Account of my cataract operation at the RUH

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Latest Post | 0 comments

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Dealing with noise  in public places

Today is the day when I have my cataract operation. Since it is a procedure entirely new to me I had no views about it and no fears of it.  So great is my trust in the eye department  of the Royal United Hospital here in Bath, and so many operations of this type have been performed that there is no reason to fear.

For some reason, we had to suffer noise on our travels.   A man got on at Midsomer Town Hall and he had a very loud voice, almost shouting you could say.  He got on to one of his mates on the phone. He was obviously a plumber and gave instructions at full volume so loud that  although I was sitting at the other end of the top of the bus my ears actually hurt.  Mercifully he got off at Peasedown  and I shouted back, imitating his voice, ‘goodbye’ because he had loudly shouted  goodbye to his friend a few moments before.

He actually turned on me and asked me if I was trying to make a point to which I replied yes I was, it was that his voice was loud and disturbing. He then got aggressive, said a few unmentionable words  and said that my voice was dreadful as well.  We felt this was a hostile person who would not be  willing to listen to anybody who dared to ask him to keep his voice down.

There was also a woman upstairs talking to her child in a loud fashion which she wanted everyone to hear and I did not want to learn about her domestic problems thank you very much.

So the question is, do we just ignore disturbance , move away if possible, or confront the person.  I think it depends on circumstances but from what I have seen the person knew that they are making a noise and did not particularly care. I would have been very surprised if the chap with the loud voice had said to me, “oh I’m terribly sorry I didn’t realize that I was making such a noise I will do my best in future to be quiet” Most people will go on the offensive irrespective of the way the complaint is made.

We caught the local 4A bus to the hospital from the town centre and sat on the top deck and again there was a youngster playing his mobile phone in loudspeaker mode and we all had to suffer.  As it was only a short journey and the lad was only about 14 I did not see any point in mentioning it so we put up with it for the next 10 minutes or so and then we got off at RUH

Detailed description of my operation

We were asked to arrive by 12:45 to allow time for admission and registration.  This involves a lot of paperwork  including asking us what medications we are on, particularly blood thinning agents. We  also had to say if we have any allergies, I had to say if I had any operation on my brain or my spine, my blood pressure was taken as was my oxygenation of my blood. The pressure was high but within acceptable limits.

There were six of us scheduled to be operated on by the surgeon. He had a Greek assistant whose  job was going around everyone making sure the paperwork was in order and also to do immediate preparation.   A nurse had put a hospital ID band around my wrist.  I was asked three times to identify myself, say what I was expecting, and in which eye.  This was in addition to the first staff member,  who was called Gayle,  asking me questions.  I cannot remember having been so thoroughly checked for identity and purpose in my life. It was quite friendly and thorough. I suppose they are worried about being sued for malpractice.

Gayle  was the same person who gave me such a wonderful injection last time. I felt she deeply understood the body and worked with efficiency and professionalism.  I was very intrigued by her accent.  As you may know, one of my useless hobbies is in collecting accents and trying to guess where people came from.    When I asked her and suggested the Caribbean she said I was way out and said that she was from ‘ everywhere’.   She was born British American and apart from working here in the UK she has worked in Publishing and has worked in the Philippines,  Malaysia and Singapore.  She was delighted to hear that I wrote a diary and I handed her a business card inviting her to read today’s issue, the one you are reading now.

There was a lot of waiting around. We were in a large room with six cubicles for 6 people numbered 1 through 6. The first lady to arrive had been allocated the sixth place. She was not pleased at having to wait so long.  Our order of being operated on had been decided before so I was allocated cubicle number three. A very senior lady went in first. She was very anxious about the procedure but came out smiling, always a good sign.   The second person was a chap who had contact lenses for 37 years. He came out not smiling but contented.

