Sticking pins in my eyes

Across the last 8 days I have spent just over £2k to literally have someone stick pins in my eyes. Fitting way to finish a fortnight in which I have spent my days ranting and raving about narrow minded people, feeling like I’ve been hitting my head against a brick wall. Hey it’s Friday go for it, finish me off – stick pins in my eyes.

For almost 3 years I have wept most days when I drop my daughter to school. Not because I am so distraught at being apart from her for a day, nor as no doubt some other parents may have thought because I have problems at home or perhaps am just emotionally unhinged. Going for a run is a blurry, tear filled experience and I turn up for works most days dabbing at my eyes. I wear sunglasses whenever possible as it helps protect / hide my eyes but let’s be frank, sunglasses on the school run on a cloudy day, I look like a twat.

All this purely because when the air is cold and a bit windy, it makes my eyes run as it does anyone’s but apparently my tear ducts are so small and don’t allow my eyes to drain away tears when my eyes water.

So every situation that causes eyes to water leaves me literally overflowing with tears as they cascade waterfall like down my cheeks. Onions, I won’t even go there. A lack of tear control reminiscent of 1st September 1997 when a bad contraceptive pill cocktail, caused me too miss my own birthday party, with an evening spent bawling my eyes out uncontrollably at the end of my best mates garden, all because someone popped my balloon.

Add to this that my tear ducts aren’t just small but apparently freakishly small for my age. I responded to this, in the pristine Harley Street clinic I visited, by saying I’m not that young anymore. The lady was courteous enough to respond that I was stilll relatively young. This is what going private gets you – compliments. To be fair as she was about to take me through their quite literally eye watering price structure she needed to be nice.

Several years ago when visiting an NHS physio about knee pains she had the cheek to tell me we had been having quite wet weather recently and this sometimes affected older women. Indeed you get what you pay for.

For ages I have wondered why I appear to be an emotional wreck each time I set out on a brisk day and have been told things like “ohhh wind eye” or “dry eye” (the irony) but after having a series of tests at an opticians last year – blocked tear ducts was my diagnosis. I’m sure at this point my friends or husband who joke I am emotionally stunted would say they have closed up due to lack of use but my new expensive nHarley Street Doc assured me that a slight eye infection at some point is what had caused my tear ducts to recede like a snail into non existence.

So back to my pins in eyes. I rocked up to the recommended clinic 10 days ago already overjoyed at the price tag of a £250 consultation. Which actually in real terms bough me a mere 10 min chat before being sent back down to her receptionist to be told to continue with the next phase of investigation would result in the total “package” price of £480. Now when I hear package price I think spa break, holiday – but no, this was not quite so pleasant.

After anithetising my eye balls with drops and nose with giant cotton buds that left me looking like an unfortunate walrus she pulled out a long syringe needle. This was then inserted into all my tear ducts, multiple times, to eye watering discomfort. Bearing in mind it felt like someone was sticking needles in my eyes I’m pretty sure the anaesthetic was just a placebo.

The needle had to be moved around to bend round the corner of the natural tear duct canal. Think a needle in a bendy straw – but oh yes that’s in your face.

So she finished and she was very pleased with herself. As I mopped up my now very teary wet face and gazed in the mirror at my puffy blood shot eyes I didn’t quite share in her enthusiasm, but foolishly hoped that she had unblocked the problem, opened the gap wider with her evil needle and that was that.

She explained that as I had been such a “valiant trooper” I heard “fucking hardcore legend” she was able to plough through with her needle despite the obvious discomfort to make a diagnosis. “You just billed me £480 for the sado masochistic pleasure of course I’m going to sit still so that you can make a diagnosis!” I said (in my head).

So the “particularly small” diagnosis was delivered and prognosis was that I required an operation on each eye to cut and make my tear ducts at least double the size, at the cool cost of £670 / eye and a £180 follow up!!! Bringing me in at a total of £2000 Is it worth it you say? Well unfortunately yes and our delightful NHS won’t do it as it’s not hazardous to my eyes just an irritant and inconvenience.

So begrudgingly in I booked to have my right eye done the following, Tuesday and the left on the Friday.

All I can say is the procedure was hideous. If you can avoid having anaesthetic administered to your eyes by a needle please do so at all costs. (Don’t pay £2k for the pleasure). Right eye was nasty, fortunately once the anaesthetic kicked in despite discomfort or having your eye forced open with a really bright light shining in it, it was bearable and once the slightly wobbly embarrassing train ride home was achieved, 12 hours wearing a patch and no one would ever know the torture that had ensued.

The real kick in the face was the addition to the bill of £4 for the eye patch! Seriously could you not just throw that in.

Reluctantly I returned on Friday for more self inflicted torture, berating myself for not bringing back the £4 eye patch to recycle, just out of principal!

Friday’s left eye joy however made a bad experience worse, which saw the doctor:

1. Try out a slightly different way of administering the needle for the anaesthetic. Upon witnessing my shriek and squirm she stated, that is obviously causing discomfort I won’t try it that way on patients in the future. (Glad my guinea pig services can be of service). HORRENDOUS!!!

2. She kicked off the procedure without giving the anaesthetic a chance to kick in – ouch!!! Cue my next shriek and request for short break to allow this.

3. She decided that there was a small bit of skin still covering the duct in my right eye, “while I’m here . . .” Down went the needle with no anaesthetic in that eye – ouch ouch.

4. A requirement for Root Canal in a back tooth on also the left hand side of my face meant the moment she started it triggered a ridiculously painful wave of pain in that whole side of my face leaving my breathing reminiscent of birthing breaths (a level of pain I hoped never to have to experience again).

So after a 10 min sit down to compose myself after, and catchy breath again, off I went all done, sporting a massive taped on eye patch. Fortunately each time on my commute home, no one cracked any parrot jokes, although I did catch a few dodgy sidewards glances, no doubt half the amount I actually received as I could only witness these with one eye. True British commuter style not one person offered me a seat. My kids were delighted with their new pirate Mum.

So needless to say I was pretty happy the week was done! What did I do to celebrate?

Headed to an emergency dentist on Saturday afternoon for another needle full of anaesthetic to get my tooth opened up and relieved till I can have root canal.

The upside, despite the ordeal is that I am now tear free. The tears are draining away swiftly much like my bank balance and when I’m out and about (not including a portion of Saturday spent sobbing on the kitchen floor in tooth pain), I can now rejoice in the fact that I have tear ducts like funnels, safe in the knowledge that I don’t have to excuse my pseudo emotions any more and I can go back to my emotionally stunted, heartless ways.

(Image by Jessie McClear)


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