Yesterday I went back to the hospital. Once more I was impressed by the NHS, a great and noble institution in my view, but sometimes not brilliant at communication.
An appointment had been made for me. I knew when it was for, and that it might take two hours. But the letter mentioned Clinic 3 and Clinic 14, so I wasn’t sure where I would actually be.
It also referred to glaucoma and that I would require drops to dilate my pupils. I was a bit alarmed by that, because nobody had said anything before about glaucoma.
So I wasn’t completely sure what I was going for. What new tests would I have? Would I get the results of my CT scan?
However when I got there it all became clear. It’s just that the letter hadn’t explained things very well.
I checked in early, and was called in promptly to the first examination.
I was so pleased to find the person doing this was someone I’d being introduced to by the counsellor on day two, and who knew me! I gave an update on my progress (including the fact that I am keeping this blog!) and did my best to read an eye chart (I need glasses!)
Then I sat in the waiting room for a bit and pretty soon the consultant was ready for me. I explained how I’d been since first losing my peripheral vision and that I’d regained a little. Let’s get you a field test said the consultant, and off we went to where they do the field tests.
‘Field test’ sounds a bit like testing something ‘in the field’, but of course refers to the test you’ve probably all had at the optician’s. You are given a clicker and you fix your gaze at the centre of a circle. Sneaky white lights pop up unexpectedly in random places. Some bright, some less bright and some quite faint. When you see one you press the clicker.
These tests tend to make me feel quite competitive, as though I were playing a video game and something a bit like this has actually been done.
After the field test I saw the consultant again. The field test shows that although I have some peripheral vision on the right, it is patchy and low, and that I basically have homonymous hemianopia — half the vision missing in both eyes.
My record seemed to say my scan had been cancelled but when I explained it had definitely been done the consultant tried some wizardry with the computer system (‘it might not work’) and succeeded in calling it up.
The consultant studied the scan and soon said you’ve had a stroke.
This was what I had been expecting and to tell you the truth it was a relief, because the other possible causes (such as a tumour) frighten me more.
The consultant said there isn’t anything I can do for you.
Although my vision has improved a little, it is only by a little, and a month has passed now. So I probably can’t expect much more change, although I can perhaps hope.
The consultant I will arrange for you to be registered as visually impaired. And
go to see your doctor. Get their advice about how to reduce the risk of further strokes. Have a blood test: check your cholesterol is not too high. And there are other things.
I was very impressed indeed with the consultant. Our discussion was honest and informative and I felt treated with respect, dignity and compassion.
I asked for a copy of the field scan report and the consultant very kindly organised me one straight away. On the way out I also arranged with patient liaison to have a copy of my CT scan sent to me. I plan to include it in a future blog post.
Everybody I met during my visit was incredibly friendly and helpful and the Patient Liaison office could be a model to any user-facing service anywhere.