Okay, so it’s pre-op day. And I feel horrible – cold and weak.
Coffee doesn’t help. I start getting dressed, but I have to lay down. A bowl of warm soup makes me feel a little better, but ultimately it’s two paracetamol tablets that makes me feel great.
Make-up, a cute outfit and 2 hours later, I'm off.
The drive down to London feels extra-long today, even though there’s no traffic. I arrive five minutes early.
The hospital is remarkably easy to navigate. On the sidewalk leading into the hospital there is a huge green line that a person with a visual impairment, but with some functional vision, can follow.
I’m directed to a small waiting room and at exactly 1:45 PM, my scheduled appointment, my name is called.
Wow! I’m already impressed by the prompt service.
Nurse #1: takes my blood pressure, oxygen levels and pricks my finger, testing me for diabetes. She also measures my height and takes my weight. All good.
Nurse #2: Test my visual acuity: CF - right eye (counting finger) 2/60 left eye (20/800) That's NOT GOOD.
I’m a bit stunned by how much my vision has deteriorated yet again in both eyes in the last 2 months. But there’s no time to quibble about it. I’m up again.
Nurse #3: again tells me my visual acuity and explains that it has deteriorated since June. I let her know that I understand. She confirms that it is the RIGHT EYE they will perform this current transplant on. Yes, I know. Next, comes numerous questions about my medical history. She especially notes that I have a history of post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV). This is a common side effect after anesthesia, however in this procedure it's more of a concern because PONV can increase eye pressure and significantly impact my transplant. After that, she goes over the instructions for fasting prior to surgery, make sure I remove nail polish and checks that I know what ward I have to go to. Lastly, she provides me with the instruction pamphlet for the surgery.
But wait... "Is that your real hair?", Nurse #3 asks.
"Yes, this is," I say running my nails through the layered top half of my hair. "I clip-in longer extensions on the bottom."
She smiles, feeling my hair, "Oh, it's lovely. Are the clip-ins Brazilian?"
I'm smiling now too, amused by our rapport. "No, Remy, I think."
Nurse #3: "Oh it's lovely! Where are you from anyway?"
Me: "I'm from the Caribbean - the Cayman Islands, actually."
Nurse #3 beams: "Really? I would never have thought you were from the Caribbean."
Maybe she is from the Caribbean too, but there's no time to ask. I'm shuttled off again.
Nurse #4: applies electrodes to my chest (and one to my foot?) to check for heart irregularities - the basic ECG. I feel awkward lying there topless even though it’s a female nurse. I’m stiff and she keeps telling me to relax my arms. So, I’m relieved when two minutes later she tells me to get dressed.
Back to the waiting room.
Two minutes later, I’m told that I’m free to go. Yay!
I guess I passed.