Tuesday, April 03, 2007

When the past comes back to haunt.... and another Thinking Blogger

I haven't discussed this too much here in the past but many of you already know that I am legally blind. I have no vision in my left eye and compromised vision in my right.

I can get around. Can see movement. Can watch TV. I can read with a magnifying glass. The implant in my right eye has given me certain guarantees. That guarantee is that I will always have vision. It might not be the best vision ~ but it's vision.

The reason for my eye trouble is particularly aggressive cataracts. They grew very fast and although I have had one removed, another came along quickly. Generally, cataracts are seen in people much older than me. More on this in a minute...

Last Friday, I went to Dr Bates, the trusty eye doctor who oversees my case. I walked out, finally, with my referral to a surgeon. Within the next few weeks, I will be under the knife once again, having the lens of my left eye removed and replaced with an implant. Dr Bates warned me that I will probably be in surgery for quite a while since this cataract is so overgrown.

Caveat he issued: As long as it hasn't affected my cornea.

If it has, I'm screwed.

Worse case: At least they can blind the eye so that I will be relieved of the glare and the double vision.

Still, we did have an interesting conversation. I asked him to give me a detailed explanation of the cause of cataracts, at least as much as might be known.

He gave me the basics. It is a clouding of the lens that takes place, blah blah blah. Already knew that. The interesting part of the conversation was the cause. Naturally, I wanted to blame it on my weight because I blame everything on my weight. If there's an earthquake in Indonesia, we all know it happened because Chani is too fat! (He corrected that misconception on my part, explaining that I am not heavy enough for that correlation ~ my cataracts, not earthquakes in Indonesia.)

He explained that it is possible nutrition has something to do with it. I was rather startled when he told me that he has rarely seen a case like mine "outside of a third world country."

Well, my chosen home is a third world country ~ but I certainly didn't grow up in one! However, I did spend most of my working life without insurance because I worked as a contractor. So first -, second- or third-world country doesn't make much difference in that case. It's all the same.

Remembering back over the past 20 years or so, especially the years in the desert, I can affirm that my nutrition was terrible. I didn't take multivitamins and the things I chose to eat shouldn't be fed to pigs. I ate whatever was quickest and cheapest. Lots and lots of carbs. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I seriously had no concept of correct eating at all. I never met a vegetable I was willing to eat and hated fruit.

I think when we're younger, we really have no concept of how these choices we make do have long-term consequences. Well, at least I didn't. Somehow, I believed these things would never bite me.

Needless to say, I am now permanently disabused of that notion. Nothing that is not healthy will be finding its way into my mouth any time soon... and the bottles of vitamins in my refrigerator would be shocking to most.


On an unrelated note, I have been offered two "Thinking Blogger" awards from Hearts In San Francisco, a blog I really enjoy and Greens and Cornbread, a blog I equally enjoy. (I also like greens and cornbread. Certainly healthy food, eh? :) Thanks to both of you. I appreciate it very, very much!

Since I have the opportunity to pick five, I want to pick my first one now. (The other four to come another time.) There is a blog I have been meaning to acknowledge for a long time now. The name of it is Doodee's Thailand.

It's one of my favorites for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I know this guy loves Thailand the way I love Thailand ~ with an open heart, open regard and respect. Just recently, he wrote a series of posts on the death of a friend and the funeral. It is touching, respectful and takes us, step-by-step, through the Thai funeral process. It's good stuff. Truly! Please take the time to read it, from beginning to end. You won't regret it. I have linked them in order below:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six





Anvilcloud said...

It's hard to pinpoint cause and effect, eh? I guess a lot of people who eat poorly don't suffer from this affliction and probably some who eat well do. Not saying that it couldn't have played a role with you though. When I was a young teacher, I heard an older one say this to his class: "That's what makes life so interesting; you can never figure out what's going on."

Pam said...

I know there are no absolutes but do believe diet can have profound effects on our health. We need those nutrients, I have seen proof of it often enough.

I will send up prayers and keep you in my thoughts when you go in for your surgery.

deb said...

That sucks about your eyes. My Mum has cataracts and glaucoma and is losing her sight due to a disease called pseudoexfoliation. The great news is I have it too and I have a daughter that signs. God is laughing now.
I hope the surgery helps.

meno said...

I in no way want to make light of your nutritional shittiness in the past, nor the results, but i may use this as one more argument to get my Em to eat vegetables. The threat of hemorriods is not doing the trick.

I'm sorry about your upcoming surgery. I'll be thinking about you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucia said...

I actually did not know that nutrition could have this big of an effect on someone. I am just now starting to eat a tad healthier. I am just terrible at eating things that are not good for me.

jen said...

my grandmother had cataract surgery today. She came through it well.

Do you have folks to care for you? Need a liberal hack from the south bay to come and bring tom ka guy? (spelled oh so wrong)

I will come back and read your recommendation later tonight.

QT said...

Chani - I will be sending you positive vibes for the surgery.

FWIW, my mother spent the first 16 years of her life in the third world and she had cataracts removed at age 50.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, I'm so sorry to hear of your visual problems. I hope and pray that your surgery will be completely successful with a swift recovery.

Please don't waste precious energy beating yourself up over poor nutritional choices long ago. You need all your personal resources to heal yourself now.

You will be in my thoughts as well. Sending hugs, warm wishes and virtual jasmine flowers because they smell so gorgeous, and because I imagine they grow in Thailand.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chani;
I love to read your blog posts - they are great . The words reflect the "wit & charm " of your intelligence. But, with all due respect, could you pls avoid calling the land you love and wish to live in a "Third World Country" . It's distrubing for us who live there.


