Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Retinopathy Update

As mentioned here, I've been battling proliferative diabetic retinopathy for almost two years. I've experienced the trauma of near blindness and the seemingly countless laser surgeries to stop the bleeding. In January, I almost went totally blind in my left eye. For a brief moment, I thought my life--and all the wonderful things about it--were about to go away. I was fed up. I was tired. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I was drained.

In my 32+ years of living with diabetes, I was at a new low. Mind you, I've done a lot of great things as a pwd (person with diabetes). I married the love of my life. We have two awesome sons. I have a college degree. I am a martial artist of 25 years. I have tandem parachuted. I have repelled 100+ foot cliff sides; the list goes on...

But moderately cared-for diabetes threatened to take that away. I had become lazy. Ultimately, I had two choices: 1. keep doing the same-'ol, same-'ol or 2. get my butt moving. At the low point of my semi-depression (late January), my wife and I spoke of my choices. She knew the decision was entirely mine; consequences and all. After many tears, I chose #2 knowing I would have a fight on my hands.

Fast forward to my most recent retinal checkup. After months of exercise, eating much better, and being more d-proactive, I'm happy to report that my eyes are healing very, very well. So well, that I don't need to see my specialist again until December. I will always have retinopathy, but I feel much better about my overall state of health.

To this day, I've lost 15 lbs. Eat many more vegetables. Met lots of wonderful people experiencing the ups-and-downs of diabetes. And proven to my family that the good choices I make today, carry forward for a better tomorrow.

Never give up!


Tim said...

I'm rarely inspired Mark - but that's a good post. It's very easy to become complacent; so I'm heading out on the bike tonight! :-)

Alison said...

Wow, thats quite a story Mark. Congratulations, you've made huge progress.

Anonymous said...

Very inspiring, Mark. Very inspiring. I need to get my butt moving, too!

Melissa W. said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Mark. I'm so glad to hear your vision is improving! You should be very proud of the commitment you made, and you're helping others by sharing your story.

cherise said...

Awesome post! I'm glad your eye's are healing! Sounds like you have an awesome partner.

Your New D-Buddy

Jim Purdy said...

Mark, I have Type 2 diabetes.

As a result, I have proliferative retinopathy and macular edema in my left eye, which my retinologist treated for a while with lasers.

Then, he started avastin injections into my left eye, which may be helping a little.

However, I'm curious about your improvement in your retinopathy. Did you do anything specific, like specific foods or supplements, or just general diabetic stuff?

Mark said...


For the most part, I gave up on fried/greasy/fattening foods and focused on an exercise routine, e.g. cycling 4X/week for 40-50 minutes. Next, I limited my blood sugar fluctuations, e.g. 240 to 50 or vice versa. BG fluctuations are very hard on the organs. Above all, I can honestly say that the above happened in small steps.

Hope some of this helps.
Take care!