Firstly, my consultant asked me to try and warn as many people as possible about a rare eye condition, Acute Angle Glaucoma. It is so important that people have their eyes checked regularly. So I thought that it might be of help to some dear readers who read this article.
I love good health – banal statement but true. Never had a really bad day for years. Okay the normals – flu yep – kidney stones yep – Raynauds yep, all very common. But I own to a gritty determination and some brain cells to help me on my way.
When three lethal illnesses knocked on my door, I battled through. I’m not very brave, but I made it. Then one day, I went to the optician. I couldn’t see the subtitles very well on the TV. I thought nothing of it and just looked forward to an eye test and some ‘glam’ new frames.
The first optician said I had tiny cataracts, but nothing to worry about, only I did need stronger glasses. I was pleased to choose some ’glam’ frames. But, I wasn’t happy, even with these new glasses; the sub-titles were still fuzzy. I went to another optician, who said I had medium cataracts; I just needed my new glasses adjusting. So I thought I’d have more ‘glam’ frames with tiny crystals on the rims. After two weeks of wearing them, I could hardly see the TV sub-titles I was also seeing halos. So my gritty determination raised its head; I went to another optician; this guy’s office was in an old house tucked away in a side street. But he’d treated pilots in the Royal Air Force – he was brilliant. After an hour long examination he said quietly ‘I’d like to send you to the hospital – see a consultant.’
I still didn’t think too much, nothing could be as bad as my torn oesophagus, which still isn’t good but it’s okay.
Could it? Could it be as bad as a torn oesophagus? Oh yes it could. I went along to see the consultant at the hospital eye clinic. Nice guy, about sixty years old, brilliant and brutal. So after an hour long examination, two nurses suddenly entered the room and stood either side of me. The Consultant drew up his chair into the middle of room and sat facing me. It looked like an interview with a Godfather. He said. ‘Look I’m going to give it to you straight. I want you to understand this is serious.
I nodded. He said, ‘you have Chronic Acute Angle Glaucoma.’ I raised my eyebrows – never heard of it, but I waited.
He said, ‘you need treatment immediately. I’m not going to beat about the bush; you have a serious condition – very serious. I want you to know – you need treatment now.’
I nodded, still not worried really. Why was he talking to me like this? Did he think I was a moron? Of course I understood what he was saying, yes, I needed treatment. Then he took a breath – this is true – absolutely step by step.
He said, ‘it’s like this, if you don’t get this treated, you will go blind. It happens in seconds. One moment you’ll be talking to me and in the next thirty seconds you’ll be blind. If you don’t have treatment you will go blind – everything will go black. We won’t be able to get it back.’
I just sat still – couldn’t react, couldn’t think – just listened. I felt the nurse’s hand on my shoulder. I knew then why the nurses were in the room. But I didn’t have fit of hysterics; I went still – silent.
I looked at him. Silence.
Then he spread his arms wide. ‘I mean this, you must have treatment, you can’t not have treatment. I’m going to give you a list and I want to you study it. If you have any of these symptoms before I see you again, you must come immediately to the hospital. You’re now an ‘Emergency’. Until we start treatment, if you have any of these conditions – nausea – headache – blurry eyes – see halos you get to a hospital fast, we’ll only have six hours to operate to save you going blind.
I nodded – numbly and left. Hubby was downstairs in the waiting area when I appeared. He walked over to me and I whispered. I don’t know why I whispered, ‘got some news – tell you outside.’
I didn’t. Riding back in the car with Brian I was mainly silent, – very unusual for me. I just said, ‘tell you when we get back.’ He could tell I didn’t want to talk. How could I? We were on busy main roads; I just didn’t want a car crash. I’m, sure he’d have been okay, but that was the way I was thinking then.
Two minutes away from home I saw the daffodils on the central island of the roundabout. Beautiful – yellow – bright yellow daffodils. I drank it all in. I wanted to remember them. I wondered if I would be able to see them in my mind if I went blind. Anyway, once back indoors, I actually made some coffee, then sat down and said, ‘‘Brian, I’m, going blind. ‘
There’s no good way to say it.
That night, I googled – wish I hadn’t. It was bad. What if I couldn’t get to the hospital in time. What if it was the middle of the night and there were no taxis? Why were they waiting? No one could say if the treatment would be a success – permanent.
The next morning I sat in front of my PC and thanked God I was a touch typist. At least if I did go blind, I could type. I could still write. But my typing wasn’t that good. I wouldn’t see the mistakes. Could I afford an editor? But my passion wouldn’t die just because I was going blind – would it? I’d find a way, maybe dictate it? Would I be able to tell a story instead of writing it? I now have tears in my eyes writing this. I haven’t cried, up until right now – four months after the verdict.
