Another lesson learned

I have already mentioned earlier that my stupid eye trouble taught me a few lessons (see “Lessons Learned”). Now I have come to the conclusion that these months have taught me something else, a bit disturbing, but still valuable.

Looking back at last November, December and even part of January, I see a different me than I normally am. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch, eyes closed. I meant, there were perfectly good reasons for that – my eye hurt a lot, or the stupid lens was misbehaving, and the only thing to make it better was put some drops in and give it some rest. But all this time of almost dozing off on my couch, with not much light around me – because it was a) wintertime, so not much light from outside, and b) bright light was not nice for my eye – did something to my mood, to my thoughts, to my normally quite energetic being. I seemed to be tired a lot, lost my drive, did not want to do anything anymore. Of course I had the perfect excuse – my eye. But I could have switched the radio on, listened to music, make plans in my head for my writing. I almost never did these kind of things. I just drifted away. After a while I would pull myself together, took care of the necessary things in the house. I would wash and clean and cook for my family, but besides that everything was on hold.

I think that for the first time in my life I came close to being something you could call “depressed”. Not my kind of thing at all, I would have told you before. I am either happy or angry or sad, but always with lots of emotion involved. I am not the passive type at all. But during this winter, I just let things happen to me. I let my eye trouble control me, instead the other way round. I waited for suggestions from the doctor, instead of researching myself, instead of demanding solutions. I just waited and hoped that everything would be over soon.

But when it took so much longer than I had expected, at one point I decided it needed to stop. Something needed to change. Luckily at that time I also saw a doctor who sympathised and talked and thought about how she could help, which gave me some sort of boost. Her idea of putting in much more drops (just moisturising ones, not medication) helped a lot to stabilise the lens that bothered me. Which resulted in me seeing better, having less problems. So my mind finally stopped going in circles around my eye trouble and starting thinking other thoughts again. And I finally got off that couch and into action again.

Now the lens has been removed for almost two months and my eye, while not completely back to normal, is behaving reasonably well.

But I keep thinking: wow. Is it that easy to loose yourself in grey thoughts? Is it that easy to let go, that easy to turn into someone you never thought you’d be?

I hope it makes me more alert, more aware the importance of staying active, both bodily and in your mind.

It certainly made me more sympathetic towards people who suffer from “grey mood” more often.

It certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Is it really April already?

I cannot believe more than a quarter of 2015 has passed already. It still seems the year has just started. And although I never intended to turn this blog into some sort of personal health rambling, I feel I need to somehow recapture the last months. Just to somehow bundle them up together for myself.

Ok. January. Started nice with watching fireworks on our balcony with the boys sitting on older one’s loft bed, staring out of the windows and pointing out the details to each other. “Look, the red one over there.” “There, the sparkly one!” “Wow, gold!” – But somehow in the course of the next day, I matched to catch the mother of all colds that kept me snotty and coughing and weak for almost the rest of the month. Small consolation that it seemed the whole of this country got the same and the many of the people I talked to where of worse, with fever and such. But still, I spent loads of the time on the sofa again sipping tea. (That sofa was bought as a cuddly reading sofa, not as a constant recovery site!)

When January and my cold where finally over, something new poked up its head: The umbilical hernia (needed to look up that one in the dictionary!) I have been living with since the last pregnancy suddenly turned from being a small beauty issue (a blotched belly button… who cares!) into a major pain. Literally. Hurt and was swollen. So I went to my GP, who sent me to the hospital, where I spent the entire afternoon waiting at the emergency help (don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining – it was very busy there and I obviously was not at the point of dying). They finally managed to sort of push the thingy back again and by that unblocking whatever was blocked. Pain gone. Relief. But they told me it needed surgery to not happen again. So, beginning of February I had my first “real” surgery with general anaesthetic. I have to admit I was a bit nervous, but it all went fine and I felt pretty good pretty quickly again. Two more days on that sofa… but in no time I was up again, just not allowed to carry anything more than my tea pot (ok, I made that one up – but in the beginning I really did not carry anything). Which was at least one opportunity to teach the boys to carry their own stuff, instead of dropping everything on the floor and letting Mummy be the family donkey.

