If you want to know the annual doctor's appointment that gnaws at my nerves the most, it's not the gynecologist. It's the eye doctor.
Coming in second or third to the stories most people will tell you about their family member who didn't take care of their diabetes and lost a foot are the stories of somebody's uncle/aunt/brother-in-law (etc) who went blind.
I never feel like I know what my eyes are doing there. Are they just sitting in my skull, happily doing their jobs? Is there more to it than that? Retinopathy, sounds like the most insidious of all diabetes complications. It just lurks in the backs of your eyeballs until your eye doctor discovers it. Sometimes I have a bad blood sugar day where my eyes refuse to focus properly. Near the end of a bout with what may have been the norovirus earlier this year (still not sure what illness it was exactly) paired with an infection, I became super photosensitive very suddenly. Light literally hurt my eyes when I got out of bed in the morning. I was terrified. What would the eye doctor find in three weeks?
Luckily, the photosensitivity faded with my illness and the completion of my antibiotics. It could have been a symptom or a side effect, not sure which.
Two days ago, I was at my annual eye checkup. I had a new doctor, who was a nice guy in his mid-40s. He checked my vision, and while I need to change my prescription slightly, he encouraged me that I was looking great. Even with my ridiculous nearsightedness that I've had since kindergarten, I can still be corrected to 20/20 vision. There are new glasses in my future. I'm excited and also sad to see these glasses go. After that quick exam, I was given drops.
He said my pressure looked great, which is reassuring given the history of glaucoma in my family, but then I had to wait for my eyes to dilate. That's the moment I tend to get a lump in my throat. I paused in my mind to reason with my retinas. Okay, guys, you're feeling okay, yes? Maybe? Please?
Sitting in the chair for the moment of truth, I asked, "So be honest, tell me how they look? I've been diabetic for 22 years now. I've been told that you can tell I'm diabetic by looking at them but there's nothing to worry about."
"They look great!" he exclaimed. He paused to look at my chart on the computer. "Actually, they look better than last year. I can see one micro-spot in your right eye, but it's practically nothing. And like I said, it's even better than before."
Sometimes I feel like I will forever be dodging bullets, despite my best efforts. It's always comforting to know I can fight another day. My eyes are 99.9% perfect. After 22 years with type 1, I feel happy just knowing that. I feel lucky. And of course, I always feel like I could do better.
So for now I hope that eye squirrel stays friendly. Or that he's maybe more of a transient eye chipmunk, or a degu.