Snapshot: ‘Visit’ to the National Eye Centre

So yesterday, I had an appointment at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) near Outram MRT Station. I’ve been having an annoying eye infection for the last week, and before I actually go blind, I thought I’d better go see a specialist.

Singapore National Eye CentreIt’s within walking distance from Outram MRT, near where all the  hospitals are located. My appointment was at 1.30pm, but of course some people find the concept of an ‘appointment’ quite slippery and they gave me a queue number. There were about 30 people in front of me, and I had to wait about an hour for triage. 450px-SNECfoyer

One thing that I’d have to say about the SNEC is that the staff is surprisingly friendly, from the information counter lady to the queue-machine uncle to the doctors. Surprising because, well, firstly, it is a government institution and secondly, I’ve always half-expected hospitals to be filled with pinched personalities (Nurse Ratched comes to mind), thundering along conducting roll calls and lobotomizing patients.

It wasn’t all boring though. I had a glimpse of what I’d most probably look like in 50 years, and it’s not the most comforting of thoughts. The one thing that could always stop me in my tracks is the fear that one day I’ll be too weak to lift myself off my bed to grab that glass of port, and not have enough lungs to finish a cigarette. I wonder if Johnny and Philip ever thought about that (yes, we’re on a first names basis).

arthur-conan-doyle-sherlock-holmesOh, and I happened to sit beside this huge lady who looked  suspiciously like a man. And like all good Holmes wannabe, I earjacked her conversation (she was sitting right beside me and talking quite loudly on the phone) and yeah, apparently she was a dude. I’m proud to say that I am now somewhat familiar with the intricacies of hormone replacement therapy. You should stop taking your hormone pills if you start peeing blood. And something about armpit hair.

And of course there was the requisite cantankerous old man doing his best Tim Howard impression. He said some very unflattering (albeit somewhat humourous) things about a 12-year-old’s nether regions. Who says life here is boring?

The process, if I recall correctly in my oh-so-weakened state, involved taking a queue number, initial registration, queue, initial eye exam, queue, examination by specialist (who tried to press his eye machine thingy directly against my cornea to ‘test the pressure’…wth), queue, pay consultation fees, take medical certificate and prescription, queue, get medicine and pay again. All in all, the entire process took about 4 hours, and I spent 10 minutes talking to the doctor. On the upside, it wasn’t too expensive. Consultation set me back $35 (only for Singaporeans and PRs, about $80+ for foreigners) while the meds cost only $4. Maybe cause I had a referral from a polyclinic?

Not unpleasant, but could definitely think of much better ways to spend an afternoon.

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