I have previously written about the first time I was told I had some small signs of diabetic retinopathy. Though wrecked by that news, I pushed myself to move forward with optimism and resolve. I have been going to the ophthalmologist's office every 4 months with bated breath since then, and every 4 months I left that office with a "no change" report card and a sigh of relief.
I have kept my A1C at 7.2% or lower since that stressful day, fueled by both my desire to reduce the risk of complications and to one day expand our party of two. These past few weeks I hit my lowest ever and got the green light from both my Endo and my OB/GYN to get pregnant. A small part of my former poorly-controlled self always doubted my ability to get here, to achieve this. I floated home to my husband to share the news - the thought of possible parenthood both thrilling and horrifying us at the same time. I was a bundle of emotions at thought of being allowed to work toward a bundle of our own.
As timing would have it, all of my appointments were grouped over a 2 week period, the last being a follow-up ophtho visit the day before we left for a week-long European vacation. I was packed and ready to go make memories (and maybe a baby - that "green light" thing was all I could think about).
But this time I traded the sigh of relief for the uncontrolled gasps between sobs. I had proliferative change for the first time. There were appointments made for mapping out my eye vessels with an angiography study followed by laser therapy. He only saw changes in the left eye, but when I whispered through tears that I had gotten the go-ahead to get pregnant, he said we would have to be extra-conservative and laser any possible changes in the right eye, if present. Pregnancy can worsen retinopathy.
Then he gently said that I should hold off on starting a family, until we knew how the course would go.
I left the office silent and stunned. I called my mother from the car, my voice not revealing the turmoil building in the pit of my heart. She excitedly launched into conversation, starting with, "Shara! You won't believe what happened today! You won't believe it! I'm so mad!"
I let her continue, not feeling ready to release the floodgates of my emotions.
"Your father played the lottery and today he found out he got 5 out of 6 numbers! We almost won 42 million dollars! Can you imagine that? He was one number away! I can't even believe it, I'm so ANGRY!"
I sat, still and quiet, in my car. Over a thousand miles away, my mother then felt that something was wrong through the invisible phone line. I shared. And I cried. And I realized that I did not care that my father had almost won 42 million dollars. It wouldn't have reversed the changes in my eye. It wouldn't buy back the life I had before diabetes struck. It wouldn't change anything of worth.
They say health is wealth. I understand that in this moment, more than ever.
My green light has turned to red, and I would pay anything to be able to change it back.