A&E – Aniridia & Emergency: The bad

One day sometime in December 2009, while studying at university, I was walking to town with my flatmate Hannah. I suddenly realised my vision had completely dropped. Everything was completely blurry and i couldn’t see anything clearly at all. All colours seemed to have blended into one big mess. I don’t remember having pain, but remember being terrified that I couldn’t see properly – I only have sight in one eye anyway.

That evening it hadn’t gone any better, and felt like I was completely blind. I decided I should ring my parents and ask for advice. they were obviously shocked too, and rang NHS Direct for advice – they decided to send out an ambulance car.

The ambulance car took me to the local hospital (Worcester). They took one look at me and knew they were totally out of their depths. They decided the best thing was to send me all the way the nearest specialist eye hospital in Birmingham. By this time it was about 10pm. I got a lift from hospital transport and was told  I would be met upon arrival.

When we did arrive at Birmingham, it was all shut up and empty looking. No-one came to meet me and I had to find my own way to a desk to get help. They told me to take a seat in the waiting room, there was no offer of helping me find a seat. Usually I have enough sight to find a chair by myself, but at this point everything looked white to me and I couldn’t make anything out at all. I felt completely alone and very scared.

When I was eventually seen, about an hour and a half after I’d arrived, I was in and out of the consultant’s room in 5 seconds flat. I found the doctor to be very rude and unsympathetic. No thorough investigation, no kind words, no nothing, just “your pressures are fine, we can’t work out why your vision is reduced, there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s probably end-stage glaucoma, go home”.

At this time it was midnight. They told me I’d have to go home and they weren’t able to arrange transport! I was scared stiff, stuck in Birmingham with no way of getting back home, my confidence had dropped as well as my vision, and I was really upset. If it was end-stage glaucoma then didn’t that mean I’d lost all my vision and not get it back? I felt completely lost, literally and mentally. I was taken up to a ward, where again i was ignored by nursing staff, stuck in the waiting room with a TV blaring out Gavin and Stacy. I was told to ring a taxi.

The next day, my parents drove to my university, collected me, and took me to Moorfields Eye Hospital.. I was seen straight away, as they considered vision loss a priority. The doctor there guessed it was my cataract. Thankfully I already had an appointment with my consultant in Moorfields that following week.

As soon as he saw me, he told me it was time for my cataract to be removed and put me on the waiting list straight away. Up until then the doctors had been reluctant to remove my cataract due to a bad experience I’d had with the other eye, and they always said they’d leave it until i could see absolutely nothing before they considered taking it out. At that point in time, I really had nothing to lose as the vision was so bad.

After the surgery (in January 2010), my doctor told me it was a good thing my lens was removed, as it was almost shattering in my eye.

I never made a complaint about how I was treated at the hospitals in Worcester and Birmingham but I felt like no-one could care less what was happening to me.

My recent trip to A&E  couldn’t have been more different. Both doctors I saw were so understanding and very caring, and it was clear they wanted to do what was best for me.

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