New eye for old

Today I had an eye replacement and I went from blurred vision in one eye to clear.

In my younger days, I used to pride myself on not seeing doctors from one year to the next and rather looked down on the hypochondriacs that did. I have since found that my list of ailments has grown as I have grown older and I have increasingly come to appreciate the gift of good health. I still have an aversion to being a hospital patient mind you, despite my wife being a hospital nurse!

Some months back, I happened to visit an optician for an eye check, as much out of solidarity with my wife who needed a checkup. It was nice to know that I am now of the age I don’t have to pay either. To my consternation, I found my vision out of one eye was blurred and that it was only because I could see clearly out of the other eye that had up to then hid the fact that this eye was faulty.

But help was at hand. Not only did my visit to the hospital today in order to remove my cataract go remarkably smoothly but the whole process went well (and quickly) once diagnosis had been made. I can’t say having the operation is a pleasant experience but it wasn’t horrendous either and the results are well worth it. Interestingly, I was seventh out of seven to have the operation in the morning batch of patients and it was quite interesting to talk to my fellow patients and follow their experiences before I had my own.

Among the afternoon batch, there was an old lady who had years earlier been a nurse, who commented that in the old days that people with cataracts just had to put up with it and might eventually go blind. When we got talking, she told me that she and her now deceased doctor husband had served in a hospital, typically dealing with poor people, in North Africa, and had spoken fluent Arabic (a language I had earlier set out to learn). Her husband did perform cataract operations and as far as the patients were concerned this often meant family survival given the breadwinner with restored sight could then could work. It later dawned on me who this lady was. I hadn’t seen her for many a year and she had obviously become frail and, as often happens, tended to repeat herself, so one might be excused for not realizing who she was. It turned out that she had been serving as a missionary and when she returned to Southend she got involved in civic life and had become its mayor (1984-85). It seemed to me that people like her we need to honour.

But back to my eye experience – there are obviously concerns about the way the NHS is run (ref. my last blog post) and, but for some minor issues, when it came to making my eye (and that of others) good, it could not be faulted, for which I am most grateful.