Tag Archives: Moorfields

The accidental OCT scan

The morning of my much-anticipated rescheduled check-up appointment at Moorfields (have a read of ‘Sod the Tories‘, if you’re wondering about the rescheduling) got off to a somewhat ironic start when I mistook the shampoo for shower gel during my morning shower and only realised when I started hunting for the shampoo to wash my hair.  I’m sure the lettering on toiletries is getting smaller and smaller these days… naturally, my dodgy peepers aren’t to blame!

My sister (aka eye secretary) and I reached Moorfields in plenty of time and settled down in the clinic for a long wait.  We’d already spotted the whiteboard, which declared a waiting time of two and a half to three hours, so we were fully prepared for an extended game of ‘I Spy’.  We therefore both audibly gasped in surprise when the nurse called me through almost immediately.

I peered at the Snellen chart with my bad eye, desperately trying to focus on the two letters on the second line down as I hazarded a guess, “Is that an X?  I think it’s an X.” and then rattled off the penultimate line with my good eye – yay!  My eye pressures were the best they’ve been for a while (yay again!), and then came the stinging dilation drops, which always seem to sting more when I’m tired.  Considering that the previous night had been broken by a series of nightmares, I wasn’t surprised that the drops were more uncomfortable than usual.  At this point, the nurse instructed me to go off for a scan and then return to the clinic.  “A scan?”, I asked in some alarm, “I don’t usually have a scan – what kind of scan is it?”  Upon double-checking my file, she nodded and assured me that this was correct before pointing us in the direction of Medical Imaging.

Off we went, and sat down in another queue.  We didn’t have long to wait until I was called through, whereupon I immediately started questioning the poor guy doing the scans about what scan it was (OCT, I was informed) and why it had been requested.  Scan Man (far more impressive than Batman, because he could operate an OCT scanner) consulted my file and informed me that it was because of VMT.  “VMT?”, I repeated in confusion, “What’s that?!”  “Vitreomacular traction”, he informed me, before proceeding to talk about PVD.  “But no-one’s told me I’ve got VMT or PVD!”, I replied in alarm.  “I have got PVR in my right eye though – maybe that’s why the scan’s needed?”  I stared at him through dilated eyes and saw my look of confusion reflected back at me as he asked, “What’s PVR?”  “Proliferative vitreoretinopathy”, I explained.  “It’s a complication of retinal detachment surgery.”  I was tempted to refer him to my blog post, ‘The curse of PVR‘, but managed to refrain.  “Oh”, he replied, sounding almost as baffled as me, before proceeding to do his stuff with the scans: “Look at the green cross… keep still…”  He showed me part of the scan on his computer, but it didn’t answer any of my questions and I concluded that perhaps I shouldn’t really have started asking questions in the first place.

We returned to the clinic again and settled down to a game of ‘I Spy’, whereupon we managed to pass a full ten minutes as my sister attempted to guess “something beginning with S”.  A series of clues revealed the obvious answer, “Spectacles!”.  Eventually, the Prof called me through and got on with the business of the eye examination: “Look up… look down… look left…. look right… look up and right… look down and right… look up and left… look down and left…” etc.   I sat with bated breath and kept my fingers crossed below the examination contraption as he delivered the best news I could have hoped for in the situation: everything was still stable and he didn’t see the need for further surgery unless the oil started to cause problems.

