On Wednesday 7 November, Paul and I did our first joint presentation to a group of about thirty-five nurses at Fremantle Hospital.
The occasion was a Surgical Symposium, a one day event to which we’d been invited to speak. We were first up on the day, a tough call for anyone trying to engage with an audience so early in the morning with a smorgasbord of topics to follow.
Paul has done many of these presentations before. He gives talks to various groups of medical personnel at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Fremantle Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. For me, it was a new experience and I learned a lot from it.
We trialed a new power point presentation show for this event. In the past Paul had been using a video but sadly that technology is now quite obsolete. The last couple of talks had gone awry as the video players were not functional!
We were allotted a whole hour and attempted to cover all the aspects of artificial eye making, from the first stage of taking an impression – demonstrated through a video clip – to the finished artificial eye. We also passed around artificial eyes to the audience, which brought many oohs and aahs.
Explaining the practical and technical side was Paul’s job. I then took the group through the psychological and emotional aspects of eye loss, which need as much attention, if not more, than coping with the surgery and healing process.
I explained the need to connect people with others in the same situation to help with acceptance of eye loss. I told them about the services we offer: the collection of personal stories of eye loss on our website; how we match people who have been through a similar form of eye loss; and the Art Eyes support group, which consists of an email discussion forum and a social group that gets together twice a year.
Events such as this Symposium, are great opportunities for medical staff to become more familiar with artificial eyes and the needs of the people who wear them, as well as the existence of the Ocularists Association.
We can only hope that they take this new knowledge with them into the hospital wards. So the next time they meet someone who is about to have an eye removed, they will know some of the emotions they are going through and what might help them to deal with the loss. On top of that, they’ll be able to hand out the brochure produced by the Ocularists Association of Australia entitled, “Going Home From Hospital” and also our professional profile brochure.