Labradors and white sticks


I have always said that getting older isn’t necessarily fun, but it still beats the alternative. I have been very lucky to inherit some of my mother’s genes who lived to be 94, as opposed to the male side of the Corness family, which, until me, nobody had ever seen their 57th birthday! I have to admit that as 57 grew close I was taking my pulse very frequently!

Anyway, 57 has been and gone and to make that birthday even more memorable, it was celebrated on the stage of the Malibu Cabaret (Soi Post Office, but long gone now) with the cake brought out by Ladyboy entertainers.

However, there has been a gradual decline in one of my senses, which began as a nuisance until eventually I could not ignore it any longer. My vision was deteriorating!

Medically we call it Presbyopia, the shortsightedness of aging which happens to most people as they get to the mid-40’s. You find it difficult to read the paper without holding it at arms length. Eventually you run out of arms!

In poor light, it becomes very difficult to read maps, for example. I remember standing in front of my car’s headlights trying to read a map, but even with better illumination I still ran out of arms.

I played around with reading glasses for a while. The simple (read ‘cheap’) readers you can buy from market stalls. Not really recommended, but I’ve never been one for strictly following the rules.

It was then that I started to have difficulties driving at night. Those of you who know me will understand just what a problem this was becoming. Driving for me is not going from A to B, but is an art form. I have been besotted by motor cars ever since age 11. As an aside, I notice Evan, my newly turned 11 year old son sitting in the passenger seat holding an imaginary steering wheel as we drive along – perhaps it is genetic.

But back to the vision. It was street signs first, and when out doing house calls at night, this was a big problem. My big son in Australia (who grew to be 6’ 6″) had to come with me to assist in navigation – he could read the signs!

I tried glasses, but kept on losing them, sitting on them, dropping them into the engine bay of the race car. Glasses were not the answer.

My friendly optometrist suggested contact lenses. My father had had a brief affair with contacts (the hard ones in those days) but was never able to wear them satisfactorily, but the technology had progressed and soft contacts were on the scene. With two contact lenses installed by the optom I went out that night with big son. “I can read the street signs,” I remember me saying to him. “And I can read the numbers on the busses!”

The only problem with the contacts was putting them in each morning. They seemed to have a mind of their own, and more than one lens committed suicide on the bathroom tiles.

I wore contacts from 1992 until this year, but I began to notice my distance vision was deteriorating. I began wearing glasses again with the contacts. What is worse, one eye was worse than the other, and night driving was becoming hazardous. I had to take the sun film off the windows of the car, or drive with the windows down. I couldn’t judge distances. It was time for me to be a bit more responsible!

Time for me to consult one of my colleagues in the Ophthalmic specialty, who I thought could give my eyes the quick once-over, prescribe stronger contacts and I would be away. That was not how it was to be.

I consulted Dr Somchai Trakool-Satian who spent an hour testing my eyes – corneas, retinas, pressures, lenses, the lot. He had good news and bad news. My pressures were fine, retinas likewise, but I had cataracts, and if I wanted to throw all my glasses away, the answer was SuperSight surgery. I went away to consider my options and returned to say, “Let’s do it!”

(The tale of my SuperSight will continue next week.)