Tag Archives: Retinal Detachment

“Always look on the bright side of life”…

… but not too bright, for those of us with eye issues!  Musical accompaniment to this blog post can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUHTzEv9V-s and is, of course, provided by the motley Monty Python crew.  Naturally, being British (although in the current political climate I hesitate to admit that), I’m no stranger to the concept of using humour – often of the black variety – to cope with difficult circumstances.  It was often the best method of defusing situations with my Gran, when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Of course, occasionally this approach can backfire, as I discovered the time I informed her, with a perfectly straight face, that Winston Churchill was the prime minister and she believed me.  Fortunately, she quickly overcame her confusion and readily forgave me when my mum explained, with a glare in my direction, “No he’s not – don’t worry, it’s just Emma being silly again.”  (The addition of ‘again’ implies that I’m often silly, which obviously I vigorously refute.)

Anyway… looking on the bright side in the manner of Monty Python has helped me in my ongoing RD journey, and I know it’s helped many of my eye buddies too.  So I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite examples of the importance of humour in getting through the horrendous RD journey…

Plan B
After my third lot of surgery, in January 2015, one of my friends posted a cartoon-type picture of herself offering me a tray with a couple of eyes rolling around on it, with the caption: “Even with every confidence in Emma’s recent surgery, Debbie put forward a fantastic plan B.”  Luckily, even in my groggy post-op posturing state, this did make me chuckle.  However, I must point out that I’ve had two more surgeries since then and my friend still hasn’t come up with the promised goods.  (Tut!)
A cartoon-type picture of my friend offering me a tray with a couple of eyes rolling around on it, with the caption: "Even with every confidence in Emma's recent surgery, Debbie put forward a fantastic plan B.".

Eye-related gifts
One of my eye buddies once caused great hilarity in the Facebook support group I belong to by posting a picture of a Christmas present he’d just received from his mum: a framed copy of a Snellen chart (the eye chart used to test visual acuity).  It’s just as well no-one’s ever done that for me, or I’d have it hung in a well-lit area with a chair placed precisely six metres away to enable me to test myself daily!
Speaking of this particular eye buddy, you can find another example of his humour in my post, Pre-appointment paranoia.

PVR ?  Nooooooooooo!
When sharing humorous eye-related incidents on the Facebook  RD support group, one of my eye buddies related a story which made me gasp in horror before giggling slightly hysterically.  It’s best told in his own words:  “The funniest thing that happened to me, as you may remember, following my RD surgery was when I visited my optician in a worried way at one point following a sudden onset of a shower of new floaters in the RD eye – it occurred about three months after my op. “OK, could you read these three letters on the eye chart please?” he says…..I look up at the eye chart with my good eye covered and immediately read the letters “P V R”. I quickly look away with a kind of groan and say “No….I don’t even want to THINK about that!”. He laughs, slightly embarrassed, and says “Well at least I can see that you’re managing to see the letters all right”. (He knows I’m reasonably knowledgeable about eye problems). Exam turns out to be totally clear with no problems found.”

Eye jokes
Then, of course, there are the eye jokes…
Q: “What’s the scariest thing to read in braille?”
A: “Do not touch.”

“Whilst cooking today, I accidentally rubbed some herbs in my eyes.  I’m now parsley-sighted.”  [G r o a n !]

Or this one – a picture of a patient sitting in front of a Snellen chart and holding binoculars up to his eyes, as the white-coated doctor barks, “No cheating!”.  (Don’t we all just wish we had a pair of binoculars at times, when squinting and scrunching our eyes up to try and decipher the letters on that chart?!)
A patient sitting in front of a Snellen chart and holding binoculars up to his eyes, as the white-coated doctor barks, "No cheating!".

Blind driving
The only thing which has ever made me actually laugh out loud when specifically discussing eye issues and driving is this little gem, posted by one of my eye buddies: http://imgur.com/gallery/fIVfPwG.  It’s a short video clip which could accurately be captioned, ‘driving with a long cane’.

Puns
Then there are the little puns which come up in day-to-day life… for example:
A couple of years ago, over a Boxing Day game of Scrabble, my sister surveyed her tiles and casually remarked, “I don’t want to make you jealous, but I have three ‘i’s!”
And:
During a recent chat with an eye buddy, I observed that he seemed to be a bit hyperactive.  “It’s called humour”, he shot back, “I used to have some in my eye!”.

