Sunday, 4 November 2007

A Personal Experience

I started blogging for many reasons. Initially it was a way of finding out how the technical side of blogging worked. I experimented with Yahoo 360 but quickly migrated to Blogger. In the early days I was alarmed at the thought of being identified or 'found out'. So I invented a Pen Name for myself. I had the idea of writing outrageously about the the good people who live in East Devon, my husband, the health services, social services and many other things that I found increasingly irritating in daily life. In short I wanted to Blog as a Grumpy Old Woman.

But once my anonymous blog was set up, the bland postings started and I quickly found that I couldn't quite stick the knife in where I wanted or as I imagined. What I did find, however, was that while I was at a particularly low ebb [with the Winter Blues and general frustration caused by our sudden enforced retirement] I had inadvertently discovered that I could post about some of my feelings. I could let off some steam. Blow my top. Whinge. Luckily, my husband was quite content for me to sound off about how his illness has affected me. After all with a pen name and vague address there is no way of identifying us. Close friends and family recognise my blog when, and if, they find it. But there's no problem with that as we have been quite open with everyone who matters to us.

Some people write because they are born writers. They take the opportunity to write fiction and receive feedback from readers. Others just want to have fun and socialise. Others want to voice political opinions. Some for a way to spread around their sense of humour. And some of us as a means of distraction. To divert our minds from our worries .

Now from my blogroll I usually call in on everyone on a regular basis. Some people once a fortnight, some once a week and others on a daily basis. The bloggers who make me laugh are the ones I call in on daily. My favourites are linked to my home page by the RSS feed so i can quickly see if they've posted very recently - well that's how it's supposed to work but it seems a little unreliable. I've sometimes found a new post is up there when I call in on their blog yet my homepage says 'last posted 3 days ago'.

Besides the writers who make me laugh are one or two who start to feel like 'friends' - rather like old fashioned pen pals. Now one of these cyber friends is Teeni of the Vauguetarian Tearooms. Her place is a general have a cup of coffee and hang out for a while to see what'll happen next kind of place. It's all lighthearted and fun. Imagine my surprise when I found a rather sombre posting from her a few days ago. I admit I read it very quickly and then quietly left. I was low spirited at the time and didn't feel able to comment. But once I was in a better mood I called back to see her. I wanted to explain that I was somewhat aware of how her feelings must be when she was diagnosed and had to undergo treatment for cancer.

I too had cancer diagnosed at a young age. I was lucky in that it was found early and surgery was the only treatment I needed. I was thirty when on a visit to the optician to be assessed for contact lens he quickly identified that I had a malignant tumour in my left eye. He didn't tell me this - he just referred me to see my doctor who had very quickly made an appointment for me to see the local ophthalmic surgeon. My feet barely touched the ground. From seeing the optician I had seen the local specialist, been referred to Moorfields' Eye Hospital for a second opinion and was back in Gloucester Royal Hospital to have my left eye removed - all within less than 3 weeks.

I was 30 years of age and it was a bit of a shock to find that I had malignant melanoma. Luckily the surrounding tissue of the eye was healthy. It had been found and removed in a timely manner. The adjustment to monocular vision took a while. But adjust I did. Although I still find it difficult to walk over rough ground; with no depth of vision it does pose a challenge.

Now having been lucky enough to survive that episode I am rather paranoid about how much time I spend in the sun. I slap on sun protection so thick I look like a greased up channel swimmer. I'm never out in the sun between 11 - 3. But as I don't want rickets or osteoporosis either I do allow 30 minutes a day of sun to get to my skin as often as I can during spring and autumn.

It's for this reason that I believe I need a light box. Ever since I lost my eye 28 years ago today I've experienced a feeling of gloom which descends from October onwards. Initially I used to blame the 'anniversary' for reminding me of my mortality and lack of binocular vision. It was my least short sighted eye - almost normal vision' -too which was the real **** law of life. When I had to rely on my right eye only I was so shortsighted I had to become a permanent specs wearer. I was also told it would help to disguise my artifical eye. So I never did get fitted for that contact lens.

Now if we do indeed rely on needing bright light to keep us cheerful then with my desire to keep a low profile during hot, sunny summers and with only one eye to take in the light it could be why I experience the winter blues. I also read that Gordon Brown may be a depressive s**t too. Maybe that's because he also is blind in one eye. Perhaps I should write and suggest he buys himself a lightbox to go along with his red boxes.

Now some of you'll know why one of my most often used emoticon is a ;-) - it doesn't always represent a wink!

Finally, I would like to suggest that if you haven't had your eyesight checked out for more than a couple of years then do so. You never know what signal of ill health may be lurking there. A quick visit to the optician may save your life.

Sorry - technical hitch - I was trying to write an updated note. However, Blogger suddenly changed the date of the post from original - I wrote this on 29/10 - there is no way it will let me put it back in its rightful place. I'm hoping its back there now - ?


teeni said...

