Eye Yi Yi.
"Just tell me what line you can read. Smallest one that's clear, okay?"
"Got it." I looked across the room to the eye chart. "SNDRZ. That's the smallest one that's clear."
"Awesome. 20/16 vision. Better than 20/20, my friend!" The eye technician made a note in my chart, and then came over to apply the eye dilation drops to the inside of my lower lid.
"So now I go sit in the depressing waiting room and wait until I'm dilated?" I asked her, standing up from the examination chair.
"The depressing room?"
"Yeah, the one where there are mostly older people and almost everyone is using a cane and being escorted by a family member or something. Not exactly uplifting." I don't know why I had a chip on my shoulder.
"I never thought about that. But yes, that room. There's a big TV, though. That's uplifting, right?"
I smiled at her. "I'll take it."
I wandered out into the eye dilation waiting room to let a few minutes pass as my pupils freaked out. I tried to look at my phone but my vision was starting to sparkle-motion on me and I couldn't see a thing. So I watched the history of Boston (and how Back Bay was literally the back bay of Boston) and waited.
Eventually, I was called into the office, and my ophthalmologist shined the bright light in my eyes while she asked me a few questions.
"So you had the baby! How old is she now?"
"She's six and a half months. I love her. She's awesome."
"Good, good. So have you had any issues with your vision? Any changes that you've noticed?"
"Sort of. I have this bit of cloudiness in my right eye. Over on the far right side. I'm not sure if it's exhaustion or eye strain from too much computer work, but it's the biggest change I've noticed."
"Okay." She took to my right eye and looked around for a while.
"Anything?" I asked. I just wanted to know.
"No, nothing in that area. You might just have some dry eye moments or eye strain, like you said."
I let out this breath I didn't realize I was holding.
"But there is some retinopathy. And some macular edema. Just a little bit - more in the right eye than in the left - so we're going to keep very close watch on this. It could get better, it could get worse. There's unfortunately no telling."
"So it's worse than before the pregnancy?"
"Yes. You've gone from mild non-proliferative to moderate. And that's okay. We can handle that."
She kept talking, and I was listening to every word she was saying. I heard the words "blood pressure" and "laser surgery in the future, but not now." I heard her tell me that laser surgery wasn't necessary at this point, and that we wanted to schedule a four month follow up. I heard her tell me that my eyes were still in good shape, considering 24 years with type 1 and my recent pregnancy. And I heard her say that this wasn't something to completely panic about - just something to watch closely.
I heard all this. I heard her reassuring me. And I felt this weird combination of relief and sadness. Because I'm in it, now. Eye complications. I won't be holding my breath during eye exams any more, because I'm not waiting for the change, for that first moment of "Oh, you have retinopathy." I know it's there. I have hope that it will repair itself, and that better diabetes control can contribute to faster healing.
We talked for a bit, and I fumbled with my phone to show her pictures of the baby. I visited the retina photographer and had a few photos of my eyes taken, and then I ventured out to the parking garage to retrieve my car.
I thought I might cry, but I didn't. I thought about calling Chris or my mom to tell them the news, but I didn't do that either. I sat in the car for a few minutes, listening to the sounds of Boston churning around me. It felt good to just enjoy the silence. It was going to be fine. Things were progressing in my eyes and that was to be expected, after two decades with type 1 and the effects of a pregnancy. It's not time to panic yet. It's just time to be aware.
I can handle this.