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22.10.99

One day last year I had a strange sensation in my left eye - as though someone was drawing on the inside of my eyeball with a felt-tipped pen.    

At 10pm it was still there and I decided to phone NHS Direct. I told the nurse what had happened.  She asked a lot of questions and said that she was sure that everything would be alright but that it was important that I contact my doctor.

Because she was insistent about this I went to the emergency clinic at Manchester Eye Hospital.  The retina of my left eye had torn - a small hole had been punched out completely.  The "felt-tipped pen lines" were haemorrhages.   Within three hours my retina had been lasered back in place and my eyesight returned to normal over the next two months.  The surgeon told me that had I left it any longer the retina would probably have become completely detached with dire consequences for my eyesight in that eye.

As I was just about to embark on my OU studies and I do a lot of close work in drawing and handicrafts this would have been a disaster for me.

Had there been no such thing as NHS Direct, I would have left it until the doctor's surgery re-opened after the weekend and possibly have had to wait for an appointment.  It was an emergency but I didn't realise that - NHS Direct made the difference between sight and no sight!

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