Or perhaps the final frontier?
Have you ever had a panic attack? I’ve had more than a few.. but they ‘ve been intrinsic… I don’t panic outwardly, fortunately for others, but not for me. Which is the reason I never knew I’d had a heart attack 3 years ago. I probably had thought it was one of my “internal” panicky attacks. That didn’t go so well as a cardiac bypass was my gift at that point.
I have always internalised “bad things” so as not to worry those around me. I suppose it was a learned response from early childhood, or maybe it was innate. My late dad had the same problem. I don’t want to call it a quality, as I believe it makes one feel martyr-ish and after a life-time (a good (?) part of it anyway), I’ve realised it’s not a good idea to be a martyr as a ‘normal’ human being. None of us can carry such baggage over a lifetime. I’m afraid I have done a lot of that and these days when I cry out, yell even, I suppose it’s quite silent, I can’t understand why there’s no one there to catch me, or just listen.
A couple of days ago, whilst driving, I suddenly felt that my eyes were blurry. Being an Optometrist, albeit non-practicing, I mentally went through the causes of overnight blurred vision and continued to clean my specs. The next day, as I started driving, everything further than 6 metres from me was double. In layman’s terms, it felt like my eyes were squinting horizontally. As I looked at an object it split into 2. Thoughts of an aneurysm and a tumour went through my head. Something must be pressing on my ocular nerve – which side can it be. Something is pressing on to the back of my eye. But I have no pain. And so these thoughts flew through my mind while I quietly tried to dismiss them all and think of a simpler explanation. Of course when I discussed it with my husband, also an Optometrist but a ‘real’ practicing one, that night, he jumped to the same conclusions as me but he voiced them. He wanted to check my eyes immediately and I declined – I wanted to wait until the morning, maybe I’d just been overtired. But the next morning as I started my day and saw the oncoming traffic doubled up, I turned my car around and went straight to his office – with one eye closed. Not so good for perception and judgement of distance. Our visual cues to depth perception have to have binocular vision. After everything checked out visually, the basic pathology ruled out, he made an immediate appointment with a specialist.
Amazing what thoughts zoom through our minds while we wait for answers. It felt as though I was waiting for an axe to fall on my neck while I mentally reorganised my weekend plans. Won’t be able to attend the wedding in on Monday… have to tell B to cancel our dinner plans on Saturday evening. How am I going to tell my children? And the list went on. Finally the specialist found a gap in his busy day to check me out. And I did check out… well… kind of. No pathology, TG, which is the biggest relief after the Annus Horribilis I had last year. On a scale of 1 to 10 it ranked close to 8 1/2, where 10 is the worst of the worst. What I have to come to terms with though, is I have crossed the brink – I can’t even pretend to be middle-aged any more: When the muscles of the lens of our eyes cannot cope with accommodating to various distances any more, you know you have crossed the brink! But I know that by next week when I can have a new prescription made up with 6 Dioptres of prism added to it, I will be able to see singly and binocularly. Until then, B will have to drive us to our arrangements. Letting go of that control this weekend has almost been the biggest challenge of all.