November 12, 2013

Pins and Needles

by Pam
A week ago Doug thought he had a good shot at doing really well at the Worlds in Oman. Now, we just have our fingers crossed that 1) Doug is able to leave for Oman later this week and 2) that he makes it to his destination safely. If anyone happens to see him wandering around any airports looking lost, please help him out.

Saturday was to have been one last sail together before Doug heads to Oman but it didn’t work out that way. At 4am Saturday morning Doug started experiencing flashing in his vision. By 7am he had a black curtain making its way across his field of vision and he was freaking out. Detached retina and this was his ‘good’ eye. By 11:30am his doctor was making calls to assemble a surgical team. He had two options. One would not allow him to travel and the other would leave him with really crappy vision for a couple of months but allow him to travel. The hospital was deserted. Doug was the only patient in pre-op and I was the only occupant in the waiting room and the lights were off. I grabbed a couch and waited in the dark. By 12:30pm Doug was in recovery with an eye full of oil.

Sunday, his patch came off and we all held our breath as he opened his eye for the first time and looked around to determine whether his vision was good enough to sail. It was a bit of a déjà vu. He could see. Not well but he’s sailed for many years with vision this poor. All the old instincts will surely come back and he’ll be relying on sound and feel more than his eyes. I should say eye. Doug’s eyes have never worked together. He switches back and forth and his brain shuts one down or he has double vision. His less used eye tried to take over while he had a patch on but as soon as the patch came off, his brain switched to his good eye which is now full of oil and probably close to 20/200. It will be an interesting couple of months while we wait for the retina to re-attach before scheduling yet another surgery to take the oil out.

As part of Doug’s mental conditioning he keeps a gratitude journal where he must list 5 new things each day for which he is grateful. On Saturday and Sunday he had no trouble being grateful.

If the doctor clears him for travel to Oman later this week, he’ll be wearing a hat cam when he sails and in a couple of months he’ll be able to sit down and watch what he missed. If he goes, he’ll be going early enough to watch the open Worlds and hopefully get some video footage (if someone points him in the right direction). 


  1. Oh no! How is it going now? There is no date above but it has to be recent.

    Because I am very near-sighted I was on "retinal detachment watch" for awhile. I know with those symptoms you rush in right away.

    1. This happened on the 9th, a few days ago. The blood flow to the retina is cut off so it's really, really important to get it fixed ASAP. This is why retina specialists are on call 24 hours a day - something I did not know or appreciate!!

  2. I somehow missed seeing this post when it was first published. Just saw the link from your Nov 30 post. I am very impressed with Doug's commitment to go to Oman with all this going on. Hope all turns out well.


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