Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Memories: The Day the World Went White

Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share. (Thanks to Jasmine of Silver-Lined for this topic suggestion.)

It was May 1999, (it always seems to be May when such things happen, but I digress) and I'd just been diagnosed with diabetes 5 months prior. I'd worn glasses for nearsightedness for much of my life, and coupled with the diabetes diagnoses my vision was on a rollarcoaster. After diagnoses, however, things improved, went back to normal. One month after diagnoses, I'd had an eye appointment with a pediatric opthamologist who told me that things were back to normal, in that regard. And my a1c improved from 23 to 14 to 9.

And then came May. There were no signs, no indication of what was about to happen. I'd had a little bit of blurry vision (that I chalked up to allergies) and went to sleep one night, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen.

Next morning, my vision was almost completely obscured, it was like trying to stare through a white sheet with little pinprick holes. Naturally, I freaked out...and we got a stat consultation at the pediatric ophthalmologist.

I remember sitting there, scared out of my ever living mind, thinking that this was the end, this was blindness & diabetes had already managed to ruin my life already. And I remember the pediatric ophthalmologist talking about me, not to me, to his roomful of residents as they all took a look-see at my eyes. I remember the words "we can try surgery, which may or may not work, because we're not entirely convinced that this is all that's going on," and how that made me feel. I remember the pediatric ophthalmologist saying he'd only seen this before once (in his entire career) was an acute, rapid growth of cataracts within a few days time, and most probably related to the extreme drop in my hemoglobin a1c. And then we went home, to wait for the surgery.

Blindness. I couldn't read my meter. I couldn't draw up my insulin. I couldn't read, watch tv, do so many things you take for granted. I could see (and feel) well enough not to run into the wall and give my self a concussion, but that was just about it. My family went on a camping trip (I had to go) and I was a moody,depressed, introverted, wreck. They went to a Star Wars movie and I couldn't go. And one morning, there was a severe low blood sugar (the number "12" was involved) that made me even more ticked off at it. I was almost completely dependent on others, for my disease management. And that didn't help my desire to foster independence and self-sufficiency with this disease.

Two weeks later, it was time for surgery. I'd never had surgery before. The room was white, and cold, and the orderly had to gently guide me with his arm to prevent me from tripping over the IV pole and falling flat on my face. I felt shame, embarrassed that I couldn't see the bed & that I was half naked & I couldn't see where to climb up on. I felt fear that I'd never see again. And I felt anger, that diabetes had done this to me.

When I woke up, there was a patch over one eye. The world was still white, and I still couldn't see anything. We went home and I had to spend much of that time laying flat to give my eye a chance to heal. The next day, the resident doctor took the patch off & the world literally smacked me in the face with it's clarity. I saw the doctor, I saw the floor, I saw every detail with amazing new wonder. And the tears rolled, unabashed, down my cheeks.(if it would have been proper to jump up and down and hug him, I would have) Two weeks later, they did the other eye and both eyes could see again.

Diabetes took something from me, but it gave me back something much more precious. I don't take my sight for granted anymore...I cherish every day I have with it. I am grateful that medical technology is able to fix that particular complication. And I pray that that is the only serious complication that I will ever have, from this disease. It taught me that even though you can't always prevent this stuff from occurring, you still need to take diabetes management seriously. (odds are much higher that it will happen, if you don't try)


Colleen said...

How very frightening!
And yup, it's important to not take things for granted.

greenpalm said...

I had no idea something like that could happen. I'll have to look that one up! Julie of
Girl Glycosylated

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow! What a story, H!

Daisy said...

Beautifully written post. Sounds absolutely terrifying, but I'm SO glad they were able to fix it. This is the first time I've come across your blog, thanks to D-Blog week, but I will most definitely be coming back to read more :) Keep up your great work!

Scott E said...

My goodness, I was terrified just reading this! I'm glad it all worked out in the end, but that brief time must have been awful.

Personally, I always hated it when my pediatric endo used me as an educational tool. I questioned what his #1 priority was at the time...

Erin Michelle said...

Wow. I'm so glad everything turned out in the end. Thank-you for sharing your story.