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4:29pm on Wednesday, 30th August, 2006:

Life in 2D


So, this morning I was interviewed by the Discover Channel for 2 hours for a series they're making about computer games, and in the afternoon I went to the hospital to have the cyst on my right eyelid removed.

On the whole, it's probably good that things happened in that order.

I wasn't actually expecting to have my eye done — I thought it was merely an inspection. I'd taken the precaution of going into Colchester by bus, though, "just in case", and it turned out just as well that I did. Of course, I had to take the bus home, which meant frightening small children with my eye patch (that's not a joke; I really did send two separate children scurrying for their respective mothers when they saw me). The patch stays on until tomorrow morning, whereupon I remove it to apply antibiotic cream. As a result, I'm currently seeing the world in 2D rather than 3D, which is rather disconcerting.

Warning: gruesome surgical details follow.

There are two things about me which made this a rather unusual experience for the surgeon.

Firstly, I'm very sensitive to bright lights, to the extent that even when my eyes are closed I'll have to screw them up if something too bright is shone at them. "Too bright" here meant the high-power lamp that the surgeon needed to shine on me to see what he was doing. At least he now knows he can operate in the event of a power cut...

Secondly, I have very fast reactions. I mean, very fast. Play me at Snap sometime and you'll see. This is normally a boon, especially when driving and some idiot pulls out in front of me. However, it does mean I'm jumpy compared to other people. So when, say, a nurse puts anaesthetic eye drops into a patient's eye, it's unusual for the patient to jerk away between drop 1 and drop 2. Likewise, when a surgeon puts a cotton wool swab with iodine on it on a patient's skin to sterilise it, it won't normally be the case that the patient twists and the iodine goes all over the cheek as far as the ear. As for sticking a hypodermic syringe into the patient's eyelid from the side, where any movement can result in stabbing the eyeball... Well, you can see why we were a little nervous. Fortunately, I was able to switch off my right eyelid (not that I told the surgeon this is what I was doing) and he got it in safely.

Thus numbed, my eyelid was inverted using some special eyelid-inversion hardware they have, and the cyst was removed from the inside so as not to leave a scar (not a visible one, anyway). Having waited so long to have the cyst attended to, there was some hard stuff in there along with the pus and blood and other assorted fluids, so the surgeon had to cut it out. He did this using a pair of scissors — that's the official, surgical name for them. I could hear him snipping, and would have seen him doing it too if my eyes hadn't been fixed on my feet in order that he didn't catch my cornea. Another glop of liquid hit my eyeball, then he had a go at the cyst wall, so it wouldn't reform. Finally, he put in some antisceptic ointment, flipped the eyelid back, told me it would be sore for the next few days while it healed, and put on the child-scaring eyepatch. He wouldn't let me examine the cyst he removed — they're probably looking for a match on their list of people who want a cyst transplant right now.

The whole of the surgery, my right had was held by a nurse. I've no idea why. I let go of it, but she kept taking it again. Eventually I realised it was some kind of patient-monitoring system, so let her be. Afterwards, she made sure I wasn't going to faint by sitting me in a room for 10 minutes and giving me a glass of water, then finally released me into the environment. She said I could take the patch off tomorrow morning, but will have an alarming black eye. So, more child-scaring awaits.

As for the Discovery Channel interview, I'll be lucky if they use 20 seconds of the footage.

Referenced by Unpatched.

Referenced by 46. Not bad..

Referenced by Discovery Channel Discovery.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).