A few weeks ago, my sister announced that she would be holding her ‘Twinkles at Twilight’ event this year on the eve of my next check-up appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital. “It’ll take your mind off your appointment”, she told me, optimistically. For those readers who don’t know what Twinkles at Twilight is all about, you may like to read, ‘Twinkles at Twilight, dread at dawn‘, but basically it’s an afternoon of tea, cake and games to raise money for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie. ‘Twinkles’ relates to a twinkle in the eye, and ‘twilight’ refers to the time at which Marie Curie nurses begin their shifts to provide night-time palliative care for patients in their own homes. Give us a few years and I’m pretty sure that Twinkles at Twilight will become as much a part of the charity calendar as Children in Need or Comic Relief. Maybe.
So, following my sister’s announcement that Twinkles would be held on 19 November, I donned my apron* and cracked on with the serious business of baking appropriately themed goodies and cramming them into my freezer. Much to my delight, I’d discovered packets of edible eyes in my local Sainsbury’s, so I made an array of chocolate muffins and macaroons, decorated with cherry noses and edible eyes. I made so many macaroons that I actually ran out of edible eyes (there are only 50 in a packet), and had to resort to raisins instead. That was okay though – the raisin versions just looked as if they’d been sitting in an eye clinic for a while after having dilation drops put in. I also baked carrot cake (good eye food…?) and chocolate brownies decorated with twinkly stars. My sister’s creations included fairy cakes with little faces made of chocolate buttons and edible eyes, and giant marshmallows on sticks with cherry noses and rice paper sunglasses. Other offerings included a beautiful selection of shortbread star biscuits, and miniature star-shaped scones baked by the Duke of Edinburgh students who volunteer at my sister’s workplace. The process of jamming and creaming the latter naturally led to the inevitable hotly debated question regarding the correct pronunciation of ‘scone’.
Fairy lights were borrowed from various willing lenders and strewn across furniture and curtain poles; sparkly stars were stuck artistically on door frames and mirrors; and the games table was set up. As last year, we had a tombola (50p a ticket), ‘guess the number of stars in the jar’ (biscuit-shaped stars, that is), and ‘guess where the shooting star is in the night sky’ (each £1 a go). The games went down a storm and raised a substantial amount of dosh, as well as keeping children entertained and parents probably wishing they’d just popped to the local supermarket and bought that box of chocolates instead of allowing their offspring to have “just one more go!”
We realised afterwards that we STILL didn’t have any eye related games this year, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below and we might use them for next year’s fundraising efforts! Despite this small oversight (pun intended), the evening was a resounding success and thanks to people’s incredible generosity we raised over £400 for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie. Thank you very much to everyone who came, baked, helped out, donated, and of course scoffed cake (the best bit, obviously!).
The cake-baking and event organising did help to take my mind off my impending hospital appointment, but as the dreaded day dawned, I awoke to the familiar ‘bang bang bang’ of what I suspect was a tension headache hammering away. Usually I get these the day after my appointment. This time, I got one the day before, on the day itself, and on the day afterwards. “Great”, I muttered to myself, whilst knocking back the drugs** and wondering how I was going to remain alert enough to be able to process any potential bad news if the appointment didn’t go well. Fortunately, the headache had faded by the time we got into London, which was just as well as we were then faced with signal failures on the tube and had to dash up to the street and flag down a taxi in order to make it to the hospital on time.
The clinic was busier than usual. There was a huge queue just to sign in, and the receptionist had that stressed look of one who can’t actually see the end of the queue (and not because of dodgy eyesight). We’d already been waiting for a couple of hours when another patient sat down next to me and sighed, “It’s a long wait, isn’t it?” I asked her how long she’d been waiting, to which she replied with another sigh, “Almost an hour!”. “Ah, that’s not too bad”, I replied, adding, “At least we still have the NHS… at the moment, anyway!” She agreed, and settled back in her chair as my sister and I exchanged glances and agreed via sibling telepathy that she was clearly a newbie as you never, EVER have an eye appointment which takes less than two hours.
Eventually, I was called through to see the consultant, whereupon I gritted my teeth and crossed my fingers as I put my chin on the contraption and tried to remember to breathe as I followed the usual instructions for each eye in turn: “Look straight ahead… look up… look up and right… look right… look down and right… look down… look down and left… look left… look up and left…” Then it was all repeated when ‘the Prof’ came to have a look. To my delight, he said that everything looked much the same as previously and agreed with my view that it was better not to rock the boat by having further surgery as things were still stable and I was coping. Of course, they’ve warned me that if I start to get side effects as a result of the oil (e.g. high pressure), surgery may become inevitable, but I really do hope that things will remain stable for a long, looooong time. Or at least until they’ve figured out a magic solution of how to cure PVR and make the ruddy retina stick…
* I don’t actually have an apron, but I probably should invest in one, as I’d make less mess when baking. Or at least the mess could then be wiped on the apron instead.
** Ibuprofen of course. What did you think I meant?!