I wake up, blink, the filminess in my right eye is still there, it’s day 5.
Dread creeps up to chest level, the fear of lost sight wins over denial, the filminess is not going away.
What to do ? Ring opticians – ‘oh no’, she says,’we don’t treat eyes. Can you see spiders in your eye? Go to the city hospital eye clinic’.
I visit the local pharmacist, ask in a shakey voice – ‘is it urgent, will it wait til next week ? ‘No’, he says, ‘eyes are urgent. Go straightaway to the hospital’. The ground tilts under my feet.
My hands shake, my head is scrambled, no plan. I know, check the clinic hours next : 8.30 – 4.30.
It’s now 3.30, I’ll go tomorrow, Friday. Phew, a bit of breathing space. Time to phone a friend to check out a social thing. She says,, ‘no clinic tomorrow, it’s Good Friday, you should leave now’.
There’s a band of fear around my ribs, I hurry out of the house, tea un-drunk. My cool self says ‘ drive steadily, just get there, forget what time it is.’ My scared self says ‘ what if it’s a detached retina, surgery, loss of sight ? What if they keep me in overnight ? What about my dog alone at home ? It’s a holiday weekend away with the family and I can’t go…my universe is crumbling, I don’t want this. Why did I wait til day 5 ?’ The unknown splits a chasm in an ordinary day.
It’s 4.45, the eye clinic is closed, I feel numb, stumbling. A cheerful nurse says ‘It’s ok, it could be urgent, go to A & E. If you wait long enough, they’ll get you an eye doctor. The A & E waiting room is full of people queuing, in groups sitting, bad ankles, broken leg, an old lady and her daughter, all patiently waiting. This feels a safe place, no more striving. My child self is dazed, content to be in the bustle of the waiting room, distracted.
A triage nurse calls me after ten minutes, it might be urgent, I jump the queue. Friendly questions ‘ Bump on the head ?Spiders in the eye ?’ I read the shrinking lines of letters on the eye chart, eye by eye. He says ‘No red flags, your vision is fine. Go and wait for an eye doctor’.
Faint tendrils of relief begin to soften my tight chest, it’s not a detached retina. Still holding my breath.
Quiet time passes.
The eye doctor calls me, shines a light, stares into my eye sockets. ‘Watch my finger’, he says, ‘Any blurring?’ He is gentle. ‘No concerns’ he says, ‘sometimes filminess just occurs in the jelly part of the eye’.
I walk out into the night, the ground is firm beneath my feet. The dread evaporates. It’s ok for another day, I can make plans again. Time to celebrate.