"Do you want to see your retinas?"
Who can resist that question?
"Yes. I totally do."
They look like giant, back-lit pumpkins on the screen, and for a few seconds, I forget those pumpkins are actually my eyeballs, photographed just seconds prior.
"So these are the veins," he traced the photo with the computer's magnifying glass. "And these are the arteries. This part here is the optic nerve. And this is your macula."
(The macula looks a lot like a weird eyeball nipple. But this is a thought I kept to myself, for awkwardnesses sake.)
"And this web-looking part is where those cotton wool spots are. And this light area, right near the macula? That's the spot everyone watched during your pregnancy."
"So that's my c-section spot, right? The one that determined how I delivered?"
I paused, not sure how to ask my next question without it sounding too loaded. "So do my eyes look like they belong to a diabetic?"
"No. Twenty-something years with type 1? These eyes look great. And I'm happy to see that everything looks old ... none of these issues are new, and none of these bleeds are fresh. I'm looking at an eye that is continuing to heal. But if it came to determining whether or not you'd want to change medication levels for your blood pressure meds, or if you wanted to have another baby, that's a discussion for your team at Joslin. I'm forwarding all of this information on to them this afternoon."
I forget sometimes how delicate the eye is. I think about it briefly every night before I go to bed when I put that ointment in my eye to protect my cornea from reissuing a tear (thank you, Birdy thumb nail), but I forget how many small, spidery blood vessels are mapped out in my eye. I don't often think about how the placement of one, small hemorrhage in my eye determined how my child was brought into the world. Seeing a photograph of a giant, delicate looking balloon is one thing, until I remember that orb is in my head, and its safety determines so much of my quality of life.
I don't have perfect eyes, and I know this. My diabetes complication isn't one you can see, but it's one that I closely monitor and take very seriously. It's part of what fuels me to test my blood sugar in the morning, even before firing up the coffee machine. It's part of what makes me tie the laces on my (albeit horrendously ugly) running sneakers every day and get my body moving. And it's part of what makes me, after twenty-six years with a disease that takes and takes and takes, constantly motivated to move forward and keep it as much at bay as I can manage.
... and now some vitreous humour. (My personal favorite? Question: What do you call a fish with no eyes? Answer: A fsh)