Thailand Gal said...

Anonymous, your point is taken. But.. I have to say.. I don't believe you are Doodee. You don't even write the same.. and I doubt he's even up yet.

It's okay to sign off as yourself. I will respect your point of view just the same.



flutter said...

Chani, one of my good friends just had the surgery you are about to have and she is mending nicely.
I will be thinking of you. If you need a crazy ass massage therapist to fly over from AZ, I'll be glad to do so ;)

Laurie said...

You are in my thoughts as well, Chani. And I agree with Heartsin, don't beat yourself up over your past nutritional choices, save all of your strength for the healing process.

capacious said...

Wow, Chani, I had no idea. There are some things that make everything else pale in comparison and losing your eyesight is one of them. I am so sorry that you are going through this. My thoughts are with you - I will be thinking about this a lot.

Your comments are always so welcome, and so kind, wherever I find them.

Jay said...

This post was definitely worthy of the thinking blogger award. You really made me pause, and be grateful for what I have. Health is something we take for granted.

Rebekah said...


It sounds scary, but you write about your eyes and the surgery with acceptance (or so it seems).

I will be thinking the good thoughts for you.

Thailand Gal said...

Anvil, oh yes.. it's impossible to prove but it is an interesting theory. It does make an odd kind of sense. :)


Pam, thank you. I'm sure the surgery will go just fine. I've had it before and it was seamless.


Deb, I have never heard of that. I'll have to look it up. It seems every other person in my family of origin has glaucoma ~ but I am the only one with cataracts like this.


Meno, LOL.. feel free! :)


Lucia, it's good to begin eating well, especially once we're over 21. LOL .. Wish I'd done more of it. Twenty years of severe depression will definitely hinder judgement.


Jen, thank you for your kind offer.


QT, geez.. There must be something to it.. Seriously though.. I grew up in Los Angeles! Of course, maybe Los Angeles by itself could quite well qualify as a third world country! LOL


Susan, thanks. I'm not beating myself up. It wouldn't, as you said, change anything. It's just a good thing to make others aware of the possibility.

Jasmine flowers.. YUM!!! Yes, they do grow in Tahiland.. and they smell wonderful!


Flutter, are you anywhere near Payson?


Laurie, thanks. The surgery is actually rather easy. The last time I had it, I was reading a book a few hours later. :)


Anne, thanks. :) I don't mind going through this. It could be so much worse that I dare not even think about it! I'd rather not conjure it up. LOL


Jay.. this post didn't get me a thinking blogger award. Thanks for saying so though.

The Thinking Blogger award actually goes from me to Doodee.


Rebekah... yes.. I accept it. It's truly okay. Not such a big deal. Thanks for your kind thoughts. :)




Doodee said...

Hello Chani
Thanks for this post, and special thanks for the award. I'm very flattered.
Anonymous is not me. It's strange that we both have the same name though....
Please keep on being yourself and please keep on delighting us all with your excellent blog.
Best wishes from

Julie Pippert said...

Ahhh Chani.

I agree diet and nutrition are essential to healthy living, but the crux of that is to find the healthy nutrition for your body and lifestyle. Easier said than done.

But I always believe it is more than one thing.

I'm sorry you are having trouble and need surgery, but I hope all goes well for you. And you have people who will help??

Take care and know there is much positive energy floating your way.

Thailand Gal said...

Doodee, I really liked your six-part series so much that I couldn't not acknowledge it. :)

I think "Anonymous" is Thai. Look at the sentence structure.

I understand his point but, to me, "third world" is not an insult at all.


Julie, I'm fine. Thanks. That's one of the things we do for each other here at the house. The surgery itself is so easy that all I need from them is a ride home from the surgical clinic. The rest is simple. :)




Gobody said...

Chani, I am sorry to hear about your eyes. I have searched for some information for you and I hope it will be helpful.

"Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that is severe enough to impair vision. Generally, increasing age is the single greatest risk factor for developing cataracts, with as many as 70% of Americans over the age of 75 having cataracts. Cataracts are caused by changes in the protein fibres that make up the lens of the eye. As a person ages, the protein fibres degenerate, causing the lens to become less flexible, thicker, and subsequently less transparent. Surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a clear lens implant is currently an effective treatment option for cataracts. Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the US at this time, and hence is one of the most important economic and health service issues in all Western health care systems.
In addition to the contribution from ageing, damage from free radicals, smoking and exposure to UV light may also contribute to the development of cataracts. Cataract development has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and renal and gastrointestinal disease. For example, individuals with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop a cataract. In addition, a number of epidemiological studies have implicated a role for nutrition in the development of cataracts."

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I did not aware that there is another "Doodeee". In thai "Doo dee" means good looking ( Doo=look, dee= good) . Than I will be Doeyae = bad looking.
Sorry again for unaware error and my apology to the first "Doodee"

Thailand Gal said...

Okay, Doeyae. (I feel kind of weird calling you that... :)

How about you tell us why you find the phrase "third world" to be disrespectful, insulting.. whatever the case may be.

To me, it is just an economic term.. and nothing to be ashamed about at all.

Thailand is still wonderful, whether or not economists call it "third world".

Do you agree? :)



Thailand Gal said...

Gobody, interesting information! Thanks. It strikes me as particularly interesting that those with diabetes develope cataracts 60% higher rate.

Goes back to the out of balance sugar consumption. Being a carb addict, I take in far more than I should.