I remember my scary diabetic consultant as a kid hammering the risk of diabetic complications so hard into my brain that I figured it was inevitable that I would lose a limb, my sight or my life from diabetic complications. But when I reached my teenage years I became invisible. Invisible to the complications and diabetes became invisible to me. I grew up taking set amounts of insulin despite what I ate and took tests 4 times a day, if and when I remembered. To be honest, I never really realised the complexity of this disease. But when diabetes became visible again to me a few years ago, I realised just how uneducated and self-destructive I had been. Years of binge drinking, smoking, eating anything and rarely injecting.
So far, except for frozen shoulder (more common in diabetics), I had managed to avoid diabetic complications. But they’re inevitable right!? Those years of neglect were finally catching up with me! Over the last few years my ophthalmologist (Eye Doctor) had been carefully monitoring background retinopathy. Every 3 months I would see him and would be happy to hear “there are no changes” but to be prepared for laser treatment within the next 5 years. Since he was happy, it had been only been 6 months since my last appointment. I just expected to hear the same thing “there are no changes…” But this time was different… although there weren’t dramatic changes, I required preventative laser ASAP. And with only a few weeks left of the year (2018) I would be going in for my laser right before Christmas.
But months went past and long story short, they had forgotten about me – an administration error! So my urgent treatment had then became critical and I didn’t end up being seen until beginning of this year. I turned up at my ‘critical’ appointment and found out they didn’t even know why I was there, they didn’t have my notes and my doctor, who promised he would be there, wasn’t!
When I finally got into the laser room, I’m sure the doctor didn’t numb my eyes properly and was rushing around (probably because it was unexpected) so I felt EVERYTHING! I could feel the laser going in through my eyes into the back of my head, my head started pounding and my eyes were sore immediately. I had to ask to stop at least 5 times in tears because it was so painful. And where my eyes were watering so much the numbing drops were running down my cheek, numbing my face… not my eyes. When it was over she got me up and took me to another room barely being able to see and didn’t even explain what would happen after, should I rest, when will I regain my sight, can I drive? I had to ask her all these questions before she shoved me out the room.
It felt pretty sore for a few days, I could see spots in my eyes and I was extremely sensitive to light and had the worst headache I’d ever had. But for my second treatment, I spoke with my diabuddies who had previously had the treatment and felt more prepared. I took a couple of paracetamols right before the session (thanks Tanya @type1babe read her story here). Luckily they had done so much in the first session, I was in and out within a few minutes.
After my three month check-up my doctor was happy with the treatment and put me back onto 6 monthly check-ups. Despite my great diabetes management, my 5.6% HbA1c and 85% average time in range, my previous lack of control and change in management all contributed to the deterioration of my eyes. Although it’s probably inevitable, I continue to work my butt off to avoid any further eye treatments in the future!