‘Blind’ man predicaments
Finally, another one which made me gasp is a spoof video of a ‘blind’ man getting into all sorts of predicaments whilst walking with his long cane, available at:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BevMNizHvCm/. This one was sent to me by the VIP* I met up with a couple of weeks ago.  (*Very Important Person, that’s right!)  It’s not so much the man himself, but the reactions to him by passers-by which are so entertaining to watch!

If you have any eye-related jokes or humorous incidents, please do give us all more to laugh about by sharing them in the comments below… 🙂

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The accidental OCT scan

The morning of my much-anticipated rescheduled check-up appointment at Moorfields (have a read of ‘Sod the Tories‘, if you’re wondering about the rescheduling) got off to a somewhat ironic start when I mistook the shampoo for shower gel during my morning shower and only realised when I started hunting for the shampoo to wash my hair.  I’m sure the lettering on toiletries is getting smaller and smaller these days… naturally, my dodgy peepers aren’t to blame!

My sister (aka eye secretary) and I reached Moorfields in plenty of time and settled down in the clinic for a long wait.  We’d already spotted the whiteboard, which declared a waiting time of two and a half to three hours, so we were fully prepared for an extended game of ‘I Spy’.  We therefore both audibly gasped in surprise when the nurse called me through almost immediately.

I peered at the Snellen chart with my bad eye, desperately trying to focus on the two letters on the second line down as I hazarded a guess, “Is that an X?  I think it’s an X.” and then rattled off the penultimate line with my good eye – yay!  My eye pressures were the best they’ve been for a while (yay again!), and then came the stinging dilation drops, which always seem to sting more when I’m tired.  Considering that the previous night had been broken by a series of nightmares, I wasn’t surprised that the drops were more uncomfortable than usual.  At this point, the nurse instructed me to go off for a scan and then return to the clinic.  “A scan?”, I asked in some alarm, “I don’t usually have a scan – what kind of scan is it?”  Upon double-checking my file, she nodded and assured me that this was correct before pointing us in the direction of Medical Imaging.

Off we went, and sat down in another queue.  We didn’t have long to wait until I was called through, whereupon I immediately started questioning the poor guy doing the scans about what scan it was (OCT, I was informed) and why it had been requested.  Scan Man (far more impressive than Batman, because he could operate an OCT scanner) consulted my file and informed me that it was because of VMT.  “VMT?”, I repeated in confusion, “What’s that?!”  “Vitreomacular traction”, he informed me, before proceeding to talk about PVD.  “But no-one’s told me I’ve got VMT or PVD!”, I replied in alarm.  “I have got PVR in my right eye though – maybe that’s why the scan’s needed?”  I stared at him through dilated eyes and saw my look of confusion reflected back at me as he asked, “What’s PVR?”  “Proliferative vitreoretinopathy”, I explained.  “It’s a complication of retinal detachment surgery.”  I was tempted to refer him to my blog post, ‘The curse of PVR‘, but managed to refrain.  “Oh”, he replied, sounding almost as baffled as me, before proceeding to do his stuff with the scans: “Look at the green cross… keep still…”  He showed me part of the scan on his computer, but it didn’t answer any of my questions and I concluded that perhaps I shouldn’t really have started asking questions in the first place.

We returned to the clinic again and settled down to a game of ‘I Spy’, whereupon we managed to pass a full ten minutes as my sister attempted to guess “something beginning with S”.  A series of clues revealed the obvious answer, “Spectacles!”.  Eventually, the Prof called me through and got on with the business of the eye examination: “Look up… look down… look left…. look right… look up and right… look down and right… look up and left… look down and left…” etc.   I sat with bated breath and kept my fingers crossed below the examination contraption as he delivered the best news I could have hoped for in the situation: everything was still stable and he didn’t see the need for further surgery unless the oil started to cause problems.

