Making Introductions

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the day surgery unit at our local hospital in order to have a calcium deposit removed from my left cornea. My ophthalmologist hoped that this might let a little more light in, thereby slightly improving my sight. More on that later.

I turned up, as requested, at 12.45 p.m. and then sat around in the waiting room for five hours. The morning’s operations all overran and my surgeon didn’t start his afternoon list until 3 p.m. Naturally, I was last on the list! My surgeon could have cancelled the op but he was determined to carry out all the planned procedures, for which I was grateful. I had no desire to go away and have to come back another day.

My brother-in-law and niece were real stars, staying through the afternoon and looking after me. The staff at the day surgery unit also did their best to keep me informed. The nurse responsible for looking after the ophthalmic patients regularly updated me on what was happening, and identified herself clearly each time she did so. This is very helpful, because otherwise I would have had no idea who was talking to me.

I was eventually taken into surgery at 6 p.m.

I have touched on bad practice in the National Health Service (NHS) in previous blogs but I ought to give credit this time to some excellent practice in the way that staff worked with me as a visually impaired patient.

For example, the surgeon identified himself every time he came in the room and explained exactly what was happening. He also gave me several time checks so that I had some idea of how much longer I had to lie still, staring at one particular spot with a gadget in my eye so I couldn’t blink at an awkward moment. He kept saying encouraging things like, “You’re doing very well,” though, as my niece pointed out, it isn’t how I was doing that was the point. What you need to know in these situations is that the surgeon is doing very well!

When the surgery was over, a nurse carefully explained the eye-drop regime I needed to follow when I got home. She even took one of the ampules out of its box and let me feel it, to make sure I knew what I should expect to find, and to check that I knew how to open it.

All in all, despite the long wait, everyone looked after me very well that day. They guided me when I needed it, kept me informed and, crucially, told me who was speaking to me. This is definitely good practice!

Oh, and, no, I don’t think the operation has made any material difference to what I can see but, never mind. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!