Ey Up Blog Beans,
My it has been a while since we spoke! My fault entirely, between the on-going Horizon Tour and moving house, my ability to access the internet has been somewhat hindered…thankfully the BT install people came day before last…WOOHOO.
Although thank you kindly to all those friends, family and free Wi-Fi hotspots that let me scab some web time during that difficult dry period… I mean, what did we do before the internet?! All I know is that the lack of it has meant I’ve actually had to talk to Rob these past few weeks…never has someone been more thankful to be connected to the world wide wonder :p
Anyways, how have you been? I’ve been pretty manic really. The tour is going great and hopefully will continue to do so, I’ll endeavour to give you a full update on all things tour soon but I’m going to hijack today’s post to tell you about a very special gig that I’m doing next week (20/4/12)
I’ll be honest with you from the start, this post is a plea to those of you within travelling distance of the Robert Ludlam Theatre in Derby to please come along and support next week’s gig because it is all in aid of a wonderful charity called LOOK.
Now I don’t want to sound like Bono, but just to let you know (in case you haven’t come across them before) that LOOK are a charity that work with young people who are living with visual impairment, offering them and their families support to try and build a better and brighter future.
Their website is here if you would like to have a nosey http://www.look-uk.org/
Why am I asking you to support this charity? Apart from the fact that this is an extremely worthy cause, LOOK change and shape the lives of so many young people helping them interact and integrate with the sighted world in a really positive and dynamic way…
…But on a personal level
I am guessing that some of you, in particular you local peeps may have seen in the paper or heard me on the radio talking about losing the sight in my left eye in 2009. Amazingly, when LOOK approached me to headline their evening of fundraising they had no idea about my own personal experience of sight loss…which is quite a coinkydink don’t you agree?
Now I know the rules, you can’t say ‘I went blind in one eye’ and then not proceed to tell the story…it’s like saying ‘I know something you don’t know’ which is the single most annoying phrase in the universe! hehe
I will start by saying that I was and am extremely lucky, after lots of tests to determine what the problem was (retro bulbar optic neuritis to be precise). It turned out to be a condition where after time your sight comes back as quickly as it was lost. In simple terms it is an inflammation in the optic nerve – and when that inflammation goes away, your sight comes back. I just didn’t want you to be reading the rest of this worrying that I was still struggling with my sight…at this moment in time and ‘touch wood’ for many moments in time to come I have my full sight and there are no problems.
So anyway, the full story:
I’m going to sound right daft now, but I hadn’t noticed anything was wrong with my vision, I’d just been pootling along with my day. Then in the evening I was getting dolled up to go out with friends and when I closed my right eye to put my eyeliner on I noticed that there was this dark band right across the middle of my left eye’s vision. I stood in front of the mirror, trying to blink away what I presumed was some stray mascara or something, but to no avail. I resolved that maybe I was tired, or that it really was mascara that was just being stubborn…Looking back I don’t know why I was quite so calm about it, I guess I just thought that it might go away and that there was no point worrying about it till the morning.
In the morning the grey band was a bit wider, so I rang the opticians and got an appointment for mid-morning…I rang my mum up, told her what was happening and not to worry, but she’s a mum and mums’ always worry (although admittedly she was right to in this case) and we went to the opticians together. The optician did his thing and found that there was nothing physically wrong with my eye so he referred me to see a specialist and told me if it got worse to come back or go straight to a+e. I remember he was a very handsome optician 😉 hehe
Over the next 24 hours my sight got worse and worse and I ended up going to a+e; by that point my sight had decreased so much that there was only a very small crescent or clear vision in the top left corner of my sight. I spent the whole day there being examined, my sight getting increasingly worse until there was just the smallest sliver of vision left…I was silently freaking out; thinking that if it keeps getting worse then something must be happening…something that could be irreversible if we don’t get help soon. But the doctors sent me away saying that they weren’t sure what was happening but if I didn’t feel sick (i.e.: I thankfully was not suffering from a brain haemorrhage) then there was nothing that they could do to help at that time and I would be best to wait for my specialist appointment which wasn’t due to come through for 2-3 weeks
Looking back at that initial diagnosis of ‘DON’T PANIC MR MANNERING’, they were right. But I do really wish that one of them had taken the time to explain that, I was truly scared that this could be permanent or a sign of something much worse happening. And that sort of worrying is rare for me…I am very much a glass half full person (or at least that’s what my family tell me)
Whilst this trip to a+e was going on, I should have been travelling to perform at a house concert for the lovely Dave and Sheena Henderson of Leicestershire. I rang them to tell them what was happening and they told me to stay at home…I said, ‘I’ll only be moping about, I’m coming if you don’t mind me being a bit late’
I arrived to painted signs saying ‘get better soon Lucy’ and ‘thank you’ which was just so lovely, made me feel a gazillion times better than sitting at home thinking about things would have done. It had been quite a scary couple of days and I just wanted to not have to think about whether my sight would ever come back, for the 45 minutes of the set anyway.
