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Jill - Interview 20

Age at interview: 83
Brief Outline: Jill was diagnosed with glaucoma in her 60s and has since had her cataracts removed and trabeculectomies performed on both eyes. Four to five months after an Ahmed tube was inserted she experienced complications and had an emergency operation to remove the tube.
Background: Jill is married and has got four grown up children. Jill volunteers for local and national organisations. Ethnic background/nationality: White

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Jill developed problems with her vision in her sixties and was diagnosed with glaucoma. She had a trabeculectomy in her left eye and a cataract removed under general anaesthetic. A few years later she had a cataract removed from her right eye with local anaesthetic. In 2006, Jill had an occlusion in her left eye and was put on Acetazolamide to bring the pressure down. She relied on her right eye but the consultant at the hospital decided to put in an Ahmed tube. This turned out to have complications and after about 4 or 5 months an emergency operation was performed to remove the tube. Again it took about 9 weeks for her vision to return properly, after which a third operation was performed when a trabulectomy was carried out on her right eye. Since June 2009, her vision has been better in her right eye and she is able to read books although newspapers are more difficult and a magnifying glass has to be used.
 

Jill feels she has adapted well to her reduced sight. Her husband is a great support and she has magnifying glasses dotted around her house. She has, however, spent a lot of time travelling some distance to eye appointments, waiting in waiting rooms and having operations postponed, all of which have been wearing. She now sits as a patient representative on two committees to feed back her views 

 

Jill was encouraged by another doctor to ‘make a fuss’ to get the treatment she needed for her...

Jill was encouraged by another doctor to ‘make a fuss’ to get the treatment she needed for her...

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So she did it. But by this time, it didn’t sort of worry me. You get used to it, you know, it’s not a pain, it’s a sensation - really it was nothing after that first time I had it done. She said, “And then I’ll see you in two weeks.” So we made the appointment. Of course they rang up and said, “You can’t have this, you know, the doctor’s not come or something. We’ll send you another appointment.” So they sent it for about six or seven weeks ahead. So I rang them again and said, “I’m supposed to see somebody within two weeks.” And the woman said, “Well that’s nothing to do with me.” Of course I should have said, “It bloody well is.” But any way she didn’t do anything about it, I thought well, I suppose they know what they’re doing.
 
So I went into a Specsavers from whom I had bought glasses, but not the same branch, because at that point I was away for a few days in Bristol. So I went and said, “I am a customer. But would you check my pressures?” And they did. I mean it’s good people did that without any, you know, worry at all. And it was fine. So I thought well pressures all right. So doesn’t matter that the appointment was put off for so long.
 
But this eye I still have to use the drops to keep the pressure down. In fact one doctor I saw, I’d never seen before or since, said, “You should have that redone. Re-trabeculectomy you see.” He told me to ask the consultant. I said, “Well I’m not very good at that.” “No, no, you must make a noise. Make a fuss.” I said, “It’s no good,” I said, “I’m not that sort of person.” And I mean, they’ll never get my sight back, so I don’t really think there’s a lot of point. But anyway the other doctors haven’t said that so …
 
 

Jill joined the Glaucoma Association and finds their quarterly magazine a useful source of...

Jill joined the Glaucoma Association and finds their quarterly magazine a useful source of...

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I met somebody who had glaucoma by chance, talking, and she belonged to it, and said how, you know, she found it useful and helpful, so I, I joined it, and I pay £20 a year I think. Get four, four big magazine a year, and its got a, they give a public lecture four times a year at different centres. One of them is in London, I’ve been two or three times, but it’s a bit way above my head. It’s too complicated really. And people ask questions. That’s the bit I like. But they reproduce a lot of this in the magazine. So it’s interesting you can read, I find that the most interesting part of it.
 
Why do you find the questions the most interesting part?
 
Because they usually ask questions that are a bit more, the layman can understand. And then they give an answer that you can understand better. Its usually I find a bit too high falluting, you know, for the ordinary layman. 
 

Jill sought a second opinion after her consultant suggested she needed to have a second...

Jill sought a second opinion after her consultant suggested she needed to have a second...

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So I went up to [street name] to see her. Trouble is she won’t let me pay. So, you know, I can’t keep doing that. And she said, “Well you’ve got a lot of blood behind the eye.” Anyway to cut a long story short, it’s what they call an occlusion. And something behind the eye breaks and there’s no way you can do anything about it.
 
She called in a consultant… a friend of hers to see me as well. He was a specialist in glaucoma and they were very helpful. But I felt very embarrassed about my consultant here, you see. At any rate the blood cleared. I had to take a lot of Acetazolamide tablet you take by mouth. It makes your fingers and toes like pins and needles and that sort of thing, so you have to be very careful not to have too much of it. But he’d given it to me before, the consultant, when the pressure was a bit high, but he’d only give me three and say, “Come and see me in a week.” And always it had gone down. But anyway this time I took it for quite a long time.
 
Anyway eventually I saw the private consultant again, because I was due, I used to make an appointment months in ahead, and I told him what had happened. But he said again dramatically, “My God. You’ve had an occlusion” [laughs]. He said, “There’s nothing you can do.” But I can get about with it… I can’t read a thing, I can’t read the biggest letter on the chart.
 
But I can, fortunately read with the other eye. It’s a bit of a strain sometimes, but you know, it’s quite possible, and if you look round my house, you’ll find a magnifying glass here, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom [laughs]. 
 
Any rate, I decided I really ought to change. I had nothing against him, but I mean he was about 75 by that time, and I was about 81. So I thought it was time we parted. It was very amicable and he sent me to the consultant at [hospital], and he said to me, “He’ll be all right. I trained him.”
 
So I went to [consultant] and he looked after me. I don’t see him very, because you see all different people, but I would see him if there was anything they didn’t know what to do about. On this occasion the consultant said, “I’m going to operate on that eye.” It’s not my good eye. The pressure didn’t go down, you see, everything went up when I had this occlusion and they couldn’t get it down again like it used to be. 
 
So he said I’ll have to operate on that eye. And I said do you mean a trabeculectomy. “Oh no, he said, we do a modern thing now with a little tube, it’s called an Ahmed tube. We put it in.” 
 
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