A Grand Day Out (…at Moorfields Eye Hospital?)

I decided I was going to bite the bullet and actually drive (BY MYSELF!) to Surrey in preparation for my appointment at Moorfields on Monday, so I was delighted when the day dawned grey and rainy.  Perfect conditions for RD patients.  Well, maybe the rain wasn’t so good, but at least the raindrops detracted from all the floaters in my good eye.  I set off in high spirits, enjoying the feeling of freedom from actually being able to make the journey on my own and not having to rely on anyone else or on public transport.  Being very sensible, I stopped off at the service station about half way there, and was mildly intrigued to hear a steel drum band playing as I drove in.   After a stretching my legs and resting my eyes for a few minutes, I set off again and was happily heading out of the service station and back onto the motorway when I realised that the steel band appeared to be following me.  In fact, either the band members had climbed into the boot of my car with their drums whilst I wasn’t looking or… it wasn’t a steel band at all.  It was at this point that the realisation dawned that my exhaust was rattling.  Great.  My first long journey after my last lot of surgery, and my ruddy exhaust decides to fall off on a very wet Sunday afternoon in the middle of the M25.  Well that’s just perfect timing.  After ranting away to myself for a few minutes, I decided that the only option was to adopt the same philosophy as I do with my eyes: keep going and hope for the best.  By the time I reached my destination, it sounded as if I was dragging a long string of tin cans underneath the car.  However, I cheerfully reminded myself that exhausts, unlike retinas, are easily replaceable.  The next morning, I drove it as cautiously as I could to the garage (bearing in mind that my sister was leading the way in her somewhat toned down Formula One driving style), and after this detour we set off to Moorfields, clutching my little eye book and taking bets on how many of my pre-prepared nineteen questions I’d manage to obtain answers to.

It was manic in the clinic – I’ve never seen it so busy.  The scarily grumpy receptionist said that it had been like that ever since my consultant had gone on maternity leave (I knew she shouldn’t have done that), and even the usually chilled-out friendly Irish nurse seemed a bit stressed, telling us after she’d administered the dilation drops that we may as well go back up to the cafe and get a cup of tea as she showed us the huge stack of files for patients in the queue before me. If we hadn’t already found the Moorfields geocache beforehand, we could have killed a few minutes by searching for that, although the dilated eyes would have made it a bit tricky.  Instead, we drank copious amounts of tea before heading back down to the clinic and waiting.  We debated passing some more time by playing a game of ‘I Spy’, but decided it wasn’t really appropriate.

Eventually, I was summoned through by a doctor I’d never seen before, but fortunately the surgeon who did my emergency operation at the end of May was there and so she called him over to have a look as well.  If I were to write a script of the eye examination, it would go something like this:

Ophthalmologist: “Pop your chin on there [indicating contraption] and rest your forehead against the bar.  Eyes wide open.”
My internal voice: “Please let it be okay, please let it be okay, please let it be okay…”
Ophthalmologist: “Now look straight ahead.”
My internal voice: “Please let it be okay, please let it be okay, please let it be okay…”
Ophthalmologist: “Look up.”  [pause]  “Look up and right.”  [pause]  “Look up and left.”  [pause]  “Look to the left.”  [pause]  “Look down and left.”  [longer pause]
My internal voice: “Please let it be okay, please let it be okay, please let it be okay…”
Ophthalmologist: “Look down.”  [pause]  “Look down and left.”  [pause]  “Look down.”  [longer pause]  “Look down and right.”  [longer pause]
My internal voice: “Oh ***** [insert expletive], what’s he seen?!”
Ophthalmologist: “Look down.”  [pause]  “Look to the right.”  [pause]
My internal voice: “Keep calm, keep calm, please let it be okay, please let it be okay, please let it be okay.”
Ophthalmologist: “And rest yourself back.”
My internal voice, wailing loudly: “What’s he seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen?!”

I have an unwritten rule not to ask questions whilst my eye is being examined as I think it’s best to let them concentrate and save the questions until afterwards once they’ve scribbled the notes down.  However, I’ve somewhat unfortunately got to know the signs which indicate when they’ve spotted something which isn’t quite right.  Sure enough, he went on to tell me that my retina was ‘misbehaving’ at the top and starting to detach again.  I stared at him in dismay and launched into inquisition mode, doing my best to ignore my internal voice which by this time was screaming loudly, “NOOOOOOOOOO!”, along with various other exclamations which are best left to the imagination.  Luckily, he was as patient as he had been before my surgery, and calmly fetched a piece of paper and proceeded to draw a diagram to explain what was going on in my eye.  He seemed a bit embarrassed when my sister asked him if we could take the drawing away with us, protesting that he’d have done a neater job if he’d realised we were going to keep it, but he handed it over nevertheless.  He probably realised that if he hadn’t parted with it, I’d have insisted on copying it down, and this would have taken a considerable amount of time due to the inconvenience of the dilation drops.  (See below for my version of his diagram, attempted with the very limited resources available on my decidedly dodgy laptop.)

He explained that the retina was starting to detach a little at the edge, outside the line of the 360 degree laser.  This was what he had suspected may happen at the time of the surgery, which was why he had proceeded with 360 laser.  If the detachment remains outside the laser line, I should be okay, but if it encroaches beyond that then he told me ominously, ‘we have a problem’.  It’s never good when a surgeon says that we may have a problem.  He then went on to discuss potential complications of silicone oil in the eye, most of which I already knew, but there was one issue which was new to me.  Part of me feels the need to ask Dr Google all about it, but for now I’m exercising my will power (or possibly metaphorically sticking my fingers in my ears and singing, ‘la la la la’) and hoping that I won’t need to find out.  He ended by telling me that it’s basically a waiting game now, as we have to see how the retina behaves.  All this talk of waiting to see how it behaves, as if it’s a particularly naughty child, makes me want to whack it into place with a rolling pin but somehow I don’t think that would help matters.  [Note: I should add here that I’m not in the habit of whacking naughty children with rolling pins, although sometimes it is rather tempting.]

retina misbehaving

Note: 360 degree laser is when a line is lasered all the way around the retina, a little way in from the edge.  The laser causes a scar reaction which seals the retina down.  The surgeon described it to me as being like a thin line of superglue.  This explains why peripheral vision is lost as a result of 360 laser.  A retinectomy is when a small part of the retina is cut away and removed because it won’t lie flat.  This also explains the loss of some of peripheral vision.

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3 thoughts on “A Grand Day Out (…at Moorfields Eye Hospital?)

  1. Pingback: The ANGER issue | RD Ramblings

  2. Pingback: Stalking the Surgeons | RD Ramblings

  3. Pingback: Blind spot | RD Ramblings

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