“Am I going blind?” That was the question I blurted out to a specialist doctor on Wednesday afternoon. Last week, many of you commented on the number of typos in last week’s newsletter. I’m a terrible proof reader at the best of times, but last week, while typing this I could barely see out of my right eye. To be honest, I still can’t. It’s as if there’s a gauze over it. If I close my left eye and just look out of the right one, I can see I have a mobile phone in my hand, but I can’t see anything on the screen. When I'm copy editing my KINGS & QUEENS book I am having to use a magnifying glass to read the copy editor's track changes.
Over the last few months I have found it increasingly difficult to read. I had an eye test and my eyes didn’t appear to have changed. I assumed I would be prescribed reading glasses but no. Two weeks ago I had laser surgery on my left eye, which was designed to ensure the retina got more oxygen. It was successful but I have to have a second session in two weeks’ time. So when my right eye suddenly started to deteriorate around ten days ago, it was a bit of a shock given the eye clinic had told me a week beforehand that it had improved.
So what do you do when your sight suddenly deteriorates? Like anyone else, I started to panic a bit. I started imagining the rest of my life without being able to drive, or with sight in only one eye. Was it diabetes related or could it be happening because of something else? I phone the Chelsea and Westminster to ask if they could bring forward my appointment from the 17th. No they couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared to wait that long. I could have gone to one of the two eye A&Es in London but having looked on their websites they said they would only see people in imminent danger of losing their sight. I emailed my GP on bank holiday Monday and she replied suggesting a couple of private options if I didn’t want to go to A&E. So I swung my Bupa membership into action and that’s how I ended up asking the question: “Am I going blind?”
The doctor carried out various tests and the upshot is that the reason I have a misty right eye is down to blood vessels bursting at the back of my eye. Blood is sloshing around and hence the misty effect. Apparently this will take two or three months to clear of its own volition. If it then keeps reoccurring I might then have to have surgery, which is apparently not easy.
So no, I’m not going blind, but it’s having an awful effect on my life. Clearly I can’t drive in this condition, so John is having to drive me everywhere. Reading is almost impossible. Reading the screen in the LBC studio is also difficult. I feel as if I’m reading like an eight year old. Corey is having to print off texts for me. I can’t read news story print outs, which I do to inform my start of hour opinion monologues. Watching TV is OK-ish, although colours are no longer vibrant and some bits are like watching something in black and white. Watching sport on TV is a challenge. Following the ball is difficult.
I tell you this not to engender sympathy, but to explain why I might not be at the top of my game in all sorts of ways over the next few months. But also to act as a warning to others. If I had managed to control my diabetes properly, this wouldn’t be happening. I have no one to blame but myself. I am, in fact, controlling it much better at the moment, but it’s the 15 years of intermittent control followed by prolonged periods of lack of control, that has done the damage. All I can do now is mitigate the damage in the future.
I’ve been an utter fool and now I am paying the price for it. If you’re a type 2 diabetic, don’t be like me.