Monday, 12 June 2017

Why is it so difficult to get a GP appointment these days?


I did some kind of muscular damage to my lower back on the right hand side last Sunday. I have no idea how I did it or when. I planted some shrubs in the morning and in the afternoon MTM and I drove out to Aubourne Hall's garden near to Lincoln that was open to the public in aid of the Red Cross. We spent a very pleasant afternoon admiring the roses and having a cream tea. If some incident caused me to injure myself, I cannot recall it.

A vague ache in bed that night made it difficult to get comfy. I took some Anadin Extra and got off to sleep. In the afternoon on Monday, the ache came back and a little worse so I took some more painkillers and forgot about it. On Tuesday three doses were required to keep the pain away, one in the night when it was rude enough to wake me up.

By Wednesday, the painkillers were only lasting two hours before they wore off. I tried to get a GP appointment ... three weeks away on 27th June was what I was offered. Nothing sooner? I need some stronger painkillers sooner than that. The receptionist invited me to ring at 8am on Thursday for an emergency appointment.

I didn't get much sleep because I'd taken the maximum dose of painkillers during the day. Hot water bottles placed on it provided some comfort but sleep was very difficult.

I was on the phone at 8am on Thursday but the line was permanently engaged. When I finally got through, the five emergency appointments for the surgery in the village had all gone, I was offered one in a village a few miles away but MTM had gone to work so I had no way to get there. She invited me to try again at 2pm when more appointments would be released. No way to book one now or even to book me in for tomorrow. If you're "unlucky" (as she described it) with the emergency appointments, it's three weeks to see the GP.

Ok, so try again at 2pm ... I took a dose of Anadin Extra just past noon, it kicked in about an hour later and unfortunately I was fast asleep with a cold cup of tea at the time I should've rung!

I resorted to Doctor Googling to see if I could self-diagnose, I was alarmed to find the first thing that came up for lower back pain on right hand side was appendicitus! Beeping heck! When I read on, after pain starts there would be vomiting within 24 hours and the area would hurt more when pressure applied. Big X in both those boxes, plus uncommon in people my age, so ... not appendicitis ... phew!

Next thing was ligament sprain. Surely I would've noticed when I did it if it was that, sprains are usually the result of over stretching in a dramatic manner, like turning your ankle. Everyone has heard the adage a sprain can be worse than a break but I would remember and it would hurt straight away wouldn't it? I'm not sure where ligaments are round the area that's hurting, the pain seems to be just above my hip at the back. Hmmm ... not sure it's that.

Arthritis ... I'm far too young for that! How very dare you suggest it!, It would hurt more when I use it wouldn't it? I find walking around when pain is at it's worse actually makes it feel slightly better.

Kidney stones ... oooooh, that's an interesting one, that might explain why it's come on gradually. I had a work colleague tell me it's very painful but I have no problems with urinating so I counted that out.

Muscle strain? Well again I can't remember doing it but maybe i overdid it when digging one of the holes, it's on a slope so I recall struggling a bit with balance. There's no swelling that I can tell .... but due to middle aged spread and a bit of a tyre, how could I really tell ... hmm, muscle strain seems most likely.

I rationed out the rest of the day's painkillers to try and time it so I got a good night's sleep but I was still up for around 3 hours in order to not disturb MTM who is about as fed up as I am at this point. He's working from home on Friday so we go to Boots in Oakham at lunchtime after he's met a tender deadline. I explain my problem to a lovely trainee pharmacist. She sells me a pack of the strongest painkillers that are available over the counter, a mixture of codeine and paracetamol. I also buy some Voltarol to rub into the area.

I take one dose of the painkillers but they don't even last as long as the Anadin Extra so I rub in some Voltarol, all that does is smell a little and kills zero pain. I go back to the Anadin Extra. The leaflet say you shouldn't use Voltarol if taking other aspirin based medicine so that was a waste of money.

After having to get up twice on Friday night for two hours waiting for painkillers to take effect or waiting for next safe time to take a dose, I am pathologically irritable and very tired. This cannot be a pulled muscle, I've pulled muscles before, they don't hurt this much!

At 5am on Saturday morning, I google walk-in centres close to where we live. There are three close to us, one in Peterborough, one in Rutland - both are closed on Saturdays - but the one attached to Grantham hospital opens at 6.30am. I wake MTM at 6am and ask him to drive me to the walk-in centre at Grantham Hospital. It's a 20 minute drive with no traffic.

