Catherine's Story: Tomorrow Will be Better
I don’t know how I feel! Why is ageing such an awful experience. You think that because you take care of yourself and don’t overindulge in all the joys that life has to offer, then things should just keep ticking along as they have for the past sixty years. Not so! Today I have been informed of impending loss of eyesight due to increased intraocular pressure, otherwise known as glaucoma. What joy!
As I look around the waiting room at the other patients, I have a feeling of foreboding. I have no idea how old these people are but I think I look like a young thing by comparison. It hits me for the first time in my life that I am confronting my future, which is not full of roses but is destined for weakness and loss of so many things I have always taken for granted.
It’s my turn to see the doctor – an interesting choice of words, as nearly everybody around me is half blind. ‘Well, the good news is there is no obvious damage to the optic nerves in either eye but you must put drops in each eye for the rest of your life.’ I feel elated for about three seconds before I start to think of yet another medication being added to my armoury of staving off complete disability. I try to be positive but I have been reframing my life since childhood, playing mind games with myself to ward off despair, but today it’s not working. I feel old and disintegrating. I take my prescription and pay my bill.
Another chapter in my life has begun and maybe tomorrow I will reframe my news into how lucky I am not to be blind, but for today, I’m going home to wallow in self-pity and regret.
Fast forward nine years and my attitude is a much healthier one. After two years of seeing my specialist and having good reports on each visit with a change of medication to Xalacom, everything is going well. I was religious in my zealousness to make sure my drops, one in each eye, each night was never missed. I moved home at this time and started seeing a new specialist. Within months I had Iridotomies in both eyes and have continued the same medication regime in each eye every night. After nine years I have minimal damage to the optic nerve in the left eye and no loss of peripheral vision in either eye. I feel so lucky now to have been diagnosed early in the process and delighted with the expert care I have received over the years.
My big message to everyone who receives this diagnosis is, work with your professional specialist and tell all your family to get tested. Help keep vision possible.