Eye Time

Today, I took part in a hallowed annual ritual familiar to those with diabetes.

It’s a complicated tradition, in which one is first led into a darkened room, and then asked to read letters from a sacred script projected into a series of mirrors. Next, the patient is christened with mysterious numbing drops, which render the eyeballs numb, produce electric-yellow tears, and create pupils the size of silver dollars.  At this point, the diabetic is led to another darkened room, to squint at months-old magazines and meditate on the value of pitch-perfect A1Cs. During this seclusion period, the patient usually recites a few silent prayers, bargaining with the Gods of Diabetes: “If I’m okay, I swear I’ll start checking more often.” “Just give me one more clear year, and I’ll stop over-treating the lows.”

After a few minutes, the patient’s led back into the original dark room and met by a Magical Eyeball Shaman, who peers deep into the diabetic’s soul with a piercing light and a special magnifying glass. This examination can reveal the diabetic’s deepest treatment secrets, and the future of the diabetic’s eyes.

Anyone who’s been through it knows I’m talking about the yearly diabetic eye exam. It’s like Groundhog Day: you either get one more year of presumably healthy eyes, or a new season of worry.

Lucky for me, all was clear. But as relieved as I was, I was a little weirded out by how surprised the Magic Eyeball Shaman seemed. “Twenty years, huh? And no damage? We were always led to believe that a patient who’d been diabetic for 20 years would almost certainly have some damage going on.”

As much as I’d like to take credit, I know that a lot of it’s just blind luck (pardon the pun). As Kerri has discussed, it’s not necessarily the diligence of the diabetic that dictates the incidence of side effects — it’s the disease itself. So today, I’m breathing a little easier — but still crossing my fingers for next year’s magical experience.

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8 comments on “Eye Time

  1. Jeff Mather says:

    Because of another condition, I go to the ophthalmologist twice a year — as I have been for the last 30+ years. A few years ago I realized I had memorized the magic incantation: “E V O T Z”

  2. Layne says:

    I feel like I hold my breath every year when I go to the Ophth. Double so after I passed my 15-year “diaversary” (that’s when I heard the complications really tend to spring up) and triple so now that I’m trying to get pregnant!!

    Love the way you summed it up! Nothing like a little fear to keep your blood sugars under control! 😉

  3. FatCatAnna says:

    Good post Jacquie – love the way you wrote about it – makes it seems less daunting. I’m an old timer of 43 years long with diabetes – and touch wood – I’ve been told I have eyes like a baby (wish I had the skin to go with it). I go every 6 months tho’ – maybe that changes from the yearly once you get to be an old fart like myself?

    I just know, to lose my sight, would mean, no more Ms. Evil Knieval on my motorcycles, driving thru’ the mountains of Vermont in my little diesel Smart, looking at the big tanker coming towards me as I tack across the bay in my sailboat. Eyesight to me – very VERY IMPORTANT (oh – plus of course – reading another Sookie Stackhouse book).

    Keep up the good work – obviously you and I are doing something right in life (beer, beer, beer).

  4. Lorraine says:

    I’m glad it went well

  5. Philippa says:

    “pupils the size of silver dollars” – love it!

    I can never read anything once they put those eye drops in, but there is a fish tank which is interesting to look at with blurry eyes.

    And don’t forget the sunglasses, for the trip home 🙂

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