ageing, yes time is running away with me, but I changed my thinking to one of “My older years are going to be a time of learning, wisdom and supporting others to do the same.”

I for one will remain vital until the day I die.

How about you?

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AMD. Emotions.

 

early signs md 2

We all suffer loss at some time in our lives.

The feeling of loss comes from losing something precious.

A loved one, a loved possession or perhaps moving from a beloved place.

It can be a loss of a limb, of our hearing and our independence perhaps.

In the case of Aged-related Macular Degeneration, it is a gradual loss, but there comes the point where you have to accept that it is never going to get better.

(Some people like to claim that it can get better because there are treatments available outside of the NHS in the United Kingdom, but I have looked into that, and it depends on what type of AMD you have.)

I want to share with you my journey with this problem because I can see that there is such a lack of information about what people are actually experience. I did not know about the darkness, distortion, light sensitivity and other problems. I just thought that it was a matter of losing central vision.

Now I want others to know what to expect or what their relatives or friends are experiencing. I do understand that there are no two cases alike. Each person’s  experience will be as different as each of the millions of others who have it.

Yesterday after suffering from dry AMD for two years, and then a further nine months with WET MD, I finally reached the point where I had to face up to the fact that it is never going to be better than it is now.

I am currently waiting for the point where my eyesight has degenerated to the NICE guidelines, so that I can start having injections to slightly improve the sight or at least arrest the deterioration. (Injections cost the NHS £1000 each.)

In the last two weeks, I have been experiencing distortion, and I thought that my eyes had reached the necessary point.  So I was surprised when the consultant said that there was no difference on the scan from four weeks ago.

When I asked why I have the distortion suddenly, he replied that he was surprised that I had not had it before.

He also explained that I only have it in my GOOD EYE!

It is weird how I have struggled seeing out of my bad eye, all of my life, but now the good eye is so bad that the bad one sees clearer!

He also explained that the injections might slightly improve the sight again, and they will most likely maintain the sight that I have. But it is worth repeating that the sight has to get worse before it gets better.

This is where the conundrum comes in. I suddenly realised that the sight I have now would never be any better because they will not give me the jabs until it gets worse. Therefore it is never going to be any better than it is now.

Does that make sense? My emotions went into a dip yesterday when I realised that deep down I was hoping that the injections were going to make things better.

I hope that this blog makes sense to you and you can understand what I am trying to say.

I am firing this off early in the morning before a busy, but enjoyable day out in Falmouth in Cornwall with some friends. I am so grateful for that.

A very kind liaison lady came to see me at the Eye Infirmary yesterday, and she gave me some anti-glare goggles to place over my glasses, for the light sensitivity. She was there for me and listened and reassured me that I would never completely lose my sight unless anything else goes wrong other than the MD.

So I have a lot to be grateful for. But I wanted to share this to my groups on Facebook, and others who may find it when looking up AMD on the internet. Just to help people understand this condition that bit better.

I am also grateful for the lovely people in my local MD group in Plymouth, for their company and understanding. When we eat out once a month, we can sit and laugh and feel somewhat normal, even with the enlarged print menus that the restaurants provide!

 

 

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Can I Prevent Age-related Macular Degeneration?

early signs md

 

early signs md 2early signs md 3

 

 

 

      These illustrations show the progress of how a person with AMD can experience the decline in vision.      

 AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) is quite a common condition .

The macula is located at the back of the eye and is the most sensitive part of the retina. When it is damaged the centre of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted or dark.

I MUST EMPHASISE THAT IT IS THE CENTRAL VISION THAT IS AFFECTED AND PROVIDED THAT YOU HAVE NO OTHER EYE CONDITIONS YOU SHOULD NOT GO COMPLETELY BLIND.

Ageing itself can cause damage, and there are two types of AMD commonly known as Wet or Dry.

The dry type is slow advancing, and many people will have it for some time before they notice there is something amiss.

The first signs are that you may find yourself forever cleaning your glasses. Or you may simply put it down to needing new glasses or that you are putting poor sight down to part of the ageing process and ignore it. It is mostly picked up when you have an eye test. Generally speaking, it begins at the age of around 50, but since nothing happens at any certain age, that is not a given fact.

Dry MD can slowly develop and once diagnosed, it can be monitored and you can change your diet and lifestyle to help slow the process down.

However, 1 out of 10 cases develops into Wet MD and can have more serious implications. Although with wet MD there are injections to slow the process down, there is still no guarantee that it will work.

Let me tell you my story.

Nearly three years ago during a regular annual eye test, the Optician showed me the photos of the back of my eyes, and I could see white spots. (Drusen)  He explained that these are signs of Macular Degeneration.

I felt quite alarmed because my Mother has it and I have seen her struggling over many years. But this optician told me about a nutritional supplement that would help to slow up the development. We shall discuss that supplement in the group that I hope to start on Facebook.

