Friday, 18 September 2009

The Book Lover...

I've been on 'holibobs' for the last two weeks. No going away as such, just days out, and some jobs around the house. Yesterday though I did something that made me really sad....

Some of you may know that I have eye problems... but I'm new to this game, take me back 18 months and I had some pretty good peepers all considering, and only a very light prescription for reading. I'd known I had a cataract in my left eye for a few years, it was causing me more and more frequent headaches and migraines but the vision in it was still good. But in 2007 my optician recommended (in hindsight, very poorly) I should get it done. I had a referral to the hospital, a couple of appointments, and then the op. Since then I've never really been able to see properly out of my left eye. If you don't know (and it's worth remembering in case you ever need to), when you have a cataract done, they take away your lens and replace it with a plastic one. The plastic lens is set at a 'FIXED' focus. The snazzy 'zoom' feature, that you always took for granted (and didn't know was there anyway) is no longer.... you know the one, the thing that means you can focus on that mountain way over there, the river just ahead of you, and the book in your hand, all at the same time. With a plastic lens, just ONE of those will be in focus.... well, if you're lucky. I wasn't and all 3 are now out of focus in my left eye. Long vision is the least bad, but it's still 'out'... close up and reading there is nothing there at all... hold a magazine or book up to me, and all I'll see in my left eye will be a white squarish blur (no lines, let alone words). The vision in my two eyes is now wildly different, and the two eyes do not operate as a team any more... in fact, it gives a very disorienting 'combined' picture.

I've spent pretty much the last 18 months desperately trying to improve it, I've been to countless specialists (including Moorfields Eye Hospital), but, to put it bluntly, I'm fucked. I was very badly advised. Old people have this op done every day, and are up and running again within 24 hours. But by the time you are 60+ the muscles in your eye are pretty much dead, and the replacement of the lens causes minimal discomfort, and usually an improvement in sight. My eye muscles were strong, and as such I was in excruciating pain for over a month after the op, and because the eye behind my lens was so strong and healthy (there was nothing at all wrong with my eye itself, just the lens), my sight went, in one day, from that of a 40 year old to that of an average 80 year old. It has since been explained to me like this.... If you had a million pound camera, and put a lens on it that you bought from the pound shop, your pictures will still be shit. Sure, the cataract would have got me in the end, but maybe I could have got another 5, 10, maybe 15 years out of it before it really needed doing (and my eye and eye muscles would have deteriorated accordingly too).... I'm sure I would have been able to enjoy my sons early life more too (he was 3 months old when I had it done). Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, and none of these little pearls of wisdom and caution were given to me BEFORE the op.... just wise words after.

I now own SIX different pairs of glasses, and during a day will wear them all at some point. I also wear contacts every other day, but still have to use at least another two pairs of glasses on top of the contacts during the day. What's more annoying is that my right eye is still so good, it doesn't even NEED correction... but because of the way glasses work, and the unwanted 'magnification' they give off, I have to subject my good eye to the same prescriptions regardless to match the picture. My vision gets worse in the evenings and also in the winter, when there is no natural lighting... in fact, sometimes in the evening none of my 6 pairs of glasses even work. In short, this 15 minute operation has taken much of the fun out of life, and things you never even used to think about have become a chore, whilst other things are now so much effort, that all 'enjoyment' is gone.

I have been a book lover since I was a small child. I've always been fascinated with them, and can think of little else to top the joy of sitting with a good book and a cup of tea next to the open fire (yes, we do have one!)... but the op changed all this... I can't read for very long now, much beyond 30 minutes will have my eyes aching, and the vision starts to deteriorate further. Books with small print in I can't read at all, as even with glasses on it'll set off eyestrain and pain within minutes. Computers are copeable, as I can change the screen resolution, but regrettably you can't do the same with the printed word.

But becoming bad-sighted overnight does not immediately change how you think. I've always been a bugger in a bookshop, and can come out with 4 or 5 titles in a visit. And I'm still programmed to do it, I can't stop myself, I genuinely love books "ohh that looks interesting, I bet that's fascinating etc etc". It take a few minutes to buy 5 books, but how long to read em these days??

