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It’s all about the optics

So, the hole in my macula is not closing. And one should not expect to regain normal eyesight in my situation. But my vision can continue improving, even with a hole. “How”, I ask? “Dunno”, says my surgeon. I quite like the lack of rational explanation — another one of the mysteries of medicine.

We are where we are. My right eye can see, but not read. My eyes are mismatched: The left is minus 20 dioptres, right minus 3 dioptres. Not good.

Reading is difficult. Either I battle with my new soft contact lens, plus old hard contact lens and add reading glasses, which is unsatisfactory, or I wear my old glasses and close one eye, which is very unsatisfactory.

Then I broke my glasses. The expensive ones, with lenses imported from Japan.

Maybe that’s why I’m still watching a lot of cat videos and US politics on YouTube.

I’m a fan of Kitten Academy, which is a (relatively) normal family home in the US, where kittens are fostered for adoption, and also features a medical student. Over the last few weeks we’ve had sickly kittens, kittens that didn’t make it and (oh no!) fleas, all live online.

It’s sort of Big Brother for cats.

As for US politics, I recommend the clip of Kellyanne Conway from Team Trump on Late Night with Seth Meyers, telling us to ignore the words President Trump says and focus on what’s in his heart instead.

Who does that remind me of? Bertie Ahern? The Catholic Church?

We both laughed at the shocked reaction to Donald Trump’s victory. It’s as if people thought it wasn’t possible

At New Year, I was in Scotland, in a large house full of books that I couldn’t easily read. Fortunately, there were 25 of us, extended family and friends, chattering away in Italian, French, Danish, Scots Gaelic and Irish, as well as English. We helped with the catering and had endless fascinating discussions, including about bird-watching, dyspraxia, Brexit and Trump, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Ah yes, Myers-Briggs. It was one of the most important things I learned during my Trinity MBA year. Just because people think differently doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Doctors and health administrators are nearly opposite types on MBTI, and we regularly miscommunicate because of it.

I blame my MBTI type for my grasshopper mind, jumping from topic-to-topic like this.

One of our Scottish party, a historian and author, said 2016 had been the worst year ever for him, in great part due to Brexit and Trump. Both go against everything he stands for.

I don’t feel that way.

2016 wasn’t great for me: My husband Tom’s fifth anniversary was very tough. Now I have difficulty reading, which is depressing.

And yes, both Brexit and President Trump are going to cause problems, and both are creating remarkable uncertainty. But perhaps the certainty wasn’t right either.

Before Christmas, I had a very different conversation with a neighbour, a scientist of international standing, just after Fidel Castro died.

We both laughed at the shocked reaction to Donald Trump’s victory. It’s as if people thought it wasn’t possible. Of course it was possible, once he began to succeed in the primaries. Just because you wouldn’t dream of voting for someone doesn’t mean they can’t win.

My neighbour is actually delighted Trump won, but for his own reasons — maybe Ireland will stop looking to the US for solutions, such as in healthcare. He thinks we should learn from Cuba instead.

Perhaps there’s a health lesson from Brexit too: Stop looking to the UK for solutions.

On my return from Scotland, there were 600 trolley patients. I saw a front-page headline: ‘One-in-four A&E wards is unsafe, say doctors’. But surprise! It was The London Times with a story about NHS units being dangerously overcrowded. Hospitals have not met targets all year. There’s talk of rising panic among patients.

Part of the NHS problem has been flu-like illness, just like here. Another problem is that patients can’t get a GP appointment. Under their new contract, NHS GPs have taken on more chronic disease management from hospitals. Now they can’t fit in patients with acute problems. The patients have to go to hospital instead.

Hmm. That doesn’t make sense.

Didn’t I hear of a similar plan for Irish general practice? Transfer the care of chronic disease from hospital to GPs to free-up the hospitals for really sick people. If we’re not careful, those sick people could be the ones who can’t get to see a GP. At present, Irish GPs commonly see patients on the same day or next day. In the NHS, it can be several weeks to see a GP.

Please don’t copy the UK on that one.

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