The Eye People
‘The wonderful world of the eye people’
These past few days have been quite ‘trippy’ for me exposed as I have been to some pretty emotive sights, feelings and circumstances. Setting aside the predictable emotional angst and personal paranoia regarding the possible loss of sight to my left eye due to retinal detachment, there have been some fairly psychedelic experiences on both a visual and experiential level as my eye has undergone varying stages of sight loss and effects and I have been introduced to the wonderful world of the ‘eye people’.
After my high-street opticians referred me to my local hospital’s eye clinic for an emergency examination and consultation I duly turned up at the Pilgrim Hospital and took my place in the general waiting area that is set aside for all outpatients. I have passed the shadowy entrance to the Royle Eye Clinic on my way to various departments at this hospital over the years, either for personal appointments or with friends and family but a little like the wardrobe in CS Lewis’s famous children’s novel it has stood unnoticed to me and never caused me much thought.
When eventually my name was called by the eye nurse in the Hospital’s large general waiting area it was not as a solo patient but tagged onto a list of 5 other names and after stepping out from differing parts of the room the nurse assembled us together and proceeded to lead us in a crocodile down the corridor and unceremoniously through the entrance marked … ‘ROYLE EYE CLINIC – PLEASE WAIT IN THE GENERAL WAITING AREA BEHIND YOU’.
My name had been called last and so I felt duty-bound to make up the silent rear despite an overwhelming desire to shout, ‘My problem is really an emergency you know, I’m not here just to discuss my cataracts!!’. The journey seemed strangely long and final as though possibly we might not return and why, why after all were we called for in sixes?! Six, six, six!
Seated now in the ‘eye clinic waiting area’, the answer became as murky-clear as the corridors and decoration in the ROYLE EYE CLINIC. Reason: There was not a lot of room in there. Also I began to understand the clever little device regarding the subtle spelling change in the name, for there was actually no way this particular eye clinic could fairly own the title ~ ROYAL.
After successfully hurdling legs and walking sticks I sat in one of the few remaining chairs and began to observe the room, adorned as it was with eye diagrams and posters reflecting a very different kind of society to the one I was born to and have lived within these past 60+ years. Must remember to make a note of the Macula Society Coffee Morning, sounds fun!
. . .
‘. .. the room was adorned with eye posters and diagrams’
Added to the extraordinary number of people crammed into this tiny waiting area was the equally large number of nurses in a diverse range of uniforms of white ; grey ; pale blue and white ; white and black ; red and white and one even wearing a royal blue tunic plus several other people wearing what you might loosely describe as ‘civvies’. The shorter of these ‘doctors?’ was wearing a huge, knee-length short-sleeved pullover with a diamond pattern that I’m sure a distant uncle must have dropped in an Oxfam sack after losing a lot of weight and that more than a couple of years ago.
Each nurse carried a large bundle of notes and papers, some bound in cream folders and all contained by large corded, elastic bands. They travelled in different directions like space vessels, calling names and escorting patients to a wide range of small rooms. Soon I was caught up in this jolly melee. First an eye test in a room dressed plainly with a chair, a table and an eye chart. Then back to wait some more in a new chair as someone had stepped into mine. Another call, another nurse, same notes I guess. This time for two lots of eye drops, one that really stings, in a room with a chair, a dresser and no eye chart and then back to find yet another seat for that ones been taken also.
‘O Budha, it is busy in here!’ Finally a doctor has the notes, my notes and calls my name. Has this after all been about disorienting us. Are we being softened up and gotten ready for – the questions?!
This doctor is tall, slim, smartly dressed and reminds me a little of an Asian Adrian Brodie. His room is small but the way the light is falling across the room from a single sash window it already reminds me of the interrogation room from the film Bladerunner. Must remember the answer to the tortoise question. The doctor sits behind his desk and invites me to sit in the seat next to his ‘eye-contraption thingy’ standing in the middle of the room.
I have learned these past few days, that all of the ‘eye people’ have one of these apparent ‘instruments of torture’. The opticians in the high-street had three for goodness sake! This doctor has one and later in the tale the people at the Queens Medical Centre will have one too. Anyone who has had an eye test will be familiar with these absolute hunnies – with a chin rest, a head band, a scope and a bright light to shine in your eye while you are told to ‘look at my ear’, ‘look left’, ‘look right’ and so forth.. .
