I am supposed to have an appointment at the Eye Hospital today. The Eye Hospital is located in the grandiosely named West Wing of the John Radcliffe Hospital . “Please report to the West Wing”, the letter says. Well, I won’t be reporting to the West Wing, the Guest Wing or any other part of the JR’s extensive anatomy and here’s why.
Eye problems are tortuous at the best of times – they can be difficult to describe and involve going through a complex process involving various professionals who may not know that much about eyes, but have the power to admit you to the next bit of the process. It’s a bit like trying to get an audience with a high ranking official at a medieval court.
You start with the optician who screens you for diabetic retinal neuropathy, gives you an eye test and makes sure that your specs. are up to spec. Then you agree that you need to see your GP, who doesn’t know about eyes but knows a man who does. As a parting shot, the optician casually opines that “it might be multiple sclerosis”.
The first GP I saw was a German locum who got me to read an eye chart (funnily enough, the optician had already thought of this), suggested that I shield my eyes with my hands and told me that I needed to lose weight.
A week later, I managed to negotiate my way through the telephone triage system to see my regular GP, an Italian, who was sympathetic, carried out a systematic examination and arranged an emergency appointment at the Eye Hospital for the next day.