The gig was a blast…although my new found lack of left eye did confuse me greatly when glancing down at my guitar when changing chords and not actually being able to see the fret board (it was during Julia if my memory serves me correctly)… it meant craning my head to use my right eye…which wasn’t a great hardship, but I just really vividly remember the moment and thinking ‘well, this is different’
I dunno if you guys believe in fate or that kind of thing but going to that gig was actually the beginning of me finally getting some answers as to what the Jeff was happening to me. It turns out that Leicester Royal Infirmary have a specialist – walk in – eye a+e that I would have never have known about if it wasn’t for making a point of going to this gig and meeting folks of Leicester who had used this amazing service.
The next morning off we went, and it was such a relief, the minute I started to describe my symptoms the specialist nurses already had ideas of what could be wrong and began ordering all the relevant tests. I was there all day, right until all the doctors bar the one dealing with me had gone home (it was a Sunday, so the fact the unit was even open was brilliant). By the end of that day they had decided it was some form of optic neuritis and that if I wanted they could start me on steroids as this can help calm an inflammation in the eye and optic nerve and get your sight back quicker ( although no guarantees that it will come back any quicker than it would naturally)
I opted against drugs…I’m not a fan at the best of times and when they couldn’t say that it would definitely make a difference I voted for go home and let nature do its thing. I did have to go back for all sorts of tests and scans in the months that followed, but really…all the interesting stuff happenned in those few days 🙂
And so to wrap up this tale: I was without my sight for a total of 3 months; mostly I just found it really disorientating. When I had both of my eyes open it felt like double vision, my mum actually made me an array of groovy eye patches so that I could at least get on with day to day stuff. A leopard print one, a sparkly one, one with hearts…one for every occasion 😀
The biggest thing it affected at the time was that it stopped me from driving. Despite the fact that when I was wearing the patch I could see perfectly clearly out of my right eye, it just wasn’t worth the risk in my opinion. I truly am so jammy though, this happened to me before I had to keep up with a busy tour schedule. Although I know that if it did happen again I would cope…cos you just do don’t you 🙂 but it definitely was a blessing that it happened when it did.
And so to the lasting effects…the thing that frustrates me most about this whole situation is that I can no longer donate blood, and I haven’t fully checked it out, although I guess that means that my organs won’t be useful to anyone but me now either; which is rubbish! I guess I am going to have to do other things to be helpful in my life time 🙂 Annnnd as for any threat of it happening again…well there just aint no use worrying about that unless it happens eh?
So there you go, there is the whole story. I am not looking for sympathy and if this gig hadn’t of come randomly out of the blue I don’t think I would have had any need to tell you guys. I’m not ashamed of it; it just wouldn’t have come up. I wanted to tell you it all so you would know how close this cause is to my heart and who knows maybe you have experienced something similar and…
If you can make it to the Robert Ludlam Theatre on 20th April it will be lovely to meet you and you will be helping an amazing charity. The kids who LOOK provide help for, well most of them aren’t as lucky as I have been and are facing living with visual impairment for the rest of their lives.
Bono moment again, but please just take a minute to think how much not being able to see would affect your life.
The tickets are £20…and before you say ‘cor blimey that’s a lot’, this is a fundraiser and the price of your ticket will be genuinely go a long way in helping LOOK keep up the sensational work they do.
oooo alos, it isn’t just an evening of me larking about you will also be treated to the delights of Annie Mooney, Shannon Walker and Andrew Coleman so all in all it should be a really good evening 🙂
I’ll hope to see you there and if not, I’ll see you soon : )
Hope you’re having a brill weekend (I’m babysitting my sister’s dog and at some point I’ve got to paint my kitchen cupboards teal!)
Ciao for now