My first experience of the Romanian medical system. I had had something in my eye for a few days, which no amount of scratching or rubbing or playing with my eyelid would shift. Eventually, Erika forced me to go to the hospital to see if someone would look at it (those who know me well will know that I would rather jog the length of the Danube or eat a lump of Brie than actually seek medical treatment). Fortunately there is one very good eye doctor in Csikszereda, so well-respected that people come from all over the country to consult her with their ocular problems. (As a small poor town, this is not always the case – a colleague of Erika’s commuted for an hour throughout the course of her pregnancy to see her gynaecologist because she didn’t trust any of the local ones). We had found out what hours of what days she was working at the local hospital (and not in her private clinic) and went there early one morning. The eye department was practically deserted aside from one youngish patient walking around in her dressing gown. I was a tad surprised to see Erika start asking her about the doctor, but as she was the only one around, I guess there was no choice. She led us into the consulting room and took a look at my eye. It was a bit disconcerting to have a patient look at it, but it’s Romania, and I don’t know how things are done around here (besides, I don’t really have a phobia of patients, merely of medical professionals). She told us that she had never seen anything like it before, but that there were no eye doctors in Csikszereda at the moment as they were all off at a conference in Hungary. So, she called Udvarhely, an hour away, where there was a doctor left (presumably too unimportant to go to the conference), and told them we were coming. And so Erika called work, explained she’d be absent for a while, and drove me across the Harghita mountains and the rapidly deteriorating road to Udvarhely hospital. (Romanian speaking readers will know Udvarhely as “Odorhui Secuiesc”, just to keep everyone in the loop. Not sure what it’s called in German, but it’s basically a Szekely town anyway, so they probably didn’t care much what they called it)
At that hospital, another patient came out to meet us, and we explained why we were there. She nodded and took us in to the doctor. It was at this point that I realised that these patients were not actually patients but in fact nurses, who were wearing dressing gowns because the hospitals were both so cold. I wonder if there’s a way of distinguishing them from real patients, other than the fact that they look less grey, and generally healthier. So, the new doctor took a look at my eye and explained what was wrong to Erika, who then translated. To be honest I kind of switched off after hearing the words “cyst on the eyeball” as my mind went into overdrive and my faint reflex threatened to kick in (that’s a reflex that causes me to faint, rather than a very slight reflex). But I was alert enough to hear the “it might just go away of its own accord” bit and the prescribing of some drops. This came two days before my visit to the UK, so I was wondering whether I’d have to cancel the trip in favour of some kind of ophthalmic surgery, but it seemed like I didn’t.
(I have to confess here, as the more pedantic among you may have already guessed, I don’t really know what the gradations of meaning of all the various eye related adjectives actually are – ophthalmic, optometric, optical, ocular, etc etc – and I’m just throwing them around with casual abandon)
So, to update you on my terrifying sounding eye condition. I have now had it examined by the Csikszereda doctor who has told me that it is basically permanent. I can leave it, and hopefully it won’t bother me too much. Or I can have a quick procedure, that takes only one minute, and which will basically empty it but not permanently remove it (and it will fill again) – frankly I am having to cross and vibrate my legs even typing this to try and ensure that I don’t collapse face first onto my keyboard. No permanent solution has been mentioned, but I’m guessing there isn’t one - and if it doesn’t involve lasers I’m frankly not interested, no-one, not even the most respected eye doctor in Transylvania, is sticking a knife in my eye, a la that scene at the beginning of a Buñuel movie the name of which escapes me (Un Chien Andaluz? L’Age d’Or? God knows – you know the one, man lies in a dentist’s chair, cloud goes across the moon, director cuts back and forth between the cloud slicing across the moon and a razor blade being applied to the man’s eyeball. It’s brutal.)
I tend to feel it’s bad form to end a piece of writing on a parenthetical aside (although, as you may have noticed, about 40% of what I write is just such an aside) (see?), so here is a completely gratuitous extra sentence just to finish things off with a nice clean full stop.