The glaucoma (occasional) diaries

This is NOT going to turn into a blog about my health. There’s nothing wrong with bloggers charting their health; many are very brave and interesting people and when you have mental or physical health issues you have to get through them however works best for you. But this is my books and writing blog!

That said, last week I had very kind responses with requests for an update, so here goes. And you never know, an occasional diary of glaucomatous events may help with notes for novel four. (“Don’t forget me!” squeaks novel three.)

I have nothing but praise for the skill and kindness of the medics and nurses at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. It’s early days and I’m finding in a strange way that I’m much more preoccupied with the day to day unrolling of the treatment than with whether the eventual desirable outcome is reached (which is to retain and protect my remaining right eye vision before it goes the way of the rest).

Glaucoma fields test
This is a “fields test” on my right eye, last December. The black sections are vision lost to glaucoma. The treatment involves trying to stabilise pressure behind the eye to halt or slow any further loss.

First Dr K answered a simple question I could have asked weeks ago but didn’t dare. Turns out a “bleb” isn’t a bit of medical equipment/foreign body/object/weird plastic thing the size of a Macdonalds toy as I’d assumed. It’s a drainage flap cut directly in me. Curiously, when he explained this he was so matter of fact about it I didn’t mind at all.

Go figure –  Dr K (I’d name him in dispatches but will ask his permission at the next appointment) cut and stitched the inside of my eyelid. He had no computer guide or laser tech magic; he did it by hand. At follow up appointments he adjusts the stitches by pressing/pushing lightly on the eyelid, to alter the pressure of fluid on the eye, much as you’d adjust gathers in a curtain. I had a general anaesthetic but since that wore off I have felt no pain and minimal intrusion from the stitches.

If you’re looking for a quiet relaxing thing to do in the frenetic City of London on a midweek afternoon, you can’t beat a well judged general anaesthetic. Sure, I was a bit hungry after fasting since 7am, so while waiting to go in I’d described all the things I’d like to eat. Anticipating a post GA sore throat, I conjured up smoothies, yoghurt, jelly, juice. I asked for dried apricots and prunes – lying around all day might slow things down. I’d satisfy my energy needs with pasta salad with mozzarella, take sundried tomatoes and dark green leaves for iron, and a flapjack or cereal bar just in case. Plus grapes because after all I was a patient. I was just passing the time but in the hotel room that night I found: a bright orange smoothie and one called Blue Machine, honey yoghurt, mandarin jelly with fruit slices, apple juice, dried apricots, prunes, pasta salad with pine nuts, more pasta salad with roasted vegetables, olives, sundried tomatoes with mozzarella balls, rocket and watercress, strawberries, grapes, an oat flapjack, a cereal bar, and some camomile tea. As it turned out the anaesthetist’s skill had avoided a sore throat and I was more sleepy than hungry. Fortunately B always has an appetite, and we hope the cleaners enjoyed the things we left in the morning when we couldn’t manage them after the hotel breakfast.

Glaucoma sunglasses
Which would you choose?

The operated eye is bloodshot at levels Boris Karloff would envy, which offsets my blue irises brighter than any coloured contact lens. My glasses prescription no longer fits and I find glare difficult. A kind friend who gives a lot of parties brought round all the sunglasses people left in his house and didn’t collect, which helps, although it further complicates the issue of whether anyone has seen my glasses. I have a plastic eye shield to wear in bed in case I scratch the wound, and over the next three months over 600 doses of eyedrop, antibiotic or anti inflammatory to take. Have filled the prescriptions asap (did you hear about Brexit and the medicine shortages?)

But it’s only a week later, and I can now read several pages without tiring (Shirley Jackson, must tell you about her another time). I can report that the general anaesthetic did wonders for my back! Today is the first day back at the computer without discomfort which is just as well as I have six posts to write, for a Magic Carpet blog tour and some other commitments I made. The cure for any sad carpet is a good airing, aka publicity. The Magic Carpet is earthbound after its initial flurry. If it had sails, I’d say the wind was out of them, despite recent puffs from some excellent reviews for which I’m very grateful. So friends – if you’re nearby please visit (I’m still a bit wary of outings that might get dust and pollution in my eye). And if you can do anything to help The Magic Carpet weave its way further up the contemporary fiction charts at Amazon, I’d appreciate it as much as any bunch of grapes.


Glaucoma meds
…and that’s just one of the meds. Hooray for the NHS!

©Jessica Norrie 2019

22 thoughts on “The glaucoma (occasional) diaries

  1. Thank you Jessica for sharing about your glaucoma. I am waiting for an appointment to have glaucoma operation in both eyes. In fact I first have to have early cataracts removed before the glaucoma operation can be done. I have been quite worried but the humorous way you have been able to tell us about this sets me a little at ease. Thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting Scozan. I wish you well with your op. So far my own recovery has been excellent although I’m only now at the stage where I can visit the optician for new glasses as one’s eyesight does vary. I’m down from 17 eyedrops a day to 3, and none in the operated eye – hooray! After this experience I feel much less nervous than I did about having the left eye trabeculectomy in the spring. (Like you, I was initially advised by my local hospital to have early cataracts removed first, but when I had a second opinion at Moorfields they said it would be wasting time and was more important to get on with the trab. Obviously I don’t know your circumstances and I’m not a medic but I tell you that just for info.)

      I have found The International Glaucoma Association very helpful and supportive at the end of a phone line, much more so than online forums which tend to talk more about when things go wrong than the humdrum fact of so many going right. So I avoid them now as they frightened me. The hospitals have posters up about counselling for people with eye problems but I have never been offered any – IGA is the way to go in the UK, I think.

      Very best of luck and you are by no means alone!


  2. Thanks for this, Jessica and fingers crossed you keep your remaining vision. It struck a chord with me as around 20 years ago I lost almost all the sight in my right eye (damaged retina), leaving me dependent on keeping my one remaining eye healthy. I am known to worry about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Firstly, Thank you for the follow, Jessica and secondly if I ever need an operation on my eyes you have certainly put my mind at rest and I am the biggest scaredy-cat ever methinks…Pleased to hear you are well on the road to recovery 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I certainly think a medical novel by JN is called for. Judging by the humour you weave out of the strangeness of it all, I’d predict it would be a comedy. Not one of errors, I hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You have my sympathy, Jessica. I have just a, hopefully, straight-forward cataract op. to look forward to later in the year (when the queue shortens…) but your piece was so well-written, it should put anyone with a similar problem to yours more at ease. Do hope your eye continues to heal well. Cheers. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Believe it or not, I met someone who said she actually ENJOYED her cataract op last year – and several who talk of how much better life is afterwards. So I wish you a good one (will probably have to go down that road too at some point).


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