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“CHEC have made my life wonderful again”

CHEC Patient Case Study

Sight is a part of life that’s regularly taken for granted. Jenny Woodhall, aged 58 from Bilborough, Nottingham, is on a mission to emphasise the importance of taking the time to appreciate the seemingly small but highly impactful things like vision, as when you’re faced with the end – that’s really all that matters.

Whilst on the waiting list for cataract surgery, Jenny was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Thanks to very short waiting times at CHEC, and the community healthcare provider’s willingness to carry out an extremely rare ‘double operation,’ Jenny is now able to see clearly, and the time she has left is being spent making the most of life and enjoying precious moments with her family.

Jenny was first diagnosed with cataracts in January 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent strain on the NHS, all appointments were delayed indefinitely or cancelled. She eventually secured a hospital appointment in December 2023, but on arrival learned she was to be seen for her diabetes, and that she wasn’t even on the waiting list for cataract treatment. At this time, the waiting list for NHS cataracts surgery was over two years.

In August 2022, Jenny was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was advised that she had approximately 12-13 months to live. Alongside fighting cancer, Jenny was also experiencing the early stages of sight loss due to her untreated cataracts.

As Jenny’s vision continued to deteriorate, her quality of life became worse. She grew increasingly upset over losing the ability to see her family’s faces – particularly her husband of 32 years John, her three children, and her young grandchildren Brody, Brooklyn, and Rio, as clearly as she once could.

In early 2024, Jenny visited her local opticians for routine eye testing. Her optician voiced concern over the severity of Jenny’s cataracts and revealed she was now blind in her left eye, but was unable to refer her to community providers due to catchment areas and complex referral pathways.

Jenny became worried that a complete loss of vision would leave her unable to see her family’s faces again before she passed. At this point, Jenny had already surpassed her estimated life expectancy by over three months, so it was important for her to be treated as quickly as possible. The optician advised Jenny to seek help from her GP, resulting in lots of back and forth due to the complex nature of treatment pathways.

On her first visit to CHEC Nottingham, Jenny met with Sharna Coleman, Optical Assistant, who subsequently shared the time pressure of treatment with colleagues. From here, Paul Briddon, Hospital Manager, and Ashley Kirk, Lead Theatre Practitioner, explored the potential to offer Jenny cataract surgery for both eyes.

Ordinarily, CHEC conducts cataract surgery one eye at a time, leaving at least six weeks in between procedures. After thorough clinical assessment to determine if this was the right care for Jenny, CHEC scheduled Jenny for a double cataract surgery in one day.

Jenny returned to CHEC Nottingham, and in less than a week since her first appointment, had successful eye surgery on both her left and right eye.

Jenny benefitted from CHEC’s ‘Home to Hospital™’ service – a transportation initiative that offers patients free transport to and from eye care appointments and surgery, to ensure everyone can access the care they need. 

On the day of her double surgery, Jenny was accompanied by her sister, Norma, who was extremely anxious and worried about the day ahead. Jenny revealed she was thankful to learn that staff at CHEC Nottingham reassured Norma and kept her informed every step of the way – when surgery on the first eye had started and finished, when surgery on the second eye had started and finished, and everything in between. 

Now, less than one month after first contacting CHEC, Jenny has completely regained vision in her right eye, and the quality of her vision is better than ever before. Jenny’s left eye is coming along nicely, and her vision is getting clearer day by day. After being deemed clinically blind in this eye by her optician, this is something Jenny is extremely thankful for. 

Jenny does not know how long she has left to live, and feels that every extra day is a true blessing. After previously being unable to see her own feet, Jenny is overjoyed that she is able to see again, and believes it to be ‘the most magical thing’.

In August 2022, doctors gave Jenny a life expectancy of 12-13 months. She has surpassed all expectations and is ‘still going strong’. Jenny is on a mission to truly celebrate life, and wants to encourage others to do the same. 

Jenny didn’t realise how much sight impacted her quality of life until it started to go. Now, she sees her family every morning, and is beyond grateful for that ‘simple’ pleasure.

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