My book cupboards and book shelves have been overflowing with books I've bought and not read. Some were bought before the op, many more were after. I've never quite come to terms with the fact that things will never be the same (and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure that I ever will). It broke my heart to see at all those wonderful tomes that I'll now almost certainly never get round to reading... I mean how many books are left in me now anyway?? It takes me literally months to get through a decent sized paperback. Regrettably, book reading is a hobby that I have now been forced out of.

So earlier in the week I went through them all, and bagged a good 50-60% of em up, and yesterday I distributed them across just about every charity shop in the area (there was way to many to put in one shop, and everyone got at least 3 bags worth!). I've kept a few that I'm determined to get through one day, but I must now try and keep away from bookshops or else another mass of unreads will be acquired.

Hmmm, I appreciate this isn't one of my usual 'jolly' posts, but I guess I'm just not feeling quite as jolly as usual... I'll try harder to be less moany next time I promise!

Piley

25 comments:

Furtheron said...

Great post.

I love reading but my vertigo thing at the moment isn't helping, focusing close to for too long may be a trigger I think given that is one thread to some of the times I've felt "wobbly" - I hate the not being able to just pick a book up and relax with it at the moment.

Maybe this being in your 40s crap is where it all starts to fall apart?

AXE FM Radio Download Hour said...

Ears and eyes man. We take 'em so much for granted. Maybe you can take heart and perfect your podcasting and broaden it out. Start up an internet radio station and so forth. You could include a channel just for audio books - millions of ideas. Maybe by doing something you cna help others in your positon, or worse. My auntie has no vision in both eyes apart from just misty blurring - and they can't fix it either. I'm sorry for you brother.

Artog said...

Hello Piley,

Popped over from Planet Mondo. Fair does for moaning. What a gyp!

On the reading front: one of those Sony e-books would probably do the trick resolution-wise. Not the same though, I appreciate.

Piley said...

Further - thanks... I think you could be on to something there. When we were young 40 was one hell of an age wasn't it??! It was 'pop your clogs' time more or less. Even when I started work, I remember peoples desks being done up for their 40th, with gravestones and stuff. But all this 40 is the new 30 etc etc.. We've been duped into thinking we'll stay younger longer!!! I do still genuinely feel the same as I did when i was in my 20's, mentally at least. The body is showing signs of giving up!

Col - thanks fella. I really don't want to come across as feeling sorry for myself, this is actually the first time i've documented this fiasco, so you all did well to last as long as you did!!! I think the books thing was just something that struck a chord in my brain and said "wow, things have really changed". Things sure could be a lot worse I know, like your poor aunt. I do try and keep that atitude... but it does slip now n then...

Artog - Welcome! Thanks for stopping by... and what a time to do it!!! Just as i'm having a wee moan about my lot!! I'll be back to my chirpy self for the next post... hope to see you here again Sir!

P

Mondo said...

Bloody Hell P, I remember the op, but didn't realise it had gone so square since...

And there's me doing a book post today - talk about put me bloody great moon-boots innit. How do you get on with graph nov's?

AXE FM Radio Download Hour said...

Here you go mate. Cheer yourself up with the Istvanski Show on AXE FM - the one with Colin Gillman as a guest.

Piley said...

Mondo - as it happens, comics and GN's have been my saviour... they are the ideal halfway house. As you know i've always been a fan, but they are the ideal reading matter for me now.

Axey - you's too kind mate!

marmiteboy said...

Thanks for sharing that P. I knew all about it as you've told me before but its a big step to 'put it out there'.

When I was going through a dodgy period and off work with stress I was a bit drugged up and couldn't concentrate on reading much. My saviour was audio books from teh library. Granted it isn't quite the same as being immersed in a book but it ain't a bad substitute.

I agree with Furteron though. The 40's is when it all goes tits up. I used to jump out of bed (well maybe not jump exactly) but now it's more of a crawl.

phsend said...

Hello mate

Sorry to read things had worsened.

As Mark says, audiobooks are great but my personal fave is this little community of spoken word enthusiasts(mainly bbc plays from yesteryear.)

