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A tiny person clutches a giant flashlight, shining it on a set of grey stairs.

Walking Into the Night

Recently we visited a beach community. It is the kind of place where people vacation year after year, bringing their families and their dogs. The community sits on a piece of land temporarily rented from the ocean. It was one of my furthest trips away from home since the start of my thyroid eye disease (TED) journey.

Most of the houses there are built on stilts to provide some protection from the high water that inevitably comes during hurricanes and big storms. The last storm that came through must have been a doozy because most of the staircases have been replaced. The wood has all been bleached in the salt air, so the stairs add a certain charm and "rustic-ness" to the look of the structures.

When I looked at them from above it was hard to differentiate between 1 step and another; the color was uniform, the pattern was uniform, and there was no distinction between 1 step and the next. It was easy to walk up the stairs – you could always see the space between, down is a completely different perspective!

Walking into the dark with thyroid eye disease

One night we went to a local eatery. Like most places around there it caters to the summer crowd with large tables for big groups. The weather had been lovely that day and people were clearly enjoying themselves at dinner. As did we.

Then it happened. We walked out of that brightly lit restaurant into an inky black night. There was not 1 light on that restaurant’s porch, nor in their parking lot. There ahead were those weathered grey wooden stairs and the parking lot of crushed grey shells. I can feel myself starting to panic thinking about it even now.

Immediately everyone in my family turned on their cell phone flashlights and many hands reached out to help guide my way. But the damage was done. Was that snickering I heard behind me?

Still with all that help I could barely make it down those stairs. I could not rely on my vision to give me guidance. Visual clues were gone between the darkness and the lack of distinction in the wood.

I was so relieved to finally get into the car.

Reflecting on this moment

TED has changed many things about my life and the way I can function. Sometimes I forget that I am no longer able to do all the things I used to be able to do so easily. Sometimes I forget that people do not see me the same way I see myself.

Although my first reaction was panic, I now also think of this experience with some embarrassment. I was embarrassed that other patrons thought I could not make it down the stairs because I might have had too much to drink with dinner. But maybe more importantly, that my family had to see me as so vulnerable – I could not even get down a flight of stairs!

Traveling with TED

My family has been through a lot on my TED journey. They were hoping this trip would encourage me to begin traveling again. I think the experience at that restaurant that fateful night changed my outlook on travel. I have another trip planned soon and I am very anxious. I will keep you posted.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ThyroidEyeDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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