Tuesday, 12 February 2019


It is amazing how well you can manage with only one working eye.
     A couple of years ago (well make that three) I'd noticed that my left eye was becoming increasingly foggy. At first I put this down to the fact that one of the dogs had jumped up at me and caught me in that eye with its paw, and I thought had damaged the retina. So I thought it might get better on its own.
     By the time I'd realised that it wasn't getting better, but was gradually getting worse, I had also got used to only having one working eye. The devil of it was that my left eye had been the stronger one, so the right eye was not quite so good to start with. But never mind, as long as you have one working eye, it doesn't make a great deal of difference to your life.
     Then in autumn last year I suddenly noticed that the left eye was starting to show signs that it too was starting to go foggy.
      When that happened I realised I was going to have to give in and go to see the doctor.
      Now, the last time I had seen our doctor was approximately 20 years previously.
       I've never liked going to the doctor, and especially as I have always been of the spherical persuasion and as I was growing up, whenever I went to our old family doctor (not the nice chap we currently have), whatever I went for, the doctor could somehow attribute it to my weight.
     'Oh, you've got ear-ache? Would you just get on the scales for me?'
     'Yes that is chickenpox, can you just get on the scales?'
     'Here is some wart ointment - oh and would you just get on the scales for me?'
      So much so that I have been on a permanent diet, or series of diets, since I was about ten years old and was prescribed amphetemines (which did nothing to help incidentally).
     Anyhow, I had avoided going to the doctor, but realised that this time I really would have to give in and go.
     Our current doctor is a lovely chap of Irish extraction who checked my eyes and said 'Yes, you've got cataracts in both eyes so I'll get you referred to the eye hospital in Hull. Don't worry it's really quick and easy. I was going to say that you are a bit young for having cataracts, but I'm younger than you and I had it done a few years back.'
     At the beginning of December last year, Mike (our son) took me to the Eye Hospital for an assessment, where they checked my eyesight and when I got to see the consultant, he read the papers, checked my eyes and said 'Yes you have cataracts in both eyes, I'll put you down for surgery on the left one, with a follow on, on the right.'
     So last week on the 5th of Feb I went to the Eye Hospital for my first surgery. There was a lot of waiting around as all patients were apparently told to turn up at 8 am and then seemingly randomly we all went through the build up towards surgery.
     At first the waiting rooms were packed with people, each patient had an accompanying person - usually to help them get to and from the hospital (we were told we would not be able to drive ourselves home, or go on public transport). So Mike again took me.
     The first process was checking blood pressure and making sure you knew who you were, why you were there and which eye was being done.
    Then we were given a series of eye drops, before which you confirmed who you were, why you were there and which eye was being done.
     Eventually it came to my turn and I was taken to be prepared for the serious anasthetic. The anesthetist and her assistant made sure I was a comfortable as possible and then did stuff to the eye both to numb it and to keep it from moving. They told me I wouldn't see anything during the operation, but as I couldn't see out of the left eye anyway that was no different to usual.
They'd also told me I would be covered with a sheet, with only the eye peeping out of a hole in the sheet - so I'd imagined something like a scene out of a horror or surrealist movie. Actually the sheet is suspended over a frame, so it is like being in a little tent.
     Once they started the op I did see nothing, just the odd glow or shadow or fuzzy coloured lights. There was nothing much to hear either, the surgeon spoke to his team quietly, and there was a noise a bit like a muted but high pitched dental drill. Of course I felt nothing either.
     I'd been told that the surgery itself would take around 10-20 minutes, but it seemed a lot quicker than that. I didn't have time to get bored or anxious, I was soon done and being wheeled out of the operating theatre.
     I was fitted with a plastic shield over the eye and told I could take it off at home after six hours. As the op was done using a local anasthetic, I had been able to have breakfast, and there was no need for any recovery time in hospital afterwards either. So with two bottles of eyedrops and instruction leaflets we were very quickly on our way home.
     The main things I was told was : don't bend down for 24 hours - if something falls on the floor, leave it! And: no heavy lifting for a week.
      It is now a week since my op and within a couple of days the sight in my left eye was as good, if not better than the right eye and it continues to improve.
     But the one thing that has really struck me is how vibrant colours are.
     Because the cataracts are very gradually making the world fuzzy, you don't realise that they are also making colours softer and more muted. I know that seeing contrasts was more difficult - a bucket of coal was just a black something full of black, I couldn't see individual lumps of coal - but to see just how purple, purple is, or how bright turquoise and pink are ....
     Now that is a wonderful thing.


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