Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Eyes Wide Shut - - and a bit blurry

So, off I went, bravely, to face a close encounter with the Drops of Doom.

Stephen came with me cos I'm not that brave. And after the last time I had the drops, when I fainted, I thought I might need someone to pick me up off the floor.

I was the first to arrive of the batch of us who had appointments at 11am and I didn't have to wait too long before a nurse called me into a little room. Stephen came with me in case I needed reinforcements.

"So, you refused the drops last year?" said the nurse.

"I hate that word refused," I said. "I just wanted to discuss it and nobody seemed able to tell me anything."

I told her about how I'd fainted on the floor of the reception area and felt ill for about an hour and a half.

"Yes, that's a possible side-effect," she said. "It's on this leaflet here. Sometimes it lasts much longer, though."

This was the first time I'd seen a leaflet with "my" side-effect on it. I felt vindicated.

"They changed the rules in 2008 so that if you don't have the drops we can't take the photograph," she said.

I know that this was to avoid lawsuits caused by photos, taken without the drops, possibly not being of good enough quality to detect the Diabetic Retinopathy.

I decided to have the drops and see what happened. They are Tropicamide and Phenylephrine. They cause your pupils to dilate so that a clear photo of your retina can be taken that will show up any changes caused by diabetes.

She put one drop in each eye and it just felt like water. Ahhhh, that wasn't too bad, I thought - before realising that she was about to attack me with a second drop in each eye.

The second ones stung a bit. "Oh yes," she said cheerfully, "if you didn't have the first drops before having the second ones you'd probably never dare open your eyes again!"

Out of the little room we went to wait for them to take effect. It was supposed to be about fifteen minutes. I felt a bit woozy but nowhere near as bad as last time.

Pretty soon I was called in for the photos to be taken. "Just put your chin on here." It only took a few minutes.

"Your pupils do go extremely large," he said.

I explained that my pupils are always large, even when they haven't been dilated by drops, and this is, I'm told, why salespeople and members of strange religious cults think I look gullible. I also mentioned that I once tried contact lenses but by the time they'd made them big enough to fit over my pupils, they were bumping into the sides of my eyes.

"Yes," he agreed, "I can see that would happen."

I could have added that I have excellent night vision and yet can't see a thing in bright light - - but hey, I'd guess that he could have worked that one out.

He pored over the photos for what seemed like ages until he finally declared that my eyes are fine and that there are no signs of retinopathy. Hurrah!

I asked him why I'd fainted the previous time, but not this time. "Yes," he said, "it can have different effects on different days."

We went home and I still felt woozy, and my vision was blurred. It was like someone had coated my eyes in Vaseline. I kept wanting to clean my glasses.

I typed a couple of emails to report back to friends. I couldn't see what I was typing at all but I realised I have a skill that I didn't know I had - I can type perfectly well with my eyes shut. I have touch-typed for years but I hadn't realised I that don't actually need to look at the screen. I noticed myself making a typo, backspacing over it and correcting it without looking - I just didn't know I did this!

Actually, I realised that I find my way around the house and do all sorts of everyday things without looking much. Stephen's always maintained this - he puts it down to the fact that in early childhood I really couldn't see much at all but nobody had realised: so I got used to doing a lot of things by just knowing where things are!

Gradually my sight unblurred itself. I do feel a bit tired but otherwise fine. I was very impressed with the Manny Cussins Diabetes Centre at St James's Hospital - I'll be back in a year's time for my next check-up!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to hear all went well today, Daphne.

10:24 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

It sounds as if all went swimmingly well after last year's fainting episode. It must be a great relief and the care this time seemed more considerate than before.

1:09 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Glad to hear it. I was hoping you would get the drops this year (but not feel ill or woozy).

3:12 am  
Blogger Jennytc said...

That's a relief for you, Daphne, both that you didn't faint and that your eyes are OK. My turn today!

8:25 am  

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