This was my first visit to Moorfields eye hospital, and it was going to be a long one. We arrived at Old Street station and followed the green line that is painted on the floor from the station to the hospital entrance. It is raised so that those with limited sight can feel it with their stick. Very clever.
I was admitted to my home for the week. Bloods were taken, and an ECG was done to check I had no heart abnormalities before surgery . I then went downstairs for a chest x-ray and more photos of my eye. Whilst having my chest x-ray, the young Australian guy doing the x-ray informed me that “everyone in Australia has a melanoma.” Everyone?! I think he was just trying to reassure me that it isn’t that abnormal and that the Australians aren’t all dead. Which of course was very kind, but he was a little confused between skin melanomas and those of the eye. Same name, very different. Skin cancer is more risky in sunny climates but eye cancer isn’t. The sun isn’t a risk factor. But people try to help with whatever comes to mind, such as “thank goodness it’s the same side as your deaf ear. You ignore everyone on that side anyway.” As a dear friend reassured me. Yes.Thank goodness.
I then a had a visit from my eye surgeon so she could put a large felt tip pen on my head.
This was my opportunity to just check a few things that had been bothering me. She had told me that I had a risk of going blind in my bad eye within two years post treatment. I wanted to know if this was just a risk explained to everyone or was I more at risk. “You are more at risk.” I was told. I could also suffer from double vision post surgery. This is usually alleviated by an eye patch. Eye patch?! Bloody hell I only need to breathe next to my kids before they start telling me I’m so embarrassing, imagine having to rock up at school with an eye patch? A good friend offered to have a look in Claire’s accessories for some slightly kinder looking ones, but I thought I’d end up looking like a pirate on a hen do. Thank God it was the summer, I would just hide behind my sunglasses.
It’s terrible to feel worried about your appearance when there are obviously more pressing matters, but you do. And it’s all relative. I remember when I was first told about the tumour I thought, just remove my eye. I didn’t care, I wanted to live and see my children grow up. I could maybe put it in my husbands beer glass to scare him like ‘Mrs Twit.’ But when I was told that wasn’t necessary, I suddenly desperately wanted to keep it and felt bad that I was so willing to trade it in without a fight. So now here I was thinking about how ‘normal’ I would look post surgery, as I didn’t want to look ill. I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want that awkwardness when people ask what’s wrong with your eye? “Oh just cancer. Anyway, how are you?” And I didn’t want a big marker pointing at me shouting “this is it! Here is the cancer!”
I had read all about the surgery. I had asked an enormous amount of questions to all the lovely people who had been through it before. I knew what to expect. So when I came back from surgery holding onto my sore eye, wretching violently into a kidney dish, I was a little surprised. No one had mentioned nausea. People had explained it as ‘a little uncomfortable.’ A little uncomfortable? This little discomfort and nausea plagued me for the week. I stopped eating (down another dress size) and had regular painkillers and anti-sickness tablets all week. The nausea was the worst. But if it was making me feel that bad imagine how it was making my tumour feel. It would be burning it to smithereens and it would all be worth it.