He reminded me again that two further surgeries would be necessary in any case – one to get the oil out, do another retinectomy, sort out the abnormal blood vessels, carry out more laser and put more oil back in.  Then another surgery at some point in the future to try and remove the oil if my eye behaved itself.  Considering the fact that my ruddy retina has misbehaved from day one, I’m not particularly keen to rock the boat by having more surgery before I absolutely have to.  So, although I was disappointed that no miracle had occurred, I was enormously relieved to hear that things were still stable.  I was even more relieved to hear that the OCT scan appeared to have been a mistake in that I hadn’t actually needed it and there was nothing further wrong with my pesky peepers… phew!  The only slight blip was the news that the cataract in my good eye had worsened slightly.  He reassured me that this was nothing to worry about for the time being.  So naturally, me being me, I worried…

Tears and tears

One of the positive side effects of life as an RD patient (stop spluttering dear Reader – I’m not a negative person, despite what some people say) is that we get to meet other RD patients and by doing so we sometimes get to know people that we would otherwise never have crossed paths with.  Chatting to other RD patients brings many benefits: we share tips and information; it makes us feel less alone as we’re all going through or have been through similar experiences; we celebrate each others’ good news and support one another through the grim times and the many blips along the way.  There’s a certain member of the RD support group on Facebook who often says that if it wasn’t for that group, we’d all be alcoholics by now.  She has a point, and I’m not even a fan of alcohol!  So when I got chatting to a new eye buddy via a comment left on this blog and we had a discussion about tears, I asked him if he’d fancy writing a ‘guest blog post’ about his thoughts.  He was still in the grim recovery period after posturing but before being permitted to return to ‘normal’ (for some) life, so naturally I thought writing about eye related matters might take his mind off things a bit.  This may seem like chopped logic, but writing can be very cathartic.  Much to my delight, he agreed with alacrity and so without further ado, here’s his blog post…

Hi my name is Simeon and I’m a comparative RD newbie. I recently had emergency surgery for a detached retina at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (Moorfields?? Pah!!). I had to posture for a week, 18 hours per day on my right side. After devouring all I could about RD on the Tube of You and skating the interweb, I had run out of information. I happened to stumble upon ‘RD Ramblings’, a poorly written and mediocre blog…( oh thanks Emma, [pockets £20 note] where was I???) Oh yes, I was amazed by the eloquence and humour (no eye pun intended) in the writing.

Emma has unfortunately amassed an extensive knowledge of retinal surgery due to her ongoing complications. However, rather than dwelling in self-pity she has written all these wonderful stories with a playful eye (the good one). After pocketing the bribe, I complimented her on all her stories. I had read at least 3 each day when posturing and could quote lines from each of them to her! They made me smile whilst at the same time informing me about various surgical techniques, PVR, lettuce degeneration (a fridge is handy) etc.

She told me later that she cried tears* of joy about my comment, but also tears* of sadness for my condition. It made me think of how the same word “tear” can have different meanings. If you think of the sentence; “The man awoke in the eye hospital with a tear in his eye”, the average person would assume he was feeling sad. However for those of us who have had RD surgery and are panicking at every black dot we see… well we would see that word “tear” and feel a sense of dread. Which made me think…

Tears* are good for us, they help to lubricate the eye as we blink and wash away any foreign bodies (I have a couple of ‘foreign bodies’ in my back garden but shhhh!!). Tears* can be a sign of great joy at the kindness shown by others, but also helping to release stress when feeling great sadness.  You can have tiers on a wedding cake… yum!  Tears* may also be found in the eyes of the groom as he views his amazing new wife or ponders his new lack of freedom! It all depends on how optimistic or cynical you are…

However, tears** is quite a brutal word, similar to when you rip or burn music to and from an audio CD. You can use force to tear** something open or apart, or tear** very fast along a road, which implies excessive speed. If you’re an ant, you can move quickly across the top of a cereal box…(tear** along the dotted line). And of course, our old favourite the retinal tear** eek!!

