I've been suffering uncomfortable side-effects after my cataract operations. Following two changes to my out-patient appointment which was to review things following the procedure on my second eye (first from 27th March to 29th May and then to 2nd June), I was feeling so concerned at the beginning of this week that I phoned the contact number on my appointment letter in a hope that I could be seen sooner. My call was re-directed twice before I actually spoke to anyone. I was told that my consultant's clinic had finished for that day and that none of here team was around. I was advised to phone the emergency department and given 1 1800 number to call, having been warned that they were very busy and I would probably have to hold on a while before getting through. I tried several times on Tuesday and Wednesday, but when the holding music changed to a ring tone it only rang once and then stopped, as if the phone had been put down.
Then, this morning. I was checking email when I suddenly experienced double vision, a problem which had never occurred before. It cleared up within minutes, but I was concerned enough to contact my GP. He said he'd give me a referral letter for the hospital, but I told him not to bother with the Eye & Ear because their web site states that they're not dealing with walk-ins and that an appointment is needed beforehand — which is all very well if you can actually get through to the emergency department in the first place. I'd been referred to the Eye & Ear because my consultant in the Mater felt I'd be attended to sooner if I switched to the Eye & Ear list. So the GP emailed a referral letter to the Mater Eye Emergency Department and sent a copy to me also.
I called a taxi right away (at 11:45). I was half-way there when I got a call from the Mater saying I still needed an appointment even with a letter. I explained that I was on my way, they shuffled some papers and offered me a slot at 2:00 pm, having taken note of my details over the phone. I got the taxi driver to take me back home. I called another taxi to take me back for my 2:00 slot. When I showed up at Registration I was told that they couldn't take me then but that they'd squeeze me in for 3:00 instead. I didn't fancy hanging around, especially since I'd forgotten to bring my wallet with me and couldn't even buy a coffee, so I hopped in another taxi to take me home again. When we got there he said I might as well have him wait while I nipped to the loo and picked up my wallet, explaining that it'd be cheaper to do the round trip than call yet another taxi to go back to the hospital. I did that.
The Mater Eye Emergency Department is brilliant! I was called in within five minutes of arrival for a preliminary assessment before seeing a doctor. Lots of testing and probing and looking took place and then we had 'the chat'. Basically, she apologised that she could find nothing seriously wrong. She agreed that I was suffering from pretty extreme dry eye and told me to continue with drops for that. The double vision she put down to a temporary problem and assured me there was no sign of conjunctivitis or whatever. The really, really annoying floaters I'm experiencing are because my vision is better since the cataracts were removed and I'm more aware of them than I would have been before. So, encouraging, but disappointing at the same time.
In the end, though, the score board shows a clear win for the Mater as opposed to the Eye & Ear. Nobody could wish for better treatment or attention than the Mater showed this afternoon. The E&E have been frustrating in the extreme to deal with.