At 6.30am I try to walk into the walk-in centre. There isn't one at the hospital which is the same address for the walk-in centre I found on-line. There is an Out of Hours GP department, that must be it. I press a buzzer and make enquiries. It isn't a walk-in centre, I can only be seen if I've been referred by the non-emergency 111 NHS Direct number or A&E (which doesn't open til 8.00am). Their earliest appointment is 8.30am, the info on-line is incorrect. We may as well go home, I apologise to a yawning MTM.

111 is "experiencing unusually high demand" but I get through after a couple of attempts. I answer all the questions and get an appointment at 8.45am. Hey, a result! She advises me they might want a urine sample, if I have a clean container, it would save time if I take one with me. I have one for Missy so I use that and off we go back to the man with the buzzer who this time lets us in.

There is some mix up with the computer, the details I gave on the phone haven't come through but I'm definitely booked in. I am seen by a lovely doctor we have a chat about everything, what medications I am taking and then he examines me. Nothing to be worried about, muscular damage it will get better. Ice packs, not heat for first two weeks, avoid bending. Why does it hurt so much? He doesn't really answer that but says he will give me stronger painkillers and tells me to see my own GP if it still hurts when they're all gone. If I need to, I can also take paracetamol (up to 8 a day) or the paracetamol/codeine tablets but my beloved Anadin Extra (which has been my best friend all week) cannot be taken with this new painkiller. He doesn't want my wee sample, ungrateful or what?!

We go to a pharmacy and get the prescription filled. It's one tablet twice a day with food. Back at home (again) we have bacon butties for breakfast as a treat and I take my first dose of Naproxen at around 10am. My back has been hurting for several hours now but I wait for it to take effect. By 12.30 I'm climbing the walls. I take some paracetamol and soon after that, the pain subsides.

I'm pretty much pain free for the rest of the day, I take the second dose with my dinner in the evening and keep up with paracetamol every six hours. I have to get up once on Saturday night, fortunately I wake up at a time when it's ok for me to have more paracetamol. I order some ice packs you put in the fridge from the Internet, they will arrive on Monday. After an hour, I go back to bed, that's the best night's rest I've had for days!

On Sunday morning, the pain is back seemingly worse than ever. Geoff tells me maybe I should rest it more rather than rushing round doing jobs when the painkillers are working. The doctor didn't say anything about resting it up, just to avoid bending. I get up, have some cereal, a dose of Naproxen and some paracetamol and codeine. It takes a couple of hours to ease but I'm pain-free til dinner time. I go easier on my jobs and watch the tennis in the afternoon, congratulations to Nadal on his tenth Roland Garros win!

Just before dinner, it starts to hurt again. Big big sigh, this new stronger painkiller is no more effective than Anadin Extra. I take another dose with dinner and some paracetamol/codeine. There's a new series of Poldark starting tonight, looking forward to that. Our Sainsbury delivery has been so I get out the frozen peas, wrap it in a towel, apply to my back and wait for the pain to go. Except it doesn't this time. The pain is dulled a bit, but never goes away completely.

I fall asleep on the sofa for half an hour after the news and wake up around 11pm, the peas are warm. I put them back in the freezer in case I need to use them again. MUST remember to throw them away when the ice packs are delivered. Don't want to be eating them now they've been used medicinally!

I went to bed but couldn't sleep, the pain is back up to full strength now so I'm up and am typing this up to try to distract myself until I can take another dose of painkiller at 2am. This has taken me an hour to write so far, sorry there's so much poor-me-poor-me in it. I've tried to add a bit of humour to make it more interesting. You're a really good listener, did you know that? Only half an hour to go now so you've been a big help, thank you for trying to take my mind off it. I know I'm being such a big baby over a pulled muscle, I clearly have a very low tolerance to pain.

I could really do with some painkillers that are going to work but not a clue how to go about that as it's so impossible to get to see my GP. I suppose I just have to suffer until it gets better or the 27th June, whichever is the sooner.

Now, I wonder if my peas have refrozen?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Bottles under the recycling hammer!

Recycling Bombay Sapphire bottle into beads

I'm planning to have a smashing time today!

These Bombay Sapphire bottles have been expertly and efficiently emptied by my sister's petit ami, big thanks to my hero, Jon!

I haven't made any recycled beads for ages. Once the bottles have been broken up into shards small enough to handle in the flame, I will be turning them into beads like these I made a couple of years ago.


I may even make some earrings too!



