Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Eyes...

My eyes.  Yesterday I went to have more tests on my eyes for the suspected Glaucoma.  I was already dreading it, because the last time I had eye drops (thinking about it, this was about 19 years ago), I was violently sick.  I projectile vomited.  I had warned Helen about this, but I don't think she took me seriously until she saw what happened yesterday.

I had a detailed field of vision test done.  The one where you click the button when you see a shimmer in the picture?  When she told me that if I got tired I could pause the test by long holding the button, I wondered how long were they planning on having me there, that I would feel the need to pause it??  I soon found out.  Then it was in to have the eye drops that would enlarge my pupils.  That's where the fun began.  She put the drops in my right eye, and they bloody stung.  I closed my eyes and rested my head back.  I could feel my head swimming.  I must have looked dreadful because she asked me if I wanted some water.  I shook my head and grabbed her bin off the floor.  I was sat there clutching a waste paper bin with the intention of spewing into it.  I asked her to do the other eye quickly.  I knew she was doing this in between her normal appointments, but I couldn't move.  Her door was open and I could see down the room to the High Street and I just wanted to be outside.  How I made it to Mr G in the waiting area is beyond me, and he had to take me outside, where I hyperventilated, and had a panic attack.  He told me to breathe in through my nose, and out through my mouth, and even those simple commands I couldn't follow, I was gulping air in.  I felt sick and I thought I was going to pass out.  He took me back in to sit down, and he told me I had gone yellow, green and grey in colour.  It took about fifteen minutes for this to pass.  Thank God I'd skipped breakfast.

Then I had to have photographs taken of my eyes.  I've had this done before... but I had eight pictures taken, four on each eye.  Wah.  I saw Helen for my results and the detailed tests gave a better indicator of where things stood, that I do have thick corneas, and this allowed for a certain 'score' on each eye to be subtracted from the 'normal' score.  The result was better than it had been the previous two times.  But she still wasn't happy with one of the figures, so I was back in to the testing room for another two photographs of my eyes.  The outcome?  If she referred me now, the issue wasn't so serious that they would see me immediately and I would probably still be waiting for an appointment in 6 months time.  Or she could not refer me, and instead she could see me again in 6 months time, repeat the tests and monitor me that way.  If things had deteriorated by then, she could refer me as an emergency and I would be seen quickly.  We decided to go for that option.

I just wanted to go home but we didn't have a bus for an hour (still no car!).  We did a bit of shopping, and while in the bus stop, one of our friends passed and gave us a lift home, I was so grateful.  The rest of the afternoon I was useless.  I felt so sick.  My head was banging after having that light flashed in my eyes ten times.  I felt sick, like I'd been on a fairground ride repeatedly.  My eyes just felt strained, and sore, and tender.  And naturally, after going to bed, Mr G fell into a deep sleep and started snoring.  So I came down and crashed on the sofa.  Four hours of 'sofa sleep' and here I am, like a wet blanket.  Today should be fun. 

One thing is for definite, I do need to get some help for this medical phobia.  People genuinely don't understand how debilitating it is.  I also think it's been preying on my mind because - I am getting older.  And with aging (in most cases, not all) comes some form of illness, degeneration, and as I've seen in my parents case, even my husband who is 14 years older than me, the likelihood of having to have a blood test, injection and operation is increased.

It really is hard to explain to someone who doesn't have the same fear as you.  People really don't understand.  Instead they try to empathise, and it's not something that you can empathise with?  You could be a 6 foot 5, butch, alpha male who is terrified of spiders, and I'll empathise with you, as I cup that spider in my bare hands and carry it outside to freedom, shall I?  I don't particularly like spiders, nor relish touching them... but I can touch them, and I don't see why you/he/she can't or why you're terrified of something that's so small, and can't hurt you... do I need to go on?   Not all phobias are rational and empathy doesn't work where phobias are concerned.  I appreciate that there are very few people who like having needles, but 'not liking' needles is completely and utterly different to being phobic.  It's the difference between someone who doesn't like nuts and someone who is allergic to them eating a peanut butter sandwich.  One might gag, or pull a face.  The other might die.  Here are some real life comments and conversations.

