BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation. I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any terms which might be ambiguous, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me. Lastly, you'll find typos here, although I do my best to correct them. There are reasons for this, which you'll discover as you read.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Enforced Break?

Although the name of this blog is clearly health-related, I've actually been quite lucky that health issues haven't come into play for a while. That all changed last week.

Thanks to being diabetic, I've had problems with my eyes which actually pre-date the stroke (although the stroke made things worse). I had a couple of treatments at the time (some good, some not so...) and have had regular scans ever since. Last week I had a scan and was told that there were signs that I may need more treatment.

Now, we'd seen traces in earlier scans, which might have been precursors to this, but it was always a case of "we need to keep an eye on this". Last week, I saw a different doctor, and the story was different. I have no idea whether the scan was any different to previous scans, whether this was a different doctor's different interpretation.

I mention this because only a few days ago, my wife (who is a nurse) was expressing frustration that some of her patients had been labelled as "no action required" (by the doctor then in charge) when they clearly ticked certain boxes in terms of diagnoses. So it is possible for two different clinicians to look at the same set of results, and conclude two different things. One would assume that the higher up the tree you are, the more your professional judgement comes into play.

In my case, everything is further complicated in that the treatment which was mooted by this doctor was laser surgery. Painless enough, but I had a bout of laser surgery a couple of years ago which was largely ineffective. There is a definite cost to laser surgery, because whether it is deemed successful or not, the laser zaps good cells in the process, thereby causing a degradation in vision (although doctors argue that the loss is negligible). My vision is now some way short of perfect (due to diabetes, stroke, and possibly treatment) and I am concerned about reducing it further. So I'm very wary. And I have enough experience of the NHS to know that treatment decisions are cost-based rather than quality-based, so I want to be sure before doing anything.

At the same time, this new doctor was at pains to tell me that I was at risk of bleeding into my eye, so it is not as if I can afford just to take no action at all. But I think a second opinion is required.

I feel somewhat cheated because my sugar control has been exemplary since the stroke, and yet this shit is still happening to me. It is following me around and won't let go until I'm blind.

Of course, if something does happen, then it is unlikely I will be able to write further entries here for a while....

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