This is part one in a series of blog posts written by Lynne Morris…
It was a routine eye test at Specsavers that started it all, with a rather dishy older man. I giggled like a little girl in my head every time he looked into my eyes. It’s a very up close and personal thing an eye test. He used a light to look at each eye, I could feel his breath on my face. I’m sure I could smell coffee and whatever he had for lunch. I thought to myself I hope my breath doesn’t honk, hold your breath, don’t breathe, please don’t giggle, please don’t giggle! He told me to look to the left, look to the right, look up and now look down.
He finished the examination and I was unable to see anything after the light. He started talking to me again. Hang on a minute I can’t see what you’re saying. He said something about another test, I was completely clueless but followed him out of the room and I was sat on a chair in front of a machine. What the…? I was told they needed to cover one eye with an eye patch and start a ‘short’ test, I was to follow the green light and click a clicker that’d been placed in my hand each time I saw a light flash. One click for one light, two for two and so on.
They started the test, the machine started whirring and clunking, my chin was on a chin rest, my head in a darkish hole.
Wahey! I was off to space, a female computerized voice said ‘follow the green light’. The light moved around in different directions and I clicked each time I saw lights flash, the voice spoke again ‘you’re doing well, follow the green light’. Time passed, my neck had started to tense, my eye watered, my back ached, bloody hell, when was this thing going to stop. Test complete, the voice said. I sagged in relief ‘oh hallelujah’. A young lady appeared behind me, making me jump. She praised me for doing well.
“Ok, we just need to do the other eye now,” she said.
As you can imagine, my heart sank, I had a mental groan, I’d forgotten about the other eye! The test was repeated, resulting in that eye streaming, a stiff neck and a whopping headache.
The young lady came back and told me to take a seat while my results were printed. I’d had enough, I wanted to go. I took a seat and waited. The lady returned cracking a joke that I had used up all her ink. I was so tired and had lost the plot at this point. I didn’t really take it in.
“The optician wants to talk to you,” she said before turning away and going back to her desk.
Back in the room with Mr Dishy trying to control the giggly girl in my head, I tried my hardest to focus on what he was saying, but I was all over the place. (Oh have mercy)
It was a complete blur, I couldn’t take anything in, I felt so drained, and I just wanted to collapse in a heap.
“I’m going to write to your GP and ask for you to be referred to an eye specialist,” he said.
“Ok,” I replied totally oblivious to what had just gone on, all I was able to think about was getting out. I wanted fresh air to wake me up again. My brain had totally shut down.
I finally got outside, taking in deep breaths over and over until I felt a little dizzy but better. I was so relieved that was over. I left town, and carried on with my day, not thinking anything more of what had been said to me.
A few weeks later a letter arrived with an appointment at a not so local hospital, this one was up the coast.
When the day arrived, I had butterflies in my tummy. I looked out the window and saw that we’d had a dusting of snow. I picked up the phone to my mum.
“What’s the weather like there?” I asked.
“It’s snowing,” she said.
“Oh hell, it will be heavier where we’re headed, do you think we’ll get there?” I asked.
“We can but try,” she replied.
Mum was driving us to the appointment as I didn’t have much experience driving away from home. We had also been told in the letter that we would be undergoing more tests and it recommended not to drive. When I say we, I mean my brother too.
I drove as far as my nan’s house as arranged with Mum. She arrived to collect me and the three of us set off to the appointment.
What a journey it turned out to be. I had never been so scared on a motorway before. The snow was falling heavier. To me, who hasn’t seen a lot of snow, it was like a blizzard. The roads hadn’t been gritted, and the snow had compacted into ice most of the way. It was so slippery and incredibly dangerous.
“Mum are you sure this is worth it, getting to this appointment? I don’t want to die just for the sake of an eye test!” I said.
I sat totally rigid as I watched Mum, with her jaw set, she concentrated fiercely on the road ahead, her knuckles white as she gripped the steering wheel so tight, like a life buoy.
We made it, we had arrived in one piece, though pretty rattled. Thick white snowflakes fell, covering everything like a giant white fluffy blanket. It all seemed so calm, serene, and almost beautiful from the warmth of the waiting room. The big fat flakes were mesmerising, I just kept watching them fall imagining and wishing I could see their beautiful individual formations.
“Do you think we’ll get home mum?” I asked.
“Only one way to find out,” she replied.
The waiting room was chock a block, I felt like I was in a cattle or sheep market. Most of the other patients were elderly. The odd one younger than me. They were all talking, shuffling around sipping on cups of tea or coffee from the WRVS hatch. Each time a name was called I jumped out of my skin. Finally, I heard my name.
I was taken into a nurse’s office and told I needed to have drops put in, so that the consultant could see the back of my eye.
“They take about fifteen minutes to kick in,” she said.
“Oh ok,” I replied, removing my glasses.
I tilted my head back, she lowered the lower eyelid of one eye, plop, the drop hit my eye and I closed it. ‘Holy Mother of God!’ I yelled in my head.
“Ooh that stings,” I said.
She was business as usual regardless of my suffering. “Ok, I need to do the other eye,” she said.
“Oh ok,” I replied, trying to sound unfazed, whilst groaning internally.
I tilted my head again as she repeated the drop. ‘ow ow Jesus Christ that hurts’ I once again shouted in my head.
“Are you ok?” she asked, whilst pushing a tissue into my hand.
“Yeah I’m fine” I said.
‘It’s only like you’ve rubbed an onion on my eyeballs,’ I thought.
“It’s like I’ve chopped onions,” I said.
“Yes, they can smart a bit. Ok if you’d like to take a seat back in the waiting area, the consultant will call you.”
I gingerly made my way back to my seat my eyes were all blurred and watery. I muttered away to myself, smart a bit!
We were sat in the consultant’s office, we had just endured a thorough eye examination, been poked and prodded. Gone were the worrying thoughts of ‘will we make it home after we had white knuckled it in the car to get here’. The snow had ceased to exist. The outside world had disappeared.
No doubt the blood had drained from my face. Inside my head, I was screaming and thoughts were racing so fast it was a blur. Yet, I felt completely numb and lost, not taking in another word the consultant spoke, after what he’d just said. I had Usher Syndrome. I would need to go to a hospital in Liverpool for more tests and confirmation but he was certain in his diagnosis.
What the hell was that? I had never heard of such a thing!
Blind? I couldn’t be going blind no, no they’ve got it all wrong I was only twenty three. I had just left home, got my house, my independence; I couldn’t lose all that. My car, my pride and joy, don’t take my beautiful car away from me! That’s it my life was over, I was well and truly fucked. These were all the thoughts screaming through my mind at warp speed.
I wasn’t new to sensory loss having been born moderately deaf and worn hearing aids since pre-school. I was fine with that, it was all I had ever known. The latest news had totally knocked the wind out of my sails. I couldn’t imagine life with two of my main senses being impaired, those that we all rely on without even realising.
I didn’t feel the icy wind or even take note of the beautiful fluffy blanket surrounding me as we left the hospital. The piece of paper I held in my hand, flapping in the wind, stated I was now registered partially sighted. All that was going through my head, as I watched the hedges whizz past the car window, was that I was never going to drive my car again. I’d had to go through that horrible field of vision test again, following the stupid green light, at the hospital, they did the test with both eyes. It was extremely awkward as the headrest was designed for one eye at a time and I had to rest my forehead on a lump in the middle for what felt like an eternity. I got back into the consultant’s office where I was deemed unsafe to drive, I was to inform the DVLA straight away and hand over my driver’s licence.
Read part two of ‘Changes’ here… https://www.cureusher.org/changes-part-two/
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