I thought it would be interesting to share how the same word can mean completely different things to different people. Most of us reading this would unfortunately have experienced both tears** and subsequently floods of therapeutic tears* at the same time. So next time you see the words tears* or tears** ask yourself which description immediately pops into your head…

Thank you Emma for your amazing, wonderfully funny and informative blogs [no we agreed on £40… ahh thank you!] xx

Note 1:
Tears* = the clear salty liquid secreted from the glands in a person’s eye when they cry or when the eye is irritated.
Tears** =
a hole or split in something caused by it having been pulled apart forcefully. These definitions have been taken from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Note 2:
Huge thanks to Simeon and all my wonderful eye buddies for being so amazingly supportive – I honestly don’t know how I would get through this eye crap without you guys.  If any of you fancy doing a ‘guest blog post’ about something, please give me a shout as I think this could be quite a fun thing to do now and then! 🙂

 

Sod* the Tories

I had a check-up appointment at Moorfields booked for Monday 4 June.  You will note, dear Reader, my use of the past tense in that sentence.  For, late on Wednesday afternoon I received a voicemail from Moorfields telling me that my appointment had been cancelled due to not enough doctors and too many patients.  Upon receiving this news, I let out a massive internal howl of, “Noooooooooooooooooo!”, before indulging in a short fit of wailing once I reached the safety of home.  I then promptly regretted this, as it just made my eyes ache more.

As my eye buddies know all too well, my reaction to this news is about far more than a cancelled appointment.  I approach my check-ups at Moorfields in fear and dread.  The build-up starts a good couple of weeks beforehand each time, as my anxiety builds and insomnia becomes my nightly companion.  “What will they say?”, I wonder to myself.  “Will the detached part of my retina have progressed any further?  Will the 360 degree laser line be holding firm?  What of the abnormal blood-vessels – will they have worsened?  Will my eye pressures be satisfactory?  Will my cornea still be healthy, with the oil in?  And my good eye… will it be okay?  Or will it – heaven forbid – have  developed more tears?  Will the lattice degeneration be any worse?  Will they want – or need – to perform yet more surgery, or will I gain another reprieve?  How will I cope if more surgery is necessary?”  All these questions, and more, clamour in my ears like a huge orchestra tuning up for a performance.

Along with all the questions, I increase my ever-so-slightly-obsessive visual checking as the appointment looms ominously on the horizon.  I wrote about this a while ago, in ‘Pre-appointment paranoia‘.  The stress builds and builds until usually it reaches a crescendo during the appointment itself, at the point at which the consultant has finished the examination, scribbled the notes down, and sat back to tell me the results and allow me to ask as many questions as I can cram in.  Depending on the news, the crescendo is either one of glorious, melodic harmonies, or a clashing of cymbals and change in tempo as the key abruptly switches to minor.  This cancellation of my appointment is equivalent to the entire orchestra standing up and dropping their instruments onto the concrete floor with a collective crash; leaving a solitary violinist, oblivious in the corner, plucking forlornly at a broken string.

I don’t even have a new appointment date to focus on yet.  Although I rang Moorfields straight back, there was nobody available.  I rang the following day during my lunch break at work and spent most of it listening to a calm, automated voice informing me that I was “number one in the queue”.  I think they’d actually all gone to lunch and left the telephone queueing system switched on.  After about 35 minutes of this, I gave up and sought solace in my cheese and cucumber sandwiches.  I eventually got through after work, and was told that a new appointment wasn’t available yet as they had to slot everyone back in.

As with my only other previously cancelled appointment (have a read of, ‘Q: What’s more stressful than an impending eye appointment?‘), I don’t blame Moorfields for this.  Like me, anyone in the UK who has to attend eye clinics on a regular basis will be able to see clearly (even through the foggy haze of the dilation drops) how busy they are.  The clinics are always packed with patients, the consultants and doctors often have that look which means they know just how many patients are waiting and they’re wondering how on earth they’re going to get through them all in time.  The nurses hurry back and forth, and the receptionists have a slightly frazzled air about them, not helped by the occasional impatient patient asking if they’re going to have to wait much longer [pause while I tut and metaphorically roll my eyes].