He reminded me again that two further surgeries would be necessary in any case – one to get the oil out, do another retinectomy, sort out the abnormal blood vessels, carry out more laser and put more oil back in.  Then another surgery at some point in the future to try and remove the oil if my eye behaved itself.  Considering the fact that my ruddy retina has misbehaved from day one, I’m not particularly keen to rock the boat by having more surgery before I absolutely have to.  So, although I was disappointed that no miracle had occurred, I was enormously relieved to hear that things were still stable.  I was even more relieved to hear that the OCT scan appeared to have been a mistake in that I hadn’t actually needed it and there was nothing further wrong with my pesky peepers… phew!  The only slight blip was the news that the cataract in my good eye had worsened slightly.  He reassured me that this was nothing to worry about for the time being.  So naturally, me being me, I worried…


Sod* the Tories

I had a check-up appointment at Moorfields booked for Monday 4 June.  You will note, dear Reader, my use of the past tense in that sentence.  For, late on Wednesday afternoon I received a voicemail from Moorfields telling me that my appointment had been cancelled due to not enough doctors and too many patients.  Upon receiving this news, I let out a massive internal howl of, “Noooooooooooooooooo!”, before indulging in a short fit of wailing once I reached the safety of home.  I then promptly regretted this, as it just made my eyes ache more.

As my eye buddies know all too well, my reaction to this news is about far more than a cancelled appointment.  I approach my check-ups at Moorfields in fear and dread.  The build-up starts a good couple of weeks beforehand each time, as my anxiety builds and insomnia becomes my nightly companion.  “What will they say?”, I wonder to myself.  “Will the detached part of my retina have progressed any further?  Will the 360 degree laser line be holding firm?  What of the abnormal blood-vessels – will they have worsened?  Will my eye pressures be satisfactory?  Will my cornea still be healthy, with the oil in?  And my good eye… will it be okay?  Or will it – heaven forbid – have  developed more tears?  Will the lattice degeneration be any worse?  Will they want – or need – to perform yet more surgery, or will I gain another reprieve?  How will I cope if more surgery is necessary?”  All these questions, and more, clamour in my ears like a huge orchestra tuning up for a performance.

Along with all the questions, I increase my ever-so-slightly-obsessive visual checking as the appointment looms ominously on the horizon.  I wrote about this a while ago, in ‘Pre-appointment paranoia‘.  The stress builds and builds until usually it reaches a crescendo during the appointment itself, at the point at which the consultant has finished the examination, scribbled the notes down, and sat back to tell me the results and allow me to ask as many questions as I can cram in.  Depending on the news, the crescendo is either one of glorious, melodic harmonies, or a clashing of cymbals and change in tempo as the key abruptly switches to minor.  This cancellation of my appointment is equivalent to the entire orchestra standing up and dropping their instruments onto the concrete floor with a collective crash; leaving a solitary violinist, oblivious in the corner, plucking forlornly at a broken string.

I don’t even have a new appointment date to focus on yet.  Although I rang Moorfields straight back, there was nobody available.  I rang the following day during my lunch break at work and spent most of it listening to a calm, automated voice informing me that I was “number one in the queue”.  I think they’d actually all gone to lunch and left the telephone queueing system switched on.  After about 35 minutes of this, I gave up and sought solace in my cheese and cucumber sandwiches.  I eventually got through after work, and was told that a new appointment wasn’t available yet as they had to slot everyone back in.

As with my only other previously cancelled appointment (have a read of, ‘Q: What’s more stressful than an impending eye appointment?‘), I don’t blame Moorfields for this.  Like me, anyone in the UK who has to attend eye clinics on a regular basis will be able to see clearly (even through the foggy haze of the dilation drops) how busy they are.  The clinics are always packed with patients, the consultants and doctors often have that look which means they know just how many patients are waiting and they’re wondering how on earth they’re going to get through them all in time.  The nurses hurry back and forth, and the receptionists have a slightly frazzled air about them, not helped by the occasional impatient patient asking if they’re going to have to wait much longer [pause while I tut and metaphorically roll my eyes].

