How much coke is bad for me? Part two: I was blinded by gak
Remember Dr Mona Moore's good advice? Yeah, well I wish I'd heard it before last week. Up until then all the bets were on masturbation being the first to make me go blind, but cocaine has unexpectedly sped in there at the last minute to claim the medal for the Most Blinding Expression of Self-Hate In My Life. A year or two ago I stopped doing coke and have been thoroughly enjoying my new position of smugly riding a high horse around those chained to toilet cubicle pillory. Then the summer arrived, and I had to go to a festival for work. Which is crap. Two choices became apparent: 1) I Go explore the wondrous world of drunk teenage girls dancing to Tiesto, or 2) Sit in my tent and do nosebag all night. Tricky one.
So I took my scoop from the backstage gak hillock, retreated campwards, and stayed up talking angrily in circles for three days.
The day after my festive binge, I woke up at home and found I couldn’t see out of my left eye. Ach, so what? Tiredness, probably, I thought. Maybe a migraine coming on. Either way, it was back to bed for me.
The next day it was no better. Irritating. I was going to have to think about it. After paying close attention to the problem, I discovered I had a large, oval-shaped blind spot over the centre of my left eye. I didn’t have a headache, the eye wasn’t irritated and nothing looked wrong in the mirror. I decided it was just some sort of benign film on the surface, and decided to make myself cry to wash it off. After thinking about my career, the tears flowed easily, but there was no improvement with my eye.
I looked up Moorfields Eye Hospital and rang their helpline. I spoke to someone as useful as a third nipple, and just decided to go to Moorfields A&E to quickly get it sorted. An hour later, I wandered ignorantly in, registered at the front desk and had an initial consultation with a nurse. I told her what was wrong, told her I’d just got back from a festival, and opined that summat had got in it, innit? She had a look-see with her light-shining thing, kept her thoughts to herself, handed me a piece of paper and told me to go sit in the waiting room for a proper check-up.
After five minutes of sitting there, I glanced down at the piece of paper. It was red. I looked at the words on it. They said: “RED QUEUE”. Then: “You are in the red queue and will be seen as a priority. It is likely you have a serious eye problem.”
Tumour. Definitely. A wad of cancer was smirking at the back of my eye. Soon my name was called and a new nurse led me quivering into a dimly-lit lab and made me place my chin on a metal restraint for some Clockwork Orange-esque eye assault. She shined white lights, blue lights, and red lights into it and threw eye drops at me. She asked me to read from an eye test card, and I said, “E. T. X. 4. Swastika...” She frowned. “You don’t have anything wrong on the surface of your eye, it must be a problem at the back.”
Definitely a tumour, then. What else could it be? How could dirt get to the back of your eye to do damage? Unless... it came up through your nose. Oh.
The nurse put in drops to dilate my pupils, then I was taken to a doctor who talked like Victoria Wood. Disturbing. We sat face to face, as she scanned a vertical line of light across my eye. “OK, I’ll send you downstairs to have the inside of your eye photographed,” she said, “But did you take anything you shouldn’t have recently?”
“Um, no.” I said. I’d rather die than sit through a drug lecture. She looked at me, saw I was lying, let it pass, and off I went downstairs to be photographed by a metal dildo pointing millimetres from my eye. One searing white spurt of light later and I was back upstairs in the doctor’s office.
She opened up the JPEGs on her computer. “OK, you have a condition called central serous retinopathy. It basically means you have fluid trapped beneath your retina.” She showed me the photograph of the back of my eye. It looked like a shoreline with a large oil spill to one side. “This black area here is fluid that has built up because something has stopped the cells at the back of your eye from draining fluid off as. Can I ask you if you take steroids?”
“Look at me. What do you think?”
“OK, well that was why I asked you if you’d taken anything. Drugs like cocaine can inhibit your eye cells’ function.”
“We can’t actually treat it, but the cells should start working again and the fluid should drain away within 6-8 weeks.”
“What if it doesn’t go?”
“Well, so long as you don’t do anything else that should affect the cells again, it should go. If it doesn’t, we might operate, but that can often do more harm than good.”
I’m not dying, that’s the main thing, but I can’t see yet, and I can’t read properly or drive, and I’m filled with mad claustrophobic urges to pluck out my eye and run it under a tap. Fucking cocaine. Everyone I know lives on the stuff with no discernible side effects. I do it once, and go blind. Unfair.