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A Piece of My Mind |

Insight

Elizabeth B. Gay, MD
JAMA. 2010;303(3):205. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2026.
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The right eye bleeds on a Wednesday morning. I am walking to clinic, heading up the hill on 97th Street. For a moment, I imagine the dark spot is some trick of light and shadow. But it grows before me, spreading outward from its center, forming a web across my vision. I know the correct medical language—vitreal hemorrhage—but can only think: My eye is bleeding. The growing web floats across the world, almost beautiful if I weren't so afraid. I had a laser treatment on this eye two days ago, to prevent fragile new vessels from bleeding. The right eye has always been the good eye; the left has been bleeding for a year, despite more laser sessions than I can count. I know I will need a vitrectomy on the left eye, but I was counting on the right. This bleeding is the result of diabetic retinopathy and so particularly painful because it is in part my fault. Previously obsessive about my blood glucose, during my intern year of medicine residency, exhilarated and exhausted by the rigors of training, I struggled for reasonable control. And I let myself be 180 rather than 80, given the inconvenience of being low. My blurry vision feels like punishment, and usually I believe it's deserved.

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