outdoorsy / yachtie kind of a guy, I know too well the
importance of being "sun-smart". I always wear a hat and
plenty of good sunscreen. Also on particularly sunny days I
usually set off wearing some good quality 100%UV sunglasses.
All very well if you are
sailing your son's Opti or if you are one of thirty five
sitting on the rail of someone's grandmother's "water
caravan", but any a-cat sailor will tell you that this boat
has a tendency to go quite fast and doesn't even let the
presence of mere waves slow it down, hence at times there
can be quite a bit of spray. Scientific studies have
determined that 73.8% of this spray will end up spraying
directly at your sunglasses which will harden immediately
into an opaque salty crust, leaving only your ability to
smell fear as to navigate the next obstruction. Ok maybe
their research wasn't that credible but it never took long
for my sunnies to come off the old mug and into the jacket
Turns out that this
possibly wasn't the best option though, as I am now learning
that its not just too much time spent doing something else
that might make you go blind! Quite a few years ago I
noticed a messy red bloodshot looking tissue growth on the
surface of my eyes in the corners closest to my nose. Being
quite concerned I immediately put this on my "I should
mention this to my family doctor one day if I get round to
remembering who he is and if he is still alive/practising"
I like to shave and brush
my teeth while in the shower to save precious time so don't
have much cause to use the bathroom mirror too often, and
these strange little growths weren't effecting my vision so
I never really noticed that they were ever so slowly getting
bigger and bigger. Over time they started getting so big
that friends started noticing the redness and asked what I
had been smoking and why I wasn't sharing. Pretty soon after
this I noticed that protest forms were getting harder to
read and the girls at the yacht club were becoming slightly
more attractive. Wow my eyesight is definitely degrading!
Time to do something about
this I thought, time to enlist the help of Doctor Google! So
I sat down at the PC, increased the font size a couple of
clicks, and away I went.
Two things I learned that
day; 1) there is more to the internet than just porn and
Youtube and 2) I'm not quite as weird as I thought I was as
these things are reasonably common.
“te-ridge-e-um” is what
they call it, when they write it down its pterygium. I found
this on the Southern Cross website
A pterygium is a
benign growth of tissue on the surface of the eye. It
starts as redness and thickening in the corner of the
eye – usually the corner closest to the nose. The growth
can extend across the surface of the eye towards the
iris (the coloured part of the eye). This growth is
often triangular in shape and, if left untreated, can
extend across the pupil obscuring vision, or causing the
surface of the eye to alter shape and “warp” resulting
in blurring of the vision.
Exposure to excessive amounts of ultra-violet light is thought
to be the most significant factor in the development of
a pterygium. Pterygia are more common in people living
in sunny areas and in people whose jobs expose them to
ultra-violet light (eg: farmers, arc welders).
Other factors that
may play a role in the development of pterygia include
environmental irritants (eg: wind, chemicals, air
pollution) and hereditary factors.
Well that all sounds
familiar. I even found pictures too.....
enlarge if you like
Yep thats them all
right, now lets see what can be done about them..... Good
old faithful Youtube.....
WARNINGyou may not
really want to watch this
enough of that....... for another six months at least!
watching the video above I decided that surgery wouldn't
really be necessary as long as I always wear sunglasses and
possibly eat a few more carrots. After all, the problems
with my vision could just be part of the natural
deterioration brought on by the aging process. Hey just
about everyone needs reading glasses eventually. Simple, I
will just have to slip away from the mates with the drinking
glasses and have a quiet word to the mates with the reading
glasses, and even possibly test drive a couple of pairs.
Unfortunately nothing helped, no matter what the
prescription, there was no difference. A pterygium can
actually distort the shape of your lens which has some quite
major effects on the way we see things. This can be sorted
with the correct glasses however the bloodshot murkiness
which will eventually completely cover your whole pupil wont
become see through with even the flashest pair of lenses.
Then to add insult to the injury, the deterioration of my
eyesight seemed to be accelerating exponentially.....
The girls at the yacht club are all looking stunning..... I
do have to get this fixed..... Damn that video on Youtube!
