I have been bad about posting, and for that there is no excuse other than that life seems to take control and I either have no time or energy left at the end of the day.
I had wanted to fill you in on another French medical experience. Last week we finally had our appointment with the ophthalmologist in Toulouse. You may remember that this was supposed to have occurred in February, but when we got there, after getting up at an un-Godly hour of the morning, the doctor wasn’t in.
This time, I made an appointment with a different doctor who did consultations in the afternoon, figuring that it was way easier to deal with any problems when we were all fully awake and caffeinated.
We got to Toulouse in excellent time, it being the middle of the day and not rush hour. I managed to score the last parking place in the McDonald’s lot (I wonder if anyone actually eats there, or it’s all just people parking for the hospital?) and walked back to where I’d dropped off Mom and JM. By now, JM knew the drill at the hospital and got Mom checked in. But we were not the only ones there! After checking in at reception, you have to go to the eye clinic reception and check in with them. There were half-a-dozen people ahead of us and ONE poor, lonely secretary dealing with everyone.
The waiting room was packed, as were the corridors. I figured we’d have a long wait. But surprisingly, a nurse came to get us only a few minutes after we’d sat down. I was soon disillusioned, however, when she said we were going to another waiting room. And, there, we DID wait! We waited for over two hours! But there were people there who had already been sitting there for two hours and who got taken in AFTER us! To make matters worse, the lighting is very bad. At first I thought that was odd for an eye clinic, but then realized that if you’d had your eyes dilated, you probably didn’t really want bright overhead lights. If it wasn’t that, it was just typical bad French lighting.
And, as always in public buildings here, it was way too hot! Unlike in American hospitals where you’re always freezing, in French hospitals you feel as if you’re going to die from the heat. Layers are the only way to go.
At last one of the interns came to get us. He examined Mom’s eyes with me acting as interpreter. He kept looking at us, as if he wasn’t sure I was translating correctly, because the results were not what you would call outstanding. He was particularly shocked when I told him that Mom had already had cataract surgery several years ago, because he vision should have been much better following that.
But that is the reason we were there! The problem is not cataracts, but corneas.
We finally got to see the surgeon, and as I suspected, Mom’s eyes cannot be helped with something like laser surgery. She needs a cornea transplant. Now, I wasn’t sure that would even be considered for someone her age, but it was proposed immediately by the doctor. The waiting list is about six months long, but she would definitely get one cornea replaced.
I could see that Mom was stressed out though. She would have to be in the hospital for four days, and I wouldn’t be able to be with her all the time, so she’d be on her own a lot. Then she would need to put special drops in for a year and I know she would not be able to do that on her own, so we would have to get a nurse to do it; not that that’s a problem here. Finally, I was seriously worried about the possibility of rejection; someone in the village has had THREE transplants done and has rejected all of them. She is now worse off than she was before.
Still, on the way home, it was clear to both JM and me that she wasn’t a happy camper. She had walked back to the car with me and she barely made it, even though it was only about a five minute walk. She is fine as long as her life is calm and stress-free, but add anything unusual and she doesn’t deal with it well. We could hear her fidgeting in the back seat of the car, something she always does when she’s stressed. Finally, we told her she didn’t HAVE to go through with it if she didn’t want to. And she didn’t. She feels she can live with things the way they are now, and if it comes down to it, we can always buy her an even larger TV so she can see it better. It’s a lot less stressful than eye surgery.
By the time we got home, everyone was exhausted. We had left the house at 1:00 and got back at 9:00. You could say it was a wasted trip, but I don’t think it was. First, we now know that she CAN get a cornea transplant if, in the future, she wants to do that and her age is not something that will stand in the way. Second, we now know that that is the only thing that will help her condition. And third, Mom sees that JM and I are willing to do what is necessary to make sure her needs are met. So, the only thing we lost was a little bit of time.
Ciao for now.