In between of course my eye called for a bit of attention here and there, I experimented with different types of drops to keep it moist and happy, counting the days until that stupid bandage lens finally would come out. I know it was supposed to help my eye to heal, but in the end it was more of a trouble maker instead. The eye was much drier with it, and when it got too dry the lens started to either scratch or move around so that I could not see properly.

BUT: End of March finally came and the doctor removed the lens (I was so nervous … afraid he would say it needed to stay in longer…)! Yippee!!

First it felt like he had not taken something out but put something in. An additional eye lash for example that was facing the wrong way. But I told myself to be patient. After more than half a year of wearing the lens, it was logical the eye needed some time to adapt to its “freedom”.

And it slowly does. I am still putting in some drops to keep it happy, but it is needing less and less of them. The sun glasses, my constant companion since last summer, stay in my pocket more and more. I read more. I use the computer more. I start watching movies on the tv more. (Have not dared to go to the movie theatre yet, but that will come too.) Still it feels tired and grumpy sometimes, and I am very careful to react quickly to that. I really don’t want to get a relapse.

But I am hopeful.

And YES, my eye-sight is good again! I guess most of the feeling of short-sightedness was caused by the lens being dirty or making the eye dry so that it had not enough moisture for seeing properly or whatever.

And it is spring in my garden, the leaves come out, the clematis has started to climb again and yesterday the first three blossoms on the plum tree have opened – immediately visited by at least one excited hungry bee.

So, yes, I am happy.

(But I will resist the temptation of starting to read my favourite blogs today, on top of writing this post. Not too much too quickly. One thing at a time.)

Have a nice sunny week, everyone!

Eye Trouble Continued – My endless story

Isn’t it ironic? Roughly two months ago I happily announced my blog anniversary, stating how much I like the whole blogging thing and that I would definitely go on.

A few days later my stupid eye injury raised its ugly head again, so I cut down on screen time. Obviously this blog is the first to feel it – I do rely on email for a lot of daily communication, but blogging is something that is not strictly necessary. As is reading books and writing … all the things I love to do. You can imagine my humour dropped.

November was not great, but December was worse. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch with my eyes closed. I managed to attend all the important pre-Christmas events at school (Christmas concerts, Christmas dinner for the children), we spent Christmas at the in-laws (saved me some cooking at least), but looking back now it all seems a blur.

It slowly got better and the last few days I started feeling like me again – the active me with plans and ideas, running up and down the stairs in my house (yep, we are back home again), tackling the chaos, shopping for groceries, that kind of stuff. I actually opened the book I got for Christmas from my mother-in-law, and yes, I dare look at the computer screen for more than a few minutes in a row.

And I stopped wearing my sun glasses in the house.

I had a chat with my eye-specialist (if you could call it a “chat”: I kept asking questions and he mumbled answers). We agreed to give it one more chance: four more weeks wearing that contact lens for protection, then take it off and see how it goes. If it turns bad again (with or without the lens), I will have another treatment, this time with a laser – apparently the success rate is much higher than with the one I had before, so fingers crossed. (Yes, of course: when I heard that I was thinking: why didn’t we do that in the first place then??? But it is a bit more expensive, and the insurance wants to try the cheaper one first, thank you very much.) If I interpret his mumbling correctly, my eye doctor thinks the cornea does look better and better, so maybe I have a chance to dodge another operation after all. We will see.

So hopefully it continues to go up from here – and I can start thinking and writing about other stuff again. And catch up with my reading… Just thinking of all the cool posts I have missed…. even if I only try to catch up with my four or five favourite blogs, this will mean a lot of work for my eye… But I will try to be patient, finish this post and then go offline again. Start the catching up tomorrow, maybe.

It is almost end of the year. Time to close a few not so nice chapters. Time to move on and concentrate on the nice things. There were a lot of those in 2014 too.

Cheers!

 

Happy Birthday, Blog!

One year ago – after having thought about it for quite a while – I decided to give blogging a try. In the beginning I felt rather shy about it. It took me ages to pick a theme and think of a name for my blog. I tinkered around a lot – not because I am such a perfectionist, but because I did not want to put anything online that looked ridiculous.

