I CONSIDERED WRITING THIS ENTIRE POST IN ANGRY, SHOUTY CAPITALS, POSSIBLY MAKING THEM LARGER AND THEREFORE MORE ANGRY AND SHOUTY IN EACH SUBSEQUENT PARAGRAPH but according to the RNIB, text in normal case (i.e. as I’m now typing it) is easier to read for people with visual impairments and I can actually verify this. You may remember from a previous blog post (see https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/the-kindness-of-strangers/) that my no-nonsense colleague commented that she thought my posts were a bit angry, and I darkly warned that I’d be returning to anger issues at a later date. Well, after my latest appointment, in which I was told that my ‘mischevous’ [pause, while I snort derisively at the inapproriateness of that particular adjective in this case] retina is starting to detach a little above the 360 degree laser line (see: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/a-grand-day-out-at-moorfields-eye-hospital/), it seems as good as time as any to discuss anger issues. And let me assure you that JUST BECAUSE I’M NOT WRITING LIKE THIS, it doesn’t mean I’m not ANGRY! [Pauses in order to growl menacingly].
Now quite frankly, I think it’s pretty normal to get angry about all this, and I can’t really believe that anyone who’s experienced a retinal detachment would not get angry about it occasionally. From a wider perspective, it turns your life upside down not only during the horrendous post-surgery posturing period but also afterwards when you’re desperately trying to get back to some kind of normality. Repeat re-detachments bring increasing fears of further sight loss and the implications of that in terms of ‘will I still be able to do my job?’, ‘will I still be able to drive’, ‘will I still be able to make out people’s expressions when they’re talking to me?’, and even, ‘will I be able to look in the mirror after a meal and check I don’t have spinach stuck in my teeth?’. Okay, so that’s fear rather than anger. But all the fear MAKES ME ANGRY, because I DON’T WANT IT TO BE LIKE THIS! I don’t want to be afraid to open my eyes in the morning incase I can’t see. I don’t want to jump like an idiot when a fly zips past me like a little black dot, clearly pretending to be a floater just to freak me out, or when I see something catching the light and causing a flash in my peripheral vision. I don’t want to be constantly checking my visual field and feeling that horrible sick and panicky feeling whenever I notice something which seems to be different. I don’t want severely limited vision in my right eye for the rest of my life, and to have to put up with the constant aching and discomfort in it. I DON’T WANT ANY OF THE RUDDY STUFF – I JUST WANT HEALTHY EYES THAT WORK PROPERLY! I know I said I wouldn’t keep talking in capitals, but it’s quite satisfying to be doing the shouty thing.
After my fourth lot of surgery, when a small detachment was found again, I was so frustrated and angry that I spent a fair amount of time during my posturing breaks just uttering expletives in between cramming in all the other things that have to be done during that time such as going to the loo, eating, putting eye drops in, and stretching to relieve painful muscles. The fact that my mum didn’t even chastise me for my bad language is a pretty significant indicator of just how grim things were at that time. My sister wasn’t phased in the least and joined in my swearing with gusto. We should really have procured a swear box and donated the proceeds to research into retinal detachments. There would probably be a cure by now if we’d done that.
Sometimes, I get so angry that it makes me want to hurl something across the room, preferably through a large glass window for added satisfaction. After a particularly frustrating day at work recently, I informed my colleague that I was going home to snap all my pencils in half. She clearly didn’t believe me, inquiring whether I have a lot of pencils at home. When I replied, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got loads because I sketch. I’ll start with the HB and 4B ones because I don’t use those as much’, she looked slightly alarmed. In the past couple of days I’ve resorted to releasing some of the frustration by growling at my retina. This is because I suddenly remembered what we used to do with my Grandad in the last year or so of his life when he was getting very frustrated with all his aches and pains. If there wasn’t anything practical which could be done to ease them, I’d occasionally suggest, ‘Let’s growl at them, Grandad!’, and go on to demonstrate, ‘Grrrrrrrr!’ He’d stare at me in uncertainty for a few minutes before screwing up his face and joining in: ‘Grrrrrrr!’ he would grow, and ‘Grrrrrrr!’, I would growl back until we were nose to nose and after a little more of this, he’d usually start laughing. I haven’t reached the laughing part yet, but I find it does help to have a good growl now and then.
Occasionally, I get the moments of anger mixed with self-pity when I think, ‘WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO ME?’ (Shouty capitals are definitely called for when I get into that state of mind.) Of course, being a generally logical person, I then remind myself that I’m actually pretty sure of why this happened to me. My Gran had retinal problems and my cousin had a bad retinal tear when he was in his twenties, so I’m fairly certain that it’s hereditary in my case as my prescription has never fallen into the -6 ‘danger zone’ for a detachment. Of course, this doesn’t help matters in the moments when I wail, ‘BUT WHY COULDN’T IT ****** WELL HAVE BEEN FIXED IN THE FIRST LOT OF SURGERY, LIKE 85-90% OF CASES?!’ Well, I suppose I know the answer to that as well really, as my surgeon informed me, ‘You have a very unusual eye’. Great. I somehow managed to resist the temptation to stamp my foot and demand a normal, bog-standard, ordinary one.
I think it’s worth pointing out to my no-nonsense colleague that I don’t spend ALL my time in a state of anger. I remember reading an article quite a while ago which basically argued that certain human emotions are unsustainable for long periods of time and even though at times it feels as if we’ll experience grief / anger / frustration / upset for weeks and months on end, actually the feeling will pass. It may come and go, but we don’t generally feel that high level of emotion continually over a sustained period of time. The article also advised that the healthiest approach is to just allow the emotion to come and go, instead of trying to quash it. So when I get particularly angry or upset about the whole thing, I try to remind myself of this before I start snapping my pencils in half.