I am feeling quite low with regards to my health. Earlier this year I decided to transfer my specialist treatment from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital to Mid Cheshire Hospitals, making it easier for me to travel to appointments. I did this on the advice of one particular doctor who I saw with my young daughter when she was treated earlier this year. He genuinely took an interest in my rare genetic eye condition, and he wanted to be my doctor. So, I requested a transfer.
Unfortunately, due to my mistake, I missed my first appointment with this doctor. I had requested to see him at my local hospital in Crewe, but I forgot that there is a hospital in Northwich under the same NHS trust, and the letter I received directed me to Northwich. I misread the letter and took myself off to the Crewe hospital. Whoops! At the time I laughed about it but now I regret my mistake. In my defense, I phoned the admissions department at Mid Cheshire Hospitals prior to the appointment, and they did not intervene when I mentioned the wrong hospital during the conversation, so I believe the letter hadn’t made it clear, especially for someone with an eye disorder that makes it difficult to read certain texts.
Anyway, I did see a doctor in the emergency eye clinic who at first appeared quite brusque but softened when she saw how bad my eyes really are. They are covered with scratches and scars, but this is not visible to the naked eye. She prescribed me some antibiotic ointment which helped and referred me for a follow-up appointment six weeks later. That happened early in December, and that is the reason why I now feel depressed and helpless regarding my medical care in the NHS.
The doctor I saw in December barely touched me during our consultation. I tried to explain my symptoms and what I believed needed to be done, and he dismissed me, saying it was something else and I should simply go home and use my overnight eye ointment during the day whenever it was convenient. Considering that I work from home using a computer every day, I have children that need transporting to and from school, and I have lots of other domestic and professional commitments, this is far from ideal. The appointment at Leighton Hospital on that particular day was a complete waste of my time. I came home and treated myself in my bedroom, like I have done for the past twenty years. And it hurts.
I experienced chest pain back in June that took me to A&E. The doctors couldn’t diagnose a problem at the time, but they were concerned about my rapid heartbeat. They decided not to admit me overnight due to the Covid risk and sent me home with vague suggestions to change my lifestyle. There was no follow-up from my GP except for a standard letter regarding a scan that I had. This chest pain happened again just before Christmas. It wasn’t as severe, but I found myself completely unable to contact my GP or to visit the local hospital because I just felt it was a waste of time and my children need me to be there after school.
Do I have mild depression? I have never been diagnosed with mental illness. Nobody ever made a fuss about my eye condition when I was a child, so I grew up with it being a normal part of my life. More recently I recognise just how much time I have spent dealing with my condition for all those years, alongside working, parenting, caring for family and other responsibilities. This year I would have visited my mum for regular care during the school holidays. She always makes me rest while she looks after the children. That didn’t happen due to the pandemic, and I think it has brought me down in my overall health. I am stressed because there is nobody here to step in and do something. My husband doesn’t care. We are now separated because of his lack of support. It’s just me and my children. And a distant NHS service that sometimes helps but mostly just patches me up in an emergency.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that we all need help from time to time. Many of us feel lonely, and I have exhausted myself trying to stay positive and be cheerful because my situation really isn’t that bad. My eye condition won’t kill me, but it hurts all the time. It is relentless. And I just want some empathy from those close by. I need support. And I don’t know where to find it.
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