I have already mentioned why I started the blog: to give some thoughts a home. And that worked out well. My intitial goal was to post something once a week – no really strict goal, just an idea, a number in my head to prevent me from getting too lazy. After one year this now my 40th post – not a big number, but ok. Especially if you take into account my stupid eye trouble, which reduced my screen time quite a bit.

What took me by surprise was how much I enjoy reading other people’s blogs. I do not follow a lot of blogs regularily, but there are a few I really try to keep up with. It sort of clicked when I read the first posts (with others there was no click at all.) To feel touched by the lives of people you have no other connection with than via their blogs, is special. When I read about their lives, their worries and moments of happiness, I feel worried or happy too. I do care.

So, a big thank you to all of them who share their lives, who have shown me new facets of being. Some of their lives are completely different than the ones I am living, some share some lines. But all of them give me food for thought, a different perspective and sometimes a good laugh.

 

Writing a bit, reading a lot, thinking even more. All in all, this has been a good blog year.

Happy birthday, blog. I will keep coming here.

Project “Smile”

We all know that friendliness can get us a long way, but it is one of these self-evident concepts that are easily forgotten in the daily routine.

But a few days ago I came across an online article about “smiling at strangers”. I would quote it here, but I seem to have lost it, cannot find it back. Anyway, the message was simple: It is amazing how positive people respond to kindness from complete strangers, even it is just a smile. The author states he has made a habit of smiling at all people he comes accross on the street. (Probably not when stuck in a crowdy street, though.)

I think that is a nice idea, although I am sure I won’t manage to smile at really everyone. Not that the people I see in our streets are that hidous, but smiling at complete strangers does feel a bit odd, at least for me. I mean, I very often smile at small children on the street, or at their mothers when the kids are either behaving irrestiably cute or being a real challenge (in the last case the smile is meant as a boost for the mums nerves). I smile and make ‘thank you’ gestures at cars that let me cross a street (or rather at the people sitting in the cars). But smiling at someone just in passing? Not so often. So I tried it when walking back from the shops today. I did not really manage to smile at the middle aged man with the umbrella (he did look so serious – but ouch! I guess I am middle-aged too!). I did look at him in a friendly way though. The next person I came across was an elderly lady with a walking aid and a red wolly hat. This was more easy, I smiled at her, not only with my mouth but with my eyes too. She looked a bit surprised and gave me a tiny, but happy smile back.

So this is my new project then. Trying to smile more at strangers. Being really friendly to people I am interacting with – people I do not know, but who serve me my coffee at the restaurant, who hand me my bread at the bakery, these kinds of things. Which does not mean I have been unfriendly towards them so far. But I think we sometimes wear a frown without even noticing, being deep in thoughts or just living in our own world. I will try to show a happy face to the world – honestly happy, not faking.

(Which means there will be days when I cannot manage because I do feel grumpy or sick with a heavy cold or suchlike. But I will try.)

And when I am already at it, I will try to keep the impatience out of my voice when my boys are in the “we are so busy we cannot be possibly listening to any requests from mum at the moment”-mode. But that is another story.

Have a nice day full of smiles!

Posts that never make it

Most of my posts first get written into a small black notebook. A paper one. I scribble while I am waiting for the boys to finish their tennis or swimming lesson. I scribble when waiting at the doctor’s. I try to carry the black notebook with me whenever there might be a chance of some spare time. Pens are living in my bag anyway. At the end of the day, when Husband is away doing sports or we both feel like having a computer evening, I sit down and type it into the other notebook – the silvery electronic one. While doing that a lot of the sentences get re-phrases (made better, I hope), but the core of the thing stays the same. When finished, the draft in the notebook gets a tick. Done with it.

But some of them never get the tick. Some of them never make it online, they stay put in the little black book. Funnily enough, it still feels good to have them written down.

That was the original purpose of starting a blog: finding a home for some of the random thoughts that wander through my mind. Bundling them, putting them somewhere, so that they can stop turning up in my head again and again. Filed somewhere, so to say. I had written down stuff before, loose threads, but it never gave me the feeling of giving them a home. This blog is now their home, if they get read, that is fine, if not, well, so be it then. I am not kidding myself that the world has been waiting for my strange (or boring) ideas. There is a lot of everything already out there. But in my tiny corner of the web all of these thoughts can hop around, and somehow it feels good to give them a home there.

