Our South Island Adventure: An Unwelcome Souvenir

It appears that we could not leave the South Island without bringing home some lasting souvenir of our time away. However, our 'souvenir' is not of the conventional kind.

While away, DH sustained what appeared to be a minor injury yet it has had far reaching consequences. Tuesday October 11 after we had booked into our accommodation DH went back to Curio Bay to see if he could see penguins or dolphins. I stayed behind. By the time the hands of the clock passed 7, I was beginning to think that he had been a while but assumed that he had found something of interest to observe. At 7.30 pm I made my tea and had only just begun eating it when he arrived back. He insisted on a shower before eating and it wasn’t until later that he showed me the huge gash on his leg from where he had slipped on some rocks. (Apparently he had also banged his head but I can’t remember him telling me this.)

The next day as we were exploring McLean Falls he commented that his shoulder was sore from the fall the previous night. He also commented that he thought he was getting a migraine because he had flashes in front of his eyes. I thought this was unusual because he doesn’t normally get warning signs. No headache followed. While waiting for our meal at The Whistling Frog he complained about the glare of the sun in the conservatory where we were sitting. It was bright but it wasn’t bothering me and, again, I was surprised. He ate his meal with sunglasses on and still it didn’t set off alarm bells for me.

Fast forward to Friday and I finally clicked to the fact that he was seeing floaters in front of his eyes. At first he had blamed his camera but his camera was fine. By now it was a few days since he had hit his head (which I was now aware of) and the last day of our holiday and we both decided that it could wait until we returned home. Since there was no loss of vision, no pain, and he’d had no vomiting or violent headaches, we were thinking it wasn’t serious and that he had most likely caused the lens (from precious cataract surgery) to shift when he hit his head and it would settle down.

The Tuesday after arriving home he saw his optometrist who thought it might be that he had dislodged some debris but wanted him to return on Thursday when he could put drops in his eye and have a better look. On Thursday we spent the time waiting for the drops to take effect looking at new frames for his glasses and laughing over different styles.

Suddenly everything changed. The optometrist looked serious and advised us that he was going to ring the local hospital immediately and that we may need to be prepared to go to Wellington for surgery. Meanwhile DH was not to do anything physically exerting. [When I think of all the walking up steep hills we did after he hit his head (places such as Cathedral Caves and Sandfly Bay) and then two plane flights home, I am thankful for God’s protection and that He got us home without further incidence. (Although I wonder if these experiences also compounded the initial problem.)]

We didn’t hear from the hospital Thursday night so I went off to work as usual Friday morning at 7.30 am. A long weekend was on our doorstep and we were surprised that we’d not heard but decided that a torn retina was not as serious or as urgent as we’d been led to believe.

About 8.45 am I rang DH at home to ask him to cancel the service on our car because I was not wanting to be without a car that day and he told me the hospital had just rung and wanted him up there as soon as he could make it. He offered to get a taxi but I wouldn’t hear of it. I left work and took him up to the hospital where we learnt that he did have a tear in his retina and that it had started to detach and were told to get ourselves down to Wellington Hospital pronto.

We went home and threw some things into bags (and I looked with dismay at my messy house and piles of washing) and set off for Wellington. I had never driven to Wellington before and was quite stressed. Everything I hate about driving I experienced on that drive: long distance, traffic, motorways, rain, and DH in the passenger seat (although he showed a lot of grace for my driving skills this time).

At the hospital they examined him again and informed him they would need to operate that day. It seemed like a lot of waiting around, but in reality it was only a few hours after arriving at the hospital before they took him into surgery. We had been told the surgery would take just under an hour but it took longer as the damage was more extensive than they first thought.

DH has family near Wellington and I was able to stay the night with them. Saturday I drove into Wellington by myself and found the hospital without getting lost (applause please). I was shocked at how DH looked. He hadn’t showered and wasn’t dressed and when I tried to assist him with dressing his movements were slow. This could be in part due to the fact that he had to keep his head facing the ceiling so as not to dislodge the liquid that was holding the retina in place. I felt that it was too soon to go home, or at least to leave Wellington, but he was wanting to get home and his surgeon had agreed.

It must have been a miserable trip for him. He had his seat reclined as far as it would go, and his neck propped so that his head faced the ceiling. Even with his eyes closed and sunglasses he was aware of discomfort. I had a headache that nothing could shift and was not feeling great myself (even wanting to throw up at times) and had to stop twice for food and breaks. As soon as we arrived home DH went promptly to bed where he has remained. My previous nursing experience has surely come in handy!

As the camera clicked, water fell into my eye from an overhanging tree which accounts for my eyes half-shut. Not until we got home did I realise that this photo revealed the discomfort DH was experiencing.


Sharlene said…
We will pray that your husband recovers well.
Jules said…
Thank you, Sharlene. We return soon to Wellington Hospital (eek, more driving) for more surgery and hopefully some indication of how long he'll be off work. He has to avoid heavy lifting and remain in a dust-free environment - both impossible in his field of work.