So… if us eye patients with our dodgy vision can see so clearly that the NHS needs more resources to cope with demand, my question is: why can’t the government?  It needs no avid follower of the news to tell us that the NHS is in crisis.  Why isn’t the government doing anything about it?  Why is the government privatising it by stealth?  The NHS will reach its 70th birthday this July.  In today’s world, 70 is far from decrepit.  (My mum will be very glad to read that.)  There is much useful life to be lived beyond the age of 70, but many people may just need a little more care and attention.  However, the government doesn’t seem able to see this, and I can’t help but observe that this lack of vision appears to stem from idiocy rather than from myopia.  It strikes me that the government views the NHS as a particularly cantankerous decrepit pensioner, whom it just wants to shove into a grubby care home out of sight as quickly as possible.  I genuinely fear for the future of the NHS.  Further discussion on that is probably best left for another post.  But in the meantime, what should we do?  I might take out my frustrations by writing to my MP and including a free eye test voucher for Specsavers…

*Obviously I had a considerably stronger adjective in mind, but being a family-friendly blog and all that…

Splish splash splosh (or how to get eye drops in)

One day at work recently, I’d just had lunch with my friend and was about to set off to take the minutes at a hideously dull committee meeting in a room with ghastly bright glarey lights so I paused to pop in some lubricating eye drops before heading off to endure the rest of the afternoon.  I was sitting with my head tipped back and the bottle of eye drops poised over my eye when my friend suddenly declared loudly, “Splish splash splosh!”  This caused me to laugh, which made my hand shake and a torrent of drops splashed onto my cheek, somehow managing to completely miss my eye.

Although I can’t always blame my friend, I do frequently manage to miss my eye completely and end up with eye drops running down my face, soaking into my top, or even finding their way into my ear on several occasions.  Now, with lubricating drops it isn’t so much of an issue, but with eye drops which are prescribed medication it’s vital to get the darn things in properly.  It’s also important to remember that if you’re prescribed more than one set of eye drops, you should wait at least five minutes before putting the next one in.  This is to ensure that the first drop isn’t washed away or diluted by the second drop.

One of the most effective methods I’ve found in getting the pesky things in is by following the instructions of one of the nurses at Moorfields, who showed me the knack after my third lot of surgery.  This is what she told me to do:

  1. Wash your hands (obviously!).
  2. Tip your head back.
  3. Hold the bottle of eye drops lengthways between your fingers and thumb, with your thumb underneath the side of the bottle.  Place the nail bed of your thumb in the dip where your nose meets your forehead, so that the nozzle of the bottle is being held over your eye (but not touching it).
  4. With your other hand, gently pull down the skin underneath your eye slightly to make a pocket.
  5. Squeeze the bottle gently until a drop falls into the pocket.  You should feel it, even if you can’t see it coming!
  6. Close your eye for a few minutes and wipe away any excess drops with a clean tissue.  Wipe gently from the side of your eye nearest your nose out to the outer edge, and don’t re-use the same piece of tissue if you need to wipe more than once.
  7. Put the lid back on the bottle and wash your hands.

You can find a link to a short YouTube video from Moorfields about how to put your eye drops in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgodZZ2N2wY.

Alternatively, it’s possible to purchase an eye drop dispenser, which is a little gadget designed to help people administer their eye drops more easily.  I’ve never tried using one, but I know that several of my eye buddies use them successfully.  If you search for ‘eye drop dispenser’ on Amazon, you’ll find a variety of different types at various prices.  In fact, there’s so much choice that when I did consider that option a while ago, I felt somewhat overwhelmed and decided to stick with the method of the Moorfields nurse, which usually works for me.  However, if anyone reading this has used a particular eye drop dispenser and found it to be effective, it would be great if you could post a link in the comments below.  Plus, of course, any other handy tips on how to get eye drops in first time would be most gratefully received!


Q: How long does it take to buy a new (used) car?

A: Three years, eight months, and four days.

I decided I needed to trade in the Toyota Yaris I’d owned since 2005 on precisely 25 March 2014, after wincing as I paid the third hefty bill within the space of two months.  I worked out that within that time I’d spent over a grand on what I’d started referring to as my financial drain on wheels, and my friend warned me that if I carried on at that rate I may as well just weld a new car onto the wing mirror.  I was clearly already halfway down that slippery slope of paying an extortionate repair bill, hanging onto the car to get my money’s worth out of it, and then ending up with further extortionate repair bills in the meantime.  Enough was enough, and I resolved that my car would go before reaching its next service and MOT.