Friday, 3 March 2017

Feeding a dog with renal problems - part 2

We went to see the vet yesterday for a medication review for our dog, Missy. We're continuing with her heart tablet which we do believe has made a difference. I've explained the difficulties of getting Missy to eat the prescription diet for dogs with renal problems. She's explained to us that Missy has 25% functionality, if we support her kidneys by feeding the prescription diet, she could have a good quality of life for several months, a year even. So it's better if she eats the prescription food which I agree with but what if that's not possible? Missy turns her nose up at it, I do keep trying to reintroduce it but so far no luck.

I felt like such a bad owner for not being able to get her to eat the prescription food, I didn't have the courage to admit for the last few days I can only get her to eat freshly cooked items such as sausages, chicken, cold haslet or fishfingers (though I had to take the breadcrumbs off at first and then she has the breadcrumbs after she's got started).

Our vet isn't a fan of home cooked recipes. We ran through the ingredients of the ones I've tried, she wanted me to omit the calcium carbonate for Missy. Her blood work indicates her calcium levels are fine; excessive calcium risks bladder stones. In the end, she's agreed if Missy rejects the prescription diet, we can't force feed her, we have to work with the hand we're dealt. She's suggested another brand of prescription food for us to try and we're picking some up tomorrow. Fingers crossed she will eat it for longer than 2-3 days!

I've described in an earlier blog entry on 21 February how I managed to feed our dog, Missy, with a home cooked low protein diet using a variety of tricks but she has started picking out the bits of meat to eat and leaving the rest. My latest deception is to put it in the food processor to make the pieces smaller so she can't selectively eat it; it still smells like mince or whatever other meat she fancies that particular day. This worked for a few more days but now she rejects anything that has rice/egg/bread/pasta in it.

She seems to crave protein, even though it's bad for her.

The way I see it is there's a choice. 
  • Keep trying to feed low protein foodstuffs and she starves to death; that's option one.
  • Feed her anything that she will eat, even if it's protein and bad for her and then her kidneys pack up at some point in the future. That's option two.
  • Option three is to give up and euthanise.
Bit of a Hobson's Choice. I don't like any of them. As the least awful of a bad bunch, I'm going for option two while she still has a quality of life. 

With sausages. I have to vary the brands every day or two, she will just stop eating a particular brand. It's like she thinks to herself "oh, I had that yesterday and it made me feel poorly so I'm not having that again". She takes a really good sniff at it and if it smells like something that made her feel poorly, she rejects it. She does seem to forget over the course of time so something that she rejects time and time again on the trot, doesn't mean she won't eat it again several days later.

The key to her eating is to just get her started, once she has taken a first mouthful, she will eat quite a bit. Sometimes, a mouthful of food I've freshly cooked for her will get her started, sometimes I have to try something else even more tempting and go back to the main food item.

I have had quite a bit of luck with small pieces of Hobnob biscuits and then give her something else. Sometimes when she was eating the low protein food, I could get her going with cold sausage roll and then she would eat the main meal. Sometimes I have to try lots of different things before she got started. Sometimes I have to thrown whole meals away (or have them in sandwiches cold myself).

Who knows, she may even go back on the prescription food and/or low protein diets, I will keep trying.

Most days I'm constantly cooking and washing up the grill pan and food processor pretty much all morning. As a consequence, I'm not getting much work done. It's too cold for her to join me in the shed when I'm beadmaking but I don't like to leave her on her own in the house. Her diet is so varied and her mealtimes can be any time I can get her to feed, she's not as predictable as she used to  be about when she needs to go out. Sometimes she needs to go quite suddenly, bless her. When MTM is working from home, he can keep an eye on her and I maybe get a couple of hours in my studio beadmaking. Fortunately, MTM earns enough for both of us so I'm really just dedicating the vast majority of my time to the care of Missy, my business can wait for the time being.

We have good days and bad days. She's better when it's sunny and both of us can walk her together. She seems to really enjoy the whole "pack" going out and about patrolling the village. Rides in the car if we're going somewhere perk her up as well so we take her even if it's just popping to a shop in town. She spends the evenings with us on the sofa, her head in one of laps enjoying being stroked. When either or both of us are working in the study on our computers, she will take the stairs one at a time to be with us. If I hear her starting up the stairs, I go down and carry her up as it tires her out. Sometimes she wants to get on my lap while I type, other times she settles down on the study futon under one of my crocheted blankets.



Here's what she's doing right now whilst I'm typing this blog entry!

She still keeps an eye out for the postman every morning so she can give him a hard time for daring to come to the door. I have noticed her bark has lost quite a bit of its power, it's like half as loud as it used to be, bless her.

