A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I still remember that first step into uncharted waters of healthcare. Hailing from a family of teachers, police officers and army personnel I knew I had a passion to help people. The desire to dedicate my life’s work to medicine however started with a tale of tragedy. My late uncle suffered a non-fatal heart attack. At the time however his fate was unknown. Touch and go, and the Caribbean household were full of family, friends and well-wishers alike sat in pray, hoping for a miracle recovery to occur. As a seven year old boy, my offer as a miracle was to rush into the sitting room with a collector book I had just purchased from the local newsagents entitled 'How my Body Works' I declared with an innocent excitement that my uncle had, according to the book suffered a myocardial Infarction! My Uncles wife held in her tears to shed a smile that led to a sombre laughter to which family joined in. Many years later, my uncle succumbed to cancer and my aunt-in-law shared that very story at his post funeral gathering as the low tones no woman no cry from the late great Bob Marley played as a musical accompaniment
Extracapsular Cataract surgery or ECCE is now considered a somewhat older method of cataract surgery with development of modern-day phacoemulsification. Indeed, through my surgical training I can count on two hands the number of ECCE surgeries I’ve witnessed compare to the countless phacoemulsification surgeries I’ve personally preformed. Indeed, the two types of surgeries are fundamentally different, with the one of the few unifying qualities being that of visual restoration. Arguably however, as a direct reflection of birth you would be hard pressed to find a more example striking example in ophthalmology than ECCE surgery.
I remember my first full Cataract case performed at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. I remember the patient, a Caribbean chap from Harehills. I remember the nervous anxiety pulsing through my veins as the pulsing of the ultrasound probes sent shockwaves through my fingertips as I gripped the tip tighter than lighter. I remember needing to remember to breath as I completed steps of the surgery with microsurgical dexterity. I also remember the music that played softly in the background, on BBC Leeds during the finishing steps of that first cataract operation, yes you guessed it , No woman no cry by Bob Nester Marley.
My medical birth is therefore intrinsically linked to that of ECCE / Cataract Surgery. Some might call it fate. I call it destiny. It’s been a vocational match made in heaven ever since...