Today the snow was meant to be gone, or at least well on the way to going. Instead when I got up, the receding flow had stopped and a new tidal wave was threatening to engulf us as more and more came down in a steady flow. Because it hadn’t reached a critical level where we live it was decided that I should still attend a 10.30 am appointment at the hospital……or to be more precise at a vehicle in the hospital car park.
By the time we’d dug the car out we were pushing the time a little bit but just made it. The hill was quiet, the road to the hospital was quiet and the hospital car park was quiet apart from some few cars trying to get enough grip to leave. For some reason the car park was built sloping down so it’s easy to get into but not so easy to get out of if there’s any ice. The gritters had obviously been out yesterday but had also believed the reports of no snow today and weren’t prepared. Anyway, we were there and rang the bell on the outside of the wagon that at least sounded as though it would be warm with a generator running. The nurse who opened the door expressed some surprise to see us but invited us in. That in itself was a task as the steps were very steep so Ju and I on crutches felt like Sherpa Tensing.
We were in. The nurse took my name and said they were phoning people to come this morning as it was possible they’d have to give up before the afternoon. All in all, most people were cancelling. She put my drops in without warning me they were sulphuric acid and would burn their way to the back of my head. “Might sting a bit” she added.I was given a couple of pieces of tissue and told to sit in the waiting room with Ju for twenty minutes. The waiting room was where I’d come into the vehicle and had one bench seat that would hold about four anorexics. Ju and I were two of them. After a few minutes another nurse appeared from a different room and said she’d be doing the photographs of the back of my eye, retinopathy. They’re very good at doing these at least once a year if you’re diabetic.
There was a ring on the bell and another willing sacrifice arrived and was taken through to be tortured. I was going to try and mouth to him ” Get away while you still can” but I think the nurse was watching me. I’m not sure as by now my pupils had dilated and my eyes were watering like mad. Three more people arrived that they’d phoned. The first came came out and sat with Ju and I, he called “Right, all together now, breathe out so I can slip in” and he managed it. Luckily for me as the next one came out groping blindly and zombie like, the second nurse came to say she was ready for me. There was no room at the inn for Ju though so she had to stay on the bench like a substitute at a football match.
I vaguely saw the nurse sitting on a chair and went to take a seat opposite her and found a laptop open . ” Hold on” she said “you sit over here. I was just adjusting it for you”. I moved round to the chair she vacated and she did the same with me. I hope I left hers warmer than she left mine. She told me to place my chin in a device that hung in front of my face and place my forehead against the bar above it. It was a bit of a strain on the neck but I managed it and off we went………nowhere. “Eyes wide please, and concentrate on the blue light” she said. I did. FLASH!!! “Wait” she told me, that didn’t work there’s some condensation on the lens.” I waited while she came round to my side and vigorously polished the lens. As she returned to her seat I drew myself up and placed my chin back in the device but the strain of getting my forehead there was much worse as the chair I was on had been getting lower and lower as I waited. I was praying for this to be over.
Again we were unsuccessful and she had to clean my lens. “Perhaps it’s on the inside “I said “due to all the cold outside.” ”This is a £9000 camera in a sealed unit” she said, “it can’t be on the inside.”! We had two more failures and I thought my neck would snap she she suddenly announced “I think it must be on the inside. I’m afraid I’ll have to phone my boss. Could you just sit outside a minute please.” I didn’t dare say there was no way I’d find a seat out there with all the other blind people but I agreed and let myself out. I didn’t have long to wait before she came out and told us all she was sorry but her boss had decided all appointments were cancelled for the day. They needed to subject the camera to heat for at least half an hour. FREEDOM !!
Ju and I carefully walked back to where we’d parked and cleared the new snow from the roof and windscreen. Sitting inside I lit up a cigarette and swore I wasn’t going again until the summer. Ju remarked how odd I looked with such dilated pupils. We headed up the slope of the car park and over the road to my doctors car park to drop off a prescription request then went to the supermarket for a fresh loaf before going home to have soup for lunch and watch the snow were not having fall outside. Late this afternoon it stopped snowing but I’m not taking bets on what tomorrow holds.