This was an incredibly brave post, my dear Lady Thinking friend. I am very impressed with you for such a well-written piece that was so personal for you. (I had to just blurt mine out. LOL.) It must have been a horrific scare and quite an adjustment to your sense of vanity to lose an eye at such a young age. But you are still young and you are still here and I am thankful for that every day. You are beautiful and so kind to let others know your personal story and to remind them to get checked as well. And just so you know - one of the coolest kids in my class was a boy who had lost an eye at a very early age - I think it was before he even started school. He had an artificial eye that his mom would come and clean for him when she came to work in the cafeteria to help out. Anyway, our whole class not only accepted this but we really liked him and his mom. So I just wanted you to know that you can still be one of the "cool kids." You are in my book, buddy! :)

lady thinker said...

Thank you for your kind comment teeni. I'm not too sure about well written this was a bit of a ramble.

I also meant to say that I hadn't been aware of anything wrong. When tumour diagnosed I thought it was symptomless - one reason i was sent off for a second opionion. But - I used to experience excrutiating headaches. Everyone talks of 'blinding headaches' - it was only after they stopped following surgery that I realised my blinding headaches were not the 'norm'.

Also the surgeon was very abrupt and off-hand. Which didn't help me to like him. But with age, increased wisdom and hindsight I realise he was upset at the need for enucleation and concerned re the possible prognosis. I didn't realise till recently that it is seen as an operation of last resort and they feel they've failed if have to remove an eye. At the moment I can't recall his name - one day if I do I may try and call back to say I appreciate what he did. I was lucky thanks to a very kind and observant optician.

merry weather said...

That was a brave post - I'm very moved to read it. Yes, eye check-ups do come at the bottom of my to-do list - not anymore now I've read your story.

My Dad is blind in one eye following an accident with a golf club as a child. He rarely mentions it and selfishly I hadn't thought about it in detail before.

- I'm glad you blog LT and I hope the light box is showing results xx

i am the diva said...

thank you for sharing your story, it's always hard to put something out there that so personal and raw. i commend your courage.

toby said...

Bloody hell! You're lucky to be alive! Do they still check up on you? Wouldn't be surprised if you're a case presentation for students.

Seriously, that must have been tough.

re. the Grumpy Old Woman thing - I thought you were playing the role quite well. Except you're not old, and you are witty more than grumpy, but you're a woman; one out of three is not bad.

Kami said...

That was a great, heartfelt post. I came via Teeni and I second your comments about her too. She feels like a friend although I have only corresponded with her electronically.

I am so glad you are fine this many years later but can imagine how hard it was to go from perfect dual vision to mono. My son has a lazy eye and that is what he is going through. Thankfully the biggest risk for him is that he will only ever see with one eye at a time.


Stinking Billy said...

Brave? I'll say! But where does that leave the rest of us? Just a month ago I (not for the first time) blithely ignored the annual reminder from the optician that my eyes test was due. I am a type 2 diabetic as well as a pensioner so it costs me nothing.

I wonder if he will still give me an appointment?

kaylee said...

That a great story.Niceof you to share.I am sorry to hear that but,I am glad that you battled throuh it! I am on 16 and just had a heart transplant not too long ago.SO I too am just happy.I am here to fight it! I enjoyed reading your blog :)

kaylee said...


Merri said...

That was a great post my dear. How hard that must have been but you survived, didn't you!
The lightbox sounds a great idea!
I have poor vision and have worn glasses since I was 2 years old.I do get checked regularly .
There are so many health issues that can be detected through the eyes, so I too, urge your readers to not neglect their vision health care.

Stinking Billy said...

Last day in October so my last day as your guest blogger. Damn and blast!

It is also Halloween, of course, AND (one of) our son's 44th birthday. I recall two things; firstly he was covered in black hair and bore a striking resemblence to Ernest Borgnine (who?).

Secondly, I was even cornier then than I am now and wanted to name him Ian (Hellow Ian), but Mrs Billy kicked that straight into touch.

You won't just drop me, will you?

Mark Wadsworth said...

LT, that must have been/must be awful for you. Well done for staying alive and cheerful!

Also, prompted by Billy, I would like to say thanks for having been blog of t'month.

Eurodog said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I shall return. A very honest and brave post.
Have a lovely day.

Mopsa said...

Goodness - revelatory and poignant. And shocking and heart-warming.

lady thinker said...

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words. Yes I feel lucky to be alive and I count my blessings.
I also have from using the lightbox - even though I've not been able to use it properly yet (builders in the house have not been conducive to sitting under a light during the day as the elec has been off/on) but I'm sure I can feel some difference.

lady thinker said...

Welcome to the diva, kami and eurodog - nice to meet you here.
And Kaylee - a heart tranplant now that's amazing - and a young age too - but all the better to make the most of your new heart - best wishes to you.

Robert said...

Hi there!

I usually visit your other blog, so I've only just now found out what I was missing!

You always leave nice comments on my blog, but in reality, by comparison to your life, mine's a bed of roses!

You're an intelligent, brave and caring lady - and your husband is lucky to have you!