It’s an odd sensation lying flat and very still underneath a sheet of thin white plastic. I have a tube gently hissing beside me for company, which dispenses pure oxygen. Contact with the outside world is nominally via my right eye, which is exposed through the plastic. Although I can’t see anything I can see the light source in the probe that is inserted into my eye and watch it moving around.
I can also hear every word of the not-so re-assuring dialogue between the two surgeons “much too close to the lens Ali!”, “No, no, no – now it’s haemorrhaging!” and so on.
I try to steer my thoughts to how fantastic modern laser technology is. I watch it spark as they eventually re-attach my retina and repair the tear. Bizarrely the laser talks in a female American accent – either that or I have finally lost my mind. It can’t be the sedative – they wouldn’t give me one. I’d have gone for anything – Phenobarbital, Diazepam, Cocaine, Rioja, Guinness – even Evo-Stik.
After an hour and forty minutes or so the experience is rounded off with a gas bubble being injected into the eye and an orange band attached to my right wrist explaining that I might explode in numerous languages. I am discharged with supplies of various eye drops and the sage but unnecessary advice – “Don’t swim or play any contract sports”. So no Water Polo I guess.
The gas bubble is my little companion for the next few weeks as it bobs around and slowly dissipates. Three months later the vision has steadily improved, curvy lines have straightened and things have returned to a kind of blurred normality.
The march of medical science has not though been matched by progress through the impenetrable bureaucracy of most countries ending in the word ‘Stan. A compromise plan has been found. We fly to Shanghai where we meet Yangtze Pete who has a supply of Chang Jiangs 750s in Tibet, close to the Dalai Lama’s winter palace in Lhasa. What better vehicle for a trek across the Himalayas to Kathmandu in Nepal? For those not familiar with motorcycle technology the question is ironic as well as rhetorical.
Stage 2 involves crating our own bikes and transporting them to Athens. After Nepal has been explored using the technology of yesteryear we will fly to Athens to collect them and then ride through Greece, across Turkey to Baku in Azerbaijan on the Caspian see, and then head steadily North-West into Georgia and back up through Europe.
As I write this blog flights have been booked, visa applications are being frantically researched and routes and transportation finalised.
Mercifully both retinas remain attached.
It would be great to conclude that loss of sight has provided new insight. But this would be too corny and inaccurate to end a blog with. Or so you’d think.
But you’d be wrong