But back to the ones that stay in the book. Sometimes I write something – something that occupies my mind a lot at that moment – and I do not find the time to put it here. And then a couple of days pass, and I would have the time, but I think, hmmm. Should I really put this online? Somehow the need is gone. Maybe there are types of thoughts that prefer to be stuck in the little black book. They seem to be happy there.

(By the way, sometimes I also just sit down at the computer and start writing from scratch.)

(But yes, this post also originally was written down in the small book. Although I changed it around a lot. Sometimes it is easier to re-write it then trying to decipher my own handwriting.)

What was the point of all this?

No idea. Does everything have to have a point, always? (The answer might be yes, but I am not so sure.)

Maybe it is just something that wanted to be written down. In any case the process of writing made me kind of happy, which already would be some sort of point, right?

Good night.

 

Lessons Learned

No, this is not going to be “Eye Trouble, Part IV”, because I don’t want to define myself by that trouble any more. Things are still as they were, I am still hoping for December, full stop.

What I want to do today is think about some lessons I have learned from all of it. The obvious one being: “Don’t poke yourself in the eye”, but that is kind of a no-brainer. “Don’t let yourself get so tired that your reflexes start slowing down”, sounds a bit better. The whole thing definitely was a warning sign: If you think that neglecting sleep for weeks is something that won’t eventually catch up with you, you are wrong. Because you cannot sail along on “want to dos” and “have to dos” and “not enough hours in a day” forever. At one point the body needs rest, and it has various methods of making sure it will get it. Normally when I overstretch my boundaries I get sick, but it looks like this time I had gotten accident prone.

So that is lesson number one for me: “Take better care of your body.” (Ok, nothing really knew here, but it seems that I need to be reminded of that…)

But the most important thing I learned is how much we take things for granted. Having perfect eye-sight was something I never really appreciated. It was just as it was supposed to be. I could read for hours, sit in front of the computer almost the whole day, the worst I would get was tired. And sometimes, during winter, a bit of a dry eye from the heating air.

When Husband said “Where are my glasses” before reading the boys their bed time story, I never realised how lucky I was to just pick up a book and read. When I went to the optician with Older One to get his glasses, I did not think about how the world must be changing around him when he put them on or off.

But now, suddenly, eye-things have my attention. I ask my boy how it is for him to take off the glasses. Does he see everything blurry then? Because he did not seem to see the world blurry in the years before he got the glasses. Apparently yes, he does see blurry when he takes them off, but only for a few moments. Then his eyes focus and compensate and he can see properly again. He is long-sighted, so his eyes can adapt, but it makes him tired if he has to do it for too long. (Plus his eyes have different strengths, so the glasses also compensate for that.) But it means he can take them off for judo and still see his opponents, which is definitely a plus in this kind of sport.

My stupid right eye cannot do that trick. If I close the left one and something is too far away, it is blurry and stays blurry, and no amount of concentration on my side can change anything. (You could say I am now – hopefully only temporarily – near-sighted on one eye.)

So now I am really thankfull for my still perfect left eye, which is doing a lot of extra work these days, having to see sharply for both of them. I still hope that right one will improve further (at least I do not see does stupid circles around the lights any more, and the light sensitivity has improved a lot). Of course there is the possibilty the cornea will only heal partly, or not get thick enought, or whatever – resulting in me staying partly near-sighted. That would not be ideal, but there are a lot of worse things, so I am trying not to get to crazed out by that idea. It probably would not be the end of the world having to wear glasses for driving in the evening or so. Or for longer computer work. Many people end up wearing glasses when they get older, although there are probably not so many who are clumsy enough to injur themselves the way I did. (Plus I am not so keen on defining myself as “getting older”, but there is no question I am not getting younger either!)

Would that be lesson number three then? Stupid things happen, and sometimes they cannot be undone, but there is no point in letting them drag you down? Stop moaning about something as tiny as this and get on with your life?

Probably. Although I am not sure if I am quite ready for that one yet.

(Still hoping for the magic healing powers of my body to kick in.)

