The Power Of Suggestion

“Have you had a Visual Field test before?” said Sahid the cheery optometrist, as he carefully placed my giant handbag out of harm’s way. I’d ended up in his chair clutching an ophthalmology referral letter, after a conversation with a very quietly spoken young doctor about migraine aura earlier in the day seemed to have got out of hand.

“Erm, yes…I think so…is the visual field test the one with the flashing lights and you stick your head in a booth?”

“Aye, that’s the one”, said Sahid. I must warn you, though, it’s really boring…REALLY boring. Isn’t it Tracey?”

“Uh huh. It’s boring”, replied Tracey as she handed me a fetching black eye patch to cover one eye for the test. I had a fleeting impulse to say “Ah haar, shiver me timbers”, in my best pirate voice to liven things up, but I reckoned they’d have heard that one before. I concentrated instead on trying not to catapult the hearing aid at Tracey as I stretched the elastic of the pirate patch over my ears.

Next, Tracey gave the chin rest on the booth such a good going over with a disinfectant wipe, that I began to wonder who had been in previously. I placed my outstretched chin on the damp patch and we were off.

“Here’s your clicker, just press it when you see a light” said Tracey. Clicker? Ah, I was in my element now. I set about clicking with great vigour. After about twenty clicks, I realised I hadn’t had this particular test before and it seemed to be going on for a long time. I kept myself amused by aiming for the fastest response time they’d ever seen in a Visual Field test. After about forty clicks, a slight touch of boredom began to creep in right enough, and I was getting trigger happy with the clicker on the bits with no lights. I hoped this wouldn’t affect the results. I could hear Tracey sipping a cup of tea behind me and reckoned I’d be needing a tea break soon myself. Finally, the first eye was done. How LONG did that take, I thought, my train ticket home was going to be out of date if it kept up like this. I pulled the eye patch round on to the other eye and began again.

Flash. Click. Flash. Click. Flash. Click…………Click. Flash. God this WAS boring. My mind was beginning to wander to my Moussaka For One portion in the fridge at home, and the last Mr Kipling’s French Fancy (a pink one) in the cake tin. Yum. All washed down with a nice chilled glass of wine in front of MasterChef on the telly. I was losing the battle to stay in the here and now with the Visual Field test machine.

“It’s trying to wear me down”, I said to Tracey through clenched teeth, forgetting my chin had no room for manoeuvre on the chinrest. Please let it finish soon, I mouthed silently into the void. Suddenly, three loud beeps announced that my wish had been granted.

“All done”, said Tracey, “Sahid will give you the results in a minute. How did you find that?”

“Boring, really boring”, I said, thankful that it was.

8 Responses to “The Power Of Suggestion”

  1. 1 babs scott January 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Jings Moira!
    I think we might be living the same life; are you sure we aren’t twins who were separated at birth? I’ve had this done too, for migraine particularly over the right eye, and yes it was boring, painful on the old chin and you do tend to think you are seeing lights after a while. It’s a bit like the visual equivalent of the audiometry test where you have to listen for high and low beeps and begin to think you might be hearing/imagining things after a while; but are then subsequently proved not to have heard enough in the mid range (dear old cookie bite!). What was the result anyway, mine found there was nothing wrong with my peripheral vision and I still get the blinding headaches. My current (self) diagnosis is that it has something to do with fluorescent lighting and the stress of a teaching career. I also have a deep furrow between my eyebrows to show for it!

    Babs x

    • 2 moiradancer January 28, 2012 at 11:42 am

      Blimey Norah, Babs, separated at birth indeed!

      Thankfully my myopically thinned retinas are intact, but I was pretty sure they were anyway. I think the doctor must have been going down the detached retina route with the referral. I’ve always had classic migraine with aura, but in recent years I’ve started getting aura without headache, and headache without aura. The latter is the worst because you just carry on doing what you’re doing at first, thinking it’s a normal headache, and then enter a sudden state of migrainous collapse in the most inconvenient of locations. Like next to a sarcophagus in the basement of the John Soane Museum in London, for example. Mercifully I only get a couple of those a year. In the last few weeks I’ve had a handful of very transient bouts of aura in one eye only which I thought was slightly odd, but according to t’ internet that can happen with migraine. I’ve never been able to identify a trigger, so I always like to blame everything on hormones, stress and staring at the computer too long!

  2. 3 babs scott January 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I know what you mean; the mention of the word “migraine” to a GP sends him/her into a near panic induced state if you are a middle aged woman (how bad does that sound?) Mine went into a flurry of represcribing my various pills to accommodate the headaches including adding BP tablets to the mix (170/120 – should I be dead?). I find my increasing level of decreptitude somewhat unnerving since cookie bite did not come alone! What with deaf ears, blurry vision in the right eye (even wearing glasses) an arthritic spine and hip and an approaching menopause I believe I am falling to bits quicker than most. I wish the hormones would just sort themselves out and leave me alone to creak along. Luckily my migraines have never been as severe as yours seem to be, for this small relief, much thanks.

