… So commented one friend via email when I told him of my impending fourth operation. I wasn’t feeling too chuffed about the prospect either. On the one hand, at least I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of not waking up from the op, but on the other hand I was more than a little concerned about how I was going to keep my head still, particularly as I tend to get the shakes in stressful situations. With my three previous surgeries under general anaesthetic, the anaesthetist just popped an extra blanket over me when my teeth started chattering, thinking I was cold. What on earth was I going to do if I started my usual shaking routine whilst having my eye cut open under LOCAL? This worry weighed heavily on my mind in the weeks leading up to the op, and I wasn’t entirely convinced by my fellow eye buddies assuring me that I would keep still without any problems, and it would all be fine. The dreaded day dawned and I was walked into the anaesthetist’s room, shaking as predicted. ‘Sorry, it’s a bit cold in here’, the friendly anaesthetist apologised. They’re always friendly, and many have an uncanny knack of actually making me laugh. And laugh in a genuinely ‘you’re funny’ way, rather than a somewhat hysterical ‘what-are-you-about-to-do-to-me’ nervous laugh. The first pair I encountered (they often seem to work in pairs) were like a comedy duo. I probably didn’t help matters by asking them if they were sure I’d wake up again after the operation. I feel compelled to ask this each time and have received various answers, from the joking ‘You hear that – she thinks we’re not going to do our job properly!’ to ‘There’s an important football match on tonight you know, and I won’t be able to get back and watch it until I’ve woken you up again!’ to the slightly disconcerting, ‘But of course, we get paid a bonus for the patients we wake up again’, said with a perfectly straight face. (With NHS targets, anything is possible.) Anyway… I asked how I could make sure I kept still, and was told, ‘Oh don’t worry, you’ll keep still, but just let us know if you need to cough or anything.’ Hmmm. I remained unconvinced, but it was too late by this stage. I lay still with my head in the bowl at the end of the bed as they covered up my other eye and put a small tent-like structure over my face with a hole for my bad eye. I felt the sedative entering my body via the cannula in an indescribable ‘whoooosh’, and suddenly it was literally as if I didn’t care about anything any more. Well, maybe that’s taking it a bit far, but at least I wasn’t shaking. I felt pressure as they injected anaesthetic into my eye via a needle down the side of my eyeball and shortly after that the roof of my mouth started to feel numb. This paralyses the muscles in the eye and keeps it open, so it doesn’t matter what the other eye does although I opted to keep it shut through most of the surgery. Every now and then I plucked up the courage to open it a crack and peek out, but I was aware only of the bright lights above and could see nothing due to the tent-like structure. I felt them putting the clamps on to hold the eyelids open, but there was no pain. I heard someone ask if they could put some music on, and thought ‘Oh good’, anticipating a relaxing classical piece. Seconds later, the sound of ABBA disturbed the relative peace of the operating theatre. ABBA?! ABBA?! What sort of music choice is that as the soundtrack to eye surgery?! I mean… Bach, Mozart, Handel Beethoven, Chopin… the list of possibilities is endless… but ABBA?! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to ‘Dancing Queen’ again without wanting to stick my fingers in my ears. Once I’d managed to drown out the inappropriate cheeriness of the Swedish quartet, I started to realise the wisdom of such a distraction method as I tuned into comments from the surgeon such as, ‘scissors please’, and (asking the consultant who was supervising), ‘Shall I trim this right up to that previous area of treatment?’. I couldn’t see anything out of the eye being worked on – everything was black/grey but now and then i saw the dark silhouette of an instrument being inserted and removed again. It was a bit like being out in a dark night and suddenly seeing a pitchfork being thrust into view. This was followed by a request for ‘laser please’ and then shortly afterwards discussion about a gas bubble, by which time I’d guessed that things weren’t going according to plan and I must have had another detachment. Sure enough, I was told at the end that my retina had detached a small amount bottom right, but a short-acting gas bubble had been placed and the surgeon thought everything would still be okay. It’s just as well that I was blissfully unaware at this point of the fact that exactly two weeks later I’d be back in theatre having emergency surgery for my fifth detachment. Also under local. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkk!