Today is my 46th birthday. One year ago today I was in Stuttgart. Now THAT was a birthday to remember. And this one, the birthday present, will be equally memorable because I’m in Amsterdam with Ian. It’s a city I hadn’t visited until now and one I’m sure we’ll come back to. I’ll share more when I’m home.
I always love October, but I knew this one would be a little different to those that have come before. I’ve never heard a parent disagree with the fact that in what seems like the blink of an eye, our offspring are all grown-up. It still seems quite unbelievable therefore, that just over a week ago, I dropped Poppy off at Durham University.
Roots and Wings
Poppy and I fell in love with the city of Durham, Durham university and the anthropology course when we attended the open days. She was determined to attain the required grades and worked her proverbial socks off throughout sixth-form. . I couldn’t be any prouder of her and the work ethic she demonstrated throughout those two academic years. I’m full of excitement as she begins this new chapter in her life. But gosh, I miss her. I felt a physical ache in my heart when I tearfully kissed her goodbye and drove home. Even now, there’s a sense of feeling incomplete.
When my parents dropped me off at university they were worried because I didn’t know another soul there. With Poppy, it was completely different. As soon as she had her A-level results, she connected with people in her college and people on her course via social media. All it needed when she arrived therefore, was for these virtual friends to realise. That made leaving her a little bit easier. She had the most amazing Freshers Week, including Matriculation at Durham Cathedral, and settled in immediately.
Since Poppy was 13, I’ve brought my children up single-handedly. Along with Harry, we’re a very close threesome. Of course, I have wonderful parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and friends who’ve been there every step of the way, and Ian of course, who’s been in our lives for almost three years. But fundamentally, I make every arrangement, ride every storm and celebrate every success. Unlike some families in which for example, one parent takes care of the football run and the other oversees the homework, I’m wholly involved in every aspect of my children’s lives. At times it was, and is, exhausting but it’s always an absolute privilege. Therefore, the reduction in my workload since Poppy started uni is quite significant. Although my work, my blog, my son and my fiancé fill my days, life is different without her day to day presence. But I’m not sad, I’m thrilled because she’s doing exactly what I brought her up to do: work hard, play hard, reach for the stars and keep your feet on the ground. She has roots, wings and the world at her feet.
Around the time of my birthday last year, I was finding my feet back in optometric practice. Now, it feels like I have worked there forever. I love it there, Without doubt, it’s the best practice I’ve ever worked in. The staff, working environment and optical equipment are second to none. It’s been a challenge at times. Finding my way around the computer system and learning to interpret OCT scans has taken a while. (OCT is similar to ultrasound imaging but with light instead of sound. It allows us to see beneath the retina by taking cross-sectional images. It’s very useful for diagnosing and monitoring eye diseases). Making sure that I input everything correctly onto said computer is something that still needs my very careful attention. It’s all too easy to miss a box out, especially if I’m running behind and the next patient is waiting. Despite being qualified for 23 years, there’s still so much to learn. Every day is a school day. Which leads me nicely onto mentioning something I did at Bradford University just over two weeks ago.
I took and passed an exam to become MECS accredited. The Minor Eye Conditions Service allows optometrists to manage a range of eye conditions, (for example, red eyes, flashes and floaters, painful/sore eyes, reduction in vision), in practice. Patients with these conditions often present to their GP, who then, in turn, advises them to see their optometrist. The MECS scheme means that the patient is seen, without charge, in a timely manner by someone, (an optometrist), who has the expertise and equipment to make a diagnosis and manage the patient. Patients can self-refer too.
The scheme reduces patient anxiety and waiting time and reduces the workload of our GPs. It’s an additional challenge for the optometrist and it enables us to use our knowledge and expertise. It also makes for a more varied workday. To attain the accreditation, I had to pass seven modules, each one about a different family of ocular problems. The final part of the process was an OSCE, (objective structured clinical examination), which took the form of a station exam: a combination of oral and practical testing. I was quite nervous but happy with my performance. Although it’s strange how things I do and say day in day out at work seemed so much harder in front of an examiner. Anyway, it’s a useful and fulfilling additional aspect of optometric practice and it has rather whet my appetite for further study and upskilling.
Writing and Blogging
Since the post I wrote last year on my birthday, my work outside of optometric practice has evolved. Naturally, I am focussing (excuse the pun) on eyewear and including it in as many outfit posts as I can. I’ve always loved glasses and I appreciate their form and function in equal measures. Most people in my age-group, (and therefore a lot of those who read my blog) will wear spectacles, whether full-time, or just for reading, (an inevitability that becomes more apparent every birthday). I can now no longer read without mine, therefore they’re an essential. I enjoy styling them and I enjoy trying and reviewing different brands and types of lenses in them.
Once again, I’m involved with 100% Optical as a media partner and as a speaker, 25-27th January 2020 at London’s Olympia. (Register for your free tickets here). I’ll begin working on my presentations when I’m back from Amsterdam. I have several small optometry-related writing projects on the go too. These add variety and interest to my work. and make me thankful once again that I have found my optometry-blogging-writing niche.
There’s no false modesty here…I love celebrating my birthday. I always have done. But with every year comes an increased sense of appreciation and gratitude for what I have: My family, my fiancé, my friends rule my heart and my world. My career is ever-evolving and I relish the new challenges it brings. I’m thankful for my health and that of my loved ones and I’m forever grateful to those that read and support my blog and me, which in turn, indirectly supports my children. So thank you. Thank you so much x