In the weeks leading up to that appointment, Abi was taken to her doctor’s surgery on five more occasions. I was getting ever-more concerned because she had started vomiting. She even vomited at the practice. Abi was also getting extremely lethargic and complaining that her head hurt. “Mr. Langston, children of that age are in constant contact with other children who are also suffering from this and that. I’m sure there is nothing seriously the matter with her,” I was told. Abi’s symptoms were instead attributed to various minor complaints, such as an earache and a cold. At the time the UK was in the midst of a panic about Swine Flu and Abi was even offered the drug to treat that; Tamiflu.
As the weeks went by, Abi became very poorly. Her squint worsened, she became ever more lethargic and she stopped walking. Matters weren’t helped when she managed to come down with her sister’s chicken pox, but I was getting more and more concerned about her general well-being, so as soon as that illness cleared, I took her to A&E. This was just a day or two before Abi was due to go to the eye hospital. “I’m sure your daughter is only suffering from the after effects of chicken pox, Mr. Langston,” the doctor said. “Make sure she drinks plenty of water, and if she runs a temperature, give her some paracetamol,” he continued. “She’ll be okay in a few days,” he said, finally, before sending us home.
On the 9th August 2009, Abi finally got to see an Orthoptist at the eye hospital. “Your daughter is long-sighted, Mr. Langston,” I was told. I was relieved, but confused too: “But then, why has she stopped walking?” I asked. “And how does that account for the vomiting?” I continued. “Mr. Langston, I see many long-sighted children with similar symptoms. Please don’t worry,” she said, trying to reassure me. As Abi needed glasses, the Orthoptist referred her to see an Optician. That appointment, the next day, saved Abi’s life.