Imagine being overwhelmed with a condition of the eye you don’t fully understand yet. Imagine not knowing if you’d ever be able to see people again. Imagine not being able to go to the places you’d like to go because of impaired vision. Not being able to see your parents smile. Imagine having to surrender your trust to total strangers; asking to do the simplest things we take for granted, like turning on the bathroom light, read your own handwriting, being forced to count train stops so that you can get to the correct destination. It’s so hard to have always had sight, to all of a sudden have none. I am one of the very few diabetics that can say, I have actually overcome my eye complications (through surgery). There are so many things I have to be thankful for.
Developing cataracts (on both eyes) was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. Yet it is hard to imagine that the reality is, it could have been much worse. I could have had a torn or detached retina, busted blood vessels in the eye, glaucoma, or several other non-reversible conditions.
Today we live in an age were everyone seems to ask for a “hook-up” or favors all the time, However, diabetes is one condition to which you must go through on your own. This is one of the very few diseases were YOU are responsible for your total outcome (even if it means somewhat becoming your own doctor).
I feel so blessed because despite all my fears I still pressed on. I got off my but, and did what I had to do to get well. One of the biggest challenge I had to overcome was realizing that, for every 400 doctors you will see, they will all have 400 different opinions of the same disease. I’ve seen many doctors, and each one of those doctors treated my diabetic complications separately. Despite the fact that every medical professional knew I have diabetes in my family, no doctor realized that I had diabetes, until I was already going blind with cataracts.
I was fully awake and conscious during my surgery. When they inserted the implants, it looked as if I was being submerged in water. Thank god for those drugs, because I was so scared I was going to have a jerk reaction when they inserted all the instruments into my eyes. The surgeon did a wonderful job. You would never know I had implants if I did not tell you. I also feel blessed because, despite the fact that I have trouble reading/focusing for long periods of time from short distances (about arms length), it is a world of difference from having cataracts. I’ve become more sensitive to light, in addition, it can becomes really uncomfortable when I look at my ipod for longer than about 20-30 minutes; sometimes I even get a burning sensations. I’d just close my eyes to allow my eyes to relax and refocus. It feels great having my site back. I got a second change in life, not too many people can say that. It is very interesting that since I was born myopic (nearsighted) and now, after the cataract surgery I am somewhat farsighted.
After all that I still manage to not only get my medicaid coverage extended (about 5 months after expiration), I also manage to and a job as well. How? I called my insurance and demanded to speak to supervisor, and screamed like bloody hell. I really thought I was goner. I made sure that supervisor understood that my mother would sue if something were to happen to me (at this point I was afraid I would get hit by cars cause my vision really was deteriorating at that point, I could barely see to dial any phone #). But it all worked out, and she helped me to get approved. As far as the job, when I started working at night, I visited the emergency room, so that they can dilate my eyes. It was the only way I could temporarily obtain at least a little bit of vision. Thankfully, I got my surgery just before the meds were no longer effective.
Make no mistake, there is a LOT to know about diabetes; it is not about staying away from candy. It is the balance of extreme high and low sugars regardless of what you eat, regardless of what type of diabetes you have, or even the circumstances of how you got it. Even too much of natural fruit can be dangerous to a diabetic (in large consumption).
One thing you must understand, diabetes is a silent killer. Diabetic complications often are silent and sudden. Therefore, if you know your diabetic, DO NOT discontinue your meds because you think you feel fine. Some complications are not reversible. Once a limb is amputated, you cannot get it back. People of color (includes Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, etc.,) are effected most with diabetes. At present, there exist over 285 million people world wide with diabetes. We must do more to educate each other. Diabetics should not feel ashamed and hide. Doctors and nurses need to do more to update their diabetic awareness. Do not except an hemoglobin A1C to be the sole test for diabetes. You must distinguish between type 1 & 2. Well too many patients have been misdiagnosed, resulting in severe DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis) and even death, this includes myself. Had my type 1 (LADA) diabetes been caught earlier, I may have never experienced complications. Every medical facility should have on hand diabetic pamphlets at their patients disposal.
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