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Scotland, Week 7: 25 September

Every now and again life throws something at you that’s so unexpected it knocks you completely off balance. Imagine your life partner of thirty years telling you over the morning toast and coffee that they’re really an alien from Kepler 186f, before pulling off their face mask to reveal a squid-like horror of rippling tentacles and slime. Or England winning at cricket. That sort of thing: you didn’t see it coming and it takes a while for all the pieces of your world to settle back into place. That’s kind of where I am just now.

I went to the optician’s for an eye exam last week. I like opticians, I like the routine and the reassurance. I sat in the chair, feeling totally relaxed. With my left eye I breezed through the chart, rattling off every line. Then came the right’s turn—and time just seemed to stop around me. I couldn’t read a single letter. There was just a smudge where the letters ought to be. “Take your time,” the optician said casually, but I could hear the edge in his voice. “How many letters can you read?” I stared at where I knew the chart had to be. But I could see none of them.

Duncansby Stacks

Well: it’s probably just a chunk of debris in the centre of my eye, which should break up over time of its own accord. But we won’t know for sure till I go back next week and he can make a thorough examination. Meanwhile I’m spending a lot of time looking at things with my left eye covered up, like a trainee pirate; and if I concentrate I can see a tiny splodge shimmering in the centre of my vision like one of those energy clouds that used to give Captain Kirk so much trouble on Star Trek. Strange how something so small can cast such a large shadow.

At least it’s not (touch wood) affected my ability to knit, and I’m over halfway down the first sleeve. The size of the top panel was determined by the height of the centre tree, and I decided to make the diamonds in the centre panel shorter than their equivalents on the body or they’d have looked out of proportion to the rest. (The zigzags and plain panels are exactly the same as they were on the body.)

So now I’m filling time by brushing off my pirate jokes (Why did the pirate refuse to say ‘Aye aye, sir’? —Because he only had one eye…); and now England seem to be winning at cricket and I’m left wondering where on earth I left my face mask…

16 comments to Scotland, Week 7: 25 September

  • Jane

    Oooh, Gordon, and just when it all looked like the going was getting a little bit easier! If it is of any comfort, and it is only my humble opinion, bad news does tend to travel fast, and worse things happen at sea which they definitely do, I speak as a South Coast dweller here.

    Meanwhile, find something nice to do and keep doing it, knitting and chocolate are always good. That gansey is a lovely, lovely thing. Could there be another mentally forming?! Take care!

  • Julie

    Oh! Don’t mess with your precious eyes. Is a visit to an ophthalmologist not indicated?

    Sweater is looking lovely.

    Victoria, BC, Canada


    I hope that your eyes clear soon, Gordon. I had to go to Nicola, my Optician a few years ago because I couldn’t see clearly. I hadn’t bargained for her telling me that I had cataracts and that they were right in the middle of my eyes. I didn’t think that I would have had them for quite a number of years – thinking about when Dad’s developed. I couldn’t see the computer screen properly and I couldn’t see the holes in my Cross Stitch Aida. I felt a bit silly because I had just started to attend a Cross Stitch Group but the girls were really helpful. My eyes are great now. I just need my glasses for Knitting, Reading, Cross Stitch and for working on my computer. My distance vision, which was usually excellent is back to normal. Nicola is delighted that the operations have been such a success. Incidentally, my Mum’s eyes were damaged by measles, so I have never taken my own sight for granted and I make sure that my family are also alright.

  • Kersti

    Commiserations on the alarming vision situation – I understand it must be very worrying even if there is a good possibility things may not end up too bad after all.

    Your mention of concentrating in order to see reminded me of the Bates Method of vision training, which I encountered years ago and which bases everything precisely on *not* concentrating but relaxing, and has some simple and (in my experience) enjoyable exercise techniques to help you do that. So if you want to cheer yourself up a bit, go and investigate http://www.seeing.org/index.html, the current Bates Method International website. The techniques are described in full at http://www.seeing.org/techniques/index.html. We had Margaret Darst Corbett’s ‘Help Yourself to Better Sight’ at home when I was little, and when it never came back from someone I lent it to, I replaced it with Bates’s own ‘Better Eyesight Without Glasses’, both of which are available from the site. They are comforting and encouraging reads (and easier to refer back to that web pages), and when I used the techniques regularly I found them very effective, though I never had serious problems to address. I’m sure you’ll find something to make you feel better there. Best wishes!

