… A: An impending eye appointment being cancelled at the last minute.
Okay, so it wasn’t cancelled quite at the last minute; I got the ‘phone call from Moorfields just before 5pm on Friday rather than on Monday morning. The appointment should have been 10:15 on Monday morning, so things could have been worse. In fact, as some people are fond of telling me, things could always be worse. Obviously, I’m also well aware of the fact that there are many things far more stressful than having an appointment cancelled at the last minute. Surgery cancelled at the last minute, for example. Or just surgery, full-stop. But I digress…
It was the big weekend of celebrations for the occasion of my mum reaching the ripe old age of threescore years and ten. We’d not long returned from a very enjoyable family meal out when my mobile started ringing and the suspicious announcement of ‘private number’ flashed up on the screen. “Oh, I don’t know who it is, I’ll just ignore it”, I said casually. “No, no, answer it!”, ordered my aunt, sounding slightly scandalised that I was prepared to ignore a call. I reluctantly obeyed. Upon being asked for confirmation of my name, I requested to know who was calling, in that slightly irritated tone of voice reserved for cold callers. “Moorfields Eye Hospital, it’s about your appointment on Monday”, I was told, at which point my irritated tone swiftly changed to one of concern. When I was told that my appointment had to be cancelled but that I could be offered another one in May, the concerned tone escalated to one of panic as I exclaimed, “But I was supposed to be seeing someone in April!” Further conversation established that the appointment was being cancelled because there weren’t enough doctors, there was nobody else who could see me on that day, and there was no cancellation policy which may have enabled me to take the place of another patient. The lady, whom I’m assuming had the unfortunate job of bearing similar bad news to large numbers of patients, was very calm and apologetic, and after checking a few more dates managed to find me an earlier appointment at the end of April. Unfortunately, this didn’t prevent me from quite literally putting rather more than a dampener on my mum’s birthday celebrations by bursting noisily into tears as soon as I put the ‘phone down.
I should explain here that it wasn’t simply a case of having a routine appointment pushed back a few weeks which caused what some people will no doubt view as an extreme reaction. For the couple of weeks leading up to an appointment, this is what it’s like: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/pre-appointment-paranoia/. That’s on top of all the usual day-to-day RD paranoia and stress. Last Monday night, I thought I saw a flash in my ‘good’ eye. This caused me to lie awake for most of the night, periodically checking one eye then the other – staring into the darkness and moving my eyes around to see if I could see any flashes. I realised that at certain times, I could see some of the effects of the weird flashes and lava lamp balls of light in my ‘good’ eye, even though I was pretty sure the effects were originating in my bad eye.
When morning came, I obsessively checked my visual field to ensure I hadn’t lost any more sight. I spent that day in an exhausted fog of paranoia as I somehow managed to stumble through my working day, feeling dangerously on the verge of either bursting into tears or screaming until my lungs shattered. Each time I went outside, I stared at the bright sky, following the floaters around in my ‘good’ eye and wondering whether there were more than usual. There are so many, I can’t even count them and have no idea how I would know for certain if there were more. I kept telling myself that it was okay, because I had my appointment at Moorfields the following Monday and they would check everything. Although I’m always terrified about what the consultant may say at the check-ups, I also crave the reassurance of a positive appointment. The news that things are stable in both eyes and surgery isn’t required at the moment has me skipping out of the hospital as if I’m on a high and equips me with the confidence to get through the next few weeks. Having an appointment cancelled is akin to someone snatching my life-jacket off my back as I’m about to set off in a small boat across rough sea.
I should emphasise here that I’m not blaming Moorfields for the cancellation. Anyone in the UK who’s had the misfortune to spend any amount of time in an eye clinic will know how insanely busy it always is. I don’t know whether the cancellation due to ‘not enough doctors’ is because of the junior doctors’ strike next week… I did ask this question but wasn’t given an answer. If that is the reason, I can’t blame the junior doctors either. I could make all sorts of political comments at this point, but I don’t think this is really the place. So instead, when I attempt sleep tonight, rather than staring at my flashes and floaters and listening to my thumping heart, I’ll visualise throwing box after box of rotten eggs at a certain door in Downing Street.