There is a stand up routine by Sean Lock where he recounts being told off for swearing by belligerent airport staff. His exasperated reply finishes with "This is exactly the sort of occasion swearing was f***ing invented for!"
Excuse me a moment...
a$%e!... &u$%&!!... (%d%*!!!.... %^&*!! f&*^:~!!.... *()&*&^$%$"!!!!!!
There - out of my system...
No, wait, hang on...
There. Feel a bit better, now.
I went to see an orthoptist about my doublevision, nystagmus, intranuclear opthalmoplegia and oscillopsia the other day.
I spent about an hour undergoing various tests. I followed a torch with my eyes. I had various lenses passed in front of each of my eyes and I had to say when the image became double and single. I pointed at dots with a long stick (and missed). I looked at various patterns to find the hidden 3D shape and of course I read the all too familiar eye chart.
Things I didn't know before: I also have doublevision looking up to the right and my left eye doesn't pull in towards the nose as much as it should do.
I have been looking forward to my doublevision being sorted for the last year and a half. As I mentioned in my last post, this is the one constant symptom, the one that doesn't fade away and then come crashing back. The symptom that is constantly breathing down my shoulder reminding me I have MS and it is the symptom that spurred me on into visiting the GP in the first place.
It is also (as I screw up one eye to look at you) a symptom that makes me feel dizzy, tires me out, drags me down and makes me look like a weirdo. I was convinced that the magical people in the eye department of my local hospital would be able to build me prism lensed spectacles to straighten things out for me. Not to wear all the time, you understand, just when I'm at work, or in a meeting, or driving my car, or walking along the street. I'm not asking for much really. Just some semblance of normality.
"Sorry, there's nothing we can do..."
Apparently, they can't (or won't) correct doublevision unless it occurs in the primary position (straight ahead). Also, my eyesight is pretty good - I can read most of the bottom line on the eye chart and if I did have glasses, they would have to be plain glass and the prism lens would blur things a bit for me.
So there I was watching the orthoptist as he moved his head left and right to demonstrate how you look left and right.
Yes, I should be grateful for the fact that I can see, and yes, I should be grateful for the fact that I can see pretty well and yes, it could be a whole lot worse - a hell of a lot worse. I could have been maimed in an accident, I know. But days like this remind me that MS is a complete an utter uncurable bastard. Things will never be the same. I will never be able to look around with my eyes travelling the same speed again. I will never be able to look left and see a single image. I will never be able to look right and keep my eyes perfectly still. I will never be able to read a book without it tiring me out. Things will never be how they used to be.
So when someone tells you there is nothing they can do, that little ember of hope at the back of the hearth that you thought might be coaxed back to life with some newspaper and a bit of careful blowing, is snuffed out with a gallon of water.
And what makes it all so much worse is that I will probably look back on this day and think how lucky I was back then compared to how I am 'now'.
Doublevision is one of those symptoms that can come and go in Relapsing Remitting MS, but I'm pretty sure that after a year and a half we're not just talking about demyelination on the nerve controlling eye movement. I think there's been some permanent damage.
I have an appointment with an opthalmologist in a couple of weeks and they want to look at the back of my eyes and document the "state of things" I guess. They will probably also want to patronise me by telling me stuff I already know about nerve damage and so on.
So, having taken the knock and bottling up all the crestfallen feelings I'm back to the bustle of the hospital lobby. Past the people in Costa coffee. Skirting the guy with the mop and the couple with the walking frames. Through the automatic doors, past the A & E entrance, then the maternity wing with a handful of expectant mothers in dressing gowns, fags in hands.
Back to the car...
Negotiating the one-way system through the car parks...
Waiting for the ambulance to go past...
out onto the main road...
Whack the stereo on full blast to take my mind off things as I head back to town...
The music starts: "There's no escaping from / the man it seems that I've become..." *
... The grief.
* test your music trivia - identify the track and you may or (more likely) may not win a prize (not decided yet, but nothing big).