Ten years ago, I got on a plane and went to Florida to hang out with a bunch of diabetes people. I was getting to know (IRL) the people that had previously lived
only in my computer.(aka the Children With Diabetes Chatrooms) There was no Adults With Diabetes support. I volunteered to be a chaperone at the Teen Dance,which amounted to me standing outside the door and making sure no parents snuck in.(That was how I met Joe S.)
2015. My ninth FFL. I am kind like the shy little sister that hangs around and that everyone kinda knows of,but not really knows,because I am a shy introvert and public speaking doesn't happen much. The thing about introverts,they have just as much insight into things as the extroverts but nobody gets to hear it much. I will say that I have become more outgoing but still most people don't remember that they "met me" the year before. (I also must be a sucky conversationalist.) The regional (2004)CWD conference in DC,the very first one I went to, I didn't say a word I was so shy.(I think I have improved from that.)
2.5 weeks ago I had a laparoscopy,& spent 8 days recovering from that. On Tuesday,(the 7th) the hubby kid and I flew down to Florida, getting to the hotel about 2 pm. Spent some time at Hollywood Studios but by 8:30 pm we were all pretty tired & went back to the hotel to crash.
Wednesday was amazing..the one Masterlab session that I went to was like a "play" of diabetes,emotions,and how it related to our lives. And we read out loud what we had written. It was incredible and there wasn't a dry eye in the room. After that I had to go to a Focus Group with my friend(for Omnipod) which was a chance to tell them what they needed to incorporate,AND pick up some Disney Dollars for participation. The afternoon was spent crashing(nap.) And at 6 pm,the exhibit hall opened and a buffet was served. It's always mass pandemonium in the exhibit hall,but still fun.
On Thursday, after dropping J at childcare my friend and I did the Celiac screening,& then went to the retinal screenings. They had a lot of trouble with their equipment on me,& had to do everything about 20 times.(because of my fake lenses) And someone before us was receiving some very bad news so Dr. Ben had a lot to handle with that family(& making arrangements for treatment). It was a couple hours later,& we had moved into the last "consultation room," and the medical student was telling me she wanted Dr Ben to take a look at a couple of things and my brain was going straight to "I'm screwed" while trying not to have a panic attack waiting for Dr Ben. Dr Ben came over to the computer,went through the tests,& said he had to run one more something looked swollen.(come back in 20 minutes) I went and gulped down some lunch from the buffet and was back in 20 minutes.(hubby had picked up J,eaten lunch,& gone back to the room) Dr Ben took me back to the primary testing room,took several more photos,& then showed me the photograph of my left eye. Said photograph looked like an aerial photo of Mars..with one large black,crater looking area.
"You've had a bleed. Here is your macula,if the bleed is in your macula it can permantly affect your vision. It's not in your macula,comparatively speaking the bleed and the macula is like the distance from New York to Chicago. It's not an active bleed-you see the little yellow things around it? Those are exudates and it means that the body is trying to heal itself. It can heal itself in a few months. Better control will help."
"Is it purely diabetes related?"
"Yes,500's did this. 300's do not."
One 500 can do this..
(& I'm not perfect. I've had a few 500's in the past few months. But I've lowered my a1c by 0.8 in the past 1.5 months. I am getting where I want it to be.)
I don't believe what I am seeing,yet the evidence is there. I've had no eye issues,no hint of a problem between last years exam with my opthamogist and today.
"I didn't know it could happen that fast."
"Yes it does."
Tears take over at that point,and I ask for a hug before stumbling out the door to seek a bathroom to unload my grief in private. My first real complication,here to stay. I don't feel like doing much of anything that day,like the black crater on my eyeball just took over my heart as well. Things go on though.(with a banquet that night)
The next day,there's a session on complications that my friend literally drags me to,upon threat of everyone coming to the hotel room to bring the session to ME. That was what I needed to hear though. So many brave stories were shared,and though I'm not sure I really know how to convince myself it's not my fault it helped to hear that no matter how many complications we may get,it doesn't mean our lives were without purpose.(plus,we are managing an unrelentless disease 24/7/365) Remainder of the conference, I cried on a few more shoulders and had a few more heart to heart conversations and spent two days doing theme parks full throttle before going back on Monday.
Tuesday: surgery stitches out.
And Wednesday came. I was there,bright and early for my opthamologist appt. They moved pretty quickly,with the standard medical questionnaire, eye pressures, charts and drops and about ten minutes later getting to see the doc.(I had J with me as the babysitter is on vacation this week) My Optho took his standard 15 seconds per eye,everything is fine see you next year..
Wait a second. Stop everything.
"Are you sure? Because I had a screening at a diabetes conference,& they said there's a spot of something in my left eye."
"I don't see anything. Who did this "screening", anyway?" (The condescension in his voice was oozing from every pore.)
"Children with Diabetes conference and I think it was a NJ school of medicine with the eye screens?"
"What did they tell you?What kind of screening was it?"
"That its a bleed and it needs to be monitored and it should go away. And I should see my opthamologist for it."
He takes another look then,with mirrors and bright lights and look up/down/sideways.
"Your retina looks fine. I am seeing a small bit of blood,a speck really. I think it is neovascularization. I think a retina specialist should take a look at it though."
"Is that NPDR?"
"Yes. Normal,really, for those who have diabetes. I don't know if this is diabetes because it looks very stable and usually it is in more then one area so I want them to take a look at it."
Impression: Oh great,it could be years old and you are just now catching it. Incompetant much?
"This "diabetes conference"...have you gone several years?"
"Yes." (I can see where this is going,he's now feeling insecure about missing this and is trying to figure out if I am second guessing his skills.)
"Well,we will see you next year. And by the way..tell me next time someone sees something in your eyes,hmmmm?" Side friendly pat on the shoulder.
Yep, I'm done with this guy. Arrogant condescending incompetent charmer. I may just see what retina guy has to say and either just go to him,or find a new Optho.
It's been an exhausting few weeks. I now have a whole lot of respect for Dr Ben and zero for my ex-opthamologist,I feel belittled,confused,and more then a little T-d off at what my Optho had to say. No respect for anyone else(who hello,caught your mistake you idiot) and no respect for the dr-patient relationship. He did manage to completely erase any residual "should I switch" doubts. I'm still processing the sadness from this diagnosis but it helps to have heard that NPDR is not a "done deal" toward blindness,the majority of T1's do get this.