It has been a long-standing joke between myself and Lady M that, despite my having an incurable degenerative condition and knackered immune system, I usually appear to be in better health than she is on a regular basis. My diabetes is pretty well controlled, my blood pressure likewise, and I exercise (albeit probably not as much as I should) on top of having a job that has me on my feet most of the time.
Today, while not a hammer blow, that joke took a bit of a knock. Part of my treatment and monitoring regime includes a test once a year on the state of my eyes to check for the status of diabetic retinopathy. This, in essence, is damage to the retina due to changes in blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients.
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2006, and so fall into the greater risk category for having had diabetes for an extended period of time. At the back of my mind has always been the knowledge that no matter how well I manage my condition, there are elements that will just happen over time. What I can control is the rate and severity at any point in time.
The letter I received today has confirmed that I now have background retinopathy – the earliest stages of changes to my retina – and I am assured that this is quite common. Diabetes has started to affect the small blood vessels in my retina and this means that they may:
- Bulge slightly (micoraneurysms)
- leak blood (retinal haemorraghes)
- leak fluid (exudates)
I am assured that at this stage non of this will affect my sight, but the risk of more serious changes that will damage my sight is higher than it previously was.
If I sound calm about this, then it is this evening entirely an incorrect impression. While intellectually I know that I am doing all the right things, and that I will continue to do the right things while tightening things further, I am terrified. One of my fears – of losing my sight – is a step nearer to happening.
While I’m sure it is simply psychosomatic, my eyes today feel like they are burning – although that could be the moderate panic and tiredness wreaking havoc. I’m tired and wrung out. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be able to see this from a more calm, considered, an rational place – but not this evening.