5 things I've learned about living with diabetic retinopathy
I experienced diabetic retinopathy back in 2004. First with my left eye and eventually with my right. Fortunately with surgery I retained most of the vision in my left eye and partial in my right. Maybe not partial since I can no longer read with my right eye. But I can still drive and work. Here’s an example I created to illustrate what my vision looks like. Here’s a picture of one of my favorite things, a green smoothie.
This is what it would look like in my left eye
Now here’s the same picture but I used a few filters in a photo editor to give you an idea of how that same image would look in my right eye.
Now I'm not one to ever pat myself on the back or brag but in spite of all this I figure I can still be productive and perform as well advocate for better education about diabetes. Sounds crazy that I didn’t give up and chose to find humor in this situation but maybe that’s just the way I was wired. With that said I’ve learned a few things about living with diabetic retinopathy.
1. Men want to fight you when they think you don’t want to shake their hand.
I did a show once and I got off stage and made my way to the back of the club to the bar to partake of my free wings like any true comedian would. A guy approaches me on my right side and compliments me on my set. “Dude you were really funny!” “Oh thanks man, I really appreciate that!!” I go back to eating and then he says , “Really?!” I looked back at him not having a clue what he meant and there was his hand extended. I almost died! “OH!! OMG!! Dude I’m so sorry!! I can’t see out my right eye blah blah blah…” The guy was quite large so I could sense he was about to pound me. Lesson learned. From then on I made a point to mention to the audience that I would love to shake everyone’s hand but if they approach me, left side please!
2. People find it funny when a comedian almost falls off a stage.
I did a show once and in the middle of my act I walked too close to the edge of the stage and almost fell off. Oddly that got me the biggest laugh of the whole show. There’s not really anything else to that story but if you read this and meet someone from that show tell them I haven’t forgotten! And never mind the fact that it was only about an 8 inch drop. It was still scary!
3. Expensive sunglasses are overrated. Maybe
I want a pair of these Persol sunglasses that Steve McQueen wore so bad. Mostly because Steve was the coolest guy ever. But these sunglasses are AWESOME! But whats the point if I can only see out of one lens? The real reason I won’t get them is because I have been through a ton of cheap sunglasses. I’ve sat on them, lost them, put them in my bag had had them crush by my laptop. The list goes on. So I would be crazy to pay over $300 for a pair, right? Whatever…IT’S Steve McQUEEN PEOPLE!!!!
4. I’m tired of explaining to people why I keep bumping into them.
I figure as many time as I’ve explained to people why I bump into things I guess I need to make a pamphlet to give people who meet me for the first time. Maybe even a video presentation that I can play on my smart phone. And kids are the worst because they’re so low to the ground that I don’t see them. They just whiz by in the store and one day I caught myself about to shake my fist at one like a crotchety old man. For the record I tend to keep my distance from women I don’t know. I’m not trying to explain all this in court.
5. It’s not my fault
I didn’t do this to myself, diabetes did. It took me a long, long time to come to grips with that. I tell myself that every day when I wake up and struggle for my vision to clear. I used to beat myself up wondering what I did wrong. I blamed myself for not controlling my BG but in all honesty I’m a human being and I’m diabetic. I’m not always going to get it right. Blaming myself never helps and only makes me feel worse. So I get out of bed, give myself time to get ready and I take on another day. That’s all we as PWD can do. Meet the challenge head on and commit to staying healthy. When we got diagnosed they gave us a ton of info about what to do and what not to do but there’s no life instruction manual. Sometimes you have to play it by ear and learn while on the job. The most important thing to do is learn. Stay aware of what your body is telling you and to take action when necessary. My diabetes doesn’t own me or my life.
So yeah I’m gonna’ get the sunglasses…somehow.