For positively the first time in my working life (36 years and counting, and looking like counting an extra year where the state pension is concerned), I have been issued with a sick note. I didn’t actually know what to do with it, other than stare blearily at it. I say ‘stare blearily’ because I have iritis in my right eye (‘not ileftis then’ – my son; ‘Why eye’ – most of the Geordies; ‘ahoy shipmate, pieces of eight, parrot, Cap’n Flint’ – the rest), which is ir(r)itating. I am typing this with one eye covered in a patch.
The cure for iritis is two strengths of eye-drop, one every two hours, one three times a day, provided there is at least fifteen minutes between them at any one time. The pharmacist suggested I draw up a schedule …
If you are temporarily living alone, then it is a truth surely universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a misfortune is in need of a wife, or indeed anyone at all, to stick the drops in. It does not help if you are short-sighted, since the first thing you have to do is remove your glasses. After that you have to find your glasses, find the bottle of eye drops (‘do not drink’, it says in the instructions), and take off the glasses again. I tried putting the glasses on sideways, and you know what? It a) looks daft and b) is no use. You have to tip your head up, and then down because the top-light blinds you, and back up, while wavering with your eyedrop bottle in one hand, positioning it just above where your eye might be, while at the same time, with a spare hand, if you have one, opening your eye to receive the soothing, stinging liquid. Supposing you don’t spill the contents of the bottle down your neck, some relief is guaranteed.
That is a big ‘supposing’.
And besides which, it is harder to do if you’ve read the instructions, which promise, as ever, a list of possible side-effects every bit as extravagant as those listed in the medical dictionary in Three Men And A Boat.
What you also realise is how much you use your eyes to do a job. Computers screens, innit? I live in fear of a John Wyndham-style outbreak of myopia, with triffids nicking what’s left of my state pension when I am, as I will have to be now, at least, 66.