No way out

I met a lovely older lady last night who confided in me that she was losing her sight, and as a result, had decided that when it got bad enough, she was going to kill herself.

She’d had a fascinating life and a couple of great careers. She’d traveled all over the world, taken lovers, made a lot of money and took great pleasure in being an avid reader who surrounded herself with bright colors and souvenirs of her travels.

Now she lives alone, still has a job she absolutely loves, and is terrified about what will happen when she can no longer drive, or even read.

I told her the only really useful insight I’ve ever had in my life is that when people believe they’re boxed in, it’s really that they’ve boxed themselves in. “There are four walls to that box. One of them is ‘I would never’, the second one is ‘I can’t’, the third is ‘No one would help me’ and the fourth is ‘I don’t want to’,” I told her. “I don’t think it’s that you have no options, it’s that you have convinced yourself you have no options, or that those options are out of your comfort zone.”

As we talked, I found out that she’d only told one friend about her condition. “Why haven’t you told anyone else?” I said. “If you were my friend, and you didn’t let me share that burden with you, I’d be pretty pissed off. If you can’t be vulnerable with your friends, what kind of friendship is that?”

“I don’t want people fussing over me,” she said.

“So you’d literally rather die than ask people for help?” I said.

“People aren’t good with that kind of thing. Sometimes they don’t want anything to do with you when you’re sick.”

“That’s true with some people, but others can really surprise you,” I said. “You should consider giving them the opportunity.”

She really is one smart, interesting lady, and she told me about her job. “I often tell my clients there are so many support resources available, and that they shouldn’t stay home because they assume there aren’t any,” she said.

“Physician, heal thyself,” I quipped.

She looked startled, then laughed. “You got me,” she said.

“Just sayin’,” I said.

2 thoughts on “No way out

  1. What a sweet story. I hope that she takes your advice and start really sharing with her friends. I’d love a happy ending!

  2. And she can have a happy ending. My Dad has macular degeneration, and only had eyesight in one eye to start. There is so much support out there. He reads tons of books on tape/digital for the blind (administered by the library in Philly, and the people there are so helpful), plus a bunch of magazines (the Nation, Atlantic Monthly, This Week, health & nutrition newsletters, etc.). Many of the nation’s newspapers are read digitally over the phone daily. There is door-to-door public transportation here for doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc. (it’s not perfect, but it’s there). Our town also has a service run by the area churches for appointments. There’s more help available from the state of PA also. She sounds so resourceful; while she can still see, it’s time to find out what’s available. If I can be of assistance, Susie, let me know via e-mail, and I’ll compile a bunch of info.

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