The bathroom tiles sparkle blue and white in the bright sunshine. My eye is drawn to the bath panel. Yellow and out of place. Before my cataract operation a month ago I would not have noticed this.
Family and friends are interrogated. Son claims he was too polite to mention it. In other words, he hadn’t noticed. Brother asks what I think about the variegated kitchen cupboards. Evidently, the effects of age and sunshine on my house have passed me by. Panel colours have changed and I didn’t know!
So the wonders of my improved colour recognition are very revealing. The cardigan I thought was a subtle shade of aubergine turns out to be vivid magenta. Trees, grass and flowers seem almost psychedelic.
What is disconcerting is how slowly this perception has happened over the last several years. At the time my WMD was diagnosed I was told that I had early stage cataracts. In those days the advice was that their removal was risky. Thankfully, skills and technology move on.
Last year I started receiving Eyelea injections and the condition of my right eye stabilised. My consultant suggested having the cataract on this eye removed. He pointed out the risks but also the advantages … more light, better colour recognition and easier monitoring of the Macular for him and his team. I decided against. By Easter I was conscious of the deterioration in my sight when in unfamiliar surroundings. Because of the slow development of the cataract, I was not then aware of diminished colour perception. At my next checkup, my consultant raised the matter again and I agreed.
He explained that he recommended an extra Eyelea injection shortly before the operation and possibly another after to reduce the risks of a bleed. I was delighted to find that the doctor administering the injection was the consultant I saw before Lucentis was available on the NHS. I expressed my anxieties and she reassured me that Mr G is a’wiz’ and very experienced at cataract surgery. And so it proved.
At the pre operation consultation, the nurse practitioner talked me through the procedure. The operation would take approximately 20 minutes, would not hurt at all, a long distance lens would be put in, a shield would be put on my eye to be left for 24 hours and kept on at night for a week.
Son, who came with me timed the operation at exactly 20 minutes. I was comfortable throughout in spite of the fact that the consultant warned me there would be a lot of water! He talked me through all his actions as he worked on my eye. Great music played in the background and when it was all over I felt relaxed and very pleased to be instantly startled by the light. We went to the hospital at 8.00am and were home by noon.
Back home, family took over for a few days of care and cooking which was lovely. 9 year old nephew brought Gangsta Granny on DVD which we watched with great enjoyment. I couldn’t have asked for more.
For the first week, I was advised to stay away from public places to avoid infection, to use one lot of eye drops six times a day and the other three times a day for a month. This has not been difficult.
Today I had my first check up. All is well and I can say that I have a new look through old eyes!
I receive this superb treatment as an NHS (i.e. at no cost at the point of delivery) patient. This is a result of my investment as a National Insurance and Tax payer since I was 18, so it is not free treatment and is accessible to all British citizens. Nevertheless, the pressures on the NHS by cuts and privatisation by stealth are making its work increasingly difficult.
As a child and adult (and mother and grandmother) of the welfare state, this creeping globalisation of the health ‘market’ makes me sad and anxious on a philosophical and practical level. And, it must be said, all the staff working in the NHS should be applauded for their loyalty and commitment in present circumstances.