We had a lovely day on Wednesday, MTM was working from home and I got two good meals into her. Her afternoon walk with her daddy was a real treat because the sun was out and she walked part way with Archie, a gorgeous springer spaniel owned by another couple in the village. Archie and Missy are great friends, it's the one dog in the village she really enjoys socialising with. She can be very stand-offish with many other dogs but Archie is her favourite. It gave her (and us) such a lift, her owners invited us to take Missy round any time we liked if we thought it would help her. Aren't they lovely?!

One cloudy, overcast day last week when rain was constantly threatening, we were halfway round quite a short walk, she was getting slower and slower, I'm patient with her and just let her sniff at the ground til she's ready to move on but at one point, she just sat down and looked round bewildered. I couldn't cajole her into going any further. Her look said "I'm too tired, I used to be able to do this but today I can't". It was upsetting for both of us, I picked her up and walked on.

Missy has the same colouring as a Doberman and as she's quite a little dog, people often mistake her for a Doby puppy. Because I was carrying her, I think people thought she was waiting for her injections before she could go on the ground. An elderly lady smiled at me, I smiled back, a couple of other people too. When we got to the play area, some kids on the swings came running over. They asked me if they could stroke her. I knelt down "One at a time so you don't overwhelm her". They took turns petting her, Missy enjoyed the attention and even took some dried chicken strip treats from them. I didn't have the heart to tell them "Actually, she's not a puppy, I think she's dying". I walked the rest of the way home sobbing with Missy licking my face, making my glasses go all blurry. 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Finished crocheted temperature blanket and cushion


My granny stripes temperature blanket is finished. It has taken me a while! 1 January's row is at the bottom of the bed with 31 October just tucked in under the pillows.

The main reason for the delay was it was just big enough for my double bed when we needed a blanket on top of our quilt at the end of October 2016. If I added November and December's daily temperatures, it would be too long for my double bed because of the wooden footboard.

Originally, it wasn't ever going to go on my double bed, the size was determined by my calculations of fitting over a single bed (and quilt) with generous overspills on both sides and the bottom going virtually down to the floor. However, the refurbishments we planned last year didn't get done and so I still don't have any single beds in the house yet. Scaffolding is going up very soon for that, internal plaster removal of two upstairs rooms will begin once the external wall rendering is sorted so maybe NEXT year I will have some guest accommodation and a single bed to put such a blanket upon!

In December, wondering how I was going to finish it all off and get in two more months of temperature rows, I had a sudden brainwave to make a separate cushion incorporating the final two months of the year. Hence it is done in the cooler colours but it ties the bottom of the blanket in rather nicely, I think!

The photograph shows it on the bed just over the mattress and pillows, when the quilt is on, it JUST covers the edge of the quilt with a few inches to tuck in top and bottom.



For the border, I did groups of 3 tr (UK terminology) in each "holey bit" for the first row, then a row of dcs, another row of tr and for the final scalloped edge, I worked 7 tr inbetween two sts, skip 3 sts, 1 dc inbetween next 2 sts, repeated all round with more in the corners.  I used colours that corresponded and related to the rows, changing them as and when I fancied it according to whether the temperature was going up (or down!)

There's more about the concept of the temperature blanket, the pattern and colours I used, in some earlier blog enties:

6 January, 2016
16 January, 2016

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Feeding a dog with renal problems


Three different doggy meals, all destined for the bin.

Missy has been doing pretty well up to today, she's been taking up a lot of my time cooking and feeding her but I really don't mind that. She was even starting to feel a little heavier when I lift her onto the bed (bless her, she still hasn't got the hang of using the useless pouffe).

Initially we got two different types of renal food from the vet. From day one, she wouldn't eat the wet pouch type food but for three days, she could be persuaded to eat the dried version, provided I rolled it around a bit in a few slices of cooked chicken.

Chicken is too high in protein to be fed on its own to a dog with renal problems so we were really pleased to be getting quite a bit of the dried food into her. With it being so low in protein, it doesn't overload her kidneys.

On day four, she won't eat the dried renal food. I tried rolling it in scrambled eggs, pressing slivers of cheese into it, wetting it with water, wetting it with chicken stock, covering it in gravy. Nothing worked, except she would still eat the chicken - but only its own. Finally I scrabbled around in the cupboard to find the lowest protein pouch food I could find. When her appetite first started getting iffy, we bought loads of different brands to try to get her to eat. I am not exaggerating when I say my cupboards have more dog food in them than human foods, they're even spilling out onto the work surfaces. There is no food we won't buy if we think she would eat it.

