Retinopathy Day

Today has been a day of light sensitivity, eye charts, and pupils the size of saucers – that’s right, the annual retinopathy exam to check that diabetes hasn’t started eating my eyes yet.

From long experience, I know these exams knock me sideways for the day – or at least the drugs do. The exam itself doesn’t take long, being an eye test and then some photos of the back of my eye. What does take it out of me are the drugs that dilate my pupils and partially paralyse my blink reflex.

There’s a certain hallucinatory feel to how I then see everything for a good portion of the rest of the day. There’s a diffuse glow to anything pale, an inability to focus on detail, and a sense of nausea and vertigo that competes with an eyestrain headache and eyeballs that feel hollowed out before being reinserted.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that I went to bed, and slept a few hours before the cub got in from school. An early night for me I think.

Knocked Sideways

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 panicĀ 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.

Call Me Sensitive?

Apparently I have a super power listed in my medical notes. I found this out today while having my annual retinopathy. Instead of the normal single dose of whatever gunk it is they stick in my eyes they gave me an additional dose of something else.

Apparently it has been noted that this is necessary because I’m extremely light sensitive and unless they slightly paralyse my eyes as well I react too quickly to the camera flash for them to get a good shot of the back of my eyeballs.

So there’s a thing that happened today, along with the stabby eye pain and dizziness that has kept me wearing sunglasses all day.

I did make some more fiction pages on the site though, so that was productive.

Bydureon Update

Busy day today, so I’m updating on the hoof and swearing under my breath at my phone’s autocorrect suggestions.

I’m currently sat in Staines Two Rivers Costa coffee with sunglasses on, blurry vision, slight nausea and a dull headache. Around me swarm a host of yummy and not-so-yummy mummies and daddies and some bemused pensioners.

I am neither drunk or hungover, merely enduring the side effects of the Tropicamide drops administered about two hours ago as part of my yearly retinopathy exam.

This is where they check to see if the diabetes has mangled my eyesight yet by taking photos of the back of my eye. It’s simple and painless and a part of the diabetic’s year that you just have to get used to. As I can comfortably read the second to last line of the test, I’m not too worried at the moment.

The only downside is that the side effects are similar to the ones I reported earlier in my new Bydureon medication. I took my second dose this morning, and I suspect that things are going easier this time because my preparation of the solution was a little more practices.

it’s very easy to get overenthusiastic in mixing the powder and solution, which can make for a lot of air bubbles. This time I was gentler, and so the grey fluid seemed a lot more fluid in comparison with last week.

So far, this week, the Bydureon side effects seem to be minimal. The only thing I’ve noticed in the last 36 hours has been a return of hunger in the evening and a slight dip in sugars, but I expect that this was part of it being the first week, and so there not being so much of a buffer in my system.

Let’s see how it goes.

Now just waiting on T’other half to return from signing on, and then back home to let this all wear off while she plays with the new Samsung Galaxy S3 she got activated today.

This evening: more stable management, horse grooming and socialising. It’s not a bad life.