Every year that goes by with diabetes that you don’t have a complications it feels like you escaped something. Like you’ve been running away from this awful specter of the dreaded, faceless “complications,” but you know that statistics say it will eventually catch up with you. But you always keep running, trying to outpace them. And every year when I get my eye exam, I’m always thinking Is this it? Is this the year that I get put in the category of “diabetes, with complications?”
Two years ago, my eye exam showed a tiny spot of retinopathy on the right side. It was so small it could barely be detected. The next year, the ophthalmologist could not see any issues in either eyes. The initial spot had seemingly disappeared. But now, just 14 months after that last “all clear” exam, its back. And in both eyes.
Yes, its minimal. Yes I have had diabetes for 21 years and I know odds are this was going to happen at some point. Yes I know that the best course of action right now is to get even tighter control and stall this issue out as much as I can. Yes I know that there are surgical options further down the road but I don’t want to even have to think about that. What I want is to have outpaced it for another year, and I didn’t.
When you get that diagnosis, you can’t help but feel guilty. My control was compromised last year because we decided to travel for three months in Asia. I made a choice to go back to MDI, travel the world, eat every last noodle dish this side of the planet had to offer, and change times zones as often as I changed socks. And it cost my A1c dearly, climbing up into the eights and then taking me a full year to get back under seven. I can’t help but feel like the resurgence of this retinopathy is completely and utterly my fault. Walking out of the eye appointment, I felt that heavy, suffocating, crushing blanket of Diabetes Guilt layer on to me.
But I also felt determined. The doctor had said that he really wanted to see my A1c under 6.5% and I agreed with him completely. I told him that’s where I’m used to being and that I’m committed to getting there. If the prescription for my eye complications is to tighten control even more, then I’m game. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I’ll keep running. Even if diabetes is right behind me, trying to pass me, or trip me before the finish line, I won’t quit. That is all you can do with this disease. Just keep trying.