Where To From Here
Well I bit
the bullet and got the wife to make me a doctors appointment
and draw me a little map of where to go. In I went and down
I sat before giving my doctor a full run down on what it
was, how it was spelt, and what was involved in surgically
removing it. He then jumped on his PC and filled out a quick
referral to a specialist, thanked me for the information and
my visit, then handed me a bill for $38.00
the 10th of November, so the little boy waits.... Hopefully
my name will pop up in the public health system while I can
still see well enough to find the hospital.
space and I will let you know how it all goes!
In the mean
time, go out and buy yourself some sunglasses and put
them on your head and leave them there till its dark!
Even though its rather
blurry, there appears to be light at the end of this tunnel!
My name seems to have finally popped up in the system and I
have received an appointment to see the specialist / surgeon
in a weeks time at the hospital outpatients department.
Quite a surprise really... I've heard all the horror stories
of public hospital waiting lists, and its only been 3 months
since the referral from my GP!
UPDATE - Monday 15th February
Its a lovely summers day so
its on with the sunnies and my co-pilot/seeing eye
person/wife and I are off for a leisurely 30 minute drive to
the hospital. I wonder if I should really be driving?
Although reading a car licence plate is way beyond me these
days, the cars themselves (although a little blurry) can
still be made out so I should be ok. Turns out to be a good
call as we arrive at out destination without incident
(hardly even saw another car on the journey... ;-).
In we stroll to the nice
new reception area of the nice new outpatients department
and I hand my paper work to the rather attractive
receptionist behind the main desk. (anyone sounding feminine
looks attractive these days). We then retire to nice new
waiting area and sit our selves down on the nice new and
very comfortable chairs. As we were a few minutes ahead of
my appointment time and expecting to be sitting there for a
while we started debating who's turn it was to buy a dose of
caffeine from the espresso bar we passed on the way in. I
was barely half way through my opening argument when a door
opens and an older but still attractive** nurse (**see
above) walks out and reads out my name. After scanning the
room to make sure there wasn't someone else with the same
name that had been waiting all day, I got up from my chair
and followed he to one of the nice new examination rooms.
First up was an eye test...
hold this over your right eye and with your left eye read as
far down the chart as you can. First row, no problem....
Second row, not too hard.... Third row, getting tricky,
struggling a wee bit.... Fourth row.... forget it. Now swap
eyes. First row, no problem.... Second row getting
tricky.... Who blurred out the third row? This is when the
nurse asked if I was driving "at the moment"? To which I
replied no. (I wasn't driving "at the moment", I was sitting
in an exam room) That's good she said as legally speaking
you shouldn't be..... Oops!
Then it was a short hop
across the hallway and into yet another nice new exam room
to meet the surgeon. This time a masculine voice (and
therefore unattractive.... see above) introduced himself and
asked me to sit in his special chair and place my chin on
the rest of what looked like a nice new version of an
ancient torture device. Light shone in my eyes followed by
the comment "Yep, they're gonna have to come off". However
it was his next couple of sentences that really got me
excited. "We can only do one eye at a time as it hurts too
much to do them both" (yay!) and "There is a one in eight
chance that they will grow back soon after the surgery"
(double and possibly triple yay!) this was followed by a
slightly more comforting "Its a relatively simple 20 minute
procedure and we do it in the room right next door..... Well
the first time anyway". He then handed me a piece of paper
and said to give it to the lady at reception and she would
give me an appointment date for the surgery.
Fearing my luck with how
quickly things were progressing was about to run out, I
asked if there was anything I could do to temporarily
improve my vision? I detected a slightly more excited tone
in his voice as he told me that some form of reading glasses
may help and that he had a new highly technical machine that
scanned your eyes and worked out the appropriate
prescription. He then led me to yet another nice new exam
room containing what looked like a set of super long range
binoculars from one of the Star Wars movies. Again I placed
my chin on the appropriate rest shortly before hearing in a
somewhat less excited tone "Your eyes are quite bad... the
machine cant even take a reading!" Well at least I now knew
where I stood!