I already knew of a Guild in Plymouth which helped people with vision and hearing difficulties, so I went along and found a lot of information about the condition and also what aids there were available.

They also told me about Plymouth University having a department where you could go and have regular examinations and also be a guinea pig for students learning Ophthalmology. Not only that but if there was a serious development, they could contact the Eye Infirmary direct and I would not have to go through my GP.

I rather liked that idea, so I went. And for the past two years I have enjoyed talking to the tutors and students and finding a lot of information. They also have a scanner there, and it was fun to see the back of my eye laid out for interpretation.

They have been impressed with my tenacity and resilience to the situation, and how I stay so positive. But I must admit to being quite alarmed at times when I notice more severe symptoms such as distortion, even to the extent of seeing people’s head’s shaped like ET.

I have a couple of other issues with my eyes, such as double vision which manifests when I am tired and with the added complication of the 6th nerve damage. So, eleven years ago it stopped me from driving. Although I had the problem all my life, as I got older I could not control it so well. But that is another story.

The 6th Nerve damage was caused by the forceps at birth. Resulting in what is commonly called a lazy eye. So I am mostly reliant on my left eye, I often describe it as “I can see all right, but it feels like the brain will not tell me what it is I am seeing.”

Because of the problems with my right eye, the Eye Infirmary are keeping up regular monthly checks. If I lose the vision in that eye, I will be in trouble.

Last July I went along to the University because although the regular eye test at the opticians resulted in new glasses, I was still struggling to see. They did a scan and found that it had developed into Wet MD.

Wet MD is where abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina, and these vessels can leak fluid and blood, which can lead to swelling and damage of the macula.

The University fast-tracked an appointment for me at the Eye Infirmary (What a horrible name)

After numerous tests, the EI are monitoring me regularly because when it reaches a critical point, they can start with injections into the eye, which will slow up the progress.

The latest development is that peoples faces are distorted and have taken on a perculiar appearance. I have adjusted my own image here so that you can see what I am seeing. me-now-2016Distortion

 

 

 

You can read in a previous blog how this affects my everyday living.

http://www.patriciacherrylifecoach.com/experience-macular-degeneration/

Some people have claimed that there is a cure, but I have yet to come across any proven cures. The EI and the University certainly have not found any.

But I was asked the other day about whether MD can be prevented.

It is best to start as early as possible to make lifestyle changes. 

Although none of us can guarantee to prevent any disease in our lives, there are things that you can do to strengthen your chances of not getting it. Or giving your body a better chance to deal with any disease at all.

It is no surprise to me that the answer is the same as with many other diseases of the Western world, such as obesity, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other modern diseases.

  • Avoid Smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish.

I do all of these things and also take a special supplement called Macushield.

I am considering starting the Facebook group for this condition, both in helping people to try and prevent it and how to deal with it.

Would you please comment either on this blog or in the comments on Social Media if you would like to join us.

There are plenty of MD Facebook groups in the US, but because our health care systems are different in the UK, I think that it will be of benefit to many.

Also, of course, the nature of the condition prevents people from reading on Facebook, and I suspect that many don’t get the opportunity or are not aware of the advantages of it.

But it may be that you have a relative or friend that you could help by belonging to the group.

Would you please share this, because I would like as many people as possible to benefit from a good Facebook group on AMD.

The picture below is the scene without any eye problems!

Meadow

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Experiencing Macular Degeneration.

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I thought I would write about Macular Degeneration from the point of view (pardon the pun) of someone who is experiencing it.

This is a condition where the Macula at the back of the eye, degenerates with ageing. People who have the condition lose their central vision.

This results in loss of visual acuity and/or losing the ability to use contrast.

Because the problem is with the central vision, people may not be able to see other people’s features.

People who have this condition can fall into various categories, they may be extremely challenged and have very poor sight, or they may be just struggling to see what people without the condition can see and take for granted.

People, in general, do not understand this condition; I used to be one of them, and wonder why the sufferer (I hate that word but cannot think of a better one to use) can see some things, but not others.

Let me give you an example. I was in a store the other day looking for a warm cardigan. The cardigan I wanted was hung fairly high, and I could not see the sizes. So I asked the assistant for some help because I have a vision problem.

She asked what size I wanted, passed it down and walked away. I managed to find what I wanted eventually. But I had to keep lifting the various cardigans down because I could not see the sizes. This is to do with contrast. The sizes on the labels were in such small print that I could not see them. The sizes on the hangers were yellow against brown. NO CONTRAST.

When I went to the counter to pay, the unhelpful assistant was standing watching. The assistant behind the till asked if I wanted a bag, and when I looked down there was a five pence piece on the floor so I joked that I would have a bag as the five pence for it had just been supplied, and I picked it up.

