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5:31pm on Thursday, 24th October, 2013:



I had to cancel supervisor meetings with two students today so I could attend a follow-up examination of my eyelid to make sure it healed OK from the operation I had three weeks ago. The appointment was at 11:45am, which was a little worrying as I had a lab at 2pm so if they didn't let me out by 1:30pm at the latest I'd miss the start.

Here's how it went.

I arrived at 11:30 and was told to wait in an area so full of people that the only seat I could take was one vacated by an elderly lady who would clearly need it back soon. I took it anyway. Fortunately, someone else got up before she wanted to sit down again, so she took their seat rather than having to look at me plaintively to get me to relinquish her old one.

I waited there for 5 minutes then was directed to follow the red line to the waiting room for the eye doctors. I followed the red line and again found a waiting room full of people. I took the only free seat, although there was another that was occupied by someone's bag. The next two patients who arrived were in wheelchairs and the people pushing them seemed resigned to standing, so I didn't have to get up and offer them my seat. I was the youngest person waiting — one woman gave her date of birth as 1917. I guess they'd booked her in before me in case she didn't live long enough to make a later appointment.

On one of the doors was a sign saying they were running half an hour late.

I was called forth at 11:50 and given a sight test. I think I passed, but they didn't give me my marks, let alone any feedback. I was told that there were only two patients ahead of me and that I should follow the white line on the floor.

I followed the white line on the floor to a third waiting area. In it were many of the people I had seen in the previous waiting room. I waited there until 12:50pm, by which time I was beginning to worry that I may miss the start of my lab. I may also have missed the advisee I had to see at 2:20pm, who had been double-booked with the lab.

Fortunately, at 12:50 I was called in. The biopsy on my eyelid was "benign", which I took to mean that whatever it was wasn't supposed to be there but it wasn't going to kill me. The doctor then looked at both my retinas with an incredibly bright light (which, as I'd warned him of my sensitivity to light, he'd put in its lowest setting; it still hurt like crazy and made my eyes gush water, though). He decided that whatever I had was strictly an eyelid thing, not an eyeball thing, and discharged me. I left him at 12:55pm.

I followed the white line back to the main reception area, which was now empty except for someone who appeared to be waiting for someone else.

As it happened, I managed to mark a bunch of final-year student project interim reports while I was waiting, so it was productive. Nevertheless, if they're not going to see me until 12:55pm, then giving an appointment for later than 11:45pm would be me preference.

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