  • Lois

    I do hope this is just a temporary situation and you will be back to normal very soon. But it is unsettling, as I know well.
    A few years ago I had an eye injury when something blew in the car window and hit me directly on the eye. I ended up with a series of operations to repair it. At the same time I was informed that I had a cataract in the other eye. That led to a period of several months between operations where I was near sighted in one eye and far sighted in the other. Not an experience I would care to repeat. But I had a good surgeon and he fixed me up nicely.

    So try not to fret, and take it easy. I hear that chocolate is good for the eyesight, never mind that carrot nonsense. I expect you will be researching pirate ganseys next. Those confounded parrots with their claws can be hard on the knitting, though.

  • Dave

    Well that really is very unsettling – it may take some time to recover – oh and the eyes thing too.

    Jane – telling a trainee pirate that “worse things happen at sea… they definitely do” may not be providing the comfort you intend. Hmmm… remind me why pirates are called pirates someone – I forget.

  • Jane

    Just anchor on land, Gordon, and regard from afar, so much safer! While eating chocolate and training the parrot to make tea!

  • Felicity

    If cataract surgery is in the offing, my husband recommends it very highly. Good luck, Gordon.

  • Gordon

    Hello everyone! And thank you so much for all the fascinating comments, shared experiences and suggestions. As there are too many to respond to individually in the time available, I hope you’ll forgive me if I reply generally for once.

    First of all, I have had cataract surgery in both eyes, back in (I think) 2007-8. It was a great success, transformed my vision from -10 and -11 to -2.75. Suddenly I could wear glasses that weren’t bottle bottoms! And I can now see to knit without glasses.

    But I’ve also been told that because I was so short sighted before I do have an increased risk of certain age-related eye problems. Every day I’ve tried to remember to give thanks for how well I can see, because I know it may not last—though it’s a bit like youth, when you have it you think it’ll be there forever.

    I’m not thinking about what the problem might be if it’s not debris in my eye—I have a sort of hypochondriacs Occam’s Razor: I refuse to worry about potential health scares until I know for sure they’re real. (Then, as they say in the Hitchhikers’ Guide, of course, I go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel…) But it’s either serious or it’s not—much like me, in fact—and if it’s serious, well, I’ve got the rest of my life to worry in. Right now I’ve got all this knitting to finish…

  • =Tamar

    Oh shxx.. I hope it does clear up by itself. If not, there are Things that can be done. One of my friends had major eye surgery back when they didn’t have lasers and they really can fix things like that.
    Meanwhile, the gansey is coming along nicely. I like your design decision about the diamonds. If I ever knit a gansey I’ll have to remember that kind of thing.

  • Lois

    Gee, Gordon, your right eye – that might affect your pirate career. When the pirate captain yells ” hard starboard”, that could get awkward. And pirate captains are not noted for their gentle manners.

    I am reminded of an incident on the local ferry. A sudden announcement came over the loudspeaker, “whale breaching on the port side.” That separated the sheep from the goats, so to speak. The locals all heading toward the windows on the left side. The tourists all huddled in the centre crying “which way is port?, How do we find port?”

  • Gordon

    Good news has come to town, good news flies up and down… as the old folk song (almost) says – my eyes are OK. It’s just debris. Phew! But I’ll say more on this tomorrow, of course.

    All this nautical talk reminds me of the old joke: “Captain, the winds are at gale force and the sea is rising!” “This calls for a drink – what’ll you have?” “Oh, I’m not fussy – any old port in a storm, you know…”

  • Jane

    Super news, this calls for a celebratory few rows on my current knit!

  • Lois

    Hurray, hurray! I’m celebrating by starting the gussets on my current gansey.

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