I was in no hurry to get out, I had a four-thirty appointment, and so I was able to get up in my own sweet time, washed and dressed for lunchtime and at the bus-stop for half past twelve. Looking at the timetable I could see that I had just missed one and then, to my surprise and delight, said bus rolled in five minutes late and boy was I in for a surprise. I climbed aboard and stepped up pay my fare, " return to Barkton please mate".
The driver pushed a few buttons, I always find it mildly irritating how, nowadays, the driver won't actually release the ticket until you've paid, what am I going to do? Grab the ticket and run? Jesus!
"That'll be eight pounds ten pence then."
What? I couldn't believe it. Okay... It had been a while since I bought a day return to Barkton, made me realise what good value the weekly seven-day pass was, only twenty eight quid, but eight-ten for a day-return. Having said that, Barkton is, I would estimate, some eight miles away so it's probably about par for the course but even so....eight ten. I wasn't expecting that. I just counted out the money, took my ticket, resolving to make sure that I didn't lose, climbed the stairs to the top deck and settled down with my newspaper.
I arrived at my designated stop in Barkton way too early, I new that but I don't like being late, you can't mess these people about. I had time to kill but that wouldn't be problem. First stop Chip shop it had been a while since I'd last been there and, although the management had been passed it seemed to a younger member of the dynasty, talk about young cock ruling the roost, out with the old, including the price-list, and in with the new, I WAS looking forward to my salt and vinegar treat. I wasn't disappointed. Just like old times only this time I didn't go to seek out an empty bus-stop-shelter. I took my time, ambled into the town-center, giving my chips time to cool in the polystyrene tray, then found a place to sit and eat. There was a steady stream of people passing by in both directions, the sun was shining and the eating was good. Why had it taken me so long to return to this place? Talk about a "home-coming". I felt so relaxed I almost forgot why I was there and managed to not to dwell on it.
Next stop the Public library and for once I would sit and read the first few pages of one or two books, try to find one that I could while away my waiting time at the hospital with. Book found, I took the long slow walk to my destination. I was not looking forward to this. I'd had a few eye examinations at a local hospital and there had been nothing to report.
The last person I'd been seen by had said "well the GOOD news is, there are no obvious problems that I can see" and now here I was at a place called "retina medical". That was a worry, I know that a high percentage of people with my particular problem, a "latent squint", it's to do with tired muscles behind the eyes, apparently, end up having surgery on their retinas but that only happened to other people, didn't it? Well? before this day was out I would know my fate and, truth be told, I was scared, didn't know if I'd be able to face it, but how could I not? Terrifying times. Having checked in at reception I left the building, went and sat on a low boundary wall outside and read my book.
At three-thirty I decided to return to the waiting-room just in case although I wasn't expecting to be seen before my time. No sooner had I sat down when a nurse called out my name, I put my hand up and made my way to her.
" I called you at three o'clock."
"I'm sorry but I thought...." I started to explain apologetically.
" Oh it's not a problem but we have to run through few things." She led me to a small room, there were a couple of those machines where they run a few tests on your eyes and the dreaded board with the letters on that are large at the top and impossibly small a the bottom.
First, she sat me facing the board with the letters. It didn't go well I thought.
Then, she handed this piece of equipment that was very reminiscent of those fancy dress party scenes in old black and white movies where someone would hold up a kind of mask to cover the eyes. It was simply a mask, made of grey plastic, that was full of small holes that you look through to read the letters and the difference was amazing. Where before I'd experience a lot of fuzziness, all the letters where now crystal clear, I still couldn't read them all but man, what a difference.
I turned to face the nurse, "that's amazing, I've been meaning to ask, with such a transformation of my sight by the use of that thing, why couldn't this be incorporated in my lenses?"
She just shrugged it off and said something about it merely blocking out the light. Well whatever, it worked. She led me to another room.
Pretty straight forward really. You rest your chin on, and push your forehead against a plastic frame and look at a small orange dot in the middle of a screen. Small flashes of light will appear, some bright, some not so bright, you're given a joystick and you click on it to indicate when you've seen one. I found this rather perplexing also, I obviously hadn't seen them all. How bad could it be ? And that wasn't my only concern. The last time I'd had my eyes looked at there had been no conversation regarding my sight, no explanations, nothing. I'd had those stinging eye-drops put into my eyes, he'd carried out the examination, mumbling as he keyed information into his computer and I'd left none the wiser.
"Is there going to be anybody else in there when I see this ...... Doctor whoever his is? The last time I had my eyes examined, I was told nothing. If I'm looking at surgery here, I need some dialogue, I need to know what's happening." I asked as we headed back o the waiting-room.
She said nothing. I sat.... I waited ... and then, when called, I was led to another room where a man, in his fifties I reckoned, sat studying a folder, records of my previous examinations I supposed.
"Are you using any eye-drops?" He asked as he sat looking at his computer.
"No.... silence..... no medication."
He pointed to the the head-frame on his desk with lights and lenses attached to it. He swiveled on his chair to face me. Bright light pierced first one eye and then the other.... silence.
He reached into a draw and pulled out some eye-drops, I knew what was coming. Not the worst thing that ever happened to me but boy did those drops sting. He reached over and handed a couple of tissues and then pointed back to that machine.
"Please." He could speak, wow!
More bright lights, lenses were added then removed.
I sat back and wiped the remains of the drops from my cheeks.
" Your eyes are okay."
But he said it in that way where the tone was raised as he said okay and it's so frustrating.
"Are you asking me or telling me?"
"We'll see you in nine months, any questions?"
Well I guess answered mine. I had none. I'm still not sure now whether or not I thanked him or not. I was just so glad not to be going under the knife I suppose, what a relief that was.
I was given a form to hand in at reception which I duly did and was one happy person as I made my way out of the hospital and back into town. The bus wasn't long and this was one wait that I didn't mind.
My eyes are okay, YES!
For now at least anyway.
I got home, unloaded my shopping, and not a word was spoken.