Sometimes, things don’t always go to plan. Last week, having been on a press trip for a magazine on the Saturday, I had planned on spending the week writing up my notes and transcribing the audio interview, as well as processing the photos and creating the first draft of the article. But that’s not quite how things panned out …
My left eye didn’t feel quite right on Monday morning, so I saw my GP. He referred me to an optician, who I saw on Tuesday morning. The optician wasn’t sure if anything was wrong, but decided to send me to A&E that Tuesday evening to double-check.
I’m pleased he did.
Twenty-four hours later, I was undergoing an urgent eye-operation to repair two small tears in the retina of my left eye (under a local anaesthetic- eek!).
I was discharged on Thursday afternoon and am now on a regime of eye-drops and check-up appointments. Part of the surgery included the injection of a gas bubble into my left eye, which will slowly dissipate over the coming weeks. In the meantime, the vision through my left eye is like looking through swimming goggles that are half full of water. Every time I move my head the bubble wobbles.
So, none of this is quite what I had planned. And working at the computer isn’t easy. Life throws us these curveballs from time to time, and while it was worrying, especially as I’m a self-employed writer, I took a lot of comfort from some of the steps I’d taken for such an eventuality like this. It’s always worth being prepared for life’s curveballs.
1. Every so often I review the current projects I’m working on and update my list of contact details. It’s an A4 sheet of paper listing the email addresses and telephone numbers of all those key people who may need to be notified in an emergency. It’s kept beside my desk, which means anyone can find it. I know that if something puts me out of action for several weeks I can ask a relative to get in touch with everyone on that list and put them in the picture of what is going on.
2. Bring your deadlines forward. Every project I have has a deadline, often set by the editor. I always set my deadline a couple of weeks before this. This gives me a good ‘buffer zone’ for something like this.
3. Remember the old methods: pen and paper. I still managed to draft the shitty first draft of the article I was meant to be working on, albeit in a notebook with a pen. I’ve said before that to feel as though we’re making progress on a project we need to take small steps. Even though I’ll probably end up completely rewriting this shitty first draft, I still produced something. My project moved forward from having no draft to having a shitty first draft. Despite the medical setback I was still making progress with my work.
4. Make efficient use of your time. All new reading material gets chucked to one side for reading when I have time. Well, this last week has given me plenty of time to catch up with my reading … which has also given me some new ideas to work on.
So, fingers crossed, thanks to the prompt and fantastic action of the NHS, I should be back up to speed in a couple of weeks. But having been (sort of) prepared for something like this means last week wasn’t a completely unproductive week either.
Those few minutes, every so often, of preparing for life’s curveballs paid off.