Encore in jelly food is relatively low in protein, quite a high percentage is just moisture from the jelly and mixing the dried renal food in that worked quite nicely.

On day five she wouldn't eat Encore in jelly or the dried renal food. I turned to the internet for low protein dog food recipes and found this homemade one which is cooked mince, hard boiled eggs, cooked rice and breadcrumbs, the recipe recommends a chemical to be added to it too, I didn't have it so I missed that off. I remember when Guinness was ill with kidney and liver problems, our vet told me all of these foods were fine for dogs with renal failure to have. So I cooked a big batch up with high hopes and Missy loved it, she was even making her cute little equivalent of "nom nom" noises which she used to do when eating her favourite foods. I was so glad.

The next day, she had it again but then, nope, don't want that any more. Encore in jelly came to the rescue again when I mixed the home made food half and half. For a couple more days all was well but today nothing is working.

This morning I have made up my own recipe of mashed potatoes with a small quantity of cheese grated into it and then mixed it with canned tuna. This is the type of food she would've thought was brilliant before she got ill, she had a mouthful or two and now she just resolutely turns her head away when I try to give it to her.

She wouldn't even eat chicken. I tried cooking some fresh to see if the smell of would get her appetite going and it did but but that is all she has had today (some this morning and another freshly cooked one this evening) along with a couple of dried venison treat sticks, these are both high protein foods and so neither are good for her kidneys.

I was daring to hope we could stabilise her with a low protein diet and she would be OK but on days like today, when all she wants to eat is protein, I feel very close to losing her. She's next to me now on the sofa, her head on my lap. I stroke her side trying to imbue my hands with healing powers, bathing her kidneys in rejuvenating light. Please be well, Missy.

EDITED 3 MARCH WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Since writing the above, I have looked at many, many different low protein home cooked diets on-line. What most have in common is to dilute the amount of protein (meat) with other items such as grains, pasta, vegetables, eggs and small amounts of liver and kidney.

With Missy I have had success by varying the recipe I linked to above by replacing beef mince with pork mince, including 2-3 oz of cooked liver and substituting cooked macaroni for the rice.

I have acquired some calcium carbonate which some recipes recommend, however I wanted to ask the vet about it so I waited til we went to see her on 2 March. She said Missy's blood work showed her calcium levels were fine and she would get calcium from the meat in the home made recipe. Adding more calcium risked bladder stones so she wouldn't recommend its inclusion; I'm glad I went with my instincts on that one and omitted it.

Link to Feeding a dog with renal problems - part 2

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Rare lampwork rainbow spankle set

It's quite rare for me to have a set of rainbow spankle beads available in my Etsy shop as I don't always have all the colours in stock. I just listed them for sale so if you want them, better grab them quick, they usually go pretty quick when I do!

Better news on Missy, our dog. Following diagnosis and her new tablet, her appetite and energy levels are much improved. She still likes to spend alot of time on her bed by the radiator but I think that's also because the weather is so cold. She's always been a fair weather dog so I think when the temperature improves, she will be out on her garden cushion again keeping me company when I'm making beads in my shed!


She's been with me this afternoon whilst I was sowing seeds in the greenhouse for a couple of hours. The sun was warming us up through the glass and bubble wrap insulation. The weather was so bad on Sunday here (sleety rain all morning, cloudy coldness in the afternoon), I did some work so I could play hooky on a day when the weather was nicer and today was the day! All the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are sown as well as some annual bedding plants. My propagator is full, lots of others waiting to be sown as and when they germinate. Missy and I are really looking forward to the Spring gettting going properly. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Diagnosis and treatment

We have a plan for Missy's treatment with the vet. Her kidneys aren't working as they should, they aren't processing protein very well. She's going onto a heart tablet which will increase the blood flow to the kidneys to help them be more efficient. Hopefully that will improve her appetite. She's also going onto a special diet food (if we can get her to eat it) to ease the load on her kidneys.

She's coming off the propalin syrup which she has been taking since the summer for occasional incontinence. The increased blood flow will help with that too but if it doesn't, it's easily managed with protective bedding and lots of washing machine action. I don't mind that in the slightest.

We lost our previous dog, Guinness, to kidney disease. After diagnosis, we had him with us for another five months with a reasonable quality of life. Treatments and diets are better now than they were in Guinness's day. There is another urine test we could do to tell us how advanced the disease is but with her present symptoms, that wouldn't affect her treatment so we've decided we'd rather not know.