So… if us eye patients with our dodgy vision can see so clearly that the NHS needs more resources to cope with demand, my question is: why can’t the government?  It needs no avid follower of the news to tell us that the NHS is in crisis.  Why isn’t the government doing anything about it?  Why is the government privatising it by stealth?  The NHS will reach its 70th birthday this July.  In today’s world, 70 is far from decrepit.  (My mum will be very glad to read that.)  There is much useful life to be lived beyond the age of 70, but many people may just need a little more care and attention.  However, the government doesn’t seem able to see this, and I can’t help but observe that this lack of vision appears to stem from idiocy rather than from myopia.  It strikes me that the government views the NHS as a particularly cantankerous decrepit pensioner, whom it just wants to shove into a grubby care home out of sight as quickly as possible.  I genuinely fear for the future of the NHS.  Further discussion on that is probably best left for another post.  But in the meantime, what should we do?  I might take out my frustrations by writing to my MP and including a free eye test voucher for Specsavers…

*Obviously I had a considerably stronger adjective in mind, but being a family-friendly blog and all that…

Near-miss head trauma

I blame my next-door neighbour.  His house has been abandoned for approximately the past two years, which is great in terms of noise levels (i.e. there is none), but not so good in that the fences need repairing, the garden’s an overgrown haven for rats (which have – much to my horror – on several occasions made their way into the cavity walls and up into the loft), and the trees are steadily advancing into my garden like Birnam Woods coming to Dunsinane.  My absent neighbour keeps saying he’s going to come and sort it all out, but quite frankly he’s told me this so frequently that I don’t believe him any more.  And so it came to pass that I decided to take matters into my own hands…

One tree branch was stretching right across the middle of my garden, blocking the sunlight to my carefully sown good eye food in my raised veggie bed.  I’d been eyeing it up for a while, and knowing that I was legally within my rights to chop back any branches overhanging my side, I decided to take the bull by the horns (or more accurately: the branch by the saw).  So I clambered up onto a sturdy up-turned plant pot to reach the branch, which was about half an arm’s length above my head.  I then peeked up without tipping my head back to far and making the scary black floaters appear, positioned my trusty garden saw on the branch, then lowered my head and steadily began to saw, whilst holding onto the fence with my other hand, for balance.  I sawed, and sawed, and occasionally glanced up to peer at my progress.  Then I put my head back down and sawed some more, until eventually the saw started getting stuck.  I then had the genius (?) idea of sawing from the other side of the branch, so that the two cuts would meet up in the middle.  So once again, I looked up, positioned the saw, looked down again, and sawed for dear life.

This went on for hours*, by which point my arm was aching and I was getting hot and somewhat frustrated.  I waggled the branch, but it moved not one inch.  After sawing manically for a few more minutes, I gave up.  “Pah!”, I told the branch in irritation, “Sod you then!”.  As I stomped down off the plant pot and dropped the saw, there was an almighty crash which sounded like Zeus having a paddy on Mount Olympus.  I instinctively shot up my hand and fortunately managed to catch the end of the branch as it crashed down, and lowered it gently to the ground.  It covered the entire bottom end of my garden, and crushed my little beetroot seedlings in my raised veggie bed.  I stood back and surveyed the damage, wondering how the branch had managed to appear so much smaller when it was attached to the tree.  I then felt slightly queasy at the thought of what might have happened if I hadn’t lost patience and stepped down from the plant pot when I did.  It probably hadn’t been a very sensible thing to attempt on my own, particularly in view of the advice of one of my surgeons: “Don’t get a head trauma”I’m sure he would not be amused if he knew that I’d almost managed to get a heavy branch to crash on top of me.

As penance for my folly, I was then forced to chop up the branch into pieces small enough to carry through the house (I live in a terrace, with no rear access) and place in the garden waste bin.  This process took approximately an hour, filled the bin to overflowing, and left a trail of bits of branches and leaves through my house.  So then I had to clear that up, too.

Annoyingly, my herculean efforts have only created a small chink of extra light through the mass of foliage sprouting from my neighbour’s garden.  So… if any of my readers happens to be a tree surgeon and would be willing to help me out, please give me a shout.  Or, if you know of any tidy squatters who are handy in the garden and don’t make too much noise, please let me know as there’s a property they may be interested in…

* It felt like hours, but it was actually only minutes.

Branch on grass in front of shed, with a pile of smaller branches by the side.

Dismantling the branch of destruction.