On the way back out to
reception, Lisa quietly commented that she thought the
Doctors "bedside manner" was very blunt and cold however I
had to disagree. When it comes to ones health I would rather
a straight cut, no bulls*#t approach rather than some
sensitive new age fairy dancing around painting supposedly
pretty pictures. Anyways I was soon to (hopefully) see
just how straight cutting this guy was.
Upon reaching reception I
smiled shyly, handed the lady my file and asked in my
politest sweet puppy dog voice how quickly they could slot
me in? After a few taps on her computer keyboard amongst
series of "oooh's" arrrrh's and "that's no good's" muttered
under her breath, she apologisingly stated the quickest she
could possibly get me in was in 3 weeks time! I turned to
Lisa and winked as I high fived-myself in my head before
thanking her for her efforts and heading for the exit.
UPDATE - Monday 8th March
Three weeks rolled by
pretty quick as time has a habit of doing these days and on
the eve of my big day, with my font size enlarged to barely
fit three words on my 27 inch monitor, I was happily
checking out a selection of web pages when I heard the
muffled sound of someone dry reaching behind me. I turned to
find Lisa in the middle of a very bold attempt to watch the
entire YouTube video of what I would soon to be experiencing
first hand. Thankfully she then began explaining some of the
better details of the procedure that she had read about
earlier. Details like how they dose you up on Sodium
Pentothal (truth serum) which keeps the patient relaxed and
care-free for the entire procedure (they do this as the
patient must remain awake for the entire procedure therefore
they can only use a local anaesthetic and not knock you out
with a general). Other details about how they now use a
special glue to attach the graft over the bit they remove
which only causes a slight discomfort for a couple of days
rather than the obsolete technique which involved two to
three weeks of waiting for an eye full of stitches to slowly
soften and dissolve. Following all this, a recovery period
severely tamed by the use of powerful prescription
This should all be a
breeze! What did that doctor mean by "It hurts too much"? He
must just be a bit soft...... the big blouse!
The big day arrives so off
we go... Yep I'm still driving.... Hey I made it there last
time! Again we arrive safely and get whisked away to the
surgery preparation area after a minimal wait.
Time for another quick eye
test... The two or so hours of nervous sleep the night
before did me no favours there either. Then back to the
doctors exam room where I foolishly enquired about the
gluing procedure only to learn "We don't do that here, we
use stitches" GULP! The lovely nurse from the previous visit
then arrived and administered a couple of drops of local
anaesthetic into my eye and handed me a tissue before
joining the doctor in quizzing other staff members as to the
exact location of the microscope required for the upcoming
event. It can't have been far away as only a couple of
minutes had passed before I was ushered into "the room" and
asked to lie on the table. At this stage I couldn't help but
think "I hope this truth serum stuff works because I doubt
those drops have been in there long enough to make much of a
difference". The doctor then attached a green handy towel
with a hole in it to my face with some kind of double sided
tape before clamping my eyelid open and directing every
light in the whole hospital straight into my eye. Wow this
guy is going to fix the front of my eye but set fire to my
retina in the process. Roll on the Sodium Pentothal!
WAIT! Always time for one
more disappointment..... Turns out the Public Health System
don't use this either, instead I received the comforting
words "Hold your eye perfectly still. You are going to feel
a bit of a prick" as he emptied half a syringe of local
anaesthetic straight into my eyeball. I couldn't even look
the other way.....
Did I mention that I never
really liked Mondays?
Although it was completely
painless, the next twenty minutes were the longest of my
life. Time seemed to stand still as I was instructed to look
up to the left, then down to the right, then over here, then
over there.... THESE LIGHTS ARE SOOOO BRIGHT! He then
emptied small a tube of goo into my eye, slapped on a patch,
handed Lisa a prescription for my post-op pain relief and
disappeared through the door way. I then turned to Lisa as
her face was overcome with a look of complete and utter
disbelief... PANADEINE... YOU'RE F#$K'N JOKING?
