I’ve got a check-up appointment at Moorfields on Monday. These appointments always feel like a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s always good to get my eyes checked and a huge relief to be told that things are as okay as they can be for now. On the other hand, I’m always worried about what they might say, and terrified incase I need to be whipped in for surgery again. My eye buddy put this pre-appointment feeling into words very succinctly when he said, ‘I fear the worst, but secretly I hope for the best.’ The nightmares often intensify in the nights leading up to appointments, which doesn’t help matters. The other night I jolted awake, heart pounding, after dreaming that I was in the hospital being told that I needed more surgery. I don’t know whether that’s better or worse than the other recurring nightmare in which I dream that my retina has detached again. Each time this one wakes me up, I have to switch the light on, sit up in bed, and look around the bedroom to check I can still see. Someone recently posted on the RD support group page that she’d had ‘the dream’ that her retina had detached again, and it was quite a relief to realise that other people get this too.
I’m particularly nervous before this appointment for several reasons. My usual surgeon will have left for a consultant’s job in another hospital by now and my consultant is on maternity leave, so I feel a bit like an abandoned puppy. I tried to persuade the surgeon to stay, but he seemed to think I was joking. I didn’t like to demonstrate my seriousness by getting down on the floor and clutching hold of his trouser leg as he tried to leave, although I was tempted. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to try and persuade my consultant that looking after people’s eyes is SO much more important than disappearing to have a baby, but if I had been presented with this opportunity I reckon I could have made a very convincing case. I could probably also have found her a few people who would be happy to lend her their tiny offspring for the odd afternoon. I’d also have warned her that changing nappies is probably far messier than performing vitrectomies. Anyway. I digress. The other reason for my increase in nervousness is that it’ll be prime time for discovering whether or not I’ve developed PVR again. PVR, or proliferative vitreoretinopathy, is often referred to by ophthalmologists as ‘scar tissue’. It’s a complication of retinal detachment which occurs in about 10% of cases and is effectively the scar tissue pulling the retina off again. I listened with horror when my consultant told me that some people are more prone to developing PVR and so have to undergo further operations to trim the scar tissue and flatten the retina. This was the operation I had back in January. Since then, ‘Can you see any PVR?’ has become one of my set questions in my little eye book, which goes with me on every hospital visit.
The usual drill is that I write all my questions down before the appointment and try to memorise as many as possible before entrusting the book to my ‘eye secretary’ (i.e. my sister or my mum) so that they can remind me of any questions I’ve missed and scribble the answers down in the spaces left for that purpose. This is because by the time I get to actually ask the questions, my eyes are dilated and so I can’t read them or see properly to write the answers. It’s become something of a standing joke as to how many questions we’ll actually obtain answers to in the time available. This came about because my original consultant in Surrey tends to be less than patient with my insatiable curiosity and has on several occasions declared, ‘Just one more question, Emma, just one more question!’ Usually I manage to get away with at least two more. In contrast, my usual surgeon at Moorfields has been amazingly patient with all my questions, which is one of the reasons I’m sorry to see him go. He actually *asks* me if I have any questions, and then proceeds to answer them all in enough detail to satisfy me. He’s even been known to ask if I have any *more* questions, which I’ll admit is a rather dangerous thing to do when dealing with a serial inquisitor. For my last appointment, I’d written 23 questions in the book. Sitting in the waiting area, my sister read through them in despair and warned me, ‘We’re never going to get answers to all of these!’, before handing the book back and instructing me to asterisk the most important ones. However, we got answers to all but three, and of those three one turned out to be unneccesary and the others were considerably less important. I even sneaked an extra query in at one point, asking him if he was sure he had time to answer a couple more or did he need to see the next person, but fortunately he was quite happy.
So… on Sunday evening I shall be compiling my questions and avoiding the consumption of cheese in the hopes that it will discourage nightmares. Keep your fingers crossed for me on Monday… 😮