I don’t consider myself a worrier. I never assume the worst, in fact, always assume things are NOT the worst. A cold is a cold – never pneumonia. I’ve had my thyroid operated on because of a benign lump, and when I’ve found subsequent lumps, have never thought it anything other than a pesky bit of rogue tissue. And I’ve always been right. ‘I’ve got this!’ I tell myself as I deal with pretty much any health stuff.

A headache is a headache – certainly not a migraine and definitely not a tumour.

But all of this is thrown out the window when it comes to how I behave about eye issues. I panic, I am paranoid and I expect to hear the worst.

I’m not sure why it is diabetes eye complications that cause me the most concern. I don’t seem to get as panicked when I have my annual kidney screening or have my cholesterol checked. It’s the eye thing that gets me each and every time.

Recently I had my post-cataract check-up. I was actually seeing the doctor because I noticed a slight change in vision and some pain in my left eye, but in addition to sorting that out, I would be having a full eye examination. My ophthalmologist would be making sure my new lenses had settled in okay and were doing whatever lenses are meant to do, and while I was there, he would be having a good look behind my eyes to check for any diabetic retinopathy. He would have a really clear view for the first time now that those pesky cataracts had been removed.

With this in mind, I was not thinking that everything would be clear and look fine. I was expecting to hear that the changes I’d noticed signalled some retinopathy and we would have a discussion about treatment. I did not think that all would be fine. I worried. I didn’t feel that I had this at all.

Following a routine distance vision and pressure check (all fantastic), my pupils were dilated and I was sent back to the waiting room. I concentrated on my vision getting blurry and felt my breathing quicken as I waited to be called back in.

My lovely ophthalmologist, now more than used to my histrionics, joked about how relaxed I was becoming seeing him. I twisted my mouth into what I hoped was a smile and told him that even after having cataract surgery, eye things still made me nervous as all get out!

He started by taking a look at the new lenses and was pleased to see that they were great. No problems post-cataract. There was a small scratch on my eye which explained the pain, but nothing else at all. And then he checked my retinas.

‘It just doesn’t make sense’, he said, snapping the light back on once he’d had a really good look at both eyes – checking and checking and checking again. ‘Those cataracts were pretty nasty and you got them very young. But there is absolutely no diabetic retinopathy in either of your eyes. Nothing at all! It looks really, really good, Renza.’

I could feel my shoulders relaxing and realised I’d been holding my breath.  He was watching me carefully. ‘I don’t need to see you for a year, Renza – unless of course you notice a change. Your eyes are great. But I think we need to talk a bit about you worrying so much about your eyes. You do everything right here. You come and see me regularly. You made the decision to have your cataracts removed at the right time. You may get some diabetic retinopathy, but we will pick that up early and treat it. Your worry is understandable, but not necessary. Are you speaking with someone about it?’

I started to tell him that I’m really not a worrier. I don’t get anxious about things. But my eyes….my eyes. I don’t know if it’s all tied up in the anxiety and fear I have of physically having my eyes checked or if it is something else. But I stopped myself, because he is right. I am a worrier about this.

I thanked him for being so kind – and for being the bearer of good news. I may have hugged him a little. And I left. I paid the bill and made an appointment for twelve months’ time. I clamped on my sunglasses and prepared myself for dealing with the bright Winter sunshine. And I breathed. No need to worry today. I’ve got this.

 

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