Less than a month later, my retina detached.  Following surgery, I was unable to drive for two months.  Then, just a couple of weeks after starting to get back to some sort of normality and driving once more, the damn thing detached again.  And then again.  And again.  And… well, you get the picture.  In among all these detachments and surgeries and slow recoveries was a stressful and ironically long road trip to undergo testing by the DVLA to ensure that I satisfied the medical standards for safe driving.  (You can read about this in my post Road hogs and road rage, if you’re interested.)  So naturally, as I was worried about whether or not I’d even be able to continue driving at all, a new car was the last thing on my mind.  Fortunately, Ioannis the Yaris (yes, my cars tend to be given names) rallied after his 2014 assault on my savings and practically sailed through the next three years of services and MOTs.  Despite this, the dodgy-sounding rattles increased, as did my local garage’s friendly warnings that such and such would need to be replaced soon, or there was “some wear and tear” in this component, and “give and play” in that part.  Ioannis was definitely on borrowed tyres.

After my May 2017 check up appointment at Moorfields, when they agreed to monitor me six months later rather than planning further surgery, I decided that now was the time to change my car.  And then I procrastinated.  I procrastinated right up to a few weeks before that six month check up in November 2017, at which point I decided to take some action rather than simply browsing the websites of various garages.  I spotted a little Toyota Aygo which was within my price range and emailed the link to a friend who has far more car-buying experience than I do.  She pinged a message back: “I like that one… Can you test drive that one?  Its number plate is MVR… we could call him Maverick..?!”.  So I booked a test drive, and she came along with me for moral support.

I felt like a learner again and managed to stall the car on my first attempt to drive it off.  This was after I’d spent a considerable amount of time adjusting all the mirrors to ensure I could see as much as possible.  I’d already decided not to confess to the friendly salesman that I’m unable to see much out of my right eye as I didn’t want to have to contend with a nervous passenger on top of everything else.  Once I’d got used to Maverick, I rather liked him.  My friend egged me on, telling me I should just go for it.  She’d already warned me some months previously that I was in danger of creating a deep groove in the road, from literally running Ioannis right into the ground.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to put a deposit down on a new car before my next check-up at Moorfields as it felt too much like tempting fate.

So I waited, and worried about what my consultant might find when he looked into my pesky peepers.  In the meantime, each time I drove past the Toyota garage, I had a quick scan to see if Maverick was still there.  He was.  Until the Saturday after my appointment, when I glanced up and saw that… [cue dramatic music]… Maverick had GONE!  Completely vanished!  I gasped in shock and then returned to reality.  “Oh well”, I said to myself as I drove juddering Ioannis along the road.  “It wasn’t surprising really – a good little car with a low mileage which had even been reduced in price within the last few weeks.  And it’s only a car, anyway.”  But just in case, I rang the garage the next day to check.  Fortunately, I managed to amend my question of, “Is Maverick still there?” just in time and received the surprising answer that yes, that particular car was still available.

After a second test drive (I didn’t stall that time) and a thorough examination of the car, I found myself in the unexpected position of actually making a decision and even putting down a deposit.  Before I could say, “but I need to procrastinate”, the paperwork was done and a collection date had been agreed.  My friend came with me to collect the car.  She said she wanted to make sure I didn’t change my mind.  “I know what you’re like”, she told me sternly, “I can just imagine you driving off in the new car and then screeching to a halt, reversing back, and saying, “Oh, but how much for that lovely silver Yaris?  The one with the vintage paintwork and unique markings down the driver’s side, and the artistically-placed dents?””.  “Well, I will be quite sorry to see Ioannis go”, I admitted.  “You SEE!”, she declared triumphantly, “You just can’t be trusted on your own!”.