Well that didn't exactly go
to plan. Time to get the hell out of here, I want to be in
my bed before this anaesthetic wears off. I even did the
sensible thing and let the wife drive us home. Lisa drives a
little slower and more cautiously than me, probably due to
the fact that she can still see all the potential hazards.
She did a great job though and got me home in record time,
just as the anaesthetic numbness was loosing its hold and
being rapidly replaced by a taste of what I was in for. As I
walked in the front door I gobbled down a couple of good
strong sleeping pills that I had been saving for a special
occasion, laid down on my pillow and went out for the count.
UPDATE - Tuesday 9th March
Woke up sometime that
morning, pulled off the patch as per the doctors
instructions.... goo everywhere.... cant even open the
Up till now I believed
things that had happened during my life had given me pretty
good idea of what pain truly was. I was wrong.... so so
A handful of neurofen every
4 hours on the dot. Only two sleeping pills left.... I'll
save one for tonight and one for tomorrow....
UPDATE - Wednesday 10th March
Woke up, pretty hard to
tell what time of day.... Nurse/wife Lisa is doing a great
job of keeping the house in complete darkness.... Can open
my eye a few millimetres, not much point though, cant see a
damn thing out of it.... Still hurts like you wouldn't
believe.... More handfuls of neurofen.
At some stage of the day I
manage to get myself together enough to make the decision
that I wont get the other eye done. I will let this eye heal
and just let the other eye go blind. You don't really NEED
two eyes do you? Even more handfuls of neurofen....
UPDATE - Thursday 11th March
Woke up again.... Doesn't
seem quite as painful today.... Cut the neurofen dosages
right down to the recommended daily maximums.... In the dark
I can open my eye about halfway.... Its too bright outside
even with eye shut and dark glasses on.... All sorts of goo
is continuously weeping out.... can see a little but
everything very blurry....
UPDATE - Friday 12th March
Another day, more
improvement.... Still pretty sore.... keep up with the four
hourly neurofen.... As the day progresses the pain subsides
a little more and eventually looses out to a feeling of
horrible irritation. It feels like I have an eye full of
stitches.... Funny that! In between droplets of goo I start
getting moments of incredibly clear vision.... Perhaps this
was all worth it. Bored out of my brains.... There seems to
be a shortage of interesting things to do in the dark with
your eyes shut! One good thing comes to mind (I must be
getting better), but then what do you do for the other
twenty three hours and fifty seven minutes?
UPDATE - Saturday 12th March
Yet another day, yet more
improvement.... More irritating than sore now even getting
to the point of feeling itchy. Surely that's a good sign. No
neurofen at all today (the local chemist has enough of my
money). Eye is pretty much fully open and swelling has gone
My vision through the eye
is so good that it is taking a bit of getting used to. Its
actually making me feel a little nauseous, almost like a
form of motion sickness. With dark sunglasses on I can even
see outside! I manage morning stroll to the letterbox,
there's a letter from the hospital. I open it and read it
(did you get that? I READ IT!) Its my post-op appointment
and surprise surprise, its on a Monday. By the time evening
rolls round I feel so good I even manage to drive my son up
to the video shop to return his overdue DVD's.
UPDATE - Monday 29th March
Its been three weeks today
since the surgery. My vision is as good as I ever remember
it being. The eye still feels a little dry some days and is
still stuck shut with dried goo most mornings but apart from
that feels great. Its still quite bloodshot but that can
take up to six months to clear and may even remain slightly
bloodshot in the corner permanently.
Went to my follow up
appointment this morning. Was greeted by my usual nurse,
although she definitely wasn't as attractive as I thought,
she was still lovely! Her first comment was "It was painful
wasn't it" I could tell she knew exactly what I had been
through. She was quite impressed when I flawlessly read her
the bottom row of the eye chart.
The doctor had a look and
was also pleased with the progress. I was shocked when he
told me that most of the stitches still hadn't dissolved. I
was sure they had all gone already but have obviously become
accustomed to them being there. Quite scary really!
He then filled out the
paper work to start going through the process with my other
Isn't it amazing how
quickly you can put bad times behind you.