Endos: 3 Optos: 11
Confession: I don’t have an endo. Yeah, I know, I know—we are all supposed to have one. But, frankly, I don’t see the point. Don’t get me wrong, my original endo back when I was first Dx’d was a big help. But once I got my sea legs with the disease I didn’t find the one hour a year with the endo (fifteen minutes every three months) to be very helpful. I had two endos retire on me—you should always seek out a doctor much younger than yourself—and after test-driving a third whom I didn’t like, I just threw in the towel.
But speaking of seeing, the annual visit to my eye doc is a different story. I hate going to see him, because it’s scary. But I never miss it because while I can see what’s happening with my blood sugar, I can’t see the back of my retina.
My eye doc is a thin, patrician-looking man. He always dresses East-coast doctor style with the personalized long white lab coat and a tie. He never has so much as a hair out of place. He walks without a sound and speaks in a soft voice. All things being equal, he reminds be a bit of the Grim Reaper, only in white, rather than in black. Still, I like him and it seems to me that he gives me a more than average going-over each year because I have diabetes. He takes his time. In fact he spends more time with me on a visit than any endo ever did.
And without fail, the first thing he asks me each year is: “And how is your A1C?”
Because our A1C machine at the clinic must be broken, or malfunctioning, or something, this year I was able to say, “Six-point-five on the nose!”
That’s a great blood-sugar control conversation stopper with any doc.
So without further ado this year, he dropped stinging battery acid in my eyes to force the pupils open, robbed me of my glasses, poked my eyes with a blue light-tipped probe, and then blinded me until my ears rang with a piercing white light. But it seemed, from what little I could see, that he was frowning.
Why would he be frowning? Is there… a problem?
Worry began to set in. Followed shortly by panic. Deep in my stomach a knot formed. It spread upwards, outward. Primal fear devouring my soul like a wildfire. OhMyGod. It must be the first signs of retinopathy! The statistics on retinopathy and type 1s began to drift through my mind. Rolling across my eyelids like the red and purple after-images of the bright lights I’d been subjected to: Ten years after Dx is when you find the beginning of eye damage in half of us.
Could this be it for me?
My eye doc sat back for a moment. Then started the exam over again.
My mind retreated to the darkest corner of my skull. What would it be like to be blind? How would I be able to work? I couldn’t commute. I wouldn’t be able to see the downloads of my patient’s meters, or read their body language when they lie to me about taking their medicine. Plus, if I blew out my eyes, what would that do to my credibility as a diabetes educator?
My eye doc rolled his chair to his computer, typed in a quick note, then turned to me, and very seriously said, “Well everything looks great. I don’t see any signs of diabetic retinopathy what-so-ever. No signs of cataract. No signs of glaucoma. Your reading vision is unchanged, and your distance vision has only changed by one quarter diopter, you don’t even need new glasses. Keep up the good work, and I’ll see you next year.”
The panic evaporated. The shadows in my mind retreated.
Happiness is a clean bill of eye health.