I signed up for 23andme a while back and have loved it thus far likely because there hasn’t been any glaring news or flashing reports saying “you will die tomorrow”. This is good news. I’m lucky in that I have very good “genes”.
Just over a year ago, I found out from my birthmom that she has macular degeneration (see this post about surrogacy for more info – too complicated to get into heh). It was a heads up for me to be aware as – you know – we share genes and blah blah biology. I knew what macular degeneration was already because my mom (aka the one who raised me) has it. I’ve found myself reading things for her or pulling out my iPhone flashlight from time to time in poorly lit museums and restaurants. I took the news in and stored it away for worrying about later. It didn’t really hit me consciously. Somehow though… I’ve found myself with 5 pairs of sunglasses in my car in the last year 🤔.
Fast forward to this past week when I get an email from 23andme joyfully announcing new reports for me to check out:
Give a girl some warning – geez. “Sit down before you read this.”
I don’t wear sunglasses often. I have a hard time envisioning being alive after 35. Yet here I am already envisioning my central vision slowly fading and reading everything I can about prevention. I can’t get it out of my head. I keep randomly having moments of awareness when I’m looking at something to really take in what vision is like — to truly pause, marvel, and remember. This has resulted in some moments of appreciation I might not have had otherwise. On the flip side, I was driving to a coffee shop today when the San Diego sun came glaring into my face. I quickly threw on sunglasses and shielded my eyes. My heart rate was up and I was on edge. The same sun that I crave and feel the need to be in to prevent SAD is now this enemy that feels as though it is going to rob me of my vision. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to be a hermit… 😉
This knowledge is power and it’s anxiety. It’s knowing I can try to do something to help prevent this. It’s also knowing I could get hit by a bus in 10 years before any symptoms even come on and that I have to live my life until said bus comes! We have so much potential information at my fingertips that it’s hard for knowledge to not in some way inform anxiety. That same knowledge influx ties into knowing more about others via social media which has been shown to affect self esteem and anxiety. We get to choose whether knowledge gives us power or gives power to our anxiety. I’m trying to choose the former.
At the end of the day, I’m happy to have this information – I know my “moms” would have wanted it at my age. It also ties into why inclusive products matter so much for me. We may all at one point acquire disabilities and my chances of that being related to my vision (let alone something else that naturally will happen with age) are now proving to be increased. It’s a good reminder in my youth to focus on where I want technology to be by the time I will need it in new ways in my old age. This reminder is what I’ve decided is going to be my power from this knowledge.