On our arrival at the clinic we went to the reception area. You have to decide what you are there for - we were here for an "Admission", press the relevant button, take the ticket that printed out and then sit and wait. After a couple of minutes we were told to go to desk E. Pat, who was not wearing her glasses, dutifully charged off to desk B, while the lady at desk E and I watched her.
Once we were reunited there were lots of documents to hand over and lots of forms to fill in and sign. Passport photocopied and returned, consent forms signed, next of kin information given, insurance details provided, eventually we were given a folder of information and sent up to the cataract department.
The waiting room was quite small and had perhaps ten armchairs. "Ring and enter." We rang and entered. A nice, brisk nurse came out and took the folder of information.
"OK. Monsieur wait here. Madame and I will go to undress. I'll call you when the operation is about to proceed."
Pat went off to doff her clothes and put on a natty blue paper suit. I settled myself to read "The Last Train to Istanbul" on my Kindle.
After about half-an-hour two other couples came in. It seems that two operations are scheduled every half-hour. One lady was humming loudly to herself. She and her husband had arrived rather early.
"Your husband is good at waiting?"
"Oh yes, stick him in a corner and he'll be fine." (Pat said they gave him a trolley to lie on and he went to sleep.)
After a long wait during which time Pat was having anaesthetic drops put in her eyes, her blood pressure taken, a canula put in her arm and other merry preparations for surgery, I was called into a side room.
"Here we are. They've just started."
On a screen on the wall I could see a large eye, recognisably belonging to Pat. I could see the clamps holding it open and the bright light was reflecting off the retina to make to whole pupil appear red.
As I watched a little tube was inserted from what seemed like below, but I later realised was the side, and a small pick was placed in at 90 degrees to the tube. The lens started to break down. With the pick it was broken into four pieces, then sucked up the tube. By a combination of pick and tube over a couple of minutes the lens was entirely removed.
Then another tube appeared and was inserted into the eye - and the new lens was pushed in and quickly unfurled. The pick was used to manoeuvre it into place, helped with what looked like small quantities of saline to swish it into position.
The screen went dark. The operation was finished. I went back to the waiting room and resumed my wait. The humming lady and I chatted about the operation and pretty well everything else.
At about 11:15 Pat appeared with a clear plastic shield taped over her eye.
off we went down to the reception area. This time we pressed button "Sortie". We hand over the folder once more.
"There's 148€ to pay." I duly paid using my card.
"Here's the receipt for your health insurance. You need to give that to them so that they will reimburse you if you are covered."
Clutching our precious paper we went out into the bright sunshine.
Pat says her eyes feels like nothing at all happened. She has lots of drops to put in and an appointment with the ophthalmologist tomorrow just to check all is OK.