Diabetic Retinopathy and Anti-VEGF Injections
On Friday Evening, I was closing down my wellness center and noticed I had e-mail. I clicked on the icon to check the email and thought a quick read and then off to home for dinner and a movie. Instead, I was jolted to writing this post.
My D-friend and fellow blogger on this site, Allie Beatty, owns Alliesvoice.com. Allie has lived with type 1 diabetes for 23 years and started a Vlog site that gives great information about diabetes biomedical research, the complications of diabetes and sometimes to "grouch about diabetes."
I was drawn to Allievoice for it's sharp, provocative questioning, yet positive vibe. And, when I e-mailed Allie about a topic, I realized she researches her writing extremely well! For example, when I asked her about SmartInsulin, she quickly responded that she had talked with Dr. Todd Zion, CEO of SmartCells and inventor of SmartInsulin, back in November of 2008. Well before anyone was really looking at the research, Allie was hip to Dr. Zion's SmartInsulin project.
Her acumen for biology, medicine and living with diabetes is from personal experience. Allergic to synthetic insulin, Allie has struggled with sensitivity to diabetes medications and the complexity of the disease. Her site was started to ensure those of us living with diabetes would understand the risks when exploring diabetes information.
In the beginning of June, Allie let me know she was having a kidney transplant at the end of July, but nonetheless was positive and encouraging, and ready to blog for this site. My last correspondence with Allie was the day before she was scheduled to go in for the Anti-VEGF shot, which is designed to stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Over the last month, I have not heard a word from Allie and she hadn't been blogging on either site. A couple of weeks ago, I shot her an e-mail to let her know I was thinking about her and the upcoming date for her transplant, but still no word.
After reading and watching Allie's vlog on Friday night, I am left with shock, grief and - what Allie does best - I am now keenly informed! Struggling to annunciate the words, I watched Allie share the struggle that has kept her verbally and physically challenged for a month and I'd like to share this with you.
Allie, who is 31 years old, suffered a stroke just 2 days after the Anti-VEGF injection. It was surprising to me that there is so much research online on the side effects, but the stroke risk was theoretical, so it was easy to ignore. Allie's Vlog delivers the impact of the small writing that reads, "side effects may cause.." and there was nothing theoretical about what happened to her!
What we need to learn is to be advocates for ourselves in our health care, ask the questions for what side effects lurk with a procedure, or probability for drug interaction. Many people with diabetes have some hypersensitivity to medication, food and even supplements. People like Allie help to raise awareness so we know how to proceed. Does this mean that everyone should avoid Anti-VEGF injections? I don't know, but it is imperative that you have the discussion with your diabetes team and ask everyone to think about what may be risk factors for you!
To our friend Allie, we send you healing thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery! And you are a living testament to Nietzsche's philosophy, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger!" Girlfriend, you MUST be Hercules by now!
For information on Anti-VEGF injections, we found this resource:
Check down at the bottom of the page under Dr. David M. Brown "The only time I emphasize the possible risk for thromboembolic events is when a patient has had a previous stroke. I tell the patient that the potential risk exists, and we will try to minimize it by using the least possible number of injections."
This article is the easiest to read. Please be sure to read the bottom of the page, a green box that read "The Bottom Line."
From the Annals of Neurology, an abstract with more technical insight.
Finally, information on clinical trials.