Patient H69: The Story of my Second Sight is the true tale of how one morning I woke up to find myself blind and paralysed. A terrifying and unique story, I describe the events in a diary-like style offering you the reality of what it is like to suddenly lose two of your major senses.
I was a TV producer and mum to two small children at the time, juggling a busy home and work life. My illness hit my family like a high-speed train, but as I started to recover my sight my curiosity to comprehend what had happened to me was to take me on an incredible journey. Adopting the pseudonym Patient H69, by adapting the first letters of my NHS number I transformed myself into a science sleuth on a mission to uncover the inner mechanics of my own brain, so I could somehow understand the rare and mysterious neurological episode I had just suffered.
I knew I was now on a path I could not turn back from
Turning the lens upon myself I tell you the miraculous visual rebirth I experienced, and the mind-boggling visual anomalies I saw. Opening my eyes on to a watery two-dimensional landscape, I experienced an unrecognisable flat monochromatic world where I could see no faces or detail. The world was made up of erratic jiggling lines, which made no sense. I had also lost sensation in my hands and feet so could not walk. My feet felt like they were encased in lumps of ice, and my hands had been wrapped up in clingfilm.
Struggling to come to terms with my situation, my family brought different textured items into the hospital to try to stimulate, and in turn reignite my sensory system. Hairbrushes, pan scourers and cotton wool were rubbed up and down my feet and hands to try to make my brain reconnect and identify the sensations.
When, after two weeks in hospital I made it home, I spent my days hobbling around the local streets with the many kind friends who visited me. I would test my vision – endlessly counting how many more cars I could make out as I looked down the same road every day. Then one day around three months into my recovery as I turned a corner, colour, which had up until that point been painfully slow in returning, exploded back into my life.