So anyway, I realized as I waited for treatment, I could laugh or cry. If I got all morbid, my family would cry, my friends would cry, my cockapoo would cry. And she wouldn’t know what she’s crying about. No – I had to laugh. Yes – laugh. Not hysterical laughter, just laughter – I desperately needed that in my life right then. That very morning I scoured the TV for comedy films. I was half-way through writing a chilling novel on haunting, I decided to rewrite it as a comedy – laugh at the blackness to come. I would write comedy. I’d also watch comedy films, and read comedy books.
Short history: as a child, I wrote comedy spats at school – even the headmistress came to see them; they were ridiculous and childishly funny. Then I wrote jokey little stories to my sister ill with TB in a sanatorium. But then things happened; my life changed. I was ten and I grew up fast. I turned to poetry – more and more. Later, I turned to psychology. I came from an abused childhood, with a social phobia – crippling, but in a way it gave me direction. Now I’m just so glad I studied to be a psychologist. To keep it short, I had twenty years of love, sadness, tears, laughter and incredible clients whom I loved and who loved me back – we still do.
I decided to ‘change direction’, as I call it – I turned to writing; back to my first love.
So that brings me back to that first morning, when I decided to face the threat of blindness with laughter in my life.
I turned to Amazon and picked up a book by Nick Spalding, ‘Checking Out’, seemed appropriate, a comedy. I was laughing in minutes but before that, I didn’t like comedy books, wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole and here I was alone in my study, laughing and in stitches –true!!!, This guy was my saviour, brilliant. I didn’t think anyone or anything would pick me up so fast. Thank you Nick. You don’t know me, but I’m thanking you. I thought the comedy might just break the morbidity of the dark world of blindness. It did more, Nick’s book, picked me up, swung me around in whirl of laughter, and saved me. I love him – always will. I love Ricky Gervais too, I watched his films – all that were on TV and his stand-up comedy shows.
So just to finish the tale, back at the hospital a few days later after the diagnosis, they realized I had raging blood pressure – who wouldn’t after that? They couldn’t do the operations – boring a hole in my irises and other things. So the race was on to get the blood pressure down; I was on the verge of a stroke now and spent two days in hospital. Thank God the meds kicked in.
I had moments of terror, why – why were they waiting to do the op’ when it was such a lethal condition? But, I had to leave it to them.
We won through; it took twelve weeks of A & E treatment, drops and waiting and laser operations – twenty minutes long. I had to stay still, I did I was terrified.
Now the good news – four months later. The good doctors and nurses, saved forty per cent of my sight. They can’t restore it, but Lord, I can see. That’s all I want, I don’t care if I wear pebble glasses, I don’t care if I still can’t see the subtitles on the TV. I don’t care if I can’t see that car on the road racing towards me and Lucy – my cockapoo. There’s always someone there to see me across the road. You know, I never realized just how kind and helpful strangers can be. So many good hearts holding out a hand.
Writing this four months later, after treatment, I’ve finished my first comedy book, ‘Listen to the Chicken.’ By the way, I can still see those daffodils in my mind. Of course my eyes are deteriorating but the doctors tell me they can control it now. But – oh yes, but, they can’t promise. Maybe the condition will outlive me, I don’t know, I don’t care – I think. Right now and for some time I can see. I can get on with writing – comedy.
So dear friends, I’m sitting here today and for the very first time I’m writing about it – I just couldn’t before. But now, I’m listening to music – the golden beat of Magic Slim and the Blues Jeans Blues Band – bliss and writing another comedy.
I feel good and I want to say to all of you dear readers out there, that have this bloody condition, there is hope – experts who can save or prolong your sight, you just have to do all they say, have the lasers, the operations, take the drops and laugh – yes laugh – read a comedy book!!! Of course there are fears, I’m not a robot, but just read the bookJ
So now I realize the reason why the doctor was so darn blunt. He was trying to save my sight. There must be some sufferers who haven’t listened to him or other doctors, some who haven’t turned up for the treatments and then one morning woken up blind. So please, don’t waste any time – have your eyes tested regularly. Two opticians didn’t pick up my condition, the third one did – thank you God. So don’t accept blurry sight. Just keep searching for the optician that agrees – there’s a reason why you have blurry eyes.
Acute Angle Glaucoma is very rare, only 2 percent of the population have it. One more thing, if you have the gene, make sure your family are tested too, the consultant told me I had to warn each member of my family to have regular eye tests.
So back to ’Listen to the Chicken.’ It saved me during those months. I loved doing the cover too. I also love to paint, the paintings sold all over the world. But I’m just sticking to the writing and digital art right now!!
Love you all.
P.S. As I said, just writing the second comedy book. Haven’t got a title yet. I think it might be ‘Follow the Cockapoo!!
Katy lives on the South coast with her husband and a loving hyper friendly dog who likes to greet and lick everyone on sight. She has a BA Hons (Psych) BA Eng.Lit. MA in Religion and Mysticism and a Hon Dr. Science for research into pain control.
She was a psychologist and hypnotherapist before changing direction for full time creative writing, Her main genres are historical romance, crime and science fiction.