About three weeks before my April eye and liver appointment I started to lose my sight. Even though I had been told this was going to happen it still shook me. It was a big reminder that things are still happening in my eye. The radiotherapy still has an effect on me a year down the line. I hadn’t escaped unscathed. The battle wounds remain.
I had been sitting with my husband and children, we had had dinner and were just sitting and talking and probably laughing at each other, when I felt that things were slightly fuzzy. When I closed my bad eye, everything came back into sharp focus. When I closed my good eye, things were quite blurry. “You’re tired.” I was told by family desperate to offer reassurances that this wasn’t due to the cancer. It wasn’t going to come into our evening and remind everyone on the fragility of life, not now. We were having fun. I agreed it was probably tiredness. I knew it wasn’t. In the morning I realised I could no longer read with that eye. Later that evening I spotted a spider on the wall. When I closed my good eye the spider disappeared, like a magic trick. I kept opening and closing my eye so that I could figure out where my sight was at. Large print I could read, such as a number plate, normal size print I couldn’t. I have a ‘blind’ spot between 12 and 1 o’ clock. Although it’s more of a distorted smudge spot than a complete blind spot. So if I was looking at you, your right eye and forehead would be mushed into a bit of a psychedelic swirl just with less colour. Although this is only from my bad eye. My good eye is very good. So all in all I think my sight is still better than my husbands. I measure how good or bad my sight is on him as I think he has pretty bad eye sight so while I’m still ahead, I’m happy.
We walked up some big hills that weekend so that I could feel some physical pain. Burning thighs are a great way of taking away any mental anguish going on. I felt sad about my eye but happy to be alive. It’s a strange emotion as you want to grieve for the loss of sight but you feel ungrateful if you do. I would of course rather have no sight or no eye and still be living but I needed a moment to just acknowledge that I felt sad. Sad that this whole episode had happened. But reaching the top of some Surrey hills, gasping for breath and rubbing my thighs I was obviously very happy and grateful to be alive.
My eye appointment showed significant sight loss. It was described as ‘candy floss’ in my eye. There may be something that can be done to help restore the sight, or at least prevent it worsening. Avastin injections. These are also used in age related macular degeneration, they stop the increase of abnormal blood vessels. The injection is actually into the eyeball, which sounds absolutely disgusting and would be needed every 4 weeks. I need to have an angiography first to determine what the blood flow is like in my eye and if all is well I will receive injections into my eyeball. Hurrah!
The tumour remained the same size. I hope one day to report that the stubborn f**ker has shrivelled up and left the party as I’m getting bored with writing that it remains the same. Overtime I keep reading from other eye cancer patients that someone has had plaque and their tumour has shrunk, I question why mine hasn’t? I keep trying to reassure myself that this is not a bad sign but at times I don’t know whether I am reassuring or just fooling myself.
The liver MRI was awful. This time I did actually squeeze my emergency button and ask to come out. I needed to breath. This was my first year scan. I was in the danger zone and was panicking. The wait for results was horrendous. My husband joined me for a walk in Bushy park. I cried. He tried not to. I told him I was scared. How would all the logistics of family life work without me? I was trying to work out how my middle daughter would get to drama in Hammersmith on a Saturday? I was thinking he would never put the heating on or cozy lamps on. The house would be cold and uninviting. In my head I was thinking the list would be endless of things for him to do if I wasn’t there. He was telling me how he was trying desperately not to think these things through but when he goes cycling the thoughts just fly into his head. However hard you try to block them and think of the present moment, they are too powerful. I crossly told him that if he once told the kids to put an extra jumper on whilst turning the heating down I’d never forgive him. Warmth, light and cozy sofa throws are what is needed at all times. I remember lying in the bath and flying out of it like that crazy woman in ‘Fatal Attraction’ as I felt I couldn’t breath and was drowning. The anxiety was overwhelming. One day I was on my own and I couldn’t call anyone. You can’t, however much anyone tells you its O.K. to call, you just can’t. How could I call my husband at work when he was probably about to go into a meeting and tell him that I’m scared? That I don’t want to die, I don’t want to leave them all. So my cry for help went to my eye cancer group friends. “‘I’m scared and I don’t think I can cope.” The response was incredible. I can’t do them justice in anything I say here. They are truly amazing. Through this horrible experience I have observed a real kindness, which is humbling. So a little shout out to the OM warriors, you know who you all are. Thank you. I hope to return the favour some day.
Thankfully my scan was clear. My game of russian roulette was over for six months. I wondered if it would ever get any easier. But for now its onwards and upwards. You are now all up to date with my story. Tomorrow I’m off to the eye clinic to see if I can have these horrible injections. Fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted.