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2013 Grateful 33

My week went from bad to worse. Arriving back from Ireland still irritable and mad with myself for flaring up at my mother (who has the patience of Job and the last woman in the world you could possibly be annoyed with), trying to fit too much into too few days, and getting not one word written on my dissertation, I was feeling antsy. I was tired, cranky, and not at all secure about myself and what I’m doing. It’s been a while since this has happened but swings and roundabouts eh? I’ve been ‘up’ for so long now, a ‘down’ period was inevitable. Whoever said Murphy was an optimist obviously never met me.

I started smoking again. Postively jonesing, I drove down to the village to the local shop and asked for 10 cigarettes. The woman looked at me as if I’d come from another plant. They’d stopped selling cigarettes in packs of 10 years ago in Ireland. What kind did I want? I couldn’t think. Anything that had a 3mg nicotine content. She started to look a little wary but opened the machine and pulled out every pack until she found one that said 3mg. Long skinny ones in a purple box that looked like the toy cigarettes I used as a child when I wanted so much to be an adult. Very appropriate for my child-like tantrums.

As the week unfolded, it brought disappointment after disappointment. Nothing seemed to go right. A line from an old performance appraisal came back to haunt me. Perhaps I do need to better manage my expectations.

My retina specialist told me that the damage to my eye from the BRVO is irreparable and despite my having 100% visual acuity, I will never see things as sharply again. Maybe that’s worrying me on some deep subconscious level and has me questioning my judgement in other issues, too. My weight had soared – I gained four kilos in as many days – and a headache that came to call on Monday was still around on Friday. And still not a word written on my dissertation.

Other people’s last-minute issues suddenly became mine – could I help? Sure. Anything rather than do what I was supposed to be doing. And so followed long nights working on other people’s projects, work I was both happy to do and resented doing at the same time. If that won’t screw with your mind, what will? And this was just the start of it. Something as straightforward as booking a car in June in the States ended up needing phone calls to New Zealand to fix.  Something as mundane as making a hotel reservation for the end of May has resulted in a chain of emails, each one talking at cross purposes and still nothing booked. Other stuff happened that left me fixating on whether I was able to see the wood for the trees. I was slowly driving myself bananas. And still not a word written for my dissertation.

IMG_4239 (699x800)Then the doorbell rang and the postman gave me an envelope of chocolate sent from  Ireland. It wouldn’t help my weight issue, but it would certainly induce some endorphins. Then it rang a second time: the most gorgeous flowers and a beautiful crystal vase. And most precious of all, ten free-range eggs. I’d been for a reiki session that morning and TPA had given me the energy I needed to get through this week. Perhaps things were changing.

Friday night, I watched the movie Black Hawk Down and realised that my issues, as the inimitable NKJ would say, are first world problems. No one had died. Nothing was insurmountable. I wasn’t a wet-faced 18-year-old dodging my way through enemy fire hoping to make it home alive. I wasn’t watching my kids die of starvation. I wasn’t a general sitting in a control room watching my men getting picked off, one by one,  on CCTV. Yes, I live in a country whose future I truly fear for  (particularly in light of the PM’s recent posturing in his latest Friday interview) and I wonder what tomorrow will bring. But no matter how crappy it gets and how hopeless it seems, I have friends who will pull me through it, ignoring my kicking and screaming, telling me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. To you all, I am truly grateful. I promise I’ll be back on form next week.

Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52

Grateful 49

How true the old adage is – you never really appreciate anything until it’s gone. So much is taken for granted and it’s only when something goes wrong that we fully realise how lucky and blessed we actually are.

Shortly before Christmas I discovered that I had a BRVO – a branch retinal vein occlusion – in my right eye (my good eye). The world became cloudy and every time I cried at a Christmas movie, I half expected to find blood pouring down my face. The photographs are amazing – modern medicine is amazing. It is amazing how far we have come and also how far we have yet to go. None of the doctors/specialists I’ve seen can tell me why it happened. The cause remains a mystery. Nor can they tell me if it is likely to happen again.

My vision acuity is 125%. I can see what I focus on – but everything around it is blurred. Reading text is like being followed by a moving wave… and the scary thing is that I’m getting used to it. The treatment is new – legalised last year – an IV injection of something that costs in the region of €1000 per ml. My specialist is reluctant to give it to me as technically I can see very well. Most frustrating but then, at that price, perhaps I’m just as well off.

I need to wait about two months and hope that the blood is reabsorbed into my system and the bruising disappears. It could take as long as a year. My initial fear on diagnosis gave way to irritation and frustration at seeing the world through a foggy lens, and is now settling down to the stark realisation that I have little other choice but to adapt. And it could be a lot worse – at least I can still see. On the days that it doesn’t bother me as much, I have a new appreciation for my sight. And on the days when I can’t see very well at all, I have a new appreciation for my sight.

This week, out of all the things I’m grateful for, I’m grateful that I can still see.