Here’s Looking at You, Retinopathy Reminiscences

Through the window the last rays of sunlight are disappearing,  the waiter stops by  “Now you can see each other” he says, putting the flickering candle down between the glasses and the pate. There’s a momentary pause in our chatter, “You have no idea how true that is” Maryanne responds. I nod and toast my thanks to modern ophthalmology as I take a sip of wine.

Maryanne lives in Brisbane, I’m in Sydney and it’s been difficult to organise this catch-up drink. M is visiting Sydney for a conference, the weekend she arrived I was in Melbourne for my own conference so we’re meeting for an afterwork drink on Monday night. We skip lightly over the last 15 years, within a few minutes we’re talking about our eyes. Drawn to share again those dark experiences that nobody else really understands. Those years with impaired vision and the threat of blindness. We were young then, now we’re middle aged and feel as though that experience could have happened to someone else.  We talk about how that fear influenced the decisions we made and the lives we led back then though and how that’s impacted on where we are now.

Next we’re discussing whether or not we should undertake PhD studies and career changes. We know that if our eye problems had happened 20 years earlier we wouldn’t be sitting here, able to see each other, able to drive and contemplate more post-grad study. I feel more able to envisage the future now than I could as a younger diabetic, I worry about what things this disease can still throw at me but so far I’ve survived its best efforts.  If you happen to be deep in the trenches fighting retinopathy or some new complication, take heart, treatments these days are excellent and there is plenty of great life on the other side.

It’s now dark outside and the windows have turned into mirrors. I look up and see my reflection, I tell myself I’m doing okay for almost half a century of diabetes.

All things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” Juliana of Norwich

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