So, after the last 2 major eye operations, 6 bottles of eye drops, 11 hours spent in emergency eye clinics, 35 days signed off sick, 220 hours of posturing, and an uncountable number of expletives uttered, ‘Operation Getting Back To Normality’, or ‘Get Norm’ as this now frustratingly familiar routine was christened by a friend, is now well underway. This has included the following milestones:
- Summoning up the courage to get back on the roads driving BY MYSELF.
- Saying goodbye to the dog.
- Saying goodbye to my mum.
- Making it back down to my little house in Kent.
- Saying goodbye to my sister.
- Becoming accustomed to the silence of being at home alone once more.
- Starting back at work.
Weheeeeey, I’ve started back at work! That’s definitely a sign of getting back to normality, isn’t it? However, this last milestone has been something of a struggle to achieve. The GP originally wanted to sign me off for a month. ‘A month?! I’m sure I don’t need a month!’, I exclaimed, staring at her aghast through my good eye. (My bad eye was still alarmingly red and half shut at that stage.) I managed to talk her down to a week, and then had the embarrassment of having to go back to her and admit that she was probably right as I was still getting ridiculously exhausted doing even basic tasks. As well as the GP, I had to make it past Occupational Health in order to get back to work. My first meeting with the Occ Health lady, back in June 2014 after my first detachment, wasn’t the best of experiences. I approached her with trepidation; my sickness record had been pretty much unblemished until that point. I was nervous about getting back to work, I still had the remnants of the gas bubble bobbing around distractingly in my eye, and I was absolutely terrified about the possibility of another detachment. She told me I had issues with anxiety and launched into an oppressive ‘pull yourself together’ style talk, informing me that of course my retina wouldn’t detach again. Well. You find me an RD patient who hasn’t at some point had ‘issues with anxiety’ and I’ll give you £100. I left that first appointment red-faced, teary-eyed and fuming, and had to walk around the block before I was in a fit state to return to the office. I spent the next hour or so carefully honing all the caustic responses I wished I’d been quick enough to think of at the time. After another period of sick leave following my second detachment, I marched purposefully into my next appointment fully prepared for a verbal showdown, but that time she was almost disappointingly nice. My retina has now detached five times, and she eyes me with increasing caution when I go in for my appointments, as if approaching a dangerous dog. Thankfully she is far more sympathetic now and even talked me through some very useful information when I queried where I stand with my employer after a friend alarmed me somewhat by telling me that I was lucky to still have a job as many companies would have dismissed me by this time. Clearly I need to add to the list of unhelpful things to say, at: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/im-not-usually-a-violent-person-but/.
Upon making it past Occ Health (phew!), I turned up to my office the following morning and was thoroughly woken up by the bright overhead lights. After switching them off, the first thing I did was to sit at my desk facing the wall and stare straight ahead of me to see if I was still able to see the top shelf of files on the wall above. (See: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/i-spy-with-my-little-eye-something-beginning-with-f/ if you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about here.) Yay – I could actually see most of the files! But I couldn’t see the ceiling, or the door to one side or the noticeboard to the other side. Pants. That’ll be because of the peripheral vision lost as a result of all the laser surgery. Next, I spent a while fighting with my monitor to adjust the brightness controls so that the screen was more bearable to look at. After that, we had a rather entertaining episode involving a ladder, certain work colleagues who shall remain nameless, and one of the offendingly bright bulbs in the ceiling light. Unfortunately the experiment didn’t work and it’s still too bright, but it was worth a try.
Amazingly, my colleagues actually seemed genuinely pleased to see me. I thought they must be as sick of all my eye issues as I am by now. If they are, they’ve certainly hidden it well; sending me get well cards and audio CDs after every operation, and an incredibly thoughtful home-made scrapbook style ‘Feel Good Book’ after my latest and most nightmarish lot of surgery. This is the kind of book which easily makes it onto the list of ‘ten things to save in a house fire’. Their support has certainly helped a huge amount and made things much easier on the ‘Get Norm’ front in terms of the daunting back to work milestone.