Needless to say, I didn’t do that, although I did cast an apologetic look towards Ioannis as I slowly manoeuvred  Maverick out onto the road, clutching the steering wheel at ten to two as if my life depended on it.  We’d only travelled down the road and turned left at the roundabout when I glanced in my rear-view mirror and exclaimed in a panic, “Oh no!  There’s a police car behind me now!” . My friend smoothly switched into her best policewoman voice, “Control… yes, Emma’s just picked up a new car and she’s driving erratically.  We’re following her.  Over.”.  “Stop it – I need to concentrate!”, I protested, whilst trying not to laugh.  “She’s just turned left into Sturry Road”, continued my friend, making the sound of a crackling radio before returning to her normal voice and telling me in slightly disappointed tones, “Oh, it’s okay, Em, they’ve gone the other way now.”.

As I drove home later that day, I thought to myself that really I could do with ‘beware, I’m getting used to a new car’ plates.  A bit like P plates for new drivers, but perhaps they should say ‘NC’ instead.  But anyway – I made it home in one piece and am gradually getting used to my new little motor.

The morals of this story are threefold:

  1. Do not name a car before buying it.
  2. Don’t worry about huge car repair bills, as there are far, far more concerning things which can happen to us (like multiple retinal detachments, for example).
  3. Don’t procrastinate.  Unless you have an imminent eye appointment.  Or you’re unsure of the best thing to do.

Note: Grateful thanks to my friend, who managed to turn the serious business of buying a car into something of a comedy sketch of which Victoria Wood herself would be proud. 😀

Edible eyes and appointment anxiety

A few weeks ago, my sister announced that she would be holding her ‘Twinkles at Twilight’ event this year on the eve of my next check-up appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital.  “It’ll take your mind off your appointment”, she told me, optimistically.  For those readers who don’t know what Twinkles at Twilight is all about, you may like to read, ‘Twinkles at Twilight, dread at dawn‘, but basically it’s an afternoon of tea, cake and games to raise money for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie.  ‘Twinkles’ relates to a twinkle in the eye, and ‘twilight’ refers to the time at which Marie Curie nurses begin their shifts to provide night-time palliative care for patients in their own homes.  Give us a few years and I’m pretty sure that Twinkles at Twilight will become as much a part of the charity calendar as Children in Need or Comic Relief.  Maybe.

So, following my sister’s announcement that Twinkles would be held on 19 November, I donned my apron* and cracked on with the serious business of baking appropriately themed goodies and cramming them into my freezer.  Much to my delight, I’d discovered packets of edible eyes in my local Sainsbury’s, so I made an array of chocolate muffins and macaroons, decorated with cherry noses and edible eyes.  I made so many macaroons that I actually ran out of edible eyes (there are only 50 in a packet), and had to resort to raisins instead.  That was okay though – the raisin versions just looked as if they’d been sitting in an eye clinic for a while after having dilation drops put in.  I also baked carrot cake (good eye food…?) and chocolate brownies decorated with twinkly stars.  My sister’s creations included fairy cakes with little faces made of chocolate buttons and edible eyes, and giant marshmallows on sticks with cherry noses and rice paper sunglasses.  Other offerings included a beautiful selection of shortbread star biscuits, and miniature star-shaped scones baked by the Duke of Edinburgh students who volunteer at my sister’s workplace.  The process of jamming and creaming the latter naturally led to the inevitable hotly debated question regarding the correct pronunciation of ‘scone’.

A plate of macaroons with edible eyes or raisins as eyes and cherry noses.


Fairy lights were borrowed from various willing lenders and strewn across furniture and curtain poles; sparkly stars were stuck artistically on door frames and mirrors; and the games table was set up.  As last year, we had a tombola (50p a ticket), ‘guess the number of stars in the jar’ (biscuit-shaped stars, that is), and ‘guess where the shooting star is in the night sky’ (each £1 a go).  The games went down a storm and raised a substantial amount of dosh, as well as keeping children entertained and parents probably wishing they’d just popped to the local supermarket and bought that box of chocolates instead of allowing their offspring to have “just one more go!”

