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3:06pm on Friday, 4th October, 2013:

Eye Operation


I had my eyelid operated on today.

My appointment was for 8:30, so I arrived at 8:15. At 9:00, they checked me in (asked me a bunch of questions, took my blood pressure, put a wristband on me). At 10:15 I saw the surgeon, who drew an arrow above the eye that was going to be operated on, just to make sure she didn't make a mistake. I went in for surgery at 11:00 and it was finished at 11:40. I had to wait until 12:15 before I could leave, which meant I missed the 12:24 bus. I waited (wearing my impressive eye patch for all to see) for the 12:54 bus, but that drove straight past the stop, so I took a taxi home instead. I arrived back at around 1:20.

The wait for the surgery was tiresome, as they don't actually tell you when you're going under the knife. They do, however, tell you off when you read your case notes — even though you're entitled to do so under the Freedom of Information Act.

Just before the surgery, you're asked to say your first name, your date of birth, which eye you're having done and whether the signature on the consent form is your own. I asked the man who asked me the questions whether anyone ever doesn't know the answers. He said thst sometimes they do say the wrong eye.

OK, I'm about to describe the surgery now so if you don't like eye gore you might want to stop reading...

From the earlier examination, the surgeon said that the cyst nearest my eye wasn't a cyst and might go if I left it. She'd give me some antibotics (one a day for 8 weeks) to clear it up. She'd also take a biopsy "just to make sure it isn't anything more serious". The cyst in the middle of my eyelid was small and she might not be able to find it once my eye had been injected with anaesthetic (because eyelids swell up under anesthetic), so it could take a number of attempts to find it.

When I went into the operating theatre, I warned them that the lights were going to be too bright. They turned them down from 55 to 40 (I don't know what units). They were still too bright. Even with my eyes closed, they were hurting. The nurse tried to put some drops onto my eyeball, but my eye closed in the time between the exit of the drops from the pippette and the arrival on my face. The drops ran down my cheek and into my ear. It was only after the operation that I could get a tissue and clear my ear out of eye anaesthetic.

The injections into the eyelid weren't too bad, but took longer than I remember their taking last time I had this done. By now, though, the brightness of the light was getting intolerable. Fortunately, the surgeon wanted to operate looking through a microscope, which involed putting a hard plate over the eyeball. This did the trick and I was able to relax (well, apart from the fact that the light was still shining strongly through the cloth covering my other eye, making that one gush tears). At one point, when the surgeon was switching from the not-a-cyst to the cyst, I could see the TV screen that was showing a close-up of my eye. It was swollen and bloodshot in a quite spectacular manner. Just as well I'm not squeamish...

All the way through the surgery my hand was held. I don't know who was holding it, but from its size its owner was probably female. I think I was supposed to squeeze it in an emergency. The same thing happened last time I had this operation; it's a kind of patient-monitoring thing. If you get cold sweats, they can detect it. Of course, the opposite is also true: if the surgeon screws up and the nurse gets cold sweats, the patient will know about it...

The removal of tissue for the biopsy involved the use of scissors. I counted 7 snips to get it out. Apparently, there was quite a lot of pus there too, so I'm hoping that the not-a-cyst will clear up a bit as a result of its puncturing. The surgeon thought I'd had surgery on the not-a-cyst before, because it had a lot of scar tissue. She said my problem had been going on for years. That was news to me, as I remember very distinctly when it started: it was back in May, just before the students took my exams. It was probably caused by a voodoo doll or something, then.

Afterwards, I got tea and biscuits, then was discharged. I didn't get my 8-week course of antibiotics, because the surgeon had made no note anywhere that I needed one. Oh well.

Here's the before and after picture:

I look like a World War 1 mustard gas casualty. Even without having been operated on, my right eye looks somewhat red. Gawd knows what my left eye will look like when I take the patch off an hour from now. There's now a centimetre's width of blood soaked into the bottom edge of it, so I'm expecting it will be exciting...

I have an appointment in three weeks to check how I'm recovering. In the meantime, I have some eyedrops to use twice a day and some antibiotic eye cream to use twice a day. I'm not sure how I can use them at the same time, so I guess they'll have to be different times of day.

I took off the wristband when I got home. At no point during the time I wore it did anyone ever look at it.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).