Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Eyes Have It

I've been a diabetic for over twenty years now. Diabetes is a very destructive force. It chops away at the body very quietly and covertly. It has left its destruction in my body, mainly in heart disease and chronic renal failure. But oddly enough, those were not the aftermaths that I dreaded the most. I have always had a huge fear of two things: loss of limb and loss of eyesight.

It looked like I was worrying unnecessarily until about a month ago. I had my yearly eye exam in May and everything was fine. But a few weeks ago, I noticed that the vision in my right eye was rapidly deteriorating. I called my local eye doctor who referred me to a retina specialist after her examination.

Talk about improvements in technology. I was given a battery of tests and at the end, the specialist told me I had multiple problems in both eyes. His immediate concern was the macular pucker in the right eye. The pucker is caused by scar tissue on the macula and leads to impaired and distorted vision in some people. He recommended surgery and set it up for the following week.

Then the comedy of errors started. I had to go to my primary care physician who had to sign off on the surgery. She approved surgery with a local anesthesia. Unfortunately, the surgeon did my particular surgery with a general anesthesia and at my pre-ops at the hospital, I was informed that the surgery would have to be postponed until a cardiologist signed off on it. So I had to find a cardiologist who would see me on short notice. That took a couple of days and it was now the day before the original date of surgery. I called the surgeon's office to update them and was told I was going to have the surgery the next day (under a local anesthesia) as originally planned. This agreement was made by my primary care physician, the surgeon and the hospital. However, not one of the three entities thought to tell me. I found out by accident.

So, I had the surgery. As the surgeon was peeling off the scar tissue, I started bleeding and he had to stop. He doesn't know if he got enough of the tissue to improve my vision. It's now a waiting game. He replaced the vitreous with an air bubble to make the surgical field more visible. So now I am like a giant level with the bubble moving around as I do. The bubble is irritating but not as irritating as the lack of perspective, the inability to see details and the inability to see in reduced light.

I can tell you right now that I won't make a very good blind person. And if you want my vote on which of the nasties caused by diabetes is the worst, my answer is a very loud THE EYES HAVE IT.

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