Sunday, June 8, 2014

Turning and Turning

It's been a busy couple of months in my home. We just moved houses two weeks ago. It's conference season, vacation season. We have so many things to do and so many places to be. And in the back of my mind and whenever I've glanced at the calendar on my kitchen wall, tomorrow's appointment has been creeping closer.

The Ophthalmologist.

I had planned to blog about it after the I did after I saw Dr. Eyes last year...and as I did after my retinal screening with Dr. Ben last summer.

But instead I'd like to tell you what I feel before I go. Because there is no way to prepare. And because you may feel this way, too.

I'm typing this post with a blood sugar of 393. No, nothing's wrong with my diabetes management (she explains to her nonD-audience). Just a typical day. I know why my blood sugar is high today. I know that it's "my fault" because I ate a snack and forgot to bolus insulin for it because I'm still unpacking boxes and chasing my tiny minions around. My continuous monitoring sensor was weeks old, so I trashed it this morning after my shower and also forgot to apply a new one. My pre-lunch blood sugar was normal. Etc. Etc. D-bullshit and such. Just explaining that life is full of pre-occupations right now. This is not the most interesting paragraph of my life.

But it makes me think about how, even if I never slipped up, even if I never got it "wrong," I'd still have no idea whether or not eye complications were here or not. They're not visible to the person experiencing them and they happen to people with diabetes without discrimination. I'm not having any floaters, blurs, headaches, etc. No reason to be concerned except for the reality of almost 24 years with this disease.

My history with eye concerns is complicated. First, it looked like I had serious problems (with no symptoms) as a college kid, then my eyes looked perfect as a young adult, and then, in 2013, I saw the very first little needling of problems - pinhole sized hemorrhages in my retinas. And by saw, I mean that someone showed me. Because I see just fine.

Every six months, the old pinholes have reabsorbed, but new ones are nearby. The exam photos never look the same. Like a kaleidoscope slowly turning, each field slightly different from the last time you looked through it.

I have - quite literally - no idea what Dr. Eyes will see tomorrow when she stares into that scope. And that's the terrifying thing about going to the eye doctor as a person with diabetes.

We sit down at that roulette table, lean toward the equipment, and call our bets. Wait for the spinning, spinning to stop. Hear the call. Deal with the aftermath.

I've seen too many friends dealt such painful, painful losses at that table. I've read an equal number of jubilant status updates and tweets where they walked away with full pockets.

I will never forget the day I sat in my car outside an ophthalmologist's office 16 years ago and cried my eyes out, alone in my car. Never more alone. Or the dances I've done walking out with the words "no diabetes in your eyes" still ringing in my ears.

Tomorrow, I hope to bet against the House. And I hope the ball stops gently...wherever it happens to stop.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"
---The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats


  1. I am one of the lucky ones who has never had a bad eye appointment. I still worry about each one of them and often worry that maybe the doctor wasn't looking close enough at my eyes. Last year on DSMA Live there was an interview with a retinal opthalmologist/surgeon.

    The main takeaway from that interview was that if you keep your eye appointments, these docs have a huge arsenal of tools to help you maintain your eyesight. If you don't get your eyes checked on schedule, then they can't help you because you're not giving them the chance.

    By continuing to get your eyes checked, you are doing your job. You know you're not alone because there are some other really special DOC people dealing with the same problems.

    Thinking of you:-)

  2. Like a kaleidoscope - what a great comparison! I've had old spots disappear and new ones emerge for years, but never thought of it quite that way. And when suddenly NOTHING is seen, I worry that they missed something (as I wrote about recently). It's like "teeny tiny spots" are better than none at all, because it tells me they're looking. (Then there's that one doctor who missed my eye with the drop completely, but said it didn't matter because he could see fine without them dilated. Never went back to him again!)

    You never really know what will happen, but my thought is that we go there so they can find it and fix it, if need be. Hopefully your doctor finds very little in your eyes, and even less to concern yourself with.

  3. Sending lots of love and good vibes your way.

  4. XOXOX. I was in a Focus Group about this last week. It was for Dilated eye exams. I was the only T1D. Out of 9 diabetics, only 2 of us get regular dilated eye exams (2 people never have had one and didn't know what it was). The stuff people said during the focus group was so upsetting I was in tears when i left. You are staying on top of this Melissa. Believe me on this. As Laddie said, "The main takeaway from that interview was that if you keep your eye appointments, these docs have a huge arsenal of tools to help you maintain your eyesight." This is so SPOT ON!

    Much love to you and I have been there... well not sobbing in the car, but sobbing audibly while walking down Park Avenue. not little cute snif-snif crying... Nope, the full-on, flood face, nose running madness, crying... more than once. Love, love, love to you.