I really hate hospitals.  I feel physically ill when walking into my HES placement hospital because this is a place I spent many hours, sitting next to a sick-bed, watching someone I love struggle to breathe.  I have years of resentment towards this place.  It’s a giant, sprawling building that just fills me with sadness on sight.  The people who work there are amazing, it’s just the place I dislike so viscerally.

I was testing a lovely lady last week who had bilateral ptosis.  Her upper eyelids were obscuring her vision and she struggled to keep her eyes open.  At the end of the test, I mentioned the ptosis, asking if it bothered her.  At this point, she launched into a story about how she had been in hospital for another condition and the surgeon had noticed her eyelids.  The surgeon spoke to her about them and found that, yes, they were causing problems.  She was referred into HES for a consultation but she didn’t go.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, I had been in hospital so many times in that period that I needed a break.”

Fair enough, I thought.  Then there was a pause and the real reason came out.

Deep breath. “Actually, it was the hospital I was referred to – both my parents died there. It sounds silly but I hate that place.”

At this point, I told her that I felt the same way.  Not about the same hospital, but I knew the feeling.  I described the dread I feel when I walk in the door.  She said that she was going to go to the appointment – she got in the car but suddenly felt overwhelmed and decided to go back inside her house.

I told her that I could refer her to a specific hospital, avoiding the one with the bad memories.  She perked up considerably.  I told her that I’d seen three people have their upper eyelid “droopiness” corrected and I described what happened.  She was asking about how long it took, if she would be awake, how they numbed the eyes.  I gave her all the information and asked if it was something she would consider.  So, I referred her into the hospital with my bad memories so she could avoid her own.

During my final year, I was sitting in with an ophthalmologist when I saw a patient, the same age as me, from the same town, who had endophthalmitis.  She had been playing with her young son and he had managed to poke her in the eye with an action figure.  She had gone to the optometrist to have it checked out. The optometrist referred her to an ophthalmologist and here she was, after having a scleral melt, a lot of blood work done, some surgery to try to correct the scleral melt and now, endophthalmitis.  It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen – her eye was yellowy-white, pus-filled and sightless.  Worse still, she was in pain.  The ophthalmologist was recommending enucleation and there was an active scleral melt in the other eye.

This woman, again the same age as me, sat and discussed the removal of one of her eyes and the possibility of going blind in the other with such calmness, I was astounded.  When the doctor stepped out of the room, she told me that she had accepted the fact that her eye was useless and now she was thinking about minimising her pain.

It broke my heart to see someone in this situation and didn’t really help with my feelings about hospitals (this was my first hospital placement at uni).

Anyway, sorry for the rather depressing ending to this post but sometimes there’s no happy ending.