“Look at me boy, this is your future,” my dad told me after numerous medical issues that seemed to come on as a series for him when he turned 72, some of the highlights of which included a heart attack followed by a triple bypass, blindness caused my macular degeneration and Parkinson’s disease.
We know today that he was probably correct. Through testing, our genes will tell our story. During a routine eye examination at 20/20 EyeCare, Dr. Ryan Zwelling, along with her trusty assistant, Linda, broke the news to me that I am in the early stages of macular degeneration. They suggested genetic testing, which I jumped on, and then wondered, do I really want to know? Would you?
Based on my genes they can recommend a diet and supplements that “may” slow the process down. I held a major pity party for myself initially and then began eating my spinach and kale regularly. They also may be able to project when I will lose my central vision. The good news is that you usually keep your peripheral vision. I remember my dad became very good at focusing on objects from the corner of his eye.
Parkinson’s disease runs heavily on my dad’s side of the family and based on what I read, younger folks can be tested fairly accurately. Since there is no real cure at this time, I don’t think I would want to know if it were in my future. Dad was correct in forecasting macular degeneration, and I’m guessing Parkinson’s will eventfully come. Heart disease may be avoided through a healthier diet and lifestyle than dad. He was a heavy smoker until he quit at about age 45.
Last week, I received some sad news that put this all in perspective. One of my top advertising salespeople from my last position in Niles, Mich., passed away. Lindsey Cloutier was only 31 and had succumbed to her third bout of leukemia. She spent nearly half of her short life fighting cancer. The first two times she rebounded nicely.
Lindsey was one of those people that would light up a room. She was a party starter. She was the first to help others that had challenges. It sounds clichéd but she truly lived life to the fullest, when the cancer allowed. She will be missed.
If given the choice of death or macular degeneration, like most of you, I’d choose the later. As my good old dad used to say, “Things could be worse.”