Let me manage your expectations

By | 8 May, 2009
Not the optician Alison goes to

Not the optician Alison goes to

It appears my expectations of my own diabetes don’t always match other peoples’ expectations.

I went for my annual torture session at the opticians recently. The “sit there while I shine a bright light into your dilated pupils until you cry” appointment. OK, its not that bad really, it just feels wrong that I go into the opticians with perfect vision and come out unable to read a computer screen for several hours.

Anyway, I have a couple of small bleeds in my right eye that have been there for about 5 years. We’re keeping an eye on them (can you believe I wrote that?) and so far they’re stable and not too much of a concern.

The optician, ophthalmologist and I all agree they don’t need treatment at the moment and the best course of action is to maintain great control to prevent them from getting worse.

The interesting bit is the attitude of the optician depending on who I see. With Mr A we assess there’s been no change and agree that continuing good control and regular monitoring is the way forward.

Last year I saw Mr B. He said similar things but his attitude was completely different. He said retinopathy is to be expected as I’ve had diabetes for 25 years. STOP RIGHT THERE. That may be factually correct but let me manage your expectations. That might be an acceptable statement if I was diagnosed aged 65 and am now approaching 90. But I’m not. I’m 30.

You need to understand, I’m not in denial. I know complications are a possibility. But I believe mental attitude is a big factor with diabetes – if I see complications as inevitable soma then I won’t view a small bleed as a wake up call to tighten my control, I’ll just see it as one of those things that happens and won’t take the necessary action. With that approach what state am I going to be in at the relatively young age of 54 when I’ll have had diabetes for 50 years?

I’m not dreaming, I know this is doable, I know people who’ve lived with diabetes for over 60 years. They’re fit, healthy and pretty much unblemished by the experience.

So I find myself having to help my health care advisors by managing their expectations of my diabetes. I have high expectations when it comes to my diabetes. I’m not aiming for okay or average, I’m aiming for great because I have a life to lead and diabetes will not be the thing that stops me. Please revise your expectations accordingly.

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