Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Night-blogging, Eye-boggling

It's 3.30am and I still cannot sleep. A problem kicked off with giving into to the urge to snooze much earlier this evening, and compounded by the constant stream of water outside my window.

I can stand the rain against my window. I can't stand the torrent cascading down from the blocked gutter for which it's taking 3 different property owners a lifetime to organise a fix.

So, insomnia bites and it's too late to resort to the ageing pack of zoplicone. A post about my day then?

Today was beset my more medical stuff. Specifically to do with my eye.

It was bizarre. I spent most of the morning convincing myself I had some sort of retinal disfunction. I was working with spreadsheets (yes, that will do it) and noticed I was suddenly having trouble focusing on the words left of centre. The problem became more pronounced as time went on. 90 minutes later and I really could not work any more and the distortion and blurriness in the central area of my left eye's vision was accompanied by flickering around the periphery.

I consulted a colleague.

That means you have a migraine coming.

I don't get migraines. Well, I get really, really, debilitatingly bad headaches from time to time but they are never accompanied by nausea or visual distortion - the usual symptoms other than pain.

Calculating that it must have been years since my last eye exam (where I was pronounced to be ever so slightly short sighted but not enough to warrant a prescription) and knowing that in the UK, any employee working with computer screens for more than four hours a day is entitled to claim their eye exam cost, I nipped round the corner to the opticians and made a lunchtime appointment but took a moment to describe the symptoms to the optician.

Oh that sounds you've got a migraine coming on.

Great. Then it crosses my mind for a moment that this could be no migraine. This could be a tumour pushing against my retina.

I told you, post-cancer, every little thing becomes a harbinger of doom.

Five minutes later and I'm back in the office, and things are back in perspective. Literally. My eye seems to be returning to normal. By lunchtime, the blurring has almost gone. Feeling fraudulent I go back for the eye exam.

Last time I had one of these it cost £17.50 and took around twenty minutes. I was charged £35 today and the lovely little elderly optician who did my exam took fifty minutes and still wasn't finished. I have to go back on Thursday for more.

It seems he pulled out every tool and test he had in his armoury. I was given things to look at, to look through, all looking like medieval torture instruments. I was tested for colour blindness, for muscular reactions, for focal length, and that horrid little machine that blows puffs of air straight at your eyeball tested me for pressure. I had so many tests I can't remember them all.

At the end of the test he told me I had astigmatism, which is congenital and nothing to worry about, but may be the trigger for this morning's blurred vision episode. Then he pronounced my eyesight pretty impressive (yes! I was secretly worried he'd announce I'd fallen prey to deteriorating sight and needed glasses as my father did when he was about my age). And then he said he noticed some marks at the back of my eye, on the retina, which he wants to investigate with Field Vision Tests on Thursday. He explained there was a slim chance that there may be some damage to the layers of the retina, which, in the worst case scenario, may need to be seen to in an eye hospital with some sort of laser treatment. His thick accent combined with the unfamiliar medical terms made him hard to understand so I didn't really leave with the full picture. But from a bit of judicious middle-of-the-night research I can deduce we are talking about the possibility of macular degeneration. Usually termed age-related macular degeneration it mostly affects those in their 50s upwards, and happens as a result of blood vessels bursting or scar tissue forming on the retina. What causes this? Free radical damage.

What does chemotherapy do to treat cancer? Produce free radicals to kill all fast-duplicating cells.

Incidentally, all new medical professionals get to hear my recent treatment summary. And this guy did seem particularly interested in the dates of chemotherapy.

Call me paranoid but Thursday will be interesting.


georgie said...

Any time your eyes play up at work or anywhere else, ' nip round the corner ', take a break, get a change of scenery for 5 - 10 minutes and things will be better afterwards. You proved it. I don't think you'll have any damage at all to your eyes from any of your treatment.
Main thing is you didn't get out of bed at 3.00 am and have a drink to steady your nerves, did you ?
You talked to us and told us how you were feeling. Maybe you had a cup of tea or two.
That's okay. That's good.
We're here and listening and we like hearing from you ...


Anne-Marie Weeden said...

No drinks, no. And no tangible nerves really, but it must be underlying anxiety.

It's weird, the sort of sleep problems I got during treatment were early-morning waking.

This is more like the old me - the occasional, but frequent enough to be a problem, inability to relax enough to fall asleep in the first place.

Plus the leaky gutter outside my window IS really loud!

Eventually go to sleep at around 5am and reset my alarm for 9am as I did so. I had an 11am mtg and made it in by 10.30am. Work are very good to me - they tacitly accept these blips. It's been the second time this month that this has happened, so they're not every day. But still...

Thank you for listening, and for your continued support. I'm guessing it was mid afternoon at your end! And sunny too I imagine.

Ah, sunshine....

georgie said...

It was early evening I think.
And yes, the sun was setting after a warm summer's day.
It's just after 9.00 am now on Thursday and we have some light rain.
Exercise helps a lot with these things. Maybe some badminton after work ?
And sometimes it's simply a matter of time passing. What also works is conversation with people, sharing problems, having someone listen, talking to people who have been where you are. That helps.
When it's someone who has been through BC, you can finish their sentence for them.
Thank you for thanking me AM.
You're worth supporting.