Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Whenever a tower of stacking cups comes crashing down, whenever Samuel falls over, and whenever anything unexpected or scary happens, me and James shout 'Boom!' in a comedy fashion.

I suppose it's because we want Samuel to know that even though things may happen out of the blue, you can still deal with them without bawling. Well, over the past week we've had a 'Boom!' of our own.

Things had been going so well. I remember looking at my 'to-do' list last Tuesday morning and the only thing written on there was 'buy replacement rubber ducks'. I won't elaborate on why replacements were required, but I figured that if that was the most difficult task of my day, then life as a mum had to be getting easier. Then on Wednesday I took Samuel to James's office for a visit and it was lovely. James was beaming - he looked so happy and so proud to be showing off the boy. As the three of us squeezed into a work shower cubicle for a nappy change we giggled at the absurdity of the situation and I remember thinking, 'Cor, life is good.'

Samuel and I headed home and later that day I got a call from James. He told me that his vision had suddenly deteriorated in his right eye so he'd gone to hospital. He discovered that he had a detached retina - something that can just happen randomly if you're very shortsighted - and he needed an operation as soon as possible or he would certainly lose all vision in that eye. Boom! But the operation came with no guarantees and many risks. It might not work and he might lose his vision anyway. It would be a while before we'd know the results. Boom! All this came in the shadow of the fact that he only has extremely limited sight in his other eye due to another detached retina after a sports injury as a child. So, you know. Boom!

We knew that I couldn't join him at the hospital and I felt terrible about it. There was just no way I could take Samuel to Moorfields in the evening. He'd have gone berserk - and I suspect that we would have too. But nobody should ever have to come out of an operation blind, vulnerable and alone. I sent a taxi to collect him and I helped him up the stairs and into bed.

And bed is where he's had to stay ever since. You see, the operation involved inserting a gas bubble into his eye which pushes the retina back to where it needs to be and acts as a splint. In order to keep the bubble in exactly the right place, James has to lie on his left side for a week. He's allowed to get up for five minutes in every hour, but that's it. From what I can tell, it's a combination of tedium and terror. He can't see and he can't know what the future holds yet, but he has all the time in the world to dwell on the numerous 'what ifs'. He's handling it all incredibly, though. He's calm and he's dignified and he's funny.

The worst thing, he says, is that he can't see Samuel. He can't see him trying desperately to toddle around. He can't see his comedic look of confusion as he tries so hard to crawl forwards but only manages to go back. What's more, he can't go near him for fear of a flailing little limb causing even more damage to his eye. It's heartbreaking.

But Samuel is lightening the mood. He interrupts serious conversations with well-timed farts. He laughs like a donkey for no apparent reason and then blows raspberries at his dad from across the room.

We're a few days down the line now and James's sight does seem to be coming back, if incredibly slowly. It's just colours and shapes that look like they're being viewed through a fish bowl, but each day they seem to become more defined. I'm extremely optimistic. I know he'll be able to see again soon. I know it won't be long before he'll be able to read this post himself and see how fiercely I love him.

So yes. There's been a 'Boom!'. Things came crashing down. It's been unexpected and scary. But we'll deal with it. 

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