At the opticians they had wiped the rests with a medical wipe between users but the deeper you go in the ‘eye people matrix’ these machines have more of a utility function and are pushed around, left randomly in the centre of rooms and are cared for about as much as a builder might care for his folding rule or maybe a doctor his stethoscope? They are after all, ‘eye peoples’ tools.
Sitting with ‘Adrian Brodie’ in the centre of his small, gloomy, sparsely furnished office and watching the green light during yet another intense eye examination, I was now feeling more akin to 1984’s, Winston Smith and the handsome Doctor Islaam an unlikely casting as O’Brien the interrogator from George Orwell’s haunting Dystopian novel but the effect of various eye drops and a retinal detachment does do wonders for your imagination.
Later that night, attempting to get to sleep before an early morning drive to Nottingham for my retinal ‘attachment’ op, I was aware of ‘light flashes’ for the first time. These are a sort of prelude to a private and internal aurora borealis and I had been warned they were a real symptom of an impending detachment. As I lay in the dark ‘counting sheep’, I was seeing some incredible shapes and patterns including a sort of comic-strip template with vivid, pale green frames for assorted figures and shapes.
‘William Morris nature patterns’
Nodding off at one point I had a vividly realistic dream about photographing off-duty American Footballers wearing distinct pastel coloured training uniforms. To see colour in a dream is rare enough but these colours were so HD technicolour they were breathtaking.
‘.. . One clearly resembled an Escher print’
Over the past few days I have seen a vast array of amazing, electric colours, beautiful pastel shades and a collection of repeat patterns and complex designs. One clearly resembled an Escher print, others, William Morris nature patterns, some geometric shaped wallpaper designs in subtle colours, including metallics and a couple of esoteric relief patterns that reminded me distinctly of a particularly ‘trippy’ Jimi Hendrix psychedelic poster that belonged to my friend’s sister that would ‘come alive’ under the influence of certain substances and that my friends, was a very long time ago.
No, this wasn’t actually the one
The ‘eye people’ at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham introduced me to another world of interesting experiences. On arriving at Floor ‘C’ and stepping through the doors I was taken to a ward with no beds but 6 curtained chairs!? … Six again.. .. Six, six, six!
The chairs were apparently activated by a remote control attached to each chair. Unlike my retina which was becoming more un-attached by the hour according to another one of the ‘eye people’. He took me to another room with very little in it. A table, two chairs and another ‘contraption’. He shoved this contraption, which had wheels, so that it stood awkwardly in the middle of the room and he told me to sit at it while he carried out another eye interrogation and then wrote copious notes whilst half listening to my tale of woe. He then drew large chain-gang style arrows on my forehead and my cheek with a black felt pen. Both arrows pointed deliberately at the left eye in question. If I had still been considering a ‘run for it’, there was now no hope of escaping I thought, the ‘eye people’s’ net was closing in.
The staff nurse who visited my chair, the one of the six I had been given, could well be an alien in disguise I mused if this abduction was for real. She seemed a little disconnected to her work. Perhaps she had been doing it a little too long or perhaps she had another agenda? She might have played the nurse, or the sister in ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?’ the old black and white horror with Betty Davis and Joan Crawford but perhaps my imagination and the eye drops were now really beginning to play tricks on me. After all, she was attentive, kind, informative and helpful but then she was definitely one of them! One of those ‘eye people’ and that chair let me tell you was definitely no Lazy Boy and could well be described as a contraption. The ‘eye people’ seem to like working with ‘contraptions’.
The last ‘eye person’ I met was the surgeon who lasered my retina back on to my eye. She was young, around thirty something, she was slim and lovely, although she did have slightly protruding eyes a tiny bit like Stephen Merchant? She used a contraption too! All ‘eye people’ seem to use those but then she also used the laser and the gas bubbler too.
Hopefully she did a good job and saved my retina and the sight in my left eye and maybe I too am now one of those ‘eye people’.
This little ‘spoof tale’ is a bit of harmless nonsense really I wrote while lying on my tum and ‘posturing’ as the lovely staff nurse by the chair taught me – just blogging my way out of a pretty scary couple of weeks since I hit trouble with my eye.
My sincere thanks goes out to all the ‘eye people’ I have met. You do amazing things with not much. Sorry i didn’t learn all your names Your all great and I love you.