Tag Archives: cataracts

Welcome to the Muppet show

I mentioned some time back I’d had cataract surgery. They did one eye and about ten weeks later they did the other.
Because after the operation I couldn’t drive, get dirty or lift, I got signed off on the sick for two weeks.
First time this happened I filled in the form over the phone for the contributory element of ‘Employment and Support Allowance.’ I’ve paid my stamp since 1975 so I’m entitled to something. But there’s a non-contributory element. Because the minute I go sick and stop trading my working capital becomes savings, I know I’m not going to get that.
I told them this, but hey, what do I know. About ten days after I filled the form in on line, along came the B16 form. I took one look at it, realised it was for the non-contributory element and phoned up.
“Do I have to fill it in?”
“Yes or you won’t get the non-contributory element of the ESA.”
“I won’t anyway, and anyway I cannot fill the form in yet because some information isn’t available till our year end and if I ask the accountant to do it he’ll charge more than you’ll pay.”
“And in three days I’ll be back at work.”
“No problem, ignore it.”
So I did. My B16 remained stoutly not filled in but more importantly, the money was paid.

Anyway after the second operation I went through the same procedure. When the B16 arrived I phoned the appropriate number. The lady on the phone was helpful.
“Well if you’re not claiming, you don’t have to fill it in. Why did you ask for it?”
“I didn’t, Bathgate just sent it.”
“They did? Why?”
“A good question, so I don’t have to fill it in.”

And on Friday, through the post came a letter saying I wasn’t going to get my money because the law says they cannot pay it.
So I phoned, got a call centre who told me someone would phone, and today they did.
“We cannot pay because you’ve not filled in your B16.”
“I was told not to, twice, by your people.”
“But until you fill it in, we cannot pay you.”
“Well you managed ten weeks ago with no apparent problem.”
“But we cannot pay until it’s filled in.”
”According to the letter you cannot pay because of the law, will any of your staff be prosecuted because of paying me?”
“I’ll have to check details with my colleagues, can you hold please.”
I held. William came back to the phone. “We’ll send you another B16, we cannot pay until you fill it in.”

So I await my B16, but when I get it I’m going to phone again to see if I need to fill it in, which could be fun.

Anyway, you really need a good book to read whilst you’re waiting. So in paperback or on kindle

When Storth arrives home after a long absence, there’s are a few things that need sorting out. Sometimes they can be more complicated than you initially thought.
But at least there are opportunities for an honest man to make money, with maidens to be rescued and tyrants slain, or was it the other way about.
And who uses energy carbines any more? Military fashions have moved on.


“You are Storth, ex-pilot and thief.”

“I have done rather more than that.” Storth sounded genuinely aggrieved.

“Yes but this is meant to be an identity check, not a charge sheet. We also felt mercenary, smuggler and thief verged on the tautological.”

“Oh, well I’m Storth.”

“And you are Hutton, wife of Storth, just a thief.”

“You could call me ‘Hutton, wife of Storth, housewife and thief’ if it makes it any better for your records.”

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The eyes have it

This summer has been a bit tricky because I’ve had cataract surgery. I first realised that something was wrong about three years ago when I found myself compulsively cleaning my glasses, especially the right lens because somehow I could never get the grease off it.
When I had my annual eye-test I raised the issue, and my optician referred me to Furness General Hospital where a specialist examined me. He announced that I did have cataracts, but I was unlucky in that rather than ‘creeping in from one edge’ where I wouldn’t have noticed them for another ten or fifteen years, mine had developed smack-bang in the middle. He dismissed me with the comment that “It’ll probably be about three years before you need the operation, but you’ll know when you’re ready.”

He was right, this spring I decided that the situation was getting silly. So I saw my optician who referred me (via my doctor) back to FGH. There the team took over, I was seen by one of the surgeons, a Mr Singh who had them run all the pre-op tests, dates were fixed and I turned up for my first op.
Here I saw the care they were taking, because my eyesight was so bad (we’re talking jam-jar bottoms here,) Mr Singh had instructed the staff to re-run the checks from pre-op, this time using different baselines. With this extra data he picked the lens he was going to use and the operation went ahead.

Now in theory, with cataract surgery, when they remove the old lens, they can put in any lens you want. I just wanted decent eyesight. (Some people will have one eye for distance vision and one eye for reading.) So Mr Singh put the lens in and after a week I was back for a check up. My eye had been eight point something dioptres (very short-sighted) and he had aimed for -0.4 dioptres longsighted. (Getting zero, or perfect eyesight is damned near impossible except by accident). He’d achieved -0.35 which I thought was pretty damn good, and it impressed the nurse who did the tests.
The only problem is that my left eye was still eleven point something dioptres, which meant my eyes were twelve dioptres adrift. This meant my brain refused point-blank to believe they were looking at the same universe. My binocular vision just disappeared and I decided that I wasn’t safe to drive. I had about eight or nine weeks of this.

Then my Father-in-law fell and went into hospital for a broken hip. I was the one who visited him during the afternoons. This is necessary to try and help him fight off the confusion that comes to older people in institutions. What it meant was I was walking about nine miles a day to do this. I did look at the bus timetable. I could leave home later and get home earlier if I was walking than I could if I took the bus. Rural bus services aren’t what you’d call frequent, or fast.

Anyway then came the second operation. Within minutes of coming out of theatre, with my eye still numbed with eye drops and the pupil massively dilated, my binocular vision snapped back into place.
And the results?
Well my eyesight is better than it has ever been. I’ve had glasses since I was about five or six, and for normal purposes I no longer need them. I am slightly long sighted, but not a lot. For reading I have a pair of cheap £1 +2 magnification reading glasses, whilst at the computer I’m currently using an equally cheap set of +1 magnification reading glasses. Yes, Poundland’s finest.
But the other thing is the colours. Trust me in this, colours are amazing. Four days after the second operation (by which time my eyes had settled down,) I found I was just staring at the scenery for the sheer joy of seeing it. Blue is a really amazing colour, green as well.
Indeed there was a lady who was having her first eye operation when I was having my second. She had with her a rather nice, bright, cheerful Lavender anorak. Until she’d had her operation, she had thought it was just an interesting shade of grey.