The View from My Desk
For those of you who have visited the clinic or have seen any of the JPL YouTube videos that I feature in, you will know that I sit in front of a little desk in the corner of the room surrounded by 'expensive looking stuff' (really just an old computer monitor and an old keyboard!).
Working in this small patch of the waiting room gives me a view that no one else in the office gets to see very often. A view of the hallway...
... I know, not exactly a life changing view right?
However, when we have a patient visiting us the view becomes very different.
Walking down the stairs and taking that first step into the hallway, I can see an abundance of mixed emotions on the patients face; nervousness, anxiety, worry... And who can blame them? I can't even begin to imagine how scary it must be to go through this whole process.
I then see a hint of confusion as they think "Am I in the right place?", "That doesn't look like a clinic... That looks like a living room!" At this point they'll stand by the door and wait for confirmation that, yes - this is the ocular prosthetic clinic. They then walk through the reception door to be greeted by myself, Karen, John and Sean - all smiles, "good morning's" and "how are you's" - very overwhelming I suppose!
Coat off, bags down and door's closed - that's the last I'll see of them for a couple of hours as they get to know John, listen to his many stories and laugh at his many, many, many jokes... (whilst John and Sean take the impression, make the mould and start making the prosthesis).
When this incredibly important part of the process is taking place, myself and Karen are in the office cracking on with our work - occasionally looking up from our computers to talk about movies or how much we need coffee to make it through the day alive. All the while knowing that in the other room a life is going to change very soon...
The next day the patient visits us again. They walk down the same stairs and take another step back into the hallway, their face filled with a mix of the same emotions - nervousness, anxiety, worry - but not nearly as much as it was yesterday. In fact, there's a new emotion: excited anticipation.
Knowing John and Sean a bit better and understanding the process to some degree has maybe changed their perception of the journey they are currently on and now they are ready for the finished product. For now though, they have to wait just one more day before it's delivered to them.
The 2nd day in the clinic is usually the longest for the patient as well as the quietest. In fact, it can be eerily quiet in the clinic whilst John and Sean focus all their attention into getting every detail correct as they paint the iris... This is a good silence though. This silence means the professionals are at work and the patient is getting all of the attention - exactly how it should be.
After a rather long 2 hours in the clinic the patient emerges into the reception area looking a bit tired, but still excited for what tomorrow is going to bring. They say their goodbye's and see you tomorrow's and make a move back up those stairs.
The moment the reception doors shut and the patient is gone, John takes a brief 5 minute break on the sofa before finishing the eye and placing it in the 'cooker'. He doesn't rest and he doesn't stop thinking about the job at hand. For him, it has to be as close to perfect as possible or he won't be happy. That is the truth.
Day 3. The final day at the clinic. For the last time for a long time the patient climbs down those steps and sweeps through the hallway, pushing the reception door open as they glide into the clinic with the same mixed emotions on their face - nervousness, anxiety, worry, anticipation... What's different about today though is that it's not just the patient showing these emotions - John is experiencing them too!
Once again, the clinic door shuts and myself and Karen are very quiet as, we too, would like to know what is happening behind the glass.
John asks, "Would you like me to put the prosthesis in or would you like do it yourself?"
The patient answers.
The room is still and everyone is holding their breath, praying that the patient will be happy...
At this moment many things can happen, but I feel it's something that should stay within the clinic walls. It's a very personal moment and probably not one I should write about in a blog!
What I will say though, and really the whole point of this blog, is that when the patient finally walks out of the clinic and into reception with their new prosthesis - it's an incredibly humbling moment. Because the last 5 times the patient has walked back and forth through the hallway, I have witnessed the overwhelmingly daunting emotions painted on their face... but now happiness is the only feeling resting on their shoulders.
That's why the view from my desk is worth writing about.
by Fraser Lowrie
@lowriemusic | Facebook, Twitter, Instagram