Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seeing Is Believing

Yesterday I had my annual eye exam. While I may slack off on some of my other doctor’s appointments, I’m always on top of having my eyes checked once a year like clockwork.

I wear glasses for everything except reading. If I don’t wear them, I can’t see anything clearly that’s more than about eight inches from my face—this is not an exaggeration.

About a month or so before my diabetes diagnosis, I was getting some nasty vision headaches. I figured my prescription had changed, so I made an appointment with a random doctor—I didn’t have a regular person at that point.

The doctor was a “trainee,” overworked and with too many patients to see; he was just trying to keep up with everyone and everything and, unfortunately, I wasn’t a top priority (other people yelled louder than me). The exam wound up taking me two hours, including me sitting there waiting for my eyes to dilate for at least one hour. Had he been a little more on top of his game, or had I had a regular physician, they probably would have told me my blurry vision was a sign of the looming diagnosis—a classic symptom.

So he gave me a new prescription and I got a new pair of glasses and they worked for a little while. Then came the diagnosis and the DKA. I was in the hospital for close to a week and didn’t need my glasses for the first few days, as I was pretty much passed out. When I started to stabilize and actually grew bored with sleeping, I wanted to watch TV—you know, hanging on the wall a million miles away from my bed.

I tried my glasses on and immediately entered a different universe, one I would liken to those after-school specials where they try to show you what it’s like when someone is high on drugs or alcohol. Everything was distorted, twisted and incredibly blurry. The only way I could make my glasses work was to wear them on the very far end of my nose and squint in what I’m sure was a very attractive fashion. I basically gave up, and when I drove myself home from the hospital, I didn’t even wear the glasses (I figured the other cars were big enough that I could see them—and I only live a few blocks from the hospital, so no lives were at risk).

I have a habit of keeping all my old glasses in a drawer, so when I got home, I tried on every pair until I found one that was at least tolerable—although I still had to take them on and off every few hours or the headache was enough to make me want to pass out under my desk, a rock, a couch, etc.

I also researched eye doctors in my area who knew about diabetes and that’s how I came across my current doctor. She’s fantastic! I went in for my appointment, explained my recent diabetes diagnosis and she told me that the sugar levels in my system were so high, that they were actually showing up in my eyes and causing my vision to freak out. (I’m sure there’s a more medical term for this, but this is how my understanding of it all shook down.) She said that the eyes are one of the first places you can look to see if there’s something wrong with the body; they’ll tell you everything.

So, she checked me very, very thoroughly, announced there was no damage from the diabetes, and gave me a new prescription.

I’ve gone back to her every summer, and every year she does not disappoint. She’s really thorough and keeps a close eye (ha! eye!) on my diabetes, not to mention my Graves disease (which evidently can make my eyes bulge out if things aren’t good. Nice, huh?).

Yesterday was my first day in her new office—she’s gone into practice for herself. I like the new digs, which are much, much quieter than her old place of employment. Also, there’s no doctor’s aid (or whatever you call an eye doctor’s assistant), so she does all the exams, eye-drop inserting and everything except take my credit card at the end. (Although she did give me a large and very welcome discount when she found out my insurance doesn’t include vision). In short, I wish all of my doctors were more like my eye doctor; she’s set the bar really high.

Oh—and she gave me a clean bill of health; still no sign of diabetes affecting (effecting? I never get those two right) my eyes. My vision has actually gotten better, although my astigmatism is worse. My prescription changed, but not so much that I have to rush to get new glasses. But there are some awfully cute frames out there that I’d love to try…

Wow. This got long fast. Good thing my eyes are up for it. Hope yours are, too—as my mom always said my grandma said, “You only get one pair of eyes; make sure you take care of them.”

As always, more to come…

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Glad to read of your good report. I'm impressed with the discount. That's nice!