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Eye eye

April 18, 2013

Ever had a few days where you’ve felt literally crumpled with exhaustion only to have something else pop up to bop you on the nose …

yup, this week has been what I officially now term a ‘Weeble week’, in fact I shall officially launch the hashtag #weebleweek to celebrate it.

My mother had to have an operation last week, a simple one in the scheme of things … but major to her … and instead of having it close to home, a whole raft of events conspired together to lead us to the Westfield Shopping Centre where Optical Express has its surgical centre. It happened the same day as I had to be up early talking about ‘parensioners’ on the BBC, so straight after that, still shaking slightly from nerves, I swept Granby and Hope up into the car and we set off … 2 hours later a cheerful baby, her anxious mother and a very frightened Granby arrived at the biggest shopping centre (apparently but who really cares?) in Europe. The original consultation had been in Harley Street, and I think mother had been pleased at the prospect of having something surgical done there as the name of the road signifies (or used to) all that’s top notch in medicine … what she hadn’t realised was that the surgery wouldn’t be there too. So … a bit bemused we headed up from the Upper Carpark to Lift lobby 3 and emerged blinking into the neonlit music filled world of big brands … not quite the dignified peace and quiet she’d been anticipating in preparation for surgery. We found the eye place which looked just like any high street optician downstairs and were sent to the service elevator at the back to get to the surgical area, which turned out to be very impressive once we’d got our heads around the location! Lovely staff, quiet surroundings, my little girl enjoyed her picnic (ham, yoghurt, raspberries, cheese and cold toast) and all the nurses and other patients made a huge fuss of her which kept Granby cheerful. We were doing well until the renowned surgeon made a wise crack about sharpening his knife ready for mother … she quavered at that point and it was very hard watching her head off all clad in blue scrubs with her hair scraped back into a white hat trembling from head to foot … she’s been very fortunate, and stayed away from hospitals for almost all of her 80 something years.

Hope and I headed out into the hot air conditioned shopping air of the shopping centre in a hunt for something for me to eat with instructions to be back in half an hour … not really long enough to do anything, but we pottered around … she sitting bolt upright in her pushchair waving at the people we passed. She clearly doesn’t share my loathing of places like that … she was so bright eyed and excited, I meanwhile caught sight of myself in one of the plentiful mirrors and felt myself slump … with all the radio excitement in the morning I’d totally forgotten to put on any make up or even brush my hair, my breast feeding bra made my chest look all odd and the top I was wearing really wasn’t the most flattering … I was hot and flustered and really just wanted to sink into the background and don an invisibility cloak so all the perfectly coiffed west Londoners couldn’t see me. Anyway, we found a sushi bar and I had some endemame beans and a bit of sushi and she had some tuna sandwich (not raw tuna before you wonder) and we headed back … by this time she was so happy she was dancing in her chair to the music that was echoing from every shop door way and singing along as well. Back into the service lift and up to the surgical area … we found Granby looking very tearful surrounded by nurses and being plied with cups of coffee … the operation had gone well but she was still very bleary from the sedative she’d been given. I sat and blankly listened to lovely Gloria who talked us through what felt like a million different eyedrops and the instructions on how and when to give them. Hope in the meantime chatted and chortled and continued her charm offensive.

After a few more warm drinks and another debrief we set off looking like a very odd little battle scared platoon, Hope eager and sparkling, me fretting like an old mother hen around my own mother who sporting an eyepatch was pushing Hope along in the pushchair very slowly (it gave her balance). She had one slight dizzy spell so the platoon halted til it passed. We got back to the car and loaded Granby followed by Hope followed by her push chair and random bags of medicine and the precious eye drops and headed into central London where we were to stay for the night before the follow up consultation (which was in Harley Street).

The place we were staying was great, BUT stairs… everywhere stairs … unloaded car, mother, baby … took mother and baby up to mother’s room … left baby in car seat in mother’s room, ran down to car, unpacked car, carried luggage up to mother’s room, ran down, moved car, ran back up moved luggage to my room, went back to mother, gave her eye drops, picked up baby in car seat carried it to room and slumped in arm chair … baby demanded feeding and fresh air … took baby downstairs had to hold her at same time as getting pushchair out of car … one upset baby … put her in pushchair, got as far as park … rain started… sprinted with baby in push chair back to hotel … had to carry baby in push chair up 6 stairs and then burst into lobby dripping wet with pushchair, the underneath of which (obviously bashed in trip up stairs) gave in and left nappies, wipes, a tampax, one pink baby glove and a dodgy sticky looking banana all over hotel lobby. Stuffed pushchair in corner, grabbed baby, belted up stairs across landing, down stairs into lift got to 5th floor in time to pick up phone, mother saying she needed more eyedrops and when were we going to supper… and so it went on … and on … via Harley Street in the morning and then I drove us all home and totally forgot to pay the congestion charge.

We arrived back in home after sitting in a long traffic jame and I ushered the patient in, did her eye drops (3 sets every four hours) and helped her into bed, put small person into her castle to play and sat at the kitchen table with my head spinning thinking aaaggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I still have to unload car, do washing, feed small person, cook supper, change nappies, find pyjamas, make small bed, find toothbrush in back of car where bag tipped out and so on and so fourth…

and then …

we had to go through the whole experience again yesterday with the right eye … now 3 sets of drops every four hours x two eyes, oh and an extra drop every two hours ontop of it … oh and all the drops have to be 5 minutes apart … (as our American brothers and sisters say, “do the math”).

Poor mother, slowly improving and now able to see yellow for the first time in years, she hadn’t realised she couldn’t see it properly … I guess eyes deteriorate gradually over time, great to know it’s going to offer such an improvement for her when the eye drop frenzy finally slows down.

Anyway … moral of the story is several fold:

– Hope loves shopping centres

– I hate shopping centres

– looking in the mirror is a very bad idea after this kind of week.

Final conclusion … I need a massage, a drink, a big huge sleep … and a peaceful week… oh and I must must must remember to pay the congestion charge in future.


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