Saturday, 26 September 2015

Fighting against conjunctivitis

It could have been due to the haze; it could have been due to dust; it could have been due to any other reason. But the fact was, I came down with acute conjunctivitis. Red eyes. Pink eyes. Call it what you may, but that was the reality. Ever since more than a week ago, perhaps even before I went to watch that show Pawn Sacrifice at the cinema, I was already aware that there was some itchiness in my eyes. Some grit or a loose eyelash that was caught there, perhaps, because previously, I've had that problem of stray eyelashes getting into my eyes.

By last Friday (18 Sept), the discomfort had became bad enough for me to consult my local GP. "See me on Monday if the situation doesn't improve," she told me after prescribing a course of eyedrops and some eye ointment. And on Monday (21 Sept), I duly went to see her again and she prescribed me with more eyedrops and some oral anti-biotics. But you should consider seeing an eye specialist too, she added.

Then on Tuesday (22 Sept), I so happened to be at the Penang General Hospital on the island for a totally unrelated problem and decided, what the heck, since I was already at the hospital, I might as well go see the eye medical officer there. Opthalmologist, I think, they'd like to call themselves.

The lady doctor peered into my eyes with her array of instruments and pronounced my condition as conjunctivitis, just in case I didn't know it, and said it was rather severe. Out came the cotton buds. "I shall have to remove the layer of pseudo-membrane on your eyelids. It's covering up your sight," she said, and without much of a warning, she started scraping away at my lining of the eyelids. Ouch. "There may be some blood but don't worry, it's normal," she added, helpfully. Procedure over, she wrote a prescription and shooed me away to the hospital's pharmacy.

Now, the problem was that I had driven alone to the hospital, all the way from the mainland, in the morning and with my eyelids now all bruised, all puffed up and half closed, both sporting a delicious shade of scarlet red, and with eyes so sensitive to light, there was no way that I could drive back home alone and without help.

I was in distress. A call to my wife. Help, please come with third brother-in-law and drive us back home. Which they did, all the way from Bukit Mertajam (and he from Simpang Ampat), arriving at the out-patient clinic of the hospital at 6.45p.m. with hardly anybody else in sight. Rescued in time before it really got dark.

The next day (23 Sept), I was back at the hospital with my wife. The lady doctor wanted a follow-up. "Your pseudo-membrance has reappeared," she said. And out came the cotton buds again as I underwent another round of eyelid cleansing. Now, the good thing about the general hospital is that the place has so many doctors around that they do consult each other on the cases before them. And there was this other lady eye doctor that suggested that I be put on some eye ointment to help clear up the  conjunctivitis. "Now open up," she ordered and started squirting a thick mess of sticky whitish eye ointment all over my eyes, telling my wife at the same time that "you have to do this to him," showing her how to push the ointment beneath my lower eyelids. Also, she said, go get him some preservative-free eyedrop gel. Turning back to me, she added, "And I want to see you tomorrow too."

Come 24 Sept which was a public holiday, I dutifully made my way to the eye ward at the hospital's C Block to see this second doctor. She checked my eyes, was satisfied that there was less membrane over the eyes and spared me the ordeal of a scraping for a third time. But I couldn't escape getting squirted with that thick eye ointment again. Plus, I've to return to the outpatient ward again on the next day.

So on Friday (25 Sept), there I was again seated across from my original eye doctor who was armed to her teeth with a fresh bunch of cotton buds. Ooh, my right eyelids really hurt this time and I couldn't open it after that until I was back in the house.

Today, Saturday (26 Sept), is a day of respite. I don't have to go back to the hospital until tomorrow morning for the follow-up. But I must say that my condition has improved a lot. My eyelids are no longer swollen and puffy, my eyes can open up lots more, they are no longer that sensitive to light and I can discard use of the non-prescription dark glasses, the whites of my eyes are not that red any more, and the feeling of grit in the eyes has subsided greatly. Hopefully, the pseudo-membrane is greatly reduced. Still, I have to put on the eyedrops diligently and well as to apply the ointment twice a day.

My fight against this bacterial conjunctivitis infection consists of Cipmax eyedrops every four hourly, Vismed gel eyedrops every two hourly and application of the Chlorop eye ointment twice a day. Except for the Vismed gel, the other two medicines were hospital issues.

On top of all these, I've to continue using the Alphagan, Timo-comod and Xalatan eyedrops daily. That's me, all right. Lately, it's a life full of eyedrops.

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