Friend - I had to go for a blood test today.
Me - Oh, I couldn't.  I'm needle phobic, I'm absolutely terrified of needles.
Friend - Me too.
Me - But you had the blood test?
Friend - Yes.
Me - ...

Friend - You just have to get over it.  Look away.  Think about something else.  It doesn't hurt (my personal favourite!  I know it doesn't bloody hurt!  That's not the issue!  If pain was the issue, I wouldn't have given birth four times, would I?  I'm in pain daily with my back, and I function!)
Me - ...

Friend - What happens if you get ill?  What happens if you get cancer and need chemo?  If you need dialysis three times a week?  If you become diabetic and need to inject yourself daily?  Are you really telling me that you wouldn't seek treatment, just because you're scared of having a tiny needle, that you can't even feel?  When stubbing your toe probably hurts more?  You would really rather die than do that?
Me - ...

And believe you me, when I see it written out like that, I can appreciate how ridiculous it might look and sound to someone who doesn't have this phobia.  I do actually see it rationally, in black and white.  But getting my mind on board?  Impossible. 

True story, when my oldest son was a month away from his third birthday, he contracted Meningitis and Septicaemia.  He was very, very ill in hospital.  Public Health phoned me up and wanted a list, names and addresses of everyone he had been in contact with over x days.  We all needed vaccinating.  My son was in a private room.  At this point the medical staff were all confident of a full recovery, but he was still hooked up to drips and monitors.  The Doctor came in and told me I would need the vaccination.  I had managed somehow to evade him for a few days.  I asked him to give me a moment, I needed to use the bathroom opposite.  I went in, I locked myself in.   It must have taken them the best part of half an hour to coax me out.  I sat on my son's bed, sobbing, while he was consoling me—"Don't cry Mummy, it won't hurt."  I felt like such a fool, such a failure, after everything my poor toddler's body had been through that past week, and I was hysterical over a mere vaccination, one that could save my life one day, and he was comforting me

So I think we can ascertain that my phobia is psychological.  I think the trigger being when I passed out after having an injection in school when I was twelve.  It might have been something completely unconnected.  It may have been a hot day.  I may have skipped breakfast.  It could have been a multitude of things.  But my mind has connected needles with fainting.  I also find the idea of both a) taking something out of my body (blood) and b) putting something into my body, abhorrent.  The former is taking something that I perceive my body needs to function, and the latter is putting a 'foreign body' into mine.  Where to go from here though, I don't know.  I don't know if my Doctor would take me seriously, to be honest?   I suppose there's only one way to find out.


  1. I feel this way about the dentist to be quite honest. The doctor and blood tests are cake walk in comparison. but my husband hates giving blood and so did my grandmother. Both actually have fainted in the past having to do this. So, I do believe it is a real phobia from seeing both of them go through. Hugs and hope this goes quickly and as easily possible now for you.

    1. Thanks Janine. I used to feel like this about the dentist too, seemingly I am one of these who needs *a lot* of anaesthetic, so after a traumatic experience when I was a teen, where despite receiving 'enough anaesthetic to knock out a horse' (dentist's words lol) I felt e-v-e-r-y-thing... I found a wonderful dentist about six years ago who alleviated the fear there.

      Wonderfully on cue this morning, I was still really shaken, my friend came over to get her Christmas Puddings that I'd made her. She's a Psych nurse, and she was telling me about certain therapies, and she promised to have a word with some colleagues of hers to see what they recommend, be it hypnotherapy, CBT, counselling etc. It's getting beyond a joke now, I can understand the needles to an extent as that's a 'popular' one, but for one tiny drop of liquid in my eyes to trigger anxiety of that level is unbelievable. And that is the treatment for Glaucoma, eyedrops. Just the thought of going through that level of panic daily, is (to my rational self) madness. Especially when I consider myself a strong person mentally, and as you know as a fellow sciatica sufferer, physically, because you have to be ;-) xo


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