I wanted to be able to see – see clearly – without messing about with spectacles and contact lenses. I was fed up with losing them, sitting on them, dropping them and paying for them. The solution was simple, I knew. Optical Express would wave their magic wand and voila! New eyes! (well, new lenses anyway.) My local pharmacist had recommended them, what could go wrong? I made an appointment and went to see them at the local centre in Nottingham. I had the checks, watched the videos, listened to the science and, a couple of hours later, the paperwork and explanations and pre-surgery arrangements were made.
And yet I was frightened. What if the scare stories on the internet had truth in them? What if I really did have my life wrecked… went blind… lived with constant pain. I panicked. I phoned Judy, the kind lady who had shepherded me through the consultation process and I told her the truth. I wanted my weaker, non-dominant, eye done, but not the second one – just in case.
It was embarrassing. I had already paid the deposit, and booked surgery for each eye, a week apart. I knew she would be cross, and laugh at me for being so feeble. I knew she would try to force me to go ahead with surgery on both eyes straight away. ‘Stop messing about!’ she would snap. ‘You are a nuisance!.’
Not a bit of it.
Judy was kind and never for a moment pressured me. I knew she understood, and sympathised. So I cancelled number two eye, and went ahead with number one eye.
From the first (free) meeting at Optical Express in Nottingham I had felt comfortable. The coffee flowed, the slightly tatty furniture was welcoming and the staff were relaxed and peaceful around me. I felt my tension slipping away very quickly and, by the time the day of surgery arrived, I was quite looking forward to the experience, but I didn’t really believe it would make a positive difference. The operation took place at Bridgwater Hospital in Manchester and the clinic, easy to find and with plenty of parking, was clean and friendly and boring. Very, very boring.
I like boring. It is much better than terror. There was TV, lots of morning papers, a bistro and friendly staff. My surgeon was a South African chap called Andre who was kind and handsome and funny – and to whom I owe an apology – I taught his anaesthetist some very rude words in Afrikaans. Sorry Andre, I blame the sedative.
The actual surgery took about 20 minutes. There was no pain or discomfort and after a cuppa and a biscuit or six I was on the way home. I dozed all the way (thankfully my husband was driving) and within an hour or two was reading the small print on my eye drop bottles easily, without specs.
I had a check-up the following day and all was well. I had another one a week later and all was perfect. Within a couple of days I was driving as normal and, although sensitive because I was getting used to normal ambient light again, with my new lens, I was fine, my normal sunglasses were more than adequate.
The down side?
There were three sorts of drops to be put in my eyes, four times a day for two week, but with a bit of organising and a timer I was easily able to cope with them. I used an eye shield in bed for a few days, in case hubby’s elbow attacked me, but the real trouble was more serious.
I am very upset. I am close to despair. You see I have needed reading glasses for twenty years. I used them for reading, amazingly enough, and for computer work, but not for anything else. So the ability to see without them has its drawbacks. I have wrinkles! I have lopsided eyebrows! The kitchen window is speckled with water spots! The TV stand is thick with dust!
Terrible, just terrible.. but I’ll get over it.
So the next step is quite clear. I have booked to have the second eye done. No second thoughts, no nerves, just quiet confidence and a big thank-you to the staff of Optical Express who fixed my eyes and understood my nerves along the way.
Thanks, Judy, Andre and the rest of the team ….