Events surrounding emergency retinal surgery to this blog’s author.
Recently whilst out and about, I began to notice something wrong with the vision of my left eye. The next day, Saturday, I took a bus to the Accident And Emergency department of Bristol Eye Hospital; I didn’t drive as I guessed they would put drops in my eyes.
After only a short wait, I was seen first by a nurse and then, very soon after, by a doctor who after examining my eye informed me that I would need emergency surgery for a torn retina.
I was pretty shaken up, as you might imagine. I suppose I might have sounded a bit incoherent to the people I phoned in the next few minutes, to pass on the news and arrange some assistance for both myself and my wife.
I was admitted to the hospital within an hour and found myself in a nearly deserted ward, used mainly for day cases Monday to Friday. I was given a side room, instead of being the only person in a six bed bay. After the shock, I was quite glad of the peace.
For most of the rest of that day, I had to sit with my head face down and supported in a specific position to minimise pressure on the damaged part of my left eye. At night, the pillows were removed from the bed and the head support attached. I had to try and sleep face down in the support; I didn’t sleep much.
On Sunday morning, I was taken to surgery between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Now I was getting really scared. I can’t remember feeling so afraid in my life before, far more scared than the day before when I had been told that I needed the emergency retinal surgery. To help calm me a bit, a nurse held my hand through the whole procedure, once I was taken into the operating theatre.
Although the surgery was done under local anaesthetic, I saw nothing, my better eye seeing only the inside of the ‘tent’ covering the rest of my face. I felt nothing except a few moments of pressure around my left eye. The surgeon even talked to me once or twice during the procedure.
Some people like a friendly approach from a surgeon. Mine was not unfriendly though I would describe him as having a businesslike and efficient manner. Some people do not like this approach. I find it fine. It gives me a feeling of confidence in the surgeon’s competence and ability.
I do not know how long the operation took. I think less than an hour. When it was over, I was taken back to my room, head down in a wheelchair. I had to sit head down again for another hour back in my room. Maybe I was lucky, as I understand that for some people they must adopt the head down position for 50 min’s in every hour for up to 5 days.
My eyesight was poor before the retinal problem, so when I was allowed to sit up, I couldn’t see much with my right, better eye; the dressing on my left eye prevented me from wearing my spectacles. The dressing was removed from my left eye the following morning. I could wear my glasses and see from my right eye.
My left eye is a bit like a spirit level in my head. There is a bubble of gas which will be slowly absorbed over the weeks and months ahead, until my eye is once again filled with liquid. The best description of my left eye’s vision is looking through a part filled jar of water, rippling and sloshing around. I find it easier to see with my left eye covered, looking only through my right eye.
My eye was examined and the doctor was happy with the surgery. I was discharged with various eye-drops and instructions, and allowed to go home. I have to put in one lot of eye drops every two hours, and the other every four, with ten minutes between them when they fell on the same hour. For at least four weeks, I am allowed bend down to, for example, tie a shoe or pick something up, but I cannot bend for long periods such as for gardening. I must not lift anything heavy. I cannot drive for the foreseeable future, almost certainly much longer than the four weeks of the other restrictions.
On the day of my return home, I received an e-mail entitled Help On Hand. Two friends, without whom my period in hospital would have much harder than it was, had been busy. Members of St. Mary’s church, where I attend, had been contacted and had been praying for me. But there was much more than just prayer, practical help was offered too. There was a list of people willing to provide various assistance, as my wife and I might need in the forthcoming weeks.
As I write this, we have already had substantial help from these wonderful friends. In the few days I have been home from hospital, my wife and I have been blessed with all these wonderful people from our church who have cooked meals, changed bedding and done laundry, vacuumed our home. I have been taken shopping and been offered transport when needed.
This is not just to tell the story, it is to say to the staff of Bristol Eye Hospital,
and especially to St. Mary’s Church’s family a big –