I have been a Type 1 Diabetic for over 25 years now. For a little background on that read my post about it from a while back. My eyesight has always been a concern, I’ve had annual checkups my entire life and everything was fine…until my second baby was born.
Shortly after his birth I noticed what looked like a Chinese letter floating around at the corner of my vision. Of course I called the doctor and got seen within a few days. Apparently my diabetes has started to affect my sight. The way it was explained to me was that because of the extra sugar often found in my blood the retina at the back of my eyes was having difficulty obtaining sufficient oxygen so decided to grow it’s own new blood vessels in my eyes.
Apparently since these blood vessels are not “OEM” they are not as strong and reliable as the original equipment and they are prone to breaking which is what happened to me. The new blood vessel had burst and that is what I could see in my eye. The eye doctor sent me to a really good ophthalmologist (who happened to be local which has never happened to me!) and he determined that I needed laser treatment to kill the new blood vessels so that they wouldn’t break and bleed anymore.
I went for laser treatment every month or so for over a year and was eventually given a clean bill of eye health. I still needed to be checked every six months but at least I was done with the laser, it didn’t hurt precisely but it gave me a headache and a really itchy eye (having an itchy eyeball is one of my worse “itch” experiences, you just can’t scratch it!)
Throughout all this laser treatment I had still been going to see my regular eye doctor and all of my diabetic people. There were differing opinions on why my eyes had started to act up just when they did. The eye doctor pleaded with me to not have any more children (she’s been my optometrist since I was 3 so she had no problem giving me a lecture!) and my diabetic nurse practitioner told me that it was very likely just because I had been diabetic for so long, something was bound to happen. Either way, I was pretty sure that we were done having babies so it didn’t bother me too much, although as soon as you’re told that something is not advised or possible you start to really, really want it!
What bothered me the most about this condition is that laser treatment helps after it’s occurred but the only way to try to prevent it is to control the diabetes as much as possible. Controlling diabetes is, of course, what I had been trying to do all along. I guess that’s why this bothered me so much, since I was already doing everything I could to prevent this and it was still happening what chance did I have that it wouldn’t happen again?
I went along knowing in the back of my mind that I could see new road maps and Chinese letters in my eye at any time. Every once in a while a new little line would show up but they usually went away in a few days so I just took note to tell the doctor at my next appointment. I was scheduled for a checkup in May of this year having been looked at in November.
One Saturday morning in March I was conducting an orchestra rehearsal (which involved me trying to read both the entire score as well as my viola part, I’m not a good conductor but will fill in when needed, although I still always play rather than stand up there like an idiot waving my hands around like I should know what I’m doing!) when I noticed that the music on the right stand was becoming harder to see. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, I just wanted to get through rehearsal having accomplished at least a little work! At the end of practice as everyone was packing up to leave I closed my left eye to see what was wrong with my right eye and boy was I surprised to find that I couldn’t make out a single thing!
When I looked through my right eye only it was like looking through a piece of glass that had been smeared with Vaseline and then had water poured onto it. I could differentiate between light and dark, could roughly make out shapes but had absolutely no idea what I was looking at. I tell you, it scared the crap out of me! I had no idea what had happened but I knew that it needed to be addressed, unfortunately on a Saturday morning I couldn’t call the ophthalmologist for a couple of days so I just went home and quietly freaked out.
Having no depth perception is really strange, I was running into the walls as I walked down the hall, I tried to pour myself a drink (I needed it!) and completely missed the cup! Trying to play catch with the boys was just ridiculous and most everything else that I liked to do (reading, stitching, puzzle games) was out of the question unless I closed the bad eye! I put a status update on Facebook and the comments that I got made me even more worried, I really need to stop oversharing on Facebook! I did end up seeing an emergency room doctor on the Sunday, he spoke to my ophthalmologist (who happened to be on call) and they determined that I had probably had a vitreous hemorrhage. I was told to sleep with my head elevated and to present myself to the ophthalmologist at his office the next day.
He checked me over and confirmed the diagnosis. Apparently my eyes had resumed growing new blood vessels, they were too small to see at my November checkup but apparently not small enough to refrain from dumping a huge amount of blood into my vitreous and freaking me out! Laser treatment yet again only I had to keep my head elevated for two weeks, apparently the blood in my vitreous was in the way so the doctor couldn’t see what he needed to laser, hopefully after two weeks gravity would have pooled the blood enough at the bottom of my eye to get it out of the way so I could be treated.
Let me tell you, sleeping on the La-Z-Boy may be fine for a little nap through a boring movie but having to spend the entire night on it is not fun! Especially when your children are used to sleeping with you and they come looking to see where Mommy is in the middle of the night. One time my husband came home from work at 3:00am to find me on the chair with Little Man on my lap while Big Boy slept on the couch right beside us. After a couple of weeks I moved back into the bed (propped up on three or four pillows) just so the boys could get a good night’s sleep.
I ended up going for more laser treatments through March and into April, then I was told to let my eye rest and come back for a checkup in June. When I went back I was told that no more laser was needed, the blood had pooled nicely and that my body seemed to be absorbing it so I wouldn’t need surgery to suck the extra blood out. Okay, that seemed good. I got another six month reprieve and went on my way.
Until last night at 7:00 when I stood up and saw about eight lines of black flash across my vision. Within ten minutes things started to go blurry again and I knew what was happening. At least, I think I do. I’m still kind of hoping that when I see the doctor he’ll tell me that this is just the pooled blood that somehow got stirred up but I’m not holding out much hope. I’m pretty sure it’s another vitreous bleed and I’m worried that this time he’ll tell me that since it keeps happening something more serious will need to be done.
I have no idea, of course. I tend to elevate situations into the realm of frightening when I don’t have a lot of information. I guess that all I can do is to wait another 45 minutes and call the doctor’s office.