Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No secondaries, no problem

Two weeks ago I had what I can only describe in such parochial terms as 'an episode' with my eye.

My optician found a few irregularities - possibly things I'd had all my life, possibly things recently brought on by chemo treatments. They may have been responsible for the visual disturbance, they may not have.

(I feared, secretly, that the visual disturbance might have been provoked by some sort of secondary tumour pressing against the back of my retina. Madness, I know, but this is the way our ex-cancer patient minds work...)

So this morning I was circling Harley Street on the bike again, trying to find a bike bay with a space. Then, to a different number on the street from the one I've spent more time at than I care to remember, and up two flights of stairs to the eye specialist, a warm and funny woman called Sarah.

She peers and squints at me, and I peer and squint back at charts, flashing lights, flickbooks, whatever she throws at me.

She gets her eye-dropper out to give me something to dilate my pupils so she can see right at the back of my eye.

She hesitates for a moment, clocking for the first time the bike trousers.

Can you leave your bike here for the day and collect it again on your way home? These are going to affect your sight for the next six hours or so.

Bugger. No one had warned me about this.

The drops sting like hell and I go and wait for them to take effect. Twenty minutes later and I look like I'm Pete Doherty on a big night. My pupils are the size of saucers.



She peers and squints at me some more as I squirm against the headrest and stare into the torch. Then finally, her diagnosis. Or lack of one.

You have no secondaries, you have no macular degeneration, you have nothing whatsoever to worry about.

This woman knows me better than I know myself. She cuts straight to the bit I'm really worried about. The unspoken is spoken. No secondaries. Or at least, none pressing against my eyes...

She goes on to explain that what I experienced on that Tuesday a few weeks back was a migraine. Even if it's not accompanied by a headache, visual disturbances of that nature are definitely migraines.

And the headaches I do get, which are not accompanied by any visual activity, are also migraines. I always thought they were just really bad headaches and only ever referred to them as migraines when phoning in sick on one - a 'bad headache' just sounded like it wouldn't really cut it with the boss. It always made me feel terribly fraudulent, even though I genuinely felt rubbish, but it now turns out they were migraines all along.

And what's more I had one as recently as Sunday. I woke up with a dull headache that wouldn't go away and eventually got much more intense, to the point where I had to go and lie very still in a dark room and not speak or move. After 30 mins of this, on top of some Ibuprofen, it eventually started to lighten but the whole experience spanned about six hours.

Ha! I feel weirdly happy. For one, I have no secondaries. And now, when I get a migraine, at least I know I have a genuine need to go lie down and I'm not just being a bit feeble. Strangely, that's very comforting.

I felt so happy about life I ignored medical advice and rode my bike across town to work.

It was probably a stupid thing to do but turned out okay. But I did have to blink a hell of a lot.

Back at work I wonder why everyone is eyeing me suspiciously. Then catching my face in the mirror of the loos clarifies things. I still look like I'm off my face.

1 comment:

Irene Henning said...

"I look like I'm Pete Doherty on a big night."

Nah, you're much better looking than him. What did they put in your eyes - belladonna?