I was tidying up in the kitchen yesterday afternoon when a black spider appeared close to my right eye. I tried to brush it away and realised it wasn't a spider at all. It was a large black floater dominating my field of vision. It sank out of sight and a few minutes later came back again with a couple of small friends. Panic. But since the PVD diagnosis for the left eye a few months ago, I knew what to do, called a taxi and headed for the Eye Casualty clinic at the local hospital.
Five people ahead of me but I didn't mind. Just being there was a comfort. I would be dealt with. Leafed compulsively through the one magazine on the waiting room table. A local community newsletter about Hay on Wye. I read through the features, returned to the beginning and started scrutinising the small ads in desperation. The spider came and went. The other five: an elderly man and his male friend; two women (I couldn't make out which one was the patient) and a young lad with a cold chatted and/or stared at the ceiling.
Called into the triage section. A motherly and reassuring nurse took the relevant details and put dilation drops into both eyes. A different waiting room. They'd made an effort with the decor - prints of cheerful impressionist paintings, an Ansel Adams photograph. More magazines. A wider selection here: She, Good Housekeeping, Country Living, and even Hello (I
know, I know, when you're in a hospital waiting room you'll read
anything. It occurred to me that I only recognised about half the
celebrities featured). I was contemplating tackling a caravanning periodical when my name was called.
It was obvious Dr Patel knew what she was doing. She sat opposite me at the ophthalmology machine. Chin on the machine, a succession of dazzling bright lights, white and blue, in the eyes. Look upwards to the right. Downwards to the left. Focus on my right ear. Keep your eyes wide open. I know it's hard. She handed me a tissue.
So it's just PVD again. Floaters rather than flashes this time but the same thing. Grateful to have been seen. Grateful to be reassured. Still have to watch out for the signs of a possible retinal detachment but I feel like an old hand at this game now.
On the way home I debated why I hadn't asked my neighbour to accompany me. At the hospital I had alternated between a wistful melancholy that I had no-one metaphorically to hold my hand but at the same time I was relieved at not having to worry about anyone else's welfare - especially with the long wait. My neighbour is lovely but I don't know her well enough to feel comfortable in this kind of situation. It seems that when the chips are down I rely on myself. This is the way life is now and I'm not sure I am capable of changing it. Besides, I've been robbed of my independence these past few years and it felt good to get a little of it back.
The spider is still with me this morning. Maybe as time goes by I'll start to get fond of him.