When someone asks me if I will be doing something I don’t enjoy – say: going for a run, going to the gym, going for a walk, going for…OK, doing anything that has to do with exercise – I often respond with “No – I’d rather stick pins in my eyes”. Well, today I am off to have an eye check. Quite frankly, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes – which is actually why I am terrified of the ophthalmologist.

I’ve written before about how nervous I get when it comes to visiting the ophthalmologist. And here I am again sitting at my desk stressing out because in exactly 3 hours and 14 minutes I will be having my eyes dilated and the pressure tested. Which is done by pushing a pen-like device into my open eye. La-la-la-not-thinking-about-it-la-la-la. And then the back of my eyes will be examined for tell-tale signs of nasty retinopathy caused by even nastier diabetes.

It’s been six months since my last eye check and in that time my eyes seem to be exactly the same. I went out and bought some magnifying glasses from the chemist because, you know, I’m getting older – as my ophthalmologist indelicately put it. But everything else is the same.

The reason that I am on six-monthly visits is because of the two huge, scary cataracts that started forming when I was a mere 28 years old. Yes, for the last almost 10 years, I have what I always considered a nanna eye condition. My grandparents had cataracts removed when they were in their seventies, so how does a 28 year old (and now 37 year old) have them? Just lucky, I guess.

I have a routine now for when I have eye checks. My dad takes me. Yep – like I am a ten year old, I have a parent take me to the doctor. This started under the guise of me not being sure how well I’d be able to see once the dilating drops are put in, but really, apart from some horrific sun glare, I could get on the tram to go home. But, I’ve kept up the charade with dad, asking him to be chauffeur.

The truth – I need him there because he calms me down! On the way to the doctor’s rooms, he promises me that everything will be OK – even though he doesn’t know that for sure. And when we are sitting in the waiting room he tells me I’m brave. And when I walk out of the doctor’s office with a big smile on my face, he says “See, I told you there was nothing to worry about”.

My dad doesn’t have diabetes. He has no idea about what the day-to-day existence of someone living with a chronic condition is all about. But he knows that the eye doctor terrifies me. He knows that telling me I’m being ridiculous and to get over myself is not the way to deal with me in this particular moment. He knows that he needs to accept the drama queen behaviour in this instance and play along.

And I know how lucky I am. I have diabetes support networks coming from everywhere. And my dad, who frustrates me beyond measure when he considers my diabetes as an ‘illness’, no matter how many times I yell “I’m. Not. Sick.” is my hero when it comes to doing the eye stuff. The nasty. Scary. Terrifying. Drama Queen-inducing eye stuff.

My dad. Getting me to the eye doctor on time! (Actually, here he's sitting in a cafe.)

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