Eye Trouble – Part III

Yes, I know, this seems to be a never ending story. Believe me, I would be the one happiest if it already had ended.

But it didn’t – get much better. Maybe a bit. But when we returned from our holiday I was still wearing sun glasses most of the day, even inside. Still could not read much without a worn and burning feeling in my right eye. Still could not see sharply on that eye.

So I went back to the friendly young doctor in the hospital. She looked in my eye. Said “hmm”, which did not sound quite as optimistic as before. Then she went to fetch a collegue, and older doctor. He came in, looked into my eye, starting showing her things. He did not seem as surprised as she had been. Then he told me that basically, yes, the wound had healed, but it had grown a scar. Which was now smuggly sitting on my eye, causing all the trouble. To top it all, it was not likely it would go away by itself.

“OK…” was all I could say first. Which was a bit ridiculous, since I felt everything but ok.

The doctor then told me they could remove the scar by sort of scraping it off my cornea. Creating a new wound, in fact, but a smooth one, one that should heal better. Hopefully without any scars. He also told me that for two or three days it would not feel great, but after that it should be ok.

Well. Sort of.

To cut things short, they did remove the scar. For two days I felt like a sort of vampire, hiding from any kind of light, wearing my sun glasses even in the evening, plus a baseball cap. Light hurt. Light made my eye stream with tears. So I kept it shut most of the day. Luckily, husband could work from home, basically taking care of the boys, putting eye drops in my eye, comforting me.

From the third day on, things began to improve. After a week, the young doctor declared that the wound had closed nicely. They had put a sort of contact lens on my eye like a bandage, but that could go off now.

I was happy, my eye felt better, had definitely improved. I still could not see as sharp as before the accident, but better than before the operation, and they told me the rest would come in time.

I was happy until last night, when I woke up, opened my eye and felt a shart pain again, felt tears streaming down my face. “Not good”, I thought again.

So today I went back to the hospital. The older doctor looked in my eye and asked my why I was not wearing the bandage lens. I told him they had take it off 5 days ago. He shook is head. “No, no”, he said, “this lens needs to be replaced weekly with a new one. You will need to have one in for three months.”

Three months??? That was the first time they told me that. I guess the young doctor did not know this procedure either, otherwise she would not had taken it out. Apparently the wound had opened again last night, at least a bit. Now it was closed again, but the cornea was still very thin. The bandage lens was supposed to protect it until it has grown thick enough and has attached itself firmly onto the underlying layers. Or so I was told. If the wound keeps opening up, it would stay a weak spot, not being able to heal properly.

Great. So here we go again.

New bandage lens. New eye drops. Appointments for weekly changing of the lens. And an appointment with the doctor in four weeks time.

 

If I am lucky, my cornea has not yet decided it wants to have a weak spot.

If I am lucky, the wound will stay closed now.

If I am lucky, in December I will finally be rid of that lens and have a properly functioning right eye again.

If I am really really lucky, my eye sight will have gone back to normal then.

 

Can I be please be really really lucky???

Eye Trouble – Part II

When I woke up an hour later, at least I could open my eye again without too much pain. But still I could not see properly. Everything that was not really close up was very hazy. That must be how short-sighted people feel, I thought. Or maybe not. Up till then I had never had any trouble with my eyes (apart from itchiness due to hay-fever, but that does not really count, I guess).

Hazy is not good, I decided and called my doc. I felt quite embarrassed telling my story (who is so stupid to poke herself in the eye with her own finger? ME!!), but he was quite unfazed. “It happens more often than you think”, said, not specifying if he meant eye-injuries in general or silly accidents like mine. “The cornea reacts very sensitive, but it will heal. It just need a little time.” “Like, hours?” I asked hopefully. “Could be a day or two”, he answerded. He told me to rest my eye and call him again if it did not get better at all after a few hours.

So I went back to bed.

It did not get better after a few hours. So I called him again. “I should better see you then”, he decided and gave me an appointment for in the afternoon.