I get loads of great stuff here.

http://radioarchive.cc/torrents.php?parent_cat=Drama

Istvanski said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, mate. If only miracles were more common in life.
As I read through the post I found myself wondering about various solutions that have been mentioned by commentators of this post. The Sony e-book (an alternative cheaper version can be bought from Amazon) seems an ideal portable solution to help enlarge print if you're on the move. I suppose you'll save on space with a library that's stored on a memory card although it's still not the same.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Bloody hell, Piley, I knew you had had some problems with your eyes but had no idea how serious or how longstanding they had been. Your forbearance is remarkable.

Disintegrating vision is definitely one of the really crap things about passing 40 ( I made three mistakes in my work diary last week, due to cockily trying to fill it in without my glasses on, which ended up taking me hours and a lot of embarrassment to put right ). The fact that you were so badly advised by a professional that you'd put your trust in makes it all the worse.

The best you can say, I guess, is that we do at least live in an age where technological improvements happen so fast that there are new aids and adaptations for visual impairment coming on the market all the time ( I have one or two patients who continually update me). The EBook takes a bit of getting used to and can't replace the tactile thrill of the printed page, but is pretty good from what I gather.

It makes it all the more important that you keep those podcasts coming!

Dan said...

Piley,

I concur with Artog's suggestion about an e-book reader. I've got one and you can really zoom in on the text to quite a frightening degree.

In fact, I always carry mine with me so, when you're back at work, come and have a discrete visit down the office and I'll show you it.

There's a great selection of stuff available and, if you know where to go, a good lot freebies are available via the net.

Come and see me and you may be a convert to the ways of the electronic book.

Dan.

Piley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Piley said...

Marmite - thanks, have done a few audio books, as you say, they ain't bad, but I find it ends up being something different. For a start, I found myself listening at times and in places I wouldn't (or couldn't!) read a book... e.g. in the car. It's basically listening to the radio isn't it?! But beggars can't be choosers as they say, and I guess getting to hear a book (only those full 15 hour jobbies mind, none of those condensed 2 hours things) is better than never being able to read it....

PH - ta for the tip, have signed up (you only see to be able to search the site once logged in) and there is some great stuff on there.

Ist\Dan\Artog\ISBW - To be honest, although I knew these things existed, I never for one moment gave it a thought that it could be something to help me. In my mind they are small (like me hopelessly trying to read an iPod screen) tricky little fellas, designed for those with GOOD sight!! I'd never really thought of it the other way round. I would be very interested in a demo Dan, thanks mate. I guess the other thing that has always made me dismiss these things is that I assume (no basis for this, just me deciding!) that the books available would be limited and mainstream. Great if you like Dan Brown but shite if you like odd stuff. What are the chances of picking up old obscure titles??

ISBW - thanks... I'll admit I've had to dig pretty damn deep at times on this one. The op was (incredibly) sold to me as an enhancement, had I known what would happen of course i'd have not gone through with it. You hit the nail on the head by the way with the 'professional advice' bit, and it's something that I do torture myself with. It's useless, but even now I still go through the "what if" "if only I'd done this, that, the other". But i'm not an expert on eyes, I had to put my trust in someone who is (apparently), and I got shafted. As you say, technology is moving forward all the time, and it is something that keeps me looking forward, you never know what might be round the corner... maybe...

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate your comments...

P

E F RICE said...

Hello Piley, not a lot to add to these comments. I was obviously aware of your problems but reading the whole course of events makes me realise what a darn right p***** this is. Particularly as you have been abysmally advised.

On a lighter note retail figures just released for last week from Westcliff/Leigh/Southend charity shop associations, show a surge in sales of Six Million Dollar man annuals, WWF autobiography's (including Natural Disasters and Razor Ramone) and ,curiously, small plaster cast models of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles !

Something you want to tell us son ....?!

Anonymous said...

I still think that there must be some action you can take over this. It should be a simple operation and it's turned into a horror that's completley changed your life. I know when we spoke shortly after you said you were to depressed to deal with that stuff and ok it would not bring your sight back but i think you were poorly advised or poorly operated on. I have to have glasses for reading and the PC now and i moan like fuck about it. I'll count my self lucky from now on. It breaks my heart about your books. 1. that i know you love em and now have let them go 2.you could have at least sold em and made some wedge from them. A pisser all round mate but i do give you credit for being generally an UP and positive geezer even after these events.

Chin up mate.

Carl

Heff said...