A picture of rooftops and a night sky with a crescent moon.

Find the shooting star in the sky!

We realised afterwards that we STILL didn’t have any eye related games this year, so if you have  any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below and we might use them for next year’s fundraising efforts!  Despite this small oversight (pun intended), the evening was a resounding success and thanks to people’s incredible generosity we raised over £400 for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie.  Thank you very much to everyone who came, baked, helped out, donated, and of course scoffed cake (the best bit, obviously!).

The cake-baking and event organising did help to take my mind off my impending hospital appointment, but as the dreaded day dawned, I awoke to the familiar ‘bang bang bang’ of what I suspect was a tension headache hammering away.  Usually I get these the day after my appointment.  This time, I got one the day before, on the day itself, and on the day afterwards.  “Great”, I muttered to myself, whilst knocking back the drugs** and wondering how I was going to remain alert enough to be able to process any potential bad news if the appointment didn’t go well.  Fortunately, the headache had faded by the time we got into London, which was just as well as we were then faced with signal failures on the tube and had to dash up to the street and flag down a taxi in order to make it to the hospital on time.

The clinic was busier than usual.  There was a huge queue just to sign in, and the receptionist had that stressed look of one who can’t actually see the end of the queue (and not because of dodgy eyesight).  We’d already been waiting for a couple of hours when another patient sat down next to me and sighed, “It’s a long wait, isn’t it?”  I asked her how long she’d been waiting, to which she replied with another sigh, “Almost an hour!”“Ah, that’s not too bad”, I replied, adding, “At least we still have the NHS… at the moment, anyway!”  She agreed, and settled back in her chair as my sister and I exchanged glances and agreed via sibling telepathy that she was clearly a newbie as you never, EVER have an eye appointment which takes less than two hours.

Eventually, I was called through to see the consultant, whereupon I gritted my teeth and crossed my fingers as I put my chin on the contraption and tried to remember to breathe as I followed the usual instructions for each eye in turn: “Look straight ahead… look up… look up and right… look right… look down and right… look down… look down and left… look left… look up and left…”  Then it was all repeated when ‘the Prof’ came to have a look.  To my delight, he said that everything looked much the same as previously and agreed with my view that it was better not to rock the boat by having further surgery as things were still stable and I was coping.  Of course, they’ve warned me that if I start to get side effects as a result of the oil (e.g. high pressure), surgery may become inevitable, but I really do hope that things will remain stable for a long, looooong time.  Or at least until they’ve figured out a magic solution of how to cure PVR and make the ruddy retina stick…

* I don’t actually have an apron, but I probably should invest in one, as I’d make less mess when baking.  Or at least the mess could then be wiped on the apron instead.

** Ibuprofen of course.  What did you think I meant?!

The persistent presence of pernicious Mr Pip

Mr Pip is on the prowl again.  While most of us are bemoaning the end of summer after reluctantly switching the heating on and setting the clocks back, Mr Pip looks on gloatingly as he points a skinny well-manicured finger and curls his thin lips in a satisfied smirk.  He seems to enjoy these dark, damp, chilly mornings, and takes delight in taunting me through the thick duvet just after the alarm clock has announced that it’s time to move, informing me gleefully: “It’s cold, and dark, and miserable outside.”  When I fling back the duvet in his face and pad, shivering, across the room to peep through the curtains, I see that he’s quite right.  It is cold and dark, and it makes me feel miserable.  I suspect that Mr Pip crosses the paths of a fair few people at this time of year, so you may well be familiar with him already.  If not, you might like to read ‘The unwelcome visitations of Mr Pip‘, which provides a full description of this most unpleasant fellow.  I’d strongly advise you to cross the street and avoid him if you spy him approaching.

