Have you ever…?

I used to play this game when I was a kid and then in my rebellious years. It comprises of being in a cycle of other kids and one person says “Have you ever…?” and then thinks of something ridiculous, like “Done a poo outside?” and if you haven’t done the pointless thing that they ask you, you have to complete a forfeit (or drink/eat a concoction of rancid things put together by your ‘so called’ friends when you are a teenager.)

Any way, there is no actual point to the beginning of this blog really, apart from to say, ‘HAVE YOU EVER HAD A FALSE EYE FITTED…?’

So strangely, some of you reading may very well have had one fitted and will be able to relate to my experience. For some of you, this will be an eye opener for you…. pun very much intended….

Where do I start….?

About 6 weeks post surgery I received a letter through the post from ‘The National Artificial Eye Centre’ my first thought was that they could have maybe thought about a shorter, catchier title for the service. I don’t know, something like….’Eye Eye Centre’ or ‘Bionic Eye services’…. but I guess it says exactly what the service is. My second thought was about where the centre was going to be. I had visions of heading to Harley Street in London, wearing my best Sarah Jessica Parker (ala Sex In The City) outfit and then lunching afterwards….. Turns out the centre is in Hunslet in Leeds, approximately 5 miles from my house down Dewsbury road (one of four awesome centres in England) I have to say that I was a tad disappointed that the location wasn’t a bit more exotic.

Anyway, after I got over my upset, I set about trying to prepare for the appointment, which actually meant not really thinking about it until the night before and then panicking and feeling sick about what was going to happen ( I had joked with people that I was going to get old Barry’s eye from the bin, but now I was worried that this may actually be a reality) I had also kinda become attached to the plastic conformer that was half filling my socket, I wasn’t ready to have something that clearly wasn’t my eye act as my eye.

Who knew I would become so attached to a little bit of plastic.

Arriving in Hunslet and congratulating myself on parking in a tiny car park (I had only been driving for about 3 weeks and generally parked in those spaces that no one else wants to park in as you have to then catch a bus to where you are going to) I checked in and waited. The waiting room was FULL of other people (not just with false eye issues) and I felt a little self conscious about my incredibly blingy new patch that had just arrived. Luckily my false eye person (I have no idea what her actual title is) was running on time. She collected me from the waiting room and took me into essentially a workshop (think back to your CDT lessons… but sterilised and you will get the picture)

As soon as I got into the room I broke down in tears describing how I wasn’t ready to have something that wasn’t my eye and that it wouldn’t bring back my sight and how I was worried about EVERYTHING, Eye lady (not her real name) just sat and held my hand, reassuring me and telling me that we didn’t have to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I am so grateful that she took the time to do that, even though she was chocka with appointments all day. That 20 minutes of listening and reassurance was actually all that I needed to get my head around what was happening…..I will state AGAIN that NHS tissues are woefully inadequate (I have gone through a few and so feel like an expert)… I feel like I must start a fundraiser to supply better tissues for teary sobbing patients like me.

Anyway I digress…. Once I had pulled myself together, Eye lady (not her real name) explained what she was going to do, and then promptly stopped when she saw me turn green as she talked about removing the false eye once it was in. I assured her that there was no way on god’s earth I would ever be removing the eye until my permanent one was fitted…. even if it turned black with dirt it would be staying in the socket.

She then introduced me to ‘the case of eyes’…. in fact I think that deserves to be written in caps lock ‘THE CASE OF EYES’ This is the case that she carries around with her that houses over 600 prosthetic eyes….. I know, it gave me the heeby jeebies too. She flipped open the case and took out one of the shelves (there were about 12 shelves of eyes) and brought it over to me. After commenting that finding a match for my eye was going to be a nightmare due to the colour mixture of my eye (obvs I’m awkward) she picked out a few eyes and held them up to the remaining eye in my head and popped them to the side. This process was repeated for about 20 minutes until she had whittled it down to two eyes. What is absolutely amazing is that it was all done by eye (no pun intended there) Eye lady (not her real name) had such an eye for detail (I just can’t help myself…) and such confidence in what she was doing, it was like watching an artist at work.

After a bit of umming she finally settled on what she felt would be a good interim match before my permanent eye was fitted. It was then that the s**t got real…. this ‘eye’ was going to go into my head. Taking what looked like a mini plunger (blugh) she attached it to the eye and lifted up my sagging eye lid and just ‘popped’ it into place….. actually it wasn’t that easy as every time she approached my with the eye, I shrank back into the chair until I almost slid off it…..I was also sweating in cold fear and I swear I had sweat dripping down my forehead. Now I don’t know if this actually happened (the likelihood is that it didn’t) but after the 4 attempt of putting the eye in, I think that she body blocked me so as I wouldn’t shrink away from her any more. Then ‘THE EYE’ was in! Bloody uncomfortable and it felt like it was popping out of my head but it was in….. This was when the fun started (for Eye lady ((not her real name)), not for me…) she pulled out a black marker and started drawing all over the eye! Little marks and lines to show where it needed adjusting… She then ‘popped’ it back out of my head and set about filing and sanding it down on a HUGE industrial sized machine……Remember that I mentioned the CDT style room? I mean, if Aliens had come down to earth at that very moment and seen my with my flappy eyelid and Eye lady (not her real name) sanding and filing an eye, both of us discussing the merits of having a tortoise for a pet (we don’t have one for the record) I’m pretty sure they would turn and fly back to their planet in fear. This process lasted about 45 minutes with her installing and uninstalling the eye in my head several times before she was happy with the fit.

Ahh yes, the flappy eyelid shot.

It was then time for me to see it, something that I was not prepared for at all. In fact, to be honest I didn’t want to see it, it made no difference to the way that I felt about not being able to see, but I then felt that I needed to see it, even to see the work and effort that Eye lady (not her real name) had put in. I took the mirror and had a look. I mean what can I say about it, it was really strange, something was in my socket that looked like an eye. A dead eye with not one ounce of expression but an eye. A flood of emotion came over me, I can’t even describe it. Grief I guess at losing something so much a part of me and then trying to replace it with something else, something false….anger at the fact that it had happened at all and gratitude that I am lucky enough to be able to have a new eye at all.

And then, just like that, the appointment was over. Eye lady (not her real name) suggested that I didn’t put my patch back on and try to walk around without it, but as soon as I left the centre, my patch went back on. 1. Because I had just bought some new fabulous ones (before Madonna showcased hers at Eurovison) and 2. I just felt really uncomfortable and I didn’t feel like me at all. It isn’t very comfortable to wear either. It is sore around the socket and gets dry very easily despite the gel drops I have and feels like something is stabbing into my socket all the time….. well that’s a nice jolly end to the blog!

I am so thankful to the NHS and to the incredible and talented Eye lady (not her real name), I just think that it is going to take a while……

There is also another slight issue with THE EYE, which may mean that my name changes from Captain Corne to Lizard Corne….

Kids, I’ll always have an ‘eye’ on you…

CC or LC xx

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