New Spec(k)tacles. Same Person.

I mentioned in a post last week that I’d write more about my eye appointment later. It’s been looming over me all weekend, and I realized I was feeling reluctant to put the words on paper (or computer screen….) because I’m having a hard time with what happened at my eye appointment. But it’s time to get this off my chest.

After almost 20 years with diabetes, and worrying every year when this day would come, it finally did: The doctor found a tiny spot of retinopathy in my right eye.

Whew. There. I said it. I put words around the raincloud that’s been on my shoulder since Wednesday afternoon when the doctor leaned back from her chair and the spaceship-steering-wheel-contraption they use to look at the back of your eye and said “you do have a little speck of retinopathy back there. It’s so small that I can’t even classify it as a Stage anything at this point, but you should know its there.”

I’ve always dreaded my annual eye appointmen. More than a foot inspection, more than any A1c, more than any diabetes-related appointment ever. I’ve always had anticipation and anxiety if this would be the time they find that “something.” I’ve wondered that for almost 20 years now, and on Wednesday, “something” had finally arrived. So there’s that.

Now the question is what to do about that. More importantly, how to feel about that. The doctor had her recomendation: “keep doing what you’re doing. Your A1c is great. Work on minimizing fluctuations in your blood sugar.” I get all that. I know I’m doing a good job. In fact I know I’m doing the best I can. In that respect, I feel pretty good about all this. I feel like at least it is only a speck. For now.

But perhaps because you put in so much effort, you want to always come away from these appointments with “nothing” instead of “something,” no matter how small. Even if it is “nothing to worry about” in the words of the doctor, it’s there. It’s that reminder that diabetes is creeping around your body, wreaking havoc, while you are out here in the world trying your damn hardest to stop its evil mission, trying to control everything in your life just keep diabetes “happy.” That little speck sums up exactly what’s so frustrating about this disease: it doesn’t play fair.

Finding out this information is really about having another choice (as if we didn’t have enough choices to make with diabetes already). The choice is this: let that little speck define me, make me feel like a failure, make me feel like diabetes is winning, make me want to give up on all the hard work I’ve been putting in for 20 years.

Or, I can let it be what it is: Just a little speck. A tiny little dot that has no bearing on who I am as a person, as a warrior against diabetes, as a person who IS trying her hardest and should celebrate that and the fact that she is incredibly healthy despite this little dot of perturbance in one eyeball. It’s one speck. One tiny upset in a lifetime’s worth of wins against diabetes. And that’s all I’m going to let it be.

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I’m sorry to hear about that scary little speck, but I applaud your insight and attitude about not letting it define you as a person or how you live with your diabetes. I had that same “scary” news about something a few years go, and at the time my A1c wasn’t great. It was a matter of nothing else being needed except tightening my D-management, which I did. Not much has changed since, though it’s slowly progressing (got that news last time, in the fall). We can be paralyzed and let these things define us, but that’s no way to live – so kudos for carrying on and doing what’s needed. Best your way!

Mike – thanks for your encouragement. Hearing from readers like you is why is why I started a blog – to now we are not alone in this!! Thanks for your kind words.

h, Lexi…how scary that is. But be assured that laser works oh so well. If and when that time were to come for you or any of us, we’ll be okay.

My doc found a speck about 5 years ago. I’ve gone to the same doc and to others for the last 4 years and no speck. With great control your chances of getting specks greatly decrease, right?

Dwayne – yes, the better your control, the less chance of getting retinopathy. Unfortunately though, the stats show that the majority of people with Type 1 diabetes, even with good control, will develop some amount of retinopathy after 20 years with the disease (this is according to Wikipedia, so don’t quote me). But, it’s important to keep in mind that great control will SLOW and perhaps stop the progression of complications. So even if you have a speck, good control can keep it from getting bigger.

Hi Alexis!
It’s been awhile since I’ve commented.

I completely understand your dread for the eye doctor. I absolutely love my eye doctor and he takes the time to explain everything (and I mean everything) to me…which is what I prefer. I was diagnosed 24 years ago with Type 1 (January 28th, 1988 to be exact) and I do not use a pump, but am MDI-er.

With this in mind, I am COMPLETELY petrified for the dentist. I went to my appointment last Friday and had the dreaded x-rays to take. I know that being T1 that I have gingivitis and such and can have major tooth problems, like we all have enough to really worry about. I made it aim to control my BS’ better and things will start to get better. I went to the dentist on Friday—CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH. They said that this is the best that they have seen my gums and my dentist said, “Your A1C is lower, right?” I said yes but just by .1 and he said that every bit helps.

My point? Keep your head up. Like Gary Hall Jr. wrote to me in an email: Life is like a roller coaster. Without the highs and lows, this life wouldn’t be as rewarding. 🙂

Eileen thank you for commenting – glad to know you also dread a certain Dr. appointment – get nervouse about my teeth too but how awesome that you got a clean bill of health – YAY!. LOVE the Gary Hall quote – that’s inspiration right there, and a good way to turn the negative (our ups and downs) into a positive!! Thank you 🙂

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