The trip in from an unfamiliar angle!

I’ve written a lot about social media, and if you are reading this there is a good chance you’ve read even more. But over the last few days I have been the beneficiary of a totally unexpected outpouring of support that has completely humbled me.

On Monday I attended my local hospital for a routine eye surgery to straighten my squint. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things I’m sure. Many people went through worse that day I can tell you, and many of them most likely yards from where I lay in my comfortable and clean hospital bed.

The staff were brilliant, the hospital efficient  and in the best traditions of the UK’s greatest achievement, The National Health Service, everything was like clock work. From the lady booking me in, to the visit of the surgeon pre op to check the details and make sure I was OK.

By the time the surgeon got to my bedside I was OK. But if she had got there an hour earlier she would have found I was in a very different state.

I first had an operation on my eye when I was 10. It was not a pleasant experience. And being young, it was an experience that stayed with me for a long time. Right the way through my adult life actually.

So by the time I had arrived at the hospital that morning, the fear was setting in. It had started in the few days prior to my admission. Before then, before it was real, it seemed some distant threat, something to be worried about at some indistinct point in the future. But that point was now.

Not the most flattering garment

Not the most flattering garment

Through the lead up the week before and the weekend at home immediately prior I underwent various stages of fright, sometimes in control and sometimes scarily intense. But it came and went as I thought about the imminent operation.

The day of admission on the other hand was all about tension. I woke up tense, my stomach roiling and easily able to comply with the nil by mouth dictate.

The drive in was hell as I sped towards some unformed fear, nothing I could put my finger on, but everything in me wanted me to go the other way. I was literally facing my fears and coming up short.

But the time I’d had 30 minutes sat on the bed looking at the gown I was to put on and the surgical stockings that went with it, I was almost frozen with panic.

Then my phone dinged that most welcome of dings… A text arrived. From my good mate and neighbour Jon. Over the next 10 minutes or some he proceeded to tell me jokes, keep me distracted and generally talk me down from the ledge. So much so  realised I had an opportunity.

I had a great signal on my iPhone, so I decided to start to record my adventure on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Facebook for my wife to see, as she was also panicking at home, unable to attend the hospital with me as she needed to look after our young kids.

making sure

making sure

One of the reasons I was freaking out so much of course, was that my imagination was running wild, because I was on my own! Suddenly though, I wasn’t alone. A host of people from my ‘social networks’ appeared from no where to support me in this most uncomfortable of times.

Family, people that work with me, people that used to work with me, friends and relatives. Suddenly I had a room full of support in that little room, all on my little iPhone.

People sympathised over the pictures I was tweeting and offered condolences of such sincerity my mood was lifted and my fears eased. I wasn’t alone, I regained perspective and everything was going to be fine.

The time flew in a flurry of Tweets and posts and comments and I was soon on my way to theatre. The panic came back a little, but with nothing like the ferocity of the initial attacks I’d had on arrival.

The next thing I knew I was back in bed, the op over and everything OK. Again, the hospital staff excelled , looking after me with professionalism and genuine care. Soon as I could I was reaching for my iPhone again, and tweeting the aftermath.

The aftermath

The aftermath

My networks were there again for me, once again ‘oohing and aahing’ over the redness and the eye guard that protected the operation site. I can’t believe how much you all helped. Jo S especially  I hoped you are reading this, so you understand how much I appreciate your support

I know I was a little ‘out of it’ immediately following my return from the theatre, but I think most of the pics are in focus though I cant remember writing most of the tweets and posts that went with them!

sore... but straight

sore… but straight

I’m now home, in the bosom of my family and safe once more. But that extended network is still there, but retreating now as I convalesce, Waiting Im convinced, until they are needed again, and I or someone else reaches out for them in their own darkest of hours.

I’ve nothing else to say other than thank you.

No lessons, nothing to take from this for you or your business.

I had to write it as I have been so over whelmed by the support. And if you were one of the people that supported me I thank you again. I honestly do not know what I would have done without you. It was so hard for a moment there.

Home, with an excuse to wear sunnies inside!

Home, with an excuse to wear sunnies inside!

But you reached out to me, and I promise, in return I’ll do exactly the same for you when you need me.

Because thats what social media is all about.

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8 replies
  1. Paul C Robinson
    Paul C Robinson says:

    I had, lost in my own family hospital drama this week, missed this entirely! Glad that all is well thoug.! And suddenly understand the Iron Man 3 comments! I shall give a full, non spoiler, report on Monday sir! My best to you.

  2. Dave Gifford International
    Dave Gifford International says:


    It’s about damn time. I got tired of trying to decide which eye was looking at me, and which eye I should be looking at.

    If I were you I would file a child abuse lawsuit against your parents. Had they not taken you to bar at age 10, no way would you fall off a bar stool at such a prematurely early age.

    Seriously, mate, get better soon.


    PS For what it’s worth, I always liked your right eye better.

  3. Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
    Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

    Hey! Didn’t somebody tell you that the steering wheel in your car is on the wrong side? Couldn’t you see that? Just kidding, of course! And I like that hospital gown shot, haha!

    So sorry to hear that you had this ordeal, but look on the bright side (yes, pun intended). You get to wear sunglasses like a movie star, and how wonderful that the surgery was a success. I laughed when I saw the arrow on your forehead pointing to the correct eye, because prior to my mom’s surgery, the surgeon wrote his name along her spine, indicating that was where the surgery was to be performed.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery my friend. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      No wonder it took us so long to get there!
      I did think twice about that gown shot, I didnt want my lady fans to get too excited 🙂
      The arrow thing really tickled me too, but then i guess they couldnt really wake me up to make sure!
      Thanks for the thoughts and words my friend, you help so many people I know, Im grateful for the chance to be included!

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