  3. 4 maureen January 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm


    I’ve not been around, having been stuck in bed, first with a virus, then the hip joints seized up! I am now limping about the place. Is this ordinary sciatica, or the autoimmune disease travelling round the body? We shall see what they think at the clinic next week.

    I had an attack of migraine once, years ago. You have my sympathies!

    How is the Bute Shack? Ours is in bits, thanks to the recent weather, and sis and her spouse are organising the roof repair man.

    Thank God for online shopping. I made one order, but subsequently lost this when I switched windows, so I made another. You’ve guessed it – double shopping on the way! I am going to enjoy stuffing my face prior to going on a diet next week.

    Hope that you are all well.


    • 5 moiradancer January 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Maureen,

      ouch, that sounds like a horrible start to the new year, I hope it does turn out to be just normal achey virusey things that will pass. Must be really worrying any time you get twinges out of the blue. How is your eye doing? I was thinking about you when I was having my eyes puffed by jets of air at the optician’s the other day…first by the machine, then by the optician when he had a sneezing fit in the middle of the test!

      We still haven’t managed to get over to Bute, every time we’ve packed our bags in between various domestic crises, the high winds have conspired to knock the ferries out, Pah! It’s the longest time we haven’t been there in five years, and I’m really missing it, but we’re going to try and get there next weekend by hook or by crook. Some pics will follow if we manage it! I’ve got a horrible feeling our wee outhouses will have been destroyed by the winds, the felt roof was hanging by a thread to start with. Hopefully the house itself will be okay, but I’m expecting to find some refugee meeces have been in there in our protracted absence.

      Enjoy your internet shopping double whammy, I think I’ll be joining you on a diet next week!


  4. 6 maureen January 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Moira,

    I think the post New Year onslaught was a normal virus, but this new thing, settling into the hip joints, could be more worrying, (e.g. a rheumatoid arthritis type clinical picture, in veiw of the underlying autoimmune vasculitis).

    I fully understood the risk of having an active autoimmune process cut into, (during the surgery), and realised that there was a risk that the autoantibodies could attack other organs and tissues, (hence the massive immunosuppression prescribed for about a year post op).

    However, it may only be a trapped nerve, causing sciatica. Either way, I am on steroids and immunosuppressants, although perhaps the consultant might advise putting the dose up again.

    Daughter number two is weeks away from sitting her Finals! She is studying very hard, and is very worried about this hip manifestation. She asked me a few logically structured questions – she really sounds and looks like a young doctor now. She wanted to know if there was any pain in my back. Not any more, I told her, although there had been, but I just ignored it and it eventually went away – just like this pain will. I told her not to worry, and that copious rest and sleep conquers all manner of ills. She, I think, will make a very good doctor, as will all of her friends, many of whom I met over Christmas.

    I will find out how the eye is at the clinic next week. So far, they have not had to repeat the surgery for the glaucoma. It all depends on the pressure reading, ( a bit like the puff of air in the eye test).

    Bute has suffered such massive damage during the storms, but I hope that your Bute shack and outhouses are relatively unscathed. My sis and her spouse have been up and down to the shack, playing Russian roulette with the frequently cancelled ferries. They accidentally left a ham joint in the (switched off) oven, but it was not smelling the place out in the way they imagined, upon their return a week or so later.

    They have suffered roof damage here in Glasgow also, but, so far, I have been lucky.

    Looking forward to the pics!

    Best wishes,

    • 7 moiradancer January 31, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Hope your appointments go okay, Maureen, you are something of a medical marvel! Your calmness never ceases to amaze me, and I’m sure it’s what keeps the vagaries of your condition under control. It sounds like your daughter is a chip off the old block with her medical leanings…you must be very proud of her, and it’s always handy having a doctor in the family 🙂

      Know what you mean about the Russian roulette ferry journeys, the spouse gets terrified of being trapped on the island on a Sunday night and not making it in to work on the Monday, but I don’t share his anxiety over that one. I wouldn’t have fancied being stranded there during the 4 day power cuts though, we’ve only got electric heating and a calor gas heater with a withered hose that we can’t use because we keep forgetting to get it fixed. We spent a New Year trapped on Arran with no electricity a few years back, and we had to stay in bed for 72 hours because it was so bloomin cold. We were forced to survive on champagne and crisps…terrible. Ahem.

      Here’s hoping the worst of the weather is over. Spring is just around the corner and I even saw some sun yesterday!

  5. 8 maureen January 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Moira,

    Many thanks for that. I hope that all is well with you – apparently Glasgow is due some even colder weather shortly!

    I agree that it would be awful to have been stuck in Bute during the recent power failure.

    Best wishes,


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