Anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to experience a retinal detachment will be all too aware of the anxiety it brings with it. For example:
- “Aaaagh, what’s that?! … Hang on, it’s okay, it’s just an eyelash stuck on my glasses.”
- “Sh*t – I just saw a new floater…” [pauses to stare wildly around] “Ah, wait a minute – it’s just a fly.”
- “Oh bloody hell, what’s happened to my eyes now?!… No, it’s okay, it’s just some silly post on Facebook with a weird visual effect which makes the letters wobble about.”
And then of course there’s the ever-present low rumbling daily anxiety of things like, “What if my good eye detaches?”; “What if that stonking headache is a sign that my eye pressure’s rising?”; “What’s my consultant going to say at my next appointment?”; “How will I cope if I lose more sight?”. All of this worry ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s worse than others and occasionally we get a slight reprieve, but those of us who have had multiple retinal detachments and eye problems pretty much learn to accept that this is the way our lives are now. It can be upsetting, frustrating, and hugely depressing at times but we plough on and deal with it as best we can.
However, since my eye issues I’ve also found myself worrying far more about any health issue that crops up. Each time I experience a minor ailment, instead of thinking it’ll all be fine and will probably clear up in a few days, an evil voice inside my head tells me, “But what if it doesn’t? What if it’s something REALLY serious? What if it’s something that you need all sorts of horrible treatment for, and then the treatment doesn’t even work? What if you die a slow and painful death, all alone because everyone’s already sick of all your eye stuff?” “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”, I tell the voice inside my head. “It’ll be fine! It’s just because I’m a bit stressed and tired at the moment!” “But that’s what you said about the symptoms of your first retinal detachment, isn’t it?”, the voice inside my head reminds me. “You thought those first two tiny black floaters were because of stress and insomnia, didn’t you? And they weren’t, were they?”
And then I start to doubt myself and worry and wonder, and occasionally go into a panic over whatever the ailment is until it either resolves itself or I can’t bear it any longer and force myself to go to the GP. That makes it sound as if I’m constantly running to the doctor’s, which of course I’m not. I probably went about three times last year, but that’s more than I would normally go. I’m fully aware that the reason for this health-related anxiety is because of what happened with my first retinal detachment. I didn’t pay any attention to those first tiny symptoms. So now it seems that whenever I experience anything which isn’t ‘normal’ for me, my brain immediately switches into panic mode.
As with so many issues, being aware of this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I sometimes wonder whether I’ll ever be able to completely trust my own judgement again when it comes to my health. I also wonder whether any of my fellow eye-buddies also experience this. If any of you do, and you’re able to offer me any tips, please let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep ploughing on, and try to silence the evil voice inside my head with logic…