Mr Pip is irritatingly omniscient, so as well as being aware of my dislike of the short, cold days and the challenge of driving in the dark at this time of year, he also knows fully well that appeals season – my favourite time at work – is now over and I’m suffering with a bad case of Appeals Withdrawal Syndrome.  Symptoms of this include: a reluctance to go to work, more frequent purchase of lottery tickets, increased frustration when the lottery people don’t select the correct numbers (i.e. mine), excessive yawning, and an almost overwhelming desire to hurl a stapler at my office buddy when she persists in talking to herself all day when I’m trying to concentrate.

Naturally, Mr Pip is also aware of the fact that I have a check-up appointment at Moorfields the week after next.  “They might find something wrong and want to operate again”, he constantly whispers into my ear, spitting slightly as he does so.  “Maybe they’ll whip you straight into surgery again”, he continues gleefully, “Or perhaps they’ll tell you that they need to remove your eye altogether!”  He claps his hands in delight and prods my forehead with his skinny fingers until he sees me reaching for the paracetamol, whereupon he announces, “A-ha!  A headache!  It must be your eye pressure increasing!  That’ll mean they’ll want to take your oil out.  They’ll take it out; they’ll take it out; they’ll take it out and throw it away, and then your retina will detach again!”, he sings, mockingly.  He dances around me, tapping his shiny black shoes on the floor in an irritating rhythm which causes an answering drum to beat loudly in my head.  Each time I summon up the energy to try and swipe him away, he simply dodges and laughs again as if he’s having the time of his life.

Sometimes it’s not even possible to escape Mr Pip when I go to sleep.  I’m convinced that he has the ability to shrink himself down until he’s the size of a Borrower, whereupon he creeps through my ear and into my brain where he settles down and narrates bedtime stories to me from inside my head.  Stories about being late to hospital appointments; stories about writing down the wrong information from the consultant in my little eye book; stories about being trapped in some kind of dark underground world filled with dangers;  being chased; unable to see some horrendous threatening presence looming, coming closer and closer, faster and faster, until it’s right THERE!  And then I wake with a huge jump, heart pounding, and raise my head to stare at the dim rectangle of light coming in through the curtains as I open first one eye and then the other to check that I can still see.

As is usually the case, there’s no point in applying logic to the problem of Mr Pip or attempting to argue with him.  Pleasant distraction seems to be the only thing that really works in banishing him for a while.  Fortunately, I’m reading rather a good book at the moment and retreating into a fictional world is always an effective method of escapism.  There are also cakes which need baking, in preparation for an imminent fundraising event for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie.  Despite Mr Pip’s constant whining voice telling me that it’s cold and damp and grey outside, at weekends I layer up and go out for walks, defiantly pointing out to him that the air is still fresh, there’s much beauty to be found in nature, and it’s good to make the most of these short hours of daylight.  This causes Mr Pip to sulk, and he hunches his skinny shoulders and scuffs his shiny shoes along the ground as he drags himself away like a moody teenager.  Perhaps I should treat him as such and, next time he starts whining in my ear, tell him in that particular parental tone favoured by parents who also happen to be teachers, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  Yeah, pipsqueak!


Tooth hurty!

One of my friends has an extensive repertoire of eye-rollingly bad jokes – most of them obtained from ‘The Ha Ha Bonk Book’.  That’s a children’s joke book, in case you’re wondering.  Whenever she receives the reply, “Two thirty” to her casual enquiry, “What’s the time?”, she’ll take delight in responding, “You’d better go to the dentist’s then!”.

