So that's why I'm grumpy

My rages were bad enough... the cause was scarier

Published by: India Adams & Amy Thompson
Published on: 5th May 2011

You can tell a lot from looking into someone’s eyes. A shifty glance suggests they’re fibbing, a loving gaze shows how much they care…
Right now, though, the only thing my eyes said about me was that I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in months!
‘Another migraine?’ frowned my hubby Craig, 35, watching me reach for a box of painkillers.
‘Yep,’ I sighed miserably, gulping a couple of tablets.
I’d been suffering with them for a year.
My doctor had advised paracetamol but, instead of getting better, my headaches got worse.
He’d just prescribed some heavy-duty painkillers, though – maybe they’d do the trick.
While Craig went to work, I stayed at home to look after our son Zac, three.
It was tough entertaining a toddler with a pounding head, but I tried to stay upbeat.
‘Let’s watch CBeebies,’ I smiled, flicking on the telly and sitting Zac on my lap. ‘It’s Timmy Time!’ we sang while he bounced on my knee.
Before long, though, my headache was excruciating.
‘Mummy’s going to put some washing on,’ I forced a smile, leaving Zac on the sofa.
Dashing out of the room, my head span and my eyes were burning like mad.
‘Just focus on something else,’ I told myself, gathering up some laundry and putting it in the machine. Switching it on, I took a deep breath.
Ten minutes later, though, a horrible thought hit me – my mobile phone!
I’d left it in the pocket of my jeans…which were now being spun around in a 40-degree wash!
‘Oh no!’ I cried, dashing back to see my mobile whizzing round behind the glass door. It was too late to save it.
Slumping to the floor, I rubbed my throbbing temples and closed my eyes. Then I burst into tears. I felt like a huge black cloud was hanging over me.
It wasn’t just the mobile incident either. I’d become so clumsy lately, dropping things and being forgetful when I used to pride myself on being so organised and together. What was happening to me?
When Craig got home, I told him about my phone.
‘Never mind,’ he soothed. ‘We’ll get you a new one.’
‘I don’t want a new one,’ I snapped, frustrated, then immediately apologised. ‘Sorry, I just wish I knew what was wrong with me, why I’m getting these headaches.’
‘Things will get better,’ he promised.
As the weeks passed, though, every little thing seemed to push me over the edge.
One afternoon, I tried ignoring the sound of Zac’s toy drum kit, guitar and keyboard, and picked up the vacuum – that would drown them out!
But as I plugged it in, it fell into me, bumping my hip. ‘Ow!’ I cried.
Something in my brain seemed to snap. All the frustration that had been building up inside me came tumbling out.
‘You stupid… stupid… arrrggh!’ I screamed, beating the vacuum with my fists, bashing it against the floor.
Craig’s voice interrupted my outburst. ‘What the…?’ he gasped, rushing over and grabbing me. ‘Sue, stop! What’s going on?’
In seconds, the angry fog that had consumed me began to clear.
‘I-I-I don’t know…’ I sobbed, confused, my eyes filling with tears.
‘Okay,’ Craig replied gently, sitting me down. ‘Hey, how about we look online for something to help your migraines.’
Bless him. I’d been losing my temper more and more lately, but Craig was always so supportive, knew how to make me feel better.
Together, we scoured the internet for ways to get rid of my migraines and mood swings.
Suddenly, Craig turned to me. ‘When was the last time you had an eye test?’ he asked.
‘About 10 years ago,’ I shrugged. ‘Why?’
‘It says here you should have one every two years, even if you’ve never worn glasses,’ he said. ‘Maybe eye strain is causing your migraines.’
‘Worth a shot,’ I agreed.
Next day, I booked an appointment at Specsavers.
The optician had all kinds of new-fangled equipment to test my eyes.
‘Last time I came, they used a lolly stick and an alphabet chart,’ I chuckled nervously.
‘Here,’ he smiled, handing me a clicker. ‘I’m going to test your peripheral vision now. Whenever you see a flash of light on the screen, push that button.’
The test only took a couple of minutes, and I was pretty confident I’d passed. I mean, it was only showing me a couple of lights.
But the optician frowned. ‘I want to check something with my colleague,’ he said.
Before I knew it, he’d called someone else in.
‘Your tests have come back below average,’ he said, checking my results. ‘I’m going to refer you to a specialist to find out if there’s a serious problem.’
A serious problem? Were the migraines linked to something worse, was I going blind?
At the hospital, I had an MRI scan, then an agonising two-week wait for the results.
Even that wasn’t enough time to prepare for what I was told…
‘We’ve found a benign tumour in your brain,’ the consultant said.
‘A-a tumour, but I thought I was just getting migraines,’ I spluttered, worried.
He shook his head sadly.
‘It’s the size of an apple and we need to remove it.’
‘So that’s caused the headaches? That’s what’s been making me so short-tempered?’ I asked.
‘It’s pushing down on your optical nerve,’ he explained.
All along, I’d thought I was having migraines, but my mood swings and headaches were actually being caused by a massive brain tumour.
‘So, if I hadn’t had that eye test…’ I faltered.
‘It probably wouldn’t have been noticed until it was too late,’ the doctor finished for me.
Zac was only three. I’d come so close to never seeing him grow up.
Ten days later, I underwent an eight-hour op to remove the tumour in my brain at Hull Royal Infirmary. Luckily, the operation was a success.
‘Mummy’s better now,’ sighed Zac. ‘Happy now.’
It’s been a year since my surgery and, although I still get headaches occasionally and have to have an MRI scan every six months, me and the vacuum are back on good terms again!
Thanks to someone checking my eyes, I’m back to seeing the sunny side of life.
Sue Appleby-Turner, 37, Scarborough, North Yorkshire