If anyone has seen any of my Instagram posts lately, they may have noticed that a lot has changed in our lives – we have moved cross-country, we have left/changed jobs, we are now the gracious roomies of my parents (for money saving reasons), Lola has started ‘big’ school and Sadie has… well, let’s just say found her voice. Our next move is still being blue printed by the gods of destiny I guess, but as of this moment, I’m ok with that. I had an experience recently that has given me a new perspective. I have always believed in the ‘what will be will be’ ethos in life, but now I see that a little more is necessary. It is not enough to live in today but being grateful is the key – that is what makes today my new favourite day. I went to see a movie with my four old last night staring the always insightful, Mr Winnie the Pooh, who in fact lay this lesson down with a fully-grown Christopher Robin - “Today, my favourite day.”
One week ago, I found myself sitting in a busy hospital corridor, after two of the longest days of my life, waiting to be seen. I was waiting for a consultant to call me into his room to answer one of the scariest questions I have ever had to ask – is it a tumour?
We all hear cancer stories every day; sometimes it is in the news, sometimes it is friends of friends, sometimes it is closer to home, but one thing I never thought, was it could be me. I would have never thought that the blurry, distorted vision I was experiencing for a few weeks prior was something that would lead to a ‘query suspicious lesion, possible melanoma’ prognosis. It started a few weeks previous, when I noticed myself blinking and rubbing my eye a lot, which I was self-diagnosing as the usual parent broken-sleep tiredness, or maybe just time for a new pair of glasses and another thing to stack on that back burner. The end of the school year was nigh, we were moving to a new house, there was so much going on. It was not until one afternoon, when I was watching the girls play in the garden from the back door, that I covered my right eye and was shocked to see, or not see as the case was, there was a very evident blind spot. I could not see my kids’ faces. Still not too concerned, I made an appointment with an optician in a local Specsavers and it was there that things changed.
The optician showed me a worrying scarring/tear, which was visible behind my retina on the screen. She made a call to the hospital to expect me in asap. My husband had just finished work and dropped me in immediately. At this point, I was still unsure what was going on but was quite calm. I told him to return home with the girls and decided I would wait alone. It was only when the doctor called for his colleague to examine me also that I knew something was wrong. I was then told that there was a visible lesion or growth which had caused a haemorrhage inside, and they were querying it as more. Luckily, my Mum and sister were waiting for me after my consultation to bring me home, because as I left the room the tears were impossible to hold back. The atmosphere at home over the next two days was difficult to explain – silent, on edge, nauseating. I spent the night cuddling my little girl in bed, looking at every little speckle on her skin and imagining what I would do if I could not see these things anymore. These were thoughts I could not help but also, I could not avoid.
The waiting which followed through tests and scans was hard, but I was so lucky that it was not a long wait and, even more lucky with the outcome. I will never forget the feeling I got (and my Mum who was beside me) when the consultant said the words ‘it is not a tumour.’ Relief. What followed, of course, was nothing in comparison as far as I was concerned – a diagnosis of 'choroidal neovascularization', an injection into my eye, steroid treatment, progress check-ups for the haemorrhage and hope that sight will improve. I was told I was lucky that my peripheral vision has not been affected which means there is no need for laser treatment or for it to affect driving, etc. Now it is just a case of visually adapting (and maybe an on-call makeup artist!), which, in comparison to last week’s fears, is a huge relief. It is crazy to think so much can change in such a short few hours. For those who received much different news to me, I cannot even begin to imagine your journeys, but I am so proud of your strength and courage.
Today, as my mother and I currently discuss the excessive laundry situation which has turned her house into a TK Max of air drying – I smile with gratitude; gratitude for what I learnt yesterday, gratitude for what I have today, and gratitude for whatever tomorrow will bring.
So, Mr Winnie the Pooh, I must agree with you whole heartedly – today is my favourite day too.
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