No, I’m not referring to the fireworks. As a retinal detachment patient prone to leaping out of my skin with fear at the slightest flash, fireworks aren’t exactly one of my favourite things. I was tucked up in bed by about 10:30pm on New Year’s Eve with a hot water bottle, a good book, and a comforting mug of Tick Tock tea. I was even safely asleep well before midnight and pleased (and somewhat amazed) to report that I didn’t hear a single firework.
So, having enjoyed a rare restful and fairly solid night’s sleep, I leapt out of bed early the next morning to greet the new year and Get Things Done, before the imminent dreaded return to work, which I was desperately trying not to think about. In this state of mind, it seemed like a cracking idea to clean out the giant cupboard under the stairs and get rid of some of the accumulated junk which is always so easy to ignore whilst conveniently out of sight. Out with the old, and all that! The cupboard was swiftly emptied and out came the hoover, car cleaning equipment, a large collection of paintings, art folders, old tins of paint, pieces of wood for making canvases, dog blankets, my mum’s smelly old trainers* which she wears when she comes down to give me gardening lessons**, toolbox, stacks of newspapers… okay, you get the idea.
During the process of emptying this cavernous cupboard, it was necessary for me to get on my hands and knees and crawl underneath a very deep shelf set inside it, in order to reach the boxes right at the back. It was in manouvering backwards and forwards in this manner that I managed to whack the top of my forehead against the edge of the shelf. Surprisingly, in view of my fear of getting a head trauma (have a read of Don’t get a head trauma, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about here), I didn’t immediately go into hyper panic. Rather, I was just intensely annoyed with myself for managing to do something so unutterably stupid.
“You stupid idiot!”, I berated myself as I checked for blood (there was none) and bumps (I wasn’t sure whether there was one or whether it was just a natural lump in my head). I shut my eyes and opened them again, did my visual field checks, cupped my hands over my open eyes to check for flashes, and wondered whether Moorfields would be open on New Year’s Day. I reflected on the irony of the fact that only a few hours earlier, I’d been congratulating myself for getting through the whole of 2017 without having to undergo further eye surgery! I took a few deep breaths, and reminded myself that several of my eye buddies had in the past posted panicked comments on the RD support group site after receiving blows to the head, but they’d been okay. One had even managed to get a rather nasty looking black eye, but her retina had miraculously remained intact.
“That’s enough!”, I instructed myself sternly after about the fiftieth eye check. I purposefully ignored the uncharacteristically chaotic bomb site of my living room and went to make a giant mug of comforting tea. (Pause for an aside to my non-UK readers: tea always makes everything better. Well, this is what we tell ourselves, anyway.) After drinking the tea and eating a large quantity of leftover Christmas biscuits (good for shock, you know), I did my visual checks again. Fortunately, everything seemed to be okay. Or as okay as it has been for the past few months, anyway. I very carefully put everything back in the cupboard and made a New Year’s resolution: there will be no more bangs on the head due to my own stupid fault in 2018…
*They’re not really smelly, but I bet she gasps in horror when she reads that bit.
**I usually ignore the lessons and continue with my very own special brand of gardening. This includes the simple principle: hack it back if it starts looking too messy, regardless of the time of year.