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[IP] Re: retinopathy

Hi Janice,

I think I have adjusted quite well, with minimum day-to-day living
consequences.  I don't drive anywhere at night that I'm unfamiliar with, but I
do drive at night to familiar places.  I tended to walk fast, and now walk a
bit slower because I can't see a person to my right or left! (it's easy to
bump into people!). In driving, I never change lanes without actually turning
my head to look, after checking the rear view mirror. I'm careful going up and
down stairs (depth of vision problem), and am temporarily blinded when going
from daylight into a darker place--but I'm used to that now.

I should mention that 3 years ago I had a ruptured disc in my neck, and when
the neurosurgeon operated, something happened (they blamed it on diabetes!)
and I lost much nerve function to my arms and hands (I have no triceps in my
left arm, 30% in my right; 30% grip strength, perhaps 10% pinching strength in
the fingers, etc., etc.  That has affected me far more than the eyesight--it
is hard for me to turn a key in a lock (I use two hands), hard to pull up
socks, hard to pick anything up (including a pen for writing).  I used to be
an avid piano player, and now can't play a chord. I was a touch typist, and
now I can use two fingers on each hand.  Bottom line is that it takes me much
more energy (and often longer) to do anything, but I'm still functioning
pretty well!  I have continued teaching with minimum assistance (can't use
chalk on a blackboard, but can use the thicker markers on white boards), still
grading my own papers, etc.  It just takes longer, I get tired and the hands
can't function, so I wait a little and go at it again.  I still play ping pong
by strapping the paddle to my hand via a "grip aid" (velcro type strap), and
can still beat some folks! (but not the way I used to!!)

I only say all that to mention that my eyes are no longer the biggest problem,
but despite eyes, arms, and hands problems I'm still doing quite well!  I was
concerned about the strength needed to press the buttons on the insulin pump
(and one reason I chose the Minimed--seemed easier to push), but that proved
to be no problem--and much easier to operate than pulling back on the insulin
syringe.  A little innovation and creativity is needed, and things can get
frustrating, but I try not to let it get me down for long. Not trying to
preach, but faith in God is important for me in all this as well (I don't
think that this life is all that there is!).

My advice would be to continue to focus on what you can do, and don't worry so
much about what you can't!  One positive result for me has been that I can
empathize far easier with my mom and dad when they can't do things (they are
82 and 90 years old)--I know just how frustrated they feel!

Hope things go well for you.  Don't hesitate to ask me any other
questions--happy to help.


"tjmn.384" wrote:

> Todd:
> Thanks for the e-mail.  Sounds like you have "been put through it".
> This is very encouraging to me because like you I have terrible
> peripheral and night vision but have to admit that I have  been scared
> of permanent vision loss.  Thanks for the encouraging words.  This is
> not an easy thing to go through but it is good to know someone who has
> gone through a whole lot more still has hope.
> Do you mind telling how it has affected your day to day living.  Because
> I have pretty much quit driving at night and this gets me down at times
> because I can't just jump in the car and go like I'm used to.
> Thanks,
> Janice
> Todd Beall wrote:
> >
> > Hi Eileen and Janice,
> >
> > I was diagnosed with retinopathy in 1980.  Yes, it is scary, esp. the
> > hemorhages (sp!).  But the key is to make sure you are with a
> > retinopathy specialist.  My doctor (Dr. Schockett, formerly of the
> > University of Maryland, now private) has treated me since that time, and
> > has done a fabulous job.  I had proliferative retinopathy in both eyes,
> > have had over 50 laser treatments, vitrectomy, sclerobuckle (Sp.) and
> > cryotherapy in three major operations in both eyes.  At times my doctor
> > thought that I might lose my sight completely.  But I haven't!  I have
> > no peripheral vision, and horrible night vision, but I can see!
> > Everything is in remission currently.
> >
> > I have taught Old Testament and Hebrew for the past 23 years, so without
> > fairly good eyesight, things would be tough. I've recently had my second
> > cataract surgery (I'm only 47), but that was a piece of cake compared to
> > the other surgeries.  In 1980, when first diagnosed, I was 27.  My major
> > problems were from 1980-1986 (27-33 yrs old).  I say that to encourage
> > you that at 32 you are not alone!  Many diabetics with retinopathy have
> > far fewer problems than I did, and just require some preventative laser
> > treatments.  So, while yes it is scary, don't despair!  Most folks these
> > days who are diagnosed early enough with retinopathy have success
> > stories like mine or better.
> >
> > Please feel free to email me with any problems or questions--I'd be
> > happy to help!
> >
> > Todd

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