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There are so many things for us to sort out: bank accounts, house buying, paying French bills, social security numbers (you can’t do anything in Ireland without a social security number) but also, just to add to it, we need Irish driving licences because Ireland will no longer accept a UK driving licence because of Brexit! Add the pandemic into the mix, with half of the institutions you have to go to shut and it’s a joy. But, as someone said to us ‘you do like a big move don’t you?

And why not! Keeps us entertained 😂

Now since living in France, despite trying to get a social security number for five years I was never successful. We’re not the kind of folks who go to the doctor at the drop of a hat so no worries there, but due to the bureaucracy and lack of resources I was not able to get a referral to an eye consultant for the Glaucoma that I had developed at thirty-eight. Neither did I go to the opticians, because you can’t just go to the opticians in France you need a referral and two other hoops to jump through, so I gave up! I would also add to that how I kidded myself that because I was no longer staring at a computer twelve hours a day the Glaucoma had miraculously disappeared. The stories we tell ourselves sometimes!

So on arrival in Ireland the first thing I did was book an opticians appointment for us both. I had promised a lovely client of mine that I would, and she was very dear to me so I needed to keep my word. Also because we needed a report to enable us to get our licences, and the fact that my glasses were now nearly six years old, and I am officially myopic, the opticians appointments were my priority.

On arrival I was seen first. I knew I was in trouble when I could hardly see any of the field of vision test in my left eye. I had the photos of the back of my eye taken as well and halfway through my test the lovely optician informed my pressures were so high she was worried I was going to have ‘a bleed’ and that she was sending me as an emergency referral to the eye clinic there and then. Thank God they speak English, thank God we moved here when we did! She also explained that she believed I had already had a small bleed, that would not have necessarily affected my vision, but given that my pressures were dangerously high I need to go, and I need to go now. In addition she couldn’t sign off my form for my driving licence, something I had always feared since my initial diagnosis, that would no longer have the freedom that driving gave me.

Poor RD his appointment was cancelled and he had to drive like the wind to the hospital in the next county Sligo. On the way he was very quiet and confessed that he was really worried about me. I however was very calm, and explained to him that we could look at the drama, and the negative possibilities, and thereby build it up into a crises or, as I was seeing it, we could see our good fortune: that out of all of the things I had to organise ‘life’ had told me to book the opticians appointment first. That we had now moved to Ireland just in time, as it appeared, to save my eyesight; and that I was now in a country where I could speak the language (never under-estimate that). I actually saw myself as blessed.

When I explained it to him, RD commented that he hadn’t thought of it that way, and now looking at it that way his stresses were less.

On arrival at the hospital, after going through two road checks to ensure our journey was essential, off I went into the hospital. They were absolutely brilliant, no questions as to why I had let my glaucoma get out of hand, no judgement, in fact a lot of understanding. We were where we were, judgement was not going to help.

I was dispatched three and a half hours later with eye drops that make your eyelashes grow (always a half full girl) and we set off in the dark January night for our three hour journey home through the mountains. At this point I will introduce my other blessing that day: RD. He waited in the cold for three hours, walking the puppies who we had thought we could take for a walk around Donegal town, and had brought with us. There were no facilities in this pandemic time for him to even buy a coffee, luckily I brought him one out from the little coffee shop in the hospital, that I passed on my way out. He then drove home in the pitch black, a total of six hours driving that day, with never a word of complaint.

The following week we went back to complete our eye tests. I had religiously applied my drops every day, and I had never allowed my brain to wonder ‘what if?’ I know that what will be, will be, and negative thoughts can bring negative things your way, so I have strong enough processes now to stop my brain going down that road. By the end of the test my eyes had improved sufficiently for my form to get my licence to be signed off. When I asked the young optician (everyone’s young to me now!) if my pressures and eyesight had improved, or was that wishful thinking, he said he thought it was wishful thinking but would check anyway. In fact my field of vision had improved dramatically, my prescription has also reduced and my pressures had gone from dangerously high to within normal parameters, in a week! Even he was shocked. I wasn’t, I was just grateful.

Rosie