A significant and somewhat challenging component of our adventure has been dealing with the ramifications of Bob contracting the shingles virus in his right eye some 3 months before our scheduled departure from Australia in November 2013. Despite having a diagnosis and treatment started in Australia, and being warned that this was likely to be a long term problem necessitating treatment in the UK, neither of us were really prepared for what this has entailed.
There was a delay of about 6 months in getting adequate treatment due to our planned visit to family and friends in North America and then having to navigate the NHS on our return. We are sure that this has not helped the situation but that is what is.
However since our referral to Moorfields Eye Hospital, and in particular their outreach service at Northwick Park Hospital, we have received excellent support and treatment and have learnt much regarding the veracity and variability of this virus and subsequent treatments on the eye. We have mastered many different schedules of both oral and eye drop or ointment medications that are required to treat the various conditions including high pressure, inflammation, dendritic ulcers and the virus itself. Bob has been an incredibly patient patient, and Bron has made full use of her long term exposure to health care systems and project management skills to organise the schedules and logistics of attending the required appointments from the many different locations across the UK.
Saturday 18th April marked the day of the first surgery required to provide a permanent (we hope) solution to the high pressure. After travelling to London by train we attempted a restful night in a guest house we found in Golders Green very close to the Underground route directly to Moorfields City Road location. We arrived at 11 am before our allotted time and Bob underwent all the preoperative checks quite quickly including the decision to undertake the surgery with local anaesthetic and sedation rather than a general anaesthetic as previously thought. However he was last to go into theatre and we finally left the hospital to return to the guest house after 7.30pm that night. Bob had turned into a pirate, was in good spirits and relieved that the surgeon was happy with his work.
We returned to the hospital the following morning for a post-operative check, adjustment to the prescribed medication and the news that we then had an 8 day reprieve until Monday 27th April when we had to return to the Northwick Park outreach for the next checkup.
So we were then off to spend the next week with cousins, Julie and Phil, in Maldon, Essex, to recuperate within easy reach of the hospital should anything go wrong. We were both surprised by how exhausted this experience had left us and we were grateful to have such support to recover.
We had visited a couple of times before, but this time both Julie and Phil had to go to work and we were left to our own devices most days. We really didn’t venture far. But Bob got to go into a Wimpy Bar for a burger, and we picked up a few extra hooks for Celtic Maid. Oh and cooked dinner a few times until Bob burnt a saucepan, and Bron cooked Anzac biscuits and flapjacks for Julie to take to work. Given that this was Bron’s first baking venture for quite some time, the mixed reviews came as no surprise!!!!
Bob’s birthday was on the Monday but was quietly celebrated as he really was feeling well below par. Although if the surgery sorts out the pressure in his eyes it would be a pretty good birthday gift indeed.
Julie had asked us to take some photos of her beautiful silver, copper and gemstone jewelry for her website, Julie’s Jewels. After much rearranging to get the lighting right and learning to use Julie’s camera we finally finished on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully there are a few photos that do justice to her bespoke jewelry.
On the Friday we travelled into Hendon to attend Phil’s granddaughter’s final year dance performance at Middlesex University. This was quite an experience as the first performance was presented with the audience within the performance area, the next two with the audience on blankets on the floor and the final one in a studio with lots of talcum powder being spread around!!!!! But the performers and choreographers did a brilliant job and they all deserve to have graduated successfully.
The University was also built on the location previously housing the Middlesex Army regiment of which Bob’s father was a member. Some of the old buildings were still there and Bob tried to remember how things were laid out when his family were stationed there some 55 years ago. Quite a stroll down memory lane!!
We were also treated to a quick trip to Tiptree jam factory and museum on Sunday and brought home 3 delicious tarts and ice cream to have for dessert following our Sunday roast dinner prepared by Phil, that evening. Just a lovely end to a beautiful week of relaxing, recuperating and recovering before returning to Celtic Maid via the hospital on Monday.
So we bade an appreciative farewell on Monday morning and after leaving our luggage at the guest house where we were returning for the night, we arrived at the hospital for the clinic, To our surprise we were through in record time with a slightly altered schedule and supply of medications and a reprieve of 2 weeks before our return on 11th May!!!!
So a successful journey with much love and support experienced to lighten the load of managing this recalcitrant eye on the road to recovery.