Stitched up

This week I once again trekked up to what is rapidly becoming my second home in Surrey for another pressure check at the hospital there.  My mum’s dog was delighted to see me.  My old consultant less so.  However, he did ask my mum how she’d been getting on since he performed her cataract operation a few months ago and when I told him that my sister had recently been for an eye test and her eyes were fine, he seemed quite relieved that he wouldn’t be having to deal with any more members of the family.  The pressure check was duly performed (see the last paragraph of: if you’re wondering how this is done), and my pressure was within the normal range – yay!  However, there was still some inflammation, and I reported that my eye had still been getting quite red and continued to be rather more sore and uncomfortable than usual.  ‘Well’, he said, ‘there’s a little stitch in the left-hand side and I can see two little bits of it poking out, which will be causing the inflammation and discomfort so I’m just going to try and get that out for you.’  Having been told by an old family friend about her experience of having a stitch taken out (by the same surgeon, I might add), I was quite looking forward to the same huge improvement which followed it being removed.  She’d told me it was a simple process, done by some kind of machine, and she didn’t feel a thing.  As this friend is hugely squeamish about her eye (she wore dark glasses in the house and refused to look at her eye for a good couple of weeks after her macular hole operation), I figured that it would be a piece of cake for me, and so I nodded happily and rested my chin on the contraption as directed. Instead of using a machine, my consultant tore open a packet and withdrew some kind of instrument which looked suspiciously like a pair of tweezers.  He peered through the magnifying contraption, holding another magnifier close to my eye and approached from the other side with the tweezers.  Luckily I couldn’t see much because of the bright light, but I certainly felt it when he tried to pull out the stitch, and yelped accordingly.  Now I like to think I have a fairly high pain threshold, but that was definitely well over my limit of what I could silently endure.  ‘Pop your chin back, so that I can just have another go’, he said in his deceptively soothing Irish lilt.  I obeyed reluctantly, and braced myself.  A few seconds later… ‘Ooouuuuch!’, I gasped, adding, ‘That hurt quite a lot’, just incase there was any doubt remaining.  ‘No, I don’t think that’s a good idea – it’s not coming out’, he said, stating the blatantly obvious.  I could have told him that the first time, from the uncomfortable pulling sensation in my eye as he tugged at the end of the stitch.  ‘Will it be okay now?’, I asked him nervously, as my eye watered profusely down my cheek.  ‘Oh yes’, he replied cheerfully, ‘it’ll settle down – I’ll just pop an antibiotic drop in it for you.’  He then instructed me to keep up with the steroid drops for the inflammation, handing me a prescription for another bottle.  I walked shakily out of the clinic and went to find a mirror with which to inspect the damage.  Well.  No wonder he’d prescribed more steroid drops: ‘Look at the state of it now – it’s all red again!’, I wailed to my mum.  She sensibly suggested tea and cake in the hospital cafe while we waited for the prescription, and the almond and cherry slab did something to salvage the situation but didn’t stop me asking her every five minutes, ‘Is it still as red?’. This episode has done little to improve my ‘eye paranoia’, as I now find myself peering at it in the mirror and trying to see if I can see two ends of a stitch poking out of the left-hand side of my eye.  Of course, I can’t.  But I know they’re there now.  The next morning, coming out of the bathroom following the customary few minutes of staring at my eye in the mirror, I bumped into my mum coming up the stairs and asked her casually, ‘Got any tweezers?’.  ‘Yes’, she replied, ‘What do you want them for?’  ‘Well’, I answered with a straight face, ‘I thought I’d have another go at getting that stitch out’.  She gave me ‘The Look’ before shaking her head and half laughing at the same time, ‘I still can’t believe he did that!’  No, nor can I… but at least I can joke about it now, I suppose.


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