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My NHS Good News Story


I've been a bit of a middle-aged twit, and if you don't mind, I'm going to tell you about it so that you don't make the same mistake.

I started noticing flashing lights and a few big floaters in my right eye about a month ago. It was during that strange time when we were all beginning to see what was about to hit us but struggling to figure out how to deal with it. In particular I was putting in long hours both with my patients and on the business, so I assumed it was a bit of eyestrain from too many hours at the toothface and then on the laptop.

As usual I ignored it and reckoned it would go away. Wrong.

Now wind forward four weeks. I bumped into Bruce Avery, my Optometrist, in Cockermouth, in the post office. A bit of small talk about how our working lives had been reduced to running a postal service for eyes and teeth, and then I mentioned my eye.

He seemed rather concerned and suggested that he should have a look. He opened his practice at 5pm Friday and he did what optometrists do.

Bruce: "Hmm...you've got a bit of a tear in the stuff that covers your retina. Risk of damage to your retina which could be irreversible. I'll just ring the hospital"

He duly did.

"Be at the Cumberland Infirmary at 7".

I was thinking sometime next week at this point…


So that's what happened. Ruth, my wife, drove me up as Bruce had dilated my right eye and I was doing a great Bowie impersonation but without the good looks. As you might expect the hospital was very quiet in places, so I was seen very quickly. The doctor had a look and explained everything. In summary:

"Laser time sunshine, OK if we zap you now?"

Wow! What followed can be best described as my own personal internal light show... a little bit hurty at times but hey it was sorting my eye out, so I wasn't complaining…

He carefully stuck things back together so that hopefully my retina doesn't fall off completely, and I left an hour later feeling very relieved, very grateful and a bit overwhelmed.

In this case a chance meeting led to a fantastic example of a local Optometrist and the NHS working together in the way that they do when they are at their best. Bruce is a well-known guy in Cockermouth, and the eye doctor at the Cumberland Infirmary moved to the UK from India 18 months ago and worked as a consultant over there but is now working up the system over here. Both highly competent, both explained everything. I wanted to shake their hands but what with Covid and all, we just did a sort of flappy dance...

So, to the point: I was, and we are all, very lucky in so many ways, and hey it's definitely not all bad.

And please don't ignore sudden changes in your eyes! If you're sitting on something that you know isn't right but don't want to disturb your healthcare professional because of Covid-19, don't be a twit like me. Get help, it's still there and delaying things could just make things worse.

Take care & stay safe.

Richard Hellen BDS

29th April 2020

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Tuesday, 16 August 2022

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