Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A second interesting experience

Recently, a critical situation occurred in the family, when The Son In Law (TSIL) managed to fall and break his hip, The Better Half (TBH) was asked to go to help out The Daughter (TD) by looking after him whilst she was at work.  I did not accompany her immediately, since I had some commitments that had to be sorted and so it was planned that I would follow in a few days’ time. 
Because they live about six hours drive away from us (on a good day) TBH would be staying there until TSIL got to a state where he did not need her and I would be coming up to help her after I was finished with my commitments down south.

The best laid plans and all that…

Two days into this plan, I got a phone call from the Great Western Hospital asking if I could take an appointment to have my second cataract removed on the Saturday.  We were rather hoping we could get that sorted in time for the summer holidays, so after a consultation with TBH, who in turn consulted with TD, who thus prepared, was able to do without TBH over the weekend.  With everyone in agreement, I accepted the option to take the appointment for day surgery. 
Since, despite my protestations, TBH did not trust me to live with the after-care sensibly, she then drove back through all six hours of British Friday traffic and we set off for the hospital together on the Saturday morning at 7:20AM and my fun day started.
The pre op procedures all went smoothly, receiving the drops and eye check-ups, until the six patients to be processed that Saturday were ushered one by one into a waiting room where we all sat with our cabalistic looking marks on the forehead indicating which eye was to be done that day.  As I mentioned in my earlier post-op post, it is rather like being in some kind of exclusive club and so we were soon all chatting amiably and quite enjoying the camaraderie in the face of a shared peril, when the fire alarm went off.    We all left our seats, sure that we were about to be ejected from our exclusive club room to stand in the cold outside and not have an operation that day, but none of the staff seemed inclined to herd us out, so we all stood around uncertainly wondering what would happen.
 After some running around by a couple of the nurses, we were informed that we did not need to leave because it was just some toast that had been intended for a patient’s breakfast, left in the toaster too long.  So we continued to sit in our waiting room with the most excruciatingly loud alarm pulsing right away at 95db or more.  I was seated right underneath the alarm and it was hurting my ears, so I got up and stood on the furthest point in the room away from the intrusive sound.  Since sounds diminish rapidly as you move away from the source, the sound level dropped to merely unpleasant, but my action triggered a response in the nurses, who produced some cotton wool for us to stuff in our ears.
Now we were all sitting around with our marks on our foreheads and cotton wool sticking out of our ears, unable to converse, all hoping the alarm would be shut off soon.  None of the hospital staff are allowed to shut it down themselves, in case some careless person shuts it off a when there is a real fire, so we had to wait until a fire appliance arrived and it was shut off by a qualified alarm-switcher-offer.
Eventually the fire brigade arrived and once more silence descended.  Withdrawing our cotton wool, we started chatting once more and after the subject of fire alarms was worked through, the conversation turned to mobile phones and how we oldies all managed without such things back in the year dot. 
I do not recall exactly how the conversation got to using phone boxes but I told them, that at about age ten, I had been shown by my mates how to make free phone calls by tapping the phone cradle in a sequence of numbers.  Several of the group were intrigued and one other guy laughed and admitted he had done that too.   We then explained between us how you could do it by counting the individual numbers as you tapped them out, pausing just enough between each digit for the exchange to accept it.  For some reason doing it this way, you did not need to put in any coins.
After STD dialling came along, sometime during the 1960s, you could no longer tap the rest fast enough to make calls that way so it became impossible to do it .  Inevitably, one of the ladies present wanted to use the loo and smiling to show she was joking, I think, expressed her doubts about leaving her handbag in the room because of the two dodgy characters who fiddled the phone companies out of their phone charges.
As the morning wore on, one by one each of our group took their turn in the operating theatre. They were wheeled back a short time later in a wheelchair, to see that they were OK and to be given their post op tea and biscuits before letting them go home.
I was number five, so it was a while before my turn came and I was led into the preparation room and laid on a gurney.  Whilst the anaesthetist went about her anaesthetistic duties, numbing my eye and getting me ready for the surgeon, we chatted about computers and when she found out I used to teach IT, she wondered if I knew how she could reduce the size of a document she was preparing, so that it could all fit all on one page. 

So picture the scene.  There I was on the gurney staring at the ceiling with one numb eye, whilst I was giving her lessons on how to format a page in Word 2010.  She had pulled the document up on a PC in the room and although I could not see what she was doing, I talked her through the menus until she could make the changes she needed. By the time the surgeon was ready for me we had managed to get her up to speed on what she wanted to know.  I did mention that it was rather difficult not being able to see what she was doing, but she assured me it was working out and she was finding the menus she needed.  So I left a happy anaesthetist as I went in for my op.  Inside the operating theatre, I was given my squeaky toy to hold as before.  This slightly unorthodox signalling device could be used to warn the surgeon that I needed to sneeze or whatever without actually moving my head to speak.
Twenty minutes later after watching the strange light show produced by the surgeon poking things into my unfeeling  eye as he carried out the operation, I was sat up and wheeled out in a wheelchair and re-joined the dwindling crowd in the waiting room.
TBH was called in and we were shown the contents of my goody bag and instructed on what to do with the contents before being sent on our way.
So here I am wandering around; an invalid in the home of another invalid, not allowed to bend over, lift anything heavy or get my eye wet for two weeks.  Of course, TBH makes quite sure I obey orders at all times and behave as a proper invalid. 
I have to admit that being unable to pick up something I have dropped and having to perform a kind of cross between tai chi and yoga in the shower to wash my feet, whilst avoiding getting my eye wet for a couple of weeks is going to be worth it.  The effect on my eyesight is quite amazing and I am seeing things that I have not been able to see for years.  On the way to (TD) and TSIL’s home, we stopped at a motorway services for lunch, and an eye drop session, and whilst looking out of the restaurant window I could see cattle grazing about a mile away in a field and identify they were cows and not bushes.   The only problem is that I now have two pairs of temporary glasses bought from a local supermarket, one pair for working on the computer and the second slightly stronger pair for reading.  I will be able to get a set of varifocals eventually but in the meantime I have to carry two sets around and I am constantly losing them.  There is one other ray of light, I could get myself some really cool shades because when you wear glasses all the time, you either have to go to the expense of getting a prescription pair made up, or wear clip-ons, so having long vision in both eyes allows me to wear shades when we are out and about.

1 comment:

  1. You do manage to have some entertaining adventures, snafu! As for your IT expertise...could use some of that over here, as I've just purchased a new lap top and of course it has the required Windows 10 on it...and it's driving me crazy. Would have been very happy to have lived without it, but I guess we have to keep up with the times. And, by the way - TEA AND BISCUITS?? You do get treated well over there, don't you? No such pandering over here. But so glad that you now have two well-seeing eyes..."all the better to see you with, my dear!!"