Marise (58), Ece. Wellington, NZ.

During the first lockdown of March 2020, I started experiencing symptoms of blurred vision and flashing lights in my right eye. As I could only get a phone consult with my G.P., she recommended that I see an optometrist when possible.Due to the delays of the lockdown, I couldn't get an eye exam until May. My optometrist found a large growth in my eye and referred me to an ophthalmologist at Wellington hospital. I spent the entire day, undergoing a plethora of tests, examinations and scans. This whole time, I was beginning to suspect that there was something very wrong with my eye. I was becoming increasingly anxious, anticipating bad news and I requested that my partner be with me. I was told he was not permitted to be with me because of the restrictions of social distancing etc. Even with a signed letter from the resident ophthalmologist, explaining my situation, I was forced to explain my personal circumstances and heatedly negotiate with several different staff members at the front desk, just to let my partner join me during this worrying time. After much pleading, he was eventually allowed in through a back entrance. Soon after, I was given the horrific diagnosis, that I had a large ocular melanoma (an incurable cancer) in my right eye, requiring the removal of my eye as soon as possible.

This was one of the most overwhelming, stressful and worrying days of my life and I was forced to endure it alone. There was no empathy or consideration of my circumstances from the desk staff and security guards at the entrance of the hospital, whose only agenda was to adhere to the stringent rules imposed by the covid regulations.

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