I was called forward and had to answer the same questions, my name, what I expected etc, this was even repeated in the operation theater itself. I was taken across the corridor and entered a preparation room. I lay back on a bed and my knees were supported with a cushion underneath for which I was grateful for. As I was uncomfortable,  the head was raised up a little bit.  My eyes were then flooded with antibiotic drops, and then more antibiotic drops and then more.  I was then injected with a numbing agent directly into the eye.  I had previously asked for something to make me drowsy but they said they could not do it as I had not given enough notice.

I was then wheeled into the operating theatre itself where there were lots of lights and microscopes.  I was wired up by a very warm and comforting nurse who put one of my fingers in an  oxymeter (% of oxygen in the blood)  and in the other hand I was given a button to push just in case I had to sneeze or blow my nose or something as a warning to the surgeon The great man himself appeared, gowned up,  Mr Antclif,

I’ve told him and the nurse that I would be more comfortable if I could have a running commentary of what was going on. They said they were quite happy to talk to me but once the operation had started I was not to speak since this interferes with the muscles of face and thus the eye.  There were about five people in the room three nurses, the surgeon and his assistant. They will all top rated people in my eyes.

I was aware of some poking around but there was no pain and no sensation to speak of. One thing I liked was that he was using a water jet with the cutting instrument so it was a nice cool sensation.  I just lay there and let them get on with it.  The whole procedure took 30 minutes  of which 15 minutes was preparation. The surgeon told me as we went along what he was doing.   At a certain moment there was a funny machine in the background that made musical tones. I believe this was sucking out the remaining detritus from the lens of the eye. After about one minute it stopped.

The surgeon then said quietly, ‘it is all done now’ and before  I knew it I had been wheeled out of the operating theatre into the pre-operating space and helped off the bed on to a wheelchair. I offered to walk out but this was not allowed on the grounds of safety. I imagine that some people are more wobbly than they think so I’m sure that was the reason.

Postoperative care –  we have to go and see the department again in four weeks.  Immediately post operatively we were offered  a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.  People gratefully accepted the tea but I decided to have some water. Gayle spent about ten minutes with the elderly lady who had been operated first and she spent somewhat less time with me mainly because I said I had heard all her advice and she did not need to say it again.

We were given a paper to read which tells us all the things we need to do and some eye drops which we have to use at least for the next four weeks.  We were very struck by the comradeship and cooperation between the members of staff.  It was a happy as a positive atmosphere.

I should add at this point that I spent the previous evening or parts of it looking at videos of these operations,  and what patients said about their impressions.  I can only say having experienced the same thing myself I can mirror what they said. Many of them said they were nervous beforehand but it the procedure was different to what they expected and a painless operation to boot.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:30 a.m. And left about 4:30.  There was a considerable amount of waiting but then there was always something happening so the time did not really matter.

As I had not had any lunch to speak of, I took Francoise  to the restaurant which was gearing up to serve the evening meal.  They do a great service, breakfast lunch and early dinner.  I had a very nice cottage pie containing apart from mashed potato, minced beef and peas, and an absolutely delicious bread and butter pudding.  Raisins go very well and bring out the whole thing. This is my all-time favorite.

I felt I had achieved a milestone in that I had experienced something new  and had passed the test fairly well.  As I write this at 7 pm  I know that the effect of the anaesthetic is going to wear off and I will probably experience some pain this evening.  We have been warned of that and must take some paracetamol.  This is a small price to pay for getting my site back in my left eye. If the eyesight can be improved as well  that would be a bonus.

So well done everyone at RUH.   The only thing that bothered me was that two members of staff complained about their pay thinking it should be more and I could only agree with them all be it tacitly.

Back by bus, a very crowded 172 via Midsomer to Bristol.  I had to decide whether to come by car or bus and I thought that in view of the difficulty of parking there was no reason why we should not use public transport.

So much for the weather forecast

We were warned Monday in the usual alarmist fashion that there would be winds up to 80 miles an hour in the latest named storm, Agnes. As we started our journey home there were some rain showers and then we had a bright sunny evening with a maximum wind speed of about 20 miles an hour

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