Friday, December 15, 2006

Hospital case

One of the joys of my new job is the varied workload. One day I might be evicting someone for not paying their rent, the next I might be plastering up the holes left by a trannie tinnie dealer. Yesterday, while replacing a clothes line, the business end of a pair of pliers smacked my right eyeball. Wow, a new form of pain. This was a job for Capital Coast Health.

One of my workmates dropped me at Wellington Hospital's new A&E entrance, and I staggered through the doors up to reception. Being three-quarters blinded (my undamaged left eye had become hyper-sensitive to light), the nurse kindly filled in the forms with the aid of my Community Services card. I was prepared for a long wait, so it was a surprise to be asked through the magnetic doors after about 10 minutes. I Stevie-Wondered my way after the nurse into the hospital hive which, to my eyes, was populated by kinetic green blobs.

The nurse blur sat me in an ocular triage alcove, tested my eyes. Cover your left eye and read the chart. What chart? OK, left eye. She stops me after I rattle off the first seven lines. I might be deaf, but I'm proud of my eyesight. Dad used to use me to spot bunnies when he went poaching. I'm prepared for deafness and death. I'm not prepared to lose my sight, touch wood. I need to read.

Shortly thereafter the doctor arrives, a Yank or Canadian (they all sound the same to me).
The man looked most like Dr Greene from ER, had the steely precision of Dr House, and the bedside manner of Dr Bob. Less than an hour after checking in, I had checked out with, Dagg bless Dr Gabriel, a prescription including Codeine. I haven't had codeine since they took Linctus Gee off the bronchitis menu. Its effect is similar, I suspect, to eating half a dozen too many hash cookies with a head cold. Cotton wool everywhere. I see how some people get hooked. You don't feel a thing.

So this morning, I'm off to Wellington Hospital for a follow-up. I Boy In The Bubble down OK Road, foregoing the usual espresso thermos as unnecessary and futile. I'm glad I'm not driving, which I could legally do before or after this idea from the Department of Morons comes to fruition. Hey, he's walking funny! Down to the station with you, mate!

Off the bus at the Basin, enough distance for a ciggie. I arrive at the old Eye & Ent Centre at 10:15 for my 10:30 appointment. No trees in the waiting room. They're outside sharing my cigarette, a very convenient distance from the ward. Two hours later, the Head Eye Guy ushers me in apologising. After much prodding and dilating of pupils, he reassures me that the injury is temporary, a corneal abrasion with no retinal damage. I'm to return on Monday.

So, sitting here with one eye fused shut, high on Codeine, red wine and Dagg knows what else, what are my thoughts? Well, the Health service didn't fail me. I couldn't ask for better from the private sector. Yeah, the wait was an inconvenience. I was planning on sitting at home with my eyes closed at home.

Instead, I was doing it next to a wheelchair-bound lady whose husband had taken time off work to help her. She was a 10:15 appointment sharing her thoughts with the Ents at noon. The parking meter was ticking furiously, her husband's boss was ringing to see why he was talking so long. I wouldn't have sat next to the old couple who stoically sat through the two hour wait in silence, nor the gang member and his missus leading him around.

While the idea of an eye patch would go some way to fulfilling my pirate fixation, I value my depth perception and symmetry too much to sacrifice it to an illusion. I'm glad that this too shall pass. I'm hoping I'm fit to Walk the Bypass tomorrow. If not, I'm hoping that Tom Beard will be my eyes. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day.