Blind fear

Since my eye issues began back in April 2014, my greatest fear has been that I may one day go blind.  I’m sure that some people will dismiss this as hysterical melodrama; however, the hard facts are as follows:

  1. I’ve lost a considerable amount of vision in my right eye, which cannot now be restored.
  2. After suffering a retinal detachment in one eye, the risk of it happening in the other eye increases by approximately 12%.
  3. I have lattice degeneration in my left retina and have already had two large tears repaired.
  4. I have a cataract in my left eye.

So basically, I have good reasons for my fear and, being a realist, I’m all too aware that it would be foolish to gaze into my future through rose-tinted glasses.  This fear of blindness, coupled with the fact that I’m a bit of a worrier [understatement alert!] isn’t the best recipe for a relaxed and peaceful life.  It’s sometimes easy to get drawn into things like compiling a mental list of all the things I wouldn’t be able to do if my left eye were to end up as bad as my right.   (I won’t even get into that one right now…)   I’ve had nightmares about going blind – proper, terrifying dreams which seem so real that when I finally jolt awake I have to switch my bedside light on and check that I can still see as my heart rate gradually returns to normal.  “What could I do to lessen this fear of blindness?”, I’ve often wailed to myself.

I decided that it might help if I could actually meet someone who’s severely visually impaired and just chat to them about how they deal with certain things.  Perhaps facing the fear in this way would dilute it somewhat, I mused.  However, in order to do this, I first needed to find someone who would be happy to talk to me, and secondly I had to face my lesser worry of meeting a Scary New Person.  (Yikes!)

An opportunity presented itself out of the blue last week when I spotted a post on a VI group on Facebook.  It was someone asking if any members were in the Canterbury area as she’d like to get to know other people who were dealing with sight loss.  I bit the bullet and sent her a message, thinking it would probably disappear into that weird ‘other inbox’ Facebook has, and I’d never hear from her.  A reply pinged back within minutes, and after messaging back and forth for a while, we arranged to meet up for a cuppa in Canterbury that Sunday.  Fortunately, that didn’t give me much time to stress about it, but all the same I worried about potentially saying the wrong thing or coming across as being nosy.  (Is genuine curiosity and the desire to educate myself the same as nosiness?)  At least there was one thing I didn’t need to worry about: she’d told me that she’d be in dark glasses with a long cane, so  I told myself that at least I should be able to spot her easily!  This didn’t stop me from honing in anxiously on every person walking with a stick (why, oh why, do they make those metal walking sticks so bright?  Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned wooden ones which don’t stand out?!)  But I digress…

We met up and immediately I felt more at ease during our debate about which coffee shop to go to, as she observed despairingly, “They’re all really dark, aren’t they?!”  I was chuckling about the irony of this, because I have problems in places which are too bright.  However, it transpired that so does she!  Once we were safely seated in appropriately-lit area and sipping our drinks, we got down to the serious business of exchanging eye stories…

I learnt that she’s registered severely sight impaired and has had sight problems since birth.  When I asked what her eye condition is, she burst out laughing, before explaining that it’s so complicated that she often doesn’t know where to start!  The main issue seems to be that she has bilateral corectopia, which basically means that both her pupils are in the wrong place.  When she removed her dark glasses to show me, and I peered into her eyes, I actually gasped in surprise.  Her pupils are tiny, situated high up in her irises instead of in the centre, and their shape is slightly distorted.  She explained that they don’t dilate properly (the same as my right pupil since my last surgery), which explains why certain lighting conditions are so tricky.  She told me that because of the position of her pupils, she has tunnel vision – i.e. she doesn’t have any peripheral vision.  I realised just how bad this must be when I asked what her visual acuity is in each eye and discovered that they’re better than mine in my bad eye.  So basically, as she’s registered severely sight impaired, this means that her peripheral vision must be MASSIVELY reduced.

She also explained that her natural lenses are displaced.   She keeps getting flashes of light as a result and she’s been warned that she has a high risk of retinal detachment.  One of the reasons she was keen to meet up was to learn more about RD, which hopefully I was able to help her out with.  It quickly became very apparent that just as I’m terrified of losing any more sight; so is she.  I won’t ramble on any further here as this post is already rather long, but I learnt a great deal from our meet-up.  It was also a lot of fun – it’s always therapeutic to chat to someone who has a good sense of humour and understands certain perils of eye issues!

But I don’t want to be a hypochondriac!

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…