And that is exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago, after waking up at 3am with stonking toothache, radiating from the area of a wisdom tooth which periodically flares up a bit.  This time, however, it was more than just a bit as it kept me awake for the rest of the night.  When I arose with the dawn I stomped to the bathroom and peered, blearily-eyed, into the mirror with my mouth opened wide, using a torch to illuminate the angry red mass adjacent to my tonsils.  After a few minutes of angling, peering, and yelping, I decided it would be prudent to stop in case I managed to smash the mirror with the end of the rather long torch and so sentence myself to seven years of bad luck.  I breakfasted on lukewarm tea, slurped through the opposite side of my mouth from the offending tooth, tiny bites of soft banana, and a couple of ibuprofen, and then headed off to the dentist’s.  I felt particularly disgruntled by this turn of events as it was the last day of my week of annual leave (which I’d hoped would work miracles on the relaxation front, leading to a renewed and revitalised me), and my birthday was in two days time.  No sweet treats or birthday cake for me, then… 😦

I reluctantly lay back in the dentist’s chair, fearing for my oil-filled RD eye as well as my aching wisdom tooth as I obeyed the dreaded instruction to “open wide” with an internal sigh whilst gripping the edge of the chair.  “Oh dear, yes, I can see exactly what the problem is!”, exclaimed the dentist, which did nothing to calm my frayed nerves as I proceeded to visualise my tooth hanging by a bloody thread with a puscular mass of green gunk welling up from deep inside the gum.  Fortunately, it wasn’t actually that bad: I just had a severely inflammed gum.  “It often happens when you get a bit of food stuck and if you’re a bit low and tired it can cause everything to flare up”, the dentist explained, leading me to wail, “But I’ve only just had a holiday!”.  He was all set to prescribe antibiotics as a precaution in case it got worse over the weekend, but then retreated to ‘The Drugs Bible’ when I told him that I’d had multiple retinal detachments and would need to be sure they were safe for me to take.  I was vaguely aware of recent research which had found a link between certain antibiotics and RD, and so I wasn’t prepared to take any chances.  After deliberating, he decided he didn’t want to give me antibiotics until I’d checked with Moorfields as to which ones would be okay.  When he noted that it would be good to get an updated medical history from me for the records I reacted with surprise, explaining that I’d done that at my annual check-up appointment just a couple of months previously.  “Oh!”, he said, in equal surprise, peering at the computer screen.  “All it says here is, ‘seeing doctor about her eyes'”.  Genius.

Instead of antibiotics, he gave the offending tooth a good clean-out (ouch) and advised continuing with ibuprofen and salt water mouthwashes.  When I got home, I rang the Moorfields advice line about the antibiotics query, whereupon I was put through to their pharmacy.  First, I was told that I’d need to check with my consultant; then I was told that the Canadian study which found a link between certain antibiotics and RD was flawed; and finally I was told that the antibiotics the dentist had suggested would be fine and the important thing was to take whatever was the best for my tooth.  All of this advice was given by the same person and did nothing to ease my niggling doubts on the issue.  I’ll be seeing my consultant in November and so will ask about antibiotics then, but unless I definitely need to take them, I don’t  really want to bother him in the meantime.  I’m pretty sure that the Canadian study led to warnings being included on the boxes of certain antibiotics, which suggests that there is a cause for concern regarding these specific ones.  And as for taking whatever was the best thing for the tooth… surely the whole picture needs to be considered?!  I mean, a decent medical professional wouldn’t just hand out aspirin to treat the heart condition of a haemophiliac, would they?  Okay, I admit that I know next to nothing about haemophilia or heart conditions, but you take my point.

Anyway… fortunately, after dosing up on ibuprofen and swilling my mouth out with the contents of the North Sea, the toothache gradually retreated and the gum seems to have returned to its normal size.  I’m still treating it cautiously and am hoping that it won’t flare up again… or at least not until after my next Moorfields appointment in November anyway.

Note:  The group of antibiotics which have been linked to RD are Fluoroquinolones.

Note 2:  ‘The Ha Ha Bonk Book’ is by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and comes highly recommended by my hilarious friend.  If anyone can explain the joke concerning Tarzan, Jane, and colour-blindness on page 16, please do let me know.  This has been something which has puzzled my friend since the tender age of 7 and she’s now reached the ripe old age of 40 but so far, nobody has been able to explain it.