A bit of an eyeful


My right eye has suddenly reminded me of why I started this blog and I shouldn’t neglect it like I do.

I’ve always been a bit funny about my eyes, protective of them in strong ways because I’ve always been convinced that the majority of what makes me a writer and artist is in the way I see things.  So I’ve always updated my glasses regularly and the thought of wearing contacts has always made me shudder.  I like that my glasses are a small barrier in front of my eyes.

Then, on Sunday evening, after attending a lovely family barbecue in the afternoon, this huge, weird floater appeared in my eye and stayed in the centre of my vision, wafting about strangely as I moved my eye about.  All kinds of horror thoughts went through my mind so the first thing on Monday I phoned up the doctor for an emergency appointment and after seeing me she phone up the eye clinic at York hospital and got me an appointment that afternoon.

It was quite a bit of a wait for everyone who attended, but most took the delay very well.  Except for one little boy who said he was bored, to which his mother replied, “Well, let that be a lesson not to poke your toys in your eye again.”  I guess some kids need to learn to be protective of their eyes the hard way.

The doctor who eventually saw me was very thorough with his examination and declared that there was no damage to the retina, which was a huge relief, and that I had something called Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  This is where the gel inside the eye pulls away from the retina and creates this strange floater.  Apparently most people get this at some point in their later years and it rarely leads to anything more serious and usually settles down fairly quickly.  I just have to put up with this floater until it does so.

I know I’m no longer young, but this feels like a harsh prod with a pointed stick to point out that my body is beginning to get old even if my mind doesn’t feel like it is.

Beyond the personal reminder that I must look after myself better, I’m also fully aware of the importance the NHS plays in all our lives and how much worse off we’d all be if it were gone.  Which makes me angry that the Tories and their cronies are doing their best to destroy it and our lifeline to a healthy future.

I dread to think what I would have done if there was no NHS and my eye condition had been more serious than it is.


Open Letter to the NHS – Hygiene

Dear NHS,

I really love the wonderful things you do and all our lives would be very poor indeed without the on-going care and medical aid you give us.  However, I really get annoyed when I see reports in the newspapers about MRSA and lack of hygiene.

The reason for my annoyance comes from a regular display of practices that suggest a basic lack of understanding of simple hygiene from everyone involved.  In the last few years, for instance, I have seen a number of instances of each of the following:

  • Wearing cardigans over uniforms.
  • Wearing outdoor coats over uniforms.
  • Wearing uniforms to and from the hospital.

The idea of transfer of germs and bugs through such practices clearly escapes the grasp of those involved.  It is often impressed on visitors how important it is to wash/clean hands on entering wards and this is exactly right, but hospital staff should have much higher standards that include the right attitude towards clothing.

However, the above is nothing compared to one of the worst practices I’ve regularly seen happen – a complete disregard for how infection can be spread through the transfer from the curtains surrounding each of the beds on the wards.

Visitors constantly brush up against these curtains with their clothes, the patients touch them, everybody touches them.  Now think carefully about the main people who touch them – the nurses who attend the patients many times a day.

If they have just cleaned up a patient or re-dressed an infected wound, those nurses will push back the curtains with the soiled gloves still on their hands, transferring bacteria and the like to the curtains.

Worse still is that the next time they attend that same patient, nurses put on rubber gloves BEFORE closing the curtains, which immediately stops the gloves being sterile and risks passing on infection to the patient.  If this isn’t the cause of the majority of patient infections I’d be very surprised.

We’re all disgusted at the cut-backs enforced on the NHS by this current government, particularly when the majority of us have been paying for it through our National Insurance contributions, but this is not an excuse for a mind-set that cannot make the connections that lead to infection transfer this way.

Being in hospital is hard.  Working in hospital is hard.  But thinking about hygiene should be natural for all of us.

Please be cleaner in your thinking.

Steve Ince
East Yorkshire

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A Mixed Bag and a Very Funny Story

Yesterday I took June to the hospital in York because she’s been having trouble with her knee – the oposite one to the one she had fixed last time.  While I was waiting I managed to type up a few notes and develop a few ideas for the TV comedy project I’m working on.  Although that progressed well, June found out that she’s going to have to get the knee replaced, which she isn’t looking forward to, but as she’s already in pain anyway the long term means it’s the better option.

When we got back I went for a walk and seemed okay until half way when I suddenly felt very weak and quite dreadful.  this continued even after I returned and I was forced to have a nap on the bed.  When I woke I had a coffee but didn’t really pick up until the evening.

This morning I felt pretty good again, which is just as well as it was another trip out.  This time I took June to the eye clinic in the hospital in Hull where she was having a check-up on the progress of her cataracts.  The news was a bit better here as they haven’t yet got so bad that she’s in need of an operation and her actual eyesight has improved slightly since she was last tested.  On the way home we bought a cherry tree from the garden centre.

While I was sitting in the hospital this morning waiting for June, I overheard a couple who were sitting to my right.  I thought at first that they were husband and wife because he looked to be in his seventies and she looked about the same age.  It actually turned out that she was his mother and he’d brought her into the hospital, but although she was obviously grateful, their conversation showed how independently minded she was.

Him:  I think you should move into a bungalow.
Her:  I don’t want to move.  I’m happy where I am.
Him:  If you moved into a bungalow near us I could keep an eye on you.
Her:  I don’t need you to keep an eye on me.  Besides, I like living where I am.  I don’t need to move.
Him:  I’ll put you a new handrail on your stairs then.
Her:  I don’t need a new handrail.
Him:  I’ll do it in wood so it matches your other one.
Her:  I don’t want a new handrail.
Him:  Okay, I’m just worried about you getting old.
Her:  I’m not getting old.
Him:  Well, you’re 97.
Her:  97 isn’t old!

I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing out loud.  But good for her for not letting him do things she doesn’t want.