Damn, and I used to feel bad that I have to wear glasses AT ALL.

I hate it for you, man.

Nazz Nomad said...

that fucking sucks. sorry man. i wish i had a magic formula to send you.

i have had crappy long distance vision most of my life, corrected ny contacts and glasses. now, in my 40's, the close range vision to turning to shit as well. lovely having to hold boxes and packets 2 feet away to be able to read em.
oh well, at least our genitals still work... at least they did the last time I tried em (hey- i'm married a long time!)

Wil said...

Damn Piley, that sucks ass. As a good American it is my duty to ask is there any legal action that can be taken? I guess we can go ahead and cross marksmen off the list huh? Sorry, I had to.

Also, what the fuck is a "holibobs"? I knew a chick named Holly in High School and bob she did in the bathroom but...

Anonymous said...

There you go Piley , legal action , thats where i'm coming from too......check it out.

Carl.

Piley said...

E F RICE - yes, I hear takings are up all over the South East in the Charity shops! Althought there is a Momus CD which seems to be causing a problem to shift...

Carl - thanks mate. I can't describe it fella... and I can't expect anyone to understand it. But i've said the same thing to other people when they have been 'wronged', you know "get some justice" "make you feel better" etc etc but they don't and up until now i've never understood why. Funny enough i'm a bugger for writing letter of complaint and standing up for stuff... but this was somehow too bad to deal with. The truth is I wasn't strong enough to face it. It's taken me over a year and a half to be able to document it here even!!!! I've oddly got a lot out of sharing it here on the blog - not made my situation any different of course, but somehow I feel better having finally aired it. I think I'm close to being able to deal with it legally, but I believe I've missed the boat now (any legal experts out there confirm this??). I think you have to get a claim going within a year of it happening...

As far as the books go, I just wanted them out of sight, I didn't want them hanging around ina pile of stuff to go on ebay that never quite makes it... I felt like I wanted them gone. Maybe the charities will make some cash out of em instead, I don't begrudge that.

Heff - thank you, I hate it even more fella!

Nazz - Sorry to hear you are struggling with your eyes too. No fun dude. In some ways its the worst, as every waking moment you are aware of it. It's the first thing I think when i wake up, then you are looking thru them all day - you can't escape it.

Wil - I appreciate your idea (the rely above to Carl my explain it a little)... It's the reliving it all, going through it time and time again... can't stomach it - and as a result some fucker gets away with it, which I don't like either.

Holibobs indeed by the way! (not well used over here to be honest, but it's a quirky alternative to 'holiday'... feel free to use it Sir!)

Carl - Don't s'pose it makes sense but there you go....

P

Martin said...

Like a lot of people who have commented on here I knew you'd had some problems but didn't realise it was so bad. It's the sort of thing that 1. highlights how fragile all the things we hold dear really are and and how much we take them for granted. 2. what a bunch of lucky fuckers the majority of us really are. I think the fact that you have managed to produce this entertaining and informative blog during this time shows great character and resilience.

Piley said...

Martin - thank you. The blog has been a good distraction to be honest, something to take my mind off things, so it's been a good thing, glad you've enjoyed the ride too!

P

PS - Many thanks to Dan for the e-book demo. V impressive and not at all what I was expecting. It's certainly something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it makes sense mate , being on the inside of a problem is different to being on the out side. You are living it and i do understand how hard it must be.I'm on the out side and i just want justice , i hate people fucking up other people lives and just getting away with it. It's easy for me to say though because i'm on the out side. It made me really angry reading about it and sad too , your loss of sight and also i know how much you love your books , i kept looking at my book case here chez Adams and thinking "fuck !!!!! imagine having to get shot of them cos some c*** fucked up" Grrrrrrr , hope this rant makes sense mate , i do feel angry on your behalf.

Carl.

office pest said...

Very sorry to hear of this Piley. I hope you can take some legal action and at the least name and shame the cretin who advised you, it may save someone else going through it.

Legals won't help your eyesight practically, but then again you'll feel better maybe for pursuing a campaign for the greater good?
Depends if you're into all that of course, not everyone is and that is totally alright.

Hearing about it makes my blood boil though - I'd like to know the name and get medieval on their ass!

I'm full of admiration for your forebearance and spirit over this. You're the better man.