Until then at least the feeling inside the eye had improved – but I still felt like a mole on that eye. Doc put some stinging yellow fluid in my eye and looked at it with a blue light. “Oh yes”, I can see it, “he told me placidly. “You managed to scratch yourself right in front of the pupil. But it is not a big one. I am sure it will heal soon without complications.”He put some antibiotic cream in my eye just in case and put a patch over it. So for the rest of the day I walked around looking like a pirate captain, much to the astonishment of my boys. Interestingly enough they did not roll on the floor laughing but looked at me with real concern. “Can you take this off now?” Little One asked. “Tomorrow”, I promised.

Tomorrow came, the patch came off, the haze was still there. Ok, I thought, give it another day. Don’t worry.

Monday came, no change in eye-sight. I called my doc again, getting a little worried. He seemed concerned. “Maybe you should let an eye specialist look at it just in case”, he told me and arranged an appointment at the hospital (in the Netherlands, the specialist doctors do not have their own practice).

When I went there, a young and very friendly eye-specialist checked my eye-sight, put the yellow drops in again, looked with differents lights at different angles, measured my eye pressure – the whole lot. She then said cheerfully: “Yes, you managed to scratch your cornea right in front of the pupil.” (I already knew that.) “I can see that it is healing and it looks fine.” (Did not feel fine.) “At the moment you can see 80% with your right eye.” (Felt like less.) It should heal by itself in about one week. I can give you a gel to keep the eye moist, so that it feels better.” On one hand I felt relieved, on the other not completely reassured. “If it is not better after a week, should I call you again?” I asked. He shrugged. “You can call, if you like”, she said, which sounded a lot like “it would not change a thing”. She added “some people heal faster than others”, which hinted at a longer period of recovery.

That was almost three weeks ago. Since then, my eye-sight has not really improved. I can see ok-ish up close, blurry at a distance. It does feel better, less sensitive to light though (during the first week I was wearing sun-glasses almost constantly, even in-doors). I found some eye-drops and cream that is supposed to help (via my mum and her doc, because this stuff is not sold in the Netherlands, even though it is available at my mum’s place without prescription), and I am trying to be patient. It helps that we are on holidays at my mum’s place now.

I have tried to keep the computer time to a minimum and I am not reading a lot either. I could try to get an appointment at my mum’s own eye specialist here, but I am not sure if he will tell me anything else. I just hope this thing will heal, and at a reasonable pace.

Just now my eye feels a bit used and worn again… so, good night. Hopefully be back soon.

Eye Trouble – Part I

Do you have an internal list of stupid things you did to yourself?

Well, I do, and I have a new number one.

Right on top before was hitting the stairs with my fist out of anger and frustration about a good friend’s early death. Another story. Number two was missing the last step of – different – stairs and spraying my ankle. Stupid, but not unheard of. Rather common in fact.

But last Friday I managed to poke myself in the eye with my own finger. Don’t ask how I managed to do such a tremendously silly thing. I really don’t know it myself. I only know it was early in the morning, I had just gotten up, was searching for a pack of tissues in the bathroom to blow my nose. Found the tissues. Next thing I know is “ouch”. Really ouch. My eye clamped shut and was not ready to be opened again for quite some time. Tears streaming down my face, I stumbled into the bedroom, where Husband was just getting out of bed. “Can you have a look at my eye?” I asked him, “I poked myself with my finger.” “What?” His was still trying to really wake up and did defintely not look like he was ready to investigate anything, let alone some delicate eye business.

“Never mind.” I went back to the bathroom. Put some cold wet tissue on my eye. Managed to get dressed, to get downstairs to the kitchen, starting to prepare breakfast one-handedly. (One hand I needed to hold the wet tissue to my eye.) In between I tried to open my eye from time to time, without big success.

Husband came down, looked at my eye, did not see anything wrong. Which was a relief of some sort, but did not take away the feeling that there was something not right at all.

Boys came down, looked astonished at their mother’s strange behaviour, but wolved down their cereals as usual. Husband offered to drop the boys of at school, which was a relief as I was not fit for traffic at all.

So, with all three of them out of the house, I thought I might as well go back to bed, close both eyes and hope that things would be better after half an hour’s rest.

They were not. Not really. – They are now, but not completely. Which is why I not only have been missing out on everyone’s lovely blogs during the last week, but also why I should give my eye some rest now. And tell the second part of the story maybe tomorrow.

 

To be continued.