The other Assistant, remarked, “Your sight can’t be that bad then if you can see that!”

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to be defensive. So I tried very patiently to explain that there are some things that I can see and others I can’t, and the reason why I could see the silver five pence piece was that it contrasted well with the dark carpet on the floor.

This event is what prompted me to write this. In the group that I attend for MD we are very aware of people’s ignorance about this condition, and because people are living longer now and it is a degenerative condition, there are many more of us cropping who have the condition.

You may see people, like me, who walk around using a symbol cane. There are three types of canes for sight and vision problems.

Most of you will know about the regular white cane or walking stick, which has been in use for generations.

Then there is a cane with black and red stripes, which is for people with sight and hearing problems.

The cane that I use and is coming into popular use is a Symbol cane, or Identity cane.symbol-canesymbol-cane-folded It is to alert the public that I have a vision problem and to be patient if I seem to be slow or getting in the way, or I am asking for help.

This simple little device brings me more understanding and patience from people. Once they can see that there is a problem, because of my symbol cane, most people are kind.

But there are many people who are confused, which I have already mentioned.

The problem caused by lack of contrast manifests itself in a few ways. There is one example above. in my story about the cardigan hunt.

I can see letters as long as they are in good background and lettering colours.

I can see, black against white or yellow or pale colours.

But I cannot see lettering on two similar colours, for example; white on blue or green or pale colours, or black on red, brown on yellow, and horror of horrors two shades of the same colour.

A menu in a Restaurant I visited recently was in lilac lettering on a beige card. I could not see a thing! Even though compared to many I have good sight.

Contrast is also important for steps, bus and transport platforms, and edges of pavements. We already use contrast in our everyday lives for these things because of health and safety for everybody.

For people with MD, good contrast can be essential.

It may be worth while to consider that when you are designing an app or a website for example.

A report by the BBC from 2011 says that there are over 60,000 people in Britain with the condition and the numbers are predicted to rise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12736988

The condition is not curable, but there are things that you can do to help avoid it while you are younger. Also there are supplements that you can take to help control the speed that it takes control of your sight.

Once again good nutrition is vital http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/amd-prevention.htm  and supplements which contain Meso-Zeaxanthin as well as Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and copper.

You can obtain supplements claiming to be for your eyes, but the best ones contain the extra Meso-Zeaxanthin.

Eat plenty of green vegetables which contain Lutein.

I recently heard an eye consultant claim once again that it is a waste of money taking supplements for MD, because if you eat a good diet, that should be enough.

But the nutritionists among us will agree with me, that the question is “How many people bother with a good diet?” Secondly, by the time food reaches us, how many nutrients have seeped out, if they were there in the first place with the depleted soils of the twenty first century?

Other contributing factors, as well as the genetic one, are the same as for other conditions, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. My contributing factors were smoking for thirty years, and the genetic one.

I tried to think of a better word than sufferer earlier, because I don’t see myself as a “Sufferer” but as someone who is experiencing the condition. However, it would sound crazy to go around saying “I’m experiencing the condition of Macular Degeneration!”

So please don’t misunderstand and think that I am asking for sympathy, I am simply letting you all know what MD is and what people “Experience” with it.

So, if you see people with a white symbol stick, yet you are wondering why they seem to be able to see, I hope that this information will help you to understand a bit more and shed light on the confusion.

Comments are welcome.

 

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Vital or Redundant in Ageing?

Vector icon of justice scales

 

The Cambridge definition of the word “Vital” is;

Necessary for the success or continued existence of something; extremely important.

The Cambridge definition of the word “redundant” is;

Unnecessary because it is more than is needed.

Which category do you think you fit into?

 

I am determined that I fit into the vital one. I have decided that right up until the day when I die, I will not become redundant.

Because I know that what you think is what you get, I know that this will happen. I want to be vital to my family, friends and all those that I come into contact with.

You may be thinking that this is a huge claim to make. None of us knows what is going to happen to us from day to day. We may think we have a fair idea, and we make plans, but often those plans don’t come to fruition.

But being vital is all about what we make of those times when things go wrong. It is what we see in them and what we make of them.

Yesterday we took my 94-year-old Mother to an outpatient’s appointment at the hospital. She is very frail, so we needed to hire the use of a special taxi to take her in a wheelchair. When we were coming back, the taxi driver fell off the ramp leading into the taxi, and the wheelchair and Mum fell sideways off the ramp and landed on top of the taxi driver.

At first, we thought that everyone had been injured, and that could well have been the case. But as we were in the hospital car park, there were medics on the scene very quickly.

No one sustained any injuries; I was glad to be able to leave it to the experts and just observe what was happening.

The outcome was good, and even though my mother can be difficult at times, it is her plucky spirit that keeps her going. I saw a different side of her, the grim determination to be vital, kept her from being kept in hospital overnight.

When she saw my brother later in the evening, she joked that she was all shook up like Elvis.

Yes, the thing could have turned out to be more serious, and we might all have been thinking differently this morning. I am not going to go into the idea that someone was taking care of her because often that can seem too high-minded to many people. But the thing is that it all turned out to be well.

The taxi company gave us a free ride home, the wait in Casualty was only an hour, my Mum saw the funny side of it and is feeling grateful that things were ok. The taxi driver was unhurt and so was Mum.

There were so many good things that came out of the incident. There was the sense of caring and expertise from the staff on the scene, and I was able to relax and surrender my Mums care to them.

The fact that I can see the funny side of it, the fact that I can see the good that came out of it and the fact that all was well; is being vital.

If I were feeling redundant at my age now, I would probably have just seen how awful it all was. I could have felt redundant when I had to leave the matter to the experts. I could be thinking that the taxi driver was an idiot. I could be cursing the fact that the dogs had peed on the carpet when we eventually got home!

But my strongest feeling this morning is one of gratefulness and knowing that we are all vital, as long as we are alive.

No person needs to feel redundant. Even those elderly people suffering from dementia, are vital. Those who are very ill and dying, at any age are vital.

Even that person who “Gets on your Wick” has a place in the world.

So are you vital or redundant?

I know that I am vital, and that’s why I am Ageing with Vitality.

Just an after-thought here. My definition of being vital does not mean that we have to have the body or energy of a forty-year-old! That may be possible for some, but please don’t run away with the idea that if you are feeling less energetic than you were in your forties, that does not prevent you from being vital!happycherry_cover

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Vision and Purpose as we Age.

 

vision board 2016

Many may say that at the age of 72, all you need to worry about is looking after yourself. Your health, your wealth and your welfare.

Yes, folks that is so true.

Taking care of ageing bodies is vital for your health, by *eating sensibly, keeping active and taking good care of the financial situation. Care of your appearance is also important, and hygiene with your personal care and surroundings is essential for general well-being.

Keeping active in the sense of exercise, such as walking, swimming or weight supporting activities, is also something to keep those bones and the cardiovascular system healthy.

And what about your Spiritual and mental wellbeing?

Meditation* is fast becoming one of the ways that people are getting in touch with something more than the outer body and world.

Spirituality, awareness and consciousness is a great purpose as we age.

Yesterday I went to a casual meeting of Damsels, (A national movement called Damsels in Success for women) in which we made up our vision boards for what we want.

Contrary to many older people’s beliefs, there is nothing wrong with wanting things, as long as we are not taking them away from others.

But we were all reminded that our wants are not just about things.

We thought about our purpose too.

We need to think about what we want in the way of why we are here, our legacies to the world in the way of wisdom, service to the planet as a whole and spreading love and peace. How we want to be in our interactions with people, and how we want the world to remember us.

Younger people tend to think about purpose as being what their careers may be or how they can serve the world and make a living doing what they love. That is the natural course of life.

But as we age, it is a good idea to look at our purpose in the last what could be thirty or forty years of our lives.

We had a lot of fun yesterday, and there were some children there too. Adult children and young children alike were absorbed in finding pictures in magazines. Cutting and gluing and arranging the pictures.

Now my vision board is sitting on the wall in my office, and it is going to be interesting to see how it develops.

I did a vision board about two years ago, and three quarters of it came to fruition. So this idea works. It is mainly to help to focus on what you really want in life.

I have published my vision board above for you to see. Some of it is not very clear, but I hope that you will get the gist.

There are holidays that I want to go on and clothes that I want.

On the right-hand side, you can see a picture of an audience. That is a vision I have for speaking to larger audiences. So far they have been quite small.

There is a picture of a choir, well actually I already belong to one.

The picture of Helen Merrin contains the words “Gold not Old”. I am aware that I cannot change my older looks, and the wrinkles, but I want people to see past the wrinkles and see the gold of kindness and support to others.

On the left is a beautiful garden in which I can visualise myself sitting. We only have a small garden where I am living, and gardening is not my forte. But year after year and with some patience, I am gradually building up something like the illustration. But you never know, one day something or someone may turn up to help me make a better job.

There are several little sentences that I found such as “Home is where the heart is”  “See the beauty in everything”  “Why be dull?”

There is also a sentence at the bottom that clinches it all. “Signed Sealed and Delivered”

That means that I believe that it will happen. The Universe always has our best welfare in mind. I never cease to be amazed at the synchronicities that happen every day for me.

I am not saying that life is golden, and things are not tough for me at times, but when they are I am aware of the fact that the Universe does indeed have my welfare in mind because it has everyone’s welfare in mind. We are all part of that whether we are aware of it or not.

What is your vision and purpose for the rest of your life?

*There are blogs on these subjects on my Website, patriciacherrylifecoach.com
happycherry_cover

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