My eyes were wide, wide open and my pupils were dilating further by the second.
It’s strange, sitting there as the dilation solution starts to affect your eyes. Things start to look a bit wavier and the light seems brighter. Then it’s almost too bright to focus and you ask them to turn off the fluorescents above you.
“No problem. Now let’s talk about your diabetes.”
“Yes, I’m a type one. Since 1986. I just marked my 20th year a few weeks ago. … I’m trying to get it under 7%, yeah. No complications. I do take Altace for high blood pressure, though. … yeah, it’s working okay, I think. How many times? Um, I test about twelve times per day, on average. … Yeah, it makes me anxious not to know what my bloodsugar is. I did have a cotton wool spot about a year and a half ago, sort of prompted the whole Altace thing. It was gone as of September 2005, though. I’m feeling pretty good. I exercise a lot.”
He shines the light in my eyes. Looks at me with that weird miner cap with the light on it.
“Look over my shoulder… okay … at my left ear … okay …”
The visit goes on and my eyes are wide, wide open.
“Left eye looks good, kiddo. You work hard to take care of yourself, don’t you?” The light shines brightly in my face and I wince a little bit.
“I do. I do my best.”
“Right eye has that little cotton spot and a very, very small hemorrhage … two very small hemorrhages. Nothing to worry about, though. They’re so small. So over at dLife, what exactly do you do?...”
And I start to cry. Not big, sobbing, aching tears but the ones that just spill out and you can’t stop them and they burn so hot on your cheeks.
“Bit leaky there, eh? Those eye drops make people react differently. I’ll grab you a tissue.”
Blot at my eyes. My eyes.
“So, nothing to worry about. I wish every patient I saw who had been diabetic for 20 years was as fastidious as you! Your eyes look great. Nothing to worry about.”
“The spots, though? The hemorrhage? What do I do about that?”
“Keep doing what you’re doing, Ms. Morrone. You are testing often, eating very well, exercising more than most patients I see. You are doing a fine job. Twenty years is a long time with this and you are doing just fine.”
My face is so streaked with tears but it’s okay because the lights are still dimmed and he can’t see me clearly. I can’t see anything clearly.
“Can I do anything differently? I want those spots to go away.”
“Well, see how tight you can run your sugars. And maybe increase that blood pressure medication, because a higher BP doesn’t help. But just stay on top of things and you’ll be just fine. This is nothing to worry about. You're doing a fine job.” He snapped my chart shut. “Just visit the girls at the front desk and they’ll set up your six month follow up.”
I work hard at this. Harder than I’ve ever worked at anything before. I devote so much of my time to trying to monitor my diabetes that sometimes it makes me ache. I’m scared that it’s never enough, that no matter what I do, it’s won’t ever be enough to keep me safe. Monitoring bloodsugars, seeing the best doctors, eating a very healthy meal plan, exercising diligently, keeping myself as educated as possible – and it isn’t enough.
People tell me that they wouldn’t know I was diabetic by looking at me. And now that secret hides in my eyes and I wonder if people know.
I’m scared. And I can’t help but blame myself a little bit. There’s so much guilt with this disease sometimes that it suffocates me.
I thought about not writing about this on the blog because I’m scared to see it actually written down. I’m not sure if I’m ready to really face how scared I am of this sometimes. And I know that it’s just a little smudge in my eye and it may correct itself and all I have to do is work harder, but to have someone regard it almost as what is expected to happen to me … I don’t want what is expected. I want to defy expectations and have my doctors say, “Wow! Fifty-three years with diabetes and you are in terrific condition! Wouldn’t know by looking at you.” My stomach is in knots at the thought that I’m 27 years old and I’m forced to face more of my journey as a diabetic. The doctor said there’s nothing to worry about. My family says it will be okay. My boyfriend says he loves me today and will love me 50 years from today, regardless of what happens. I don’t feel sick. I hardly ever feel sick. But will it get me? Will it change the course of my life and make me sick? Will I ever feel safe or am I always waiting … waiting for that next bit of dodgy news, that sharp poke of a complication, that fear making my heart it’s home.I'll keep trying - I'll always try - and tomorrow won't feel as scary. But today does. And so did yesterday.
My eyes are wide, wide open and I’m scared to look at myself. I don’t want to change. I don’t want this.