Thursday, October 06, 2016

Early Morning Visit To A and E

Carol came home from work a few days ago complaining that she had a problem with one of her eyes. She said she had something in it which irritated. She wasn't sure what it could be. I didn't think any more about it because often if you get something in your eye, such as grit, a small fly or a hair, it can generally work it's way out and that's the end of it. But this appeared to get worse instead of better. She wondered whether she had got some chemical she uses in the labs at Milton Keynes Academy as a science teacher into her eye accidentally, by rubbing her eye, having picked it up off something or other. Which would seem easy to do if a surface, for example, hadn't been wiped clean properly by another teacher using the same lab.  

She didn't make much comment about this until Tuesday evening. We went to bed, then early next morning, around 3.45 or around that time, she said it was getting much worse. So, after much consideration, we thought it might be a good idea to go to A and E (Accident and Emergency) at Milton Keynes Hospital, which is only a relatively short walk away behind our house in Eaglestone. There's really no point in using the car because you have to pay anyway and we weren't sure how long we were going to have to wait until she would be seen by either a doctor or a nurse. So we walked, leaving the house at around 4.15 a.m. The hospital campus was more or less deserted and, on arriving at the A and E department, there were only a couple of other people waiting. She reported her issue at the reception and then sat down. She was seen by the triage nurse within half an hour, but then another nurse came out and pinned a hand-written notice on the front of the reception desk saying that waiting times were between 4 and 5 hours!

So we sat in the waiting area. There was a television on with  the BBC News Channel. Time ticked by. People came and went. Several with young children. They seemed to be fast-tracked through the system. Taken through to a special children's A and E department. Some people seemed to get taken through to the nurse's area before us. They most likely had priority, as I realize that the more serious an injury is, the quicker you will be seen and dealt with, such as when I have gone to A and E with my heart condition, or even when I had my original heart attack 10 years ago (although I was living in Bedford at the time and went to Bedford Hospital.) A fairly minor eye injury, such as Carol's, would be considered minor which is why she wasn't seen immediately. At around 9 a.m. she was called through to the main area beyond the double doors (which you couldn't enter unless you used a swipe card, which most members of N.H.S. staff had. She was gone about 20 minutes and carrying a small tube of ointment which had been applied to her eye and made it go bright yellow. We walked home and immediately fell into bed and fell asleep. I must say, as we sat in the A and E department waiting area, I was gradually falling asleep. We did manage to get a bottle of orange juice and two chocolate bars out of the vending machines in the department. Fortunately, we had my wallet with us which I had managed to take when we left the house and these vending machines have contactless card payment which meant we could have the chocolate and drink which we wouldn't have been able to have if it was only able to take coins to pay.
Later in the morning we got a call from the hospital to say that she had got an appointment the following day (today, Thursday.) at the eye clinic at 2.30.

Later. Thursday.

Carol's appointment was at 2.30 as I mentioned in the above. We walked to the hospital. I went on-line and found out where exactly the eye clinic was. It's within the outpatient's department, which, on thinking about it, is fairly obvious. I wanted to avoid the situation that we might have found ourselves in, wandering the seemingly never ending corridors in Milton Keynes hospital, rather like the Flying Dutchman in the Wagner opera. Although he wasn't lost in a hospital, but on the hight sea. Although the setting of an N.H.S. hospital might he rather interesting. You can walk in one entrance and then spend the rest of the day walking from one end to the other and never finding the department you want. We got there with plenty of time to spare. Full of people waiting. A definite captive audience. You could sell sandwiches, coffee and tea, newspapers, anything (but I bet you'd have to go through no end of paperwork and go through endless hoops, through regulations, health and safety, patient protection procedures etc, before being able to sell anything, so don't even bother to take it further. No doubt there's a tendering process, red tape and no end of  beurocratic nonsense before you could set up quite a lucrative business.) People of all ages, waiting for their appointments, all attempting like crazy to avoid eye contact with one another. Looking thoroughly bored. Along one side of the room, an array of booths, or kiosks, where you would go for your appointment. Each has a number, in extremely large sized lettering, from 1 through 6 or thereabouts. I realize that the patients had sight problems, but why do the signs have to be so large and obvious? It seemed a bit over the top. I have an image of someone of a 'certain age' who wears glasses, with those extremely thick lenses, like the bottom of bottles, which make their eyes look huge (rather like the bushbaby in the brilliant Ardman Animation mini film "Creature Comfort", which sits on a branch and at the end takes the glasses off and their eyes are tiny.) This person turns up for their appointment and then has great difficulty finding the right room their appointment is in and has to search by touch virtually alone, even though the sign for the room they have to go to has a sign with extremely tiny signage. Just an idea.

We sat at one side of the waiting area, right near the television that was on the wall. The gameshow "Decimate" comes on, a daytime show which I might or might not have seen. It has Shane Ritchie as compere. He plays Alfie Moon in 'EastEnders.' Our Yorkshire Terrier is named after him. Anyway, we had to sit quite close to the screen, but it meant we would have our backs to the rest of the room and wouldn't see anyone who came out to call when Carol's appointment came up. After around 10 minutes it was time for Carol's appointment. She went into the room and was gone for around 20 minutes or so. A young man with his mother came in. They sat directly under the television screen. He looked bored silly as if he didn't want to be there. I wasn't actually sure whether they were mother and son. She seemed to look too old to be his mother. She might have been his grandmother. They didn't speak or make any indication that they were actually together. Perhaps he wasn't old enough to get to the hospital appointment on his own. He probably couldn't drive a car or get a bus on his own (unlikely, thinking about it now.) Then she offered him an extra strong mint, which he accepted. He just stared off into space, but they never spoke to one another. Or perhaps she was going for the appointment. I wasn't sure. Anyway, they are now filed under 'characters' which I can use in my writing. Even just sitting in the hospital I was beginning to get ideas for writing stories. A definite fertile ground for inspiration.

Then Carol came out of the room where she'd had her appointment. She wanted me to go back in with her as the nurse who had been dealing with her eye injury had to go off to find a doctor to give a second opinion about her eye. It was regarding the eye problem she had had several years ago when she had gone to have an eye test at Asda and we were sent to Stoke Mandeville Hospital because the optician had found something which needed attention. Surprisingly, she has never had a follow-up appointment in all the intervening years. The lady was gone five minutes or so but then came back with a doctor who looked at Carol's eyes through a sort of microscope machine and gave the all clear on that problem. Regarding the recent eye injury, it appeared that whatever it was that had got into her eye had come out. It might have been a bit of grit or chemical from working at the Academy. The surrounding area around the eye had got very puffy and red and this, apparently, was due to the fact that she was getting an allergic reaction to the ointment she was given at the A and E department the previous day and was told to stop using it immediately. Also, she was given a prescription for some sort of drops which would help prevent dry eyes as apparently she wasn't producing the natural lubricant her eyes should produce to stop her eye healing properly. So, we walked out of the department and home and then drove to Sainsbury's to get the prescription made up. Unfortunately, on enquiring at the pharmacy, they didn't have it in stock but had to put in an order which should be ready for collection tomorrow after 12 noon.

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