Those are the practicalities, MTM will pick up the tablets and new food today. I can write this in a matter of fact manner but underneath, everyone who has ever loved and lost a much loved pet will know exactly how we are feeling right now.

She has good days and we will be making the most of them with her for as long as we can.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The useless pouffe


Missy, our little Manchester Terrier is getting on a bit now. She's a grand old lady of eleven and a half, that's close to 80 in doggy years. In the last few months she's found it harder to jump up onto the sofa as she used to. Her "spring" has gone a bit. She hasn't been able to get into the car unaided for some time, so we've been lifting her up onto the seat whenever we have to go anywhere.

To avoid her hurting herself by falling back down when her jump up goes a bit wrong in the house we bought this pouffe and placed it inbetween the chair where she quite often settles down when she's on her own and the sofa where she joins me if I'm in the lounge. We've shown her how to get up onto it encouraging her up and down it with treats. Does she use it?  Of course not!

Even though we've shown her the way, she still struggles up on her own, if I notice her about to jump, I lift her up onto the pouffe by way of further encouragement but she still isn't getting it, bless her.


At the same time as we got the useless pouffe, we realised she was also struggling with getting back up onto the last step down onto the grass, it's a little higher than the ones further up so we bought a non-slip outdoor ramp (which can also be used for the car - it folds up). Does she use it? Of course not!


We've got this lovely safe, stable, smart black ramp especially designed to make it easy for her. Again with the training and treats ... but she was still bewildered and struggling. So alongside the ramp, we've piled up these tatty old paving and coping stones which were waiting for us to hire a skip to thrown them out. Does she use it? Of course she does!

The last couple of weeks her health has been declining in other more worrying ways. When she had her jabs last year the vet detected a slight heart murmur. It wasn't necesarry to treat it as she wasn't symptomatic. But lately, her appetite has been very hit and miss, last week she was vomiting and she wasn't keen to go out on her walks. The most alarming day was Wednesday when she coughed up some blood.

The vet has taken some blood and sent it off for testing, yesterday we took a sample of urine in. We should have all the results back on Monday.

In the meantime, the pouffe is being used as a footstool and we're hoping whatever is wrong is something that's easily fixable perhaps with tablets. Would anyone reading this please send positive thoughts and prayers for Missy to have a happy outcome. We don't want to lose her just yet.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Two eyes good, one eye bad

When I went for an eye check up about three years ago, the optician showed me the photo they take of the back of your eyes and pointed out an area of the macula on my right eye. Whilst it wasn't causing any problems at that time, we needed to monitor it so annual eye appointments were recommended; the importance of keeping them was stressed.

I assumed it was age related maculata like my mum has and hoped it would be many years before it started to affect my sight.

I also developed a PVD in that eye a while ago which I wrote about here, it manifests itself as an oval transparent, colourless outline which i can see floating about. I only really notice it in very bright light conditions and it doesn't interfere with my sight. They're very common but having a PVD makes me more prone to a retinal tear - a far more serious eye condition, I have a list of symptoms to look out for.

Just before Christmas I noticed I wasn't seeing nearly so well out of my right eye and it seemed quite sudden but I had none of the other alarming symptoms. I rang the optician, at first he wanted me to come in right away but after I told him I thought I just needed another prescription and discussed what I was experiencing, he agreed I could leave it a few days.

Yesterday he put some tropicamide eye drops in. This dilates the pupils so he can see inside my eyes more easily. You're not allowed to drive as it makes everything seem very bright and blurs your vision for a few hours so MTM accompanied me. It takes half an hour for the drops to take effect, we went for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake to pass the time. With the size of my pupils, I joked the staff would think I was on drugs but without any of the pleasanter effects.

The good news: no retinal tear. As a bonus, there's absolutely no age related macular degeneration in either eye. So what were we (pardon the pun) keeping our eye on?

The bad news: an epiretinal membrane which started to grow over my right eye has now stopped growing and was crinkling up as it shrunk. "It looks like a piece of cling film" is how he described it. Apparently it's just bad luck if you get one and can happen at any age.

If I look at straight lines through my right eye, they don't look straight any more, there's a little blurry curved downward jog in each line. So I have been referred to to see a specialist eye consultant at Leicester Royal. As it's slap bang in the middle of my eye and significantly affecting how I see through that eye, the optician thinks the Consultant will recommend an operation to remove it.

Apparently an appointment will arrive through the post. In the meantime, if I need to see anything very clearly, I'm just shutting my right eye .... if you notice me winking at you, it's nothing personal!