“it’s about more eyeballs” was the passionate refrain from a man with a ‘digital vision‘ and a poor choice in ties earlier in my week. Somebody, who shall spent an eternity in hell, had furnished this ‘digital native‘ with novelty neck wear, a copy of powerpoint and an hour of my time to expound barely-baked theories on exactly how the world was going to work and – if we took his breathless advice – our place within in.
Two problems. He was twenty years plus a bit past those who have an understanding of any of this shit – so therefore entirely irrelevant, and I wasn’t listening. Not because i wasn’t interested** but rather my attention was on the blurry audio visual experience which was more modern hieroglyphics than any discernible text. Still ever cloud and all that, I didn’t actually have to read it. Sadly my ears still worked.
This wasn’t the surprise that a man waking up missing 10% of his vision would suggest. Earlier that week I was put very much in mind of one my favourite Pete and Dud sketches where Cook interviews a one legged Moore for the role of Tarzan and declares ‘I have nothing against your right leg Mr Spiggot, nothing at all. The problem is neither do you‘. I tell you this because my appointment with the head eye poker at Hereford hospital followed a similar script. Only it wasn’t quite as amusing.
Visual assessment predates any proper medical advice. I rocked up with clean looking eyeballs and an air of confidence. Which rapidly eroded when the right eye delivered a chart reading performance in line with a man last seen with a harnessed labrador. Top Doc wheeled me in and shook my hand in the manner of a professional having recently been forced to attend a ‘customer interaction‘ seminar.
Awkwardness passed, soon I was seated – chin on rest, lights dimmed, bright lights and barked instructions on where to point the eyeballs before a frankly worryingly extended examination where the full gamut of humming, tutting and teeth clicking left me in no doubt the breezy ‘you’re all good, vision of a twenty year old, darken not our towels again‘ of my optimistic construction wasn’t actually going to occur.
“I like your left eye, your left eye is very good, your right eye however...’ – a scan of the notes suggested a new infection was stalking my already ravaged eyeball. Although this was a matter for some dispute as the 21st Century cutting edge diagnostic history manifested itself as a wobbly circle with a dot randomly pencilled in. It was like a fucking wombles naming ceremony.
Having seen three different masters of eyeball in my three previous visits, some confusion about exactly where this dot might actually be took a while to resolve. And quite a few people. I’m here to tell you there is no shortage of doctors and nurses in the NHS. Really just when the last management consultant*** performed a headcount, they were all in a room with me. Not that I could see them of course – glasses off it’s an impressionistic blur hiding concerned expressions. Suits me, that’s my kind of displacement activity, shame I hadn’t smuggled in a hipflask.
So many people were eyeballing my eyeball I began to feel a bit like a medical experiment. Half expected a copywriter to come in with a camera and the outline of a textbook entry marked ’if it looks like that, best recommend some audio books‘. Eventually the entire medical cohort for all of Herefordshire were shooed out and I was left with a man who gave me half a smile and about the same level of explanation.
‘There’s is an infection still there. It’s very close to the area of prime vision. The loss of clarity might be scarring because you are healing too quickly. Still it might also be too much coffee, lack of sleep or feeling tense. Are you feeling tense?’‘. Since I was arranging my face into a heroic/stoic fascimilie of a bloke who could ‘take it’ when it came to bad news I entirely missed the opportunity to shout ‘what do you fucking think? I’ve spent the last twenty minutes being prodded by a pantheon of increasingly worried looking people with doctor in their title‘
I am beginning to form an indelible impression that the medical branch of Ophthalmology is more of an art than a science. Let me furnish you with a representative example. The doc again ‘ your eyes are healing really well. But too fast. The body has only one way of dealing with cuts and thats scaring. So your lack of vision may be scoring of the cornea. We can treat that with steroids but I don’t want to prescribe too much’ / ‘oh why’s that, more is better, just give me something I can inject with a piping bag’ / ‘Ah well no we can’t because there is a side effect of steroids. And that side effect is scaring’.
While I was trying to find a some rationale or logic to work that out, he followed with ‘so are you feeling more reassured’ / ‘that what? being told I’ve lost a chunk of vision and it might be permanent or it might be because I’ve just swigged a latte? Not really or – to speak from the heart – not. at. fucking. all.’ He wondered if I had any questions, most of which would have started ‘can we start again but this time without the crowds‘. But there are times when not knowing the wrong answer is all about not asking the right question. So I didn’t. That’s how cowardice works.
Anyway they clearly like me because they keep asking me back. In fact they actively encouraged me to return before the next appointment should I feel any discomfort or concern. I’ve passed so far on the grounds that self medication with a decent Merlot is a far better approach. Come Monday tho, I’ll be back amongst the sick people memorising the eye chart and pretending all is well.
Between then and now, I’m beating myself up testing the eyeball to see if it’s improved. Mostly by covering the good eye and squinting at number plates to ascertain how blurry the bad eye receives that image. This isn’t a good idea both in terms of ongoing disappointment, and the simple fact there may be other road events of which I am completely fucking unaware as blurry stuff passes by at sixty miles an hour.
Still mustn’t grumble. Prescription glasses arrived which instantly triggered bikes being ridden. And that was soul food for the starving. I hardly noticed the glasses – even if they are a bit Joe 90/Bono – but God I noticed how much I miss riding my bike. I’ve been like a bear with a sore arse all week snapping at anyone with the temerity to enquire on my wellbeing. It’s all gone a bit single issue and that’s a shitty way to run your life.
So tomorrow we’re on a quest to find Jessie a bigger bike and – if that goes well – I’ll get to ride with one of my kids. Sunday I’ll find an excuse to ride again because this kind of thing is a prism of focus. There’s much that is important and none of has anything to do with nine to five.
* driving home the shuffle algorithm through up tracks of this name by both Ash and AC/DC. That’s serendipity right there. Based on what passes for my musical tastes, I feel you have got off lightly.
** there was a bit of that obviously.
*** I’d just like to clear up a peripheral point here. I am not a management consultant. Never have been, never will be. I’m just a bloke with a set of skills people buy because you;d never want to employ someone quite that arsey. I’m comfortable with interim, contractor or even mercenary. But not consultant. Thank you for listening