'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

The Vision Thing


We get inquiries now and then, folks wondering how my (Keith’s) eye issues have resolved, and rather than fielding the same basic question every few days, it seems a short blog post on the subject is in order. Granted it’s not really boating related, but it’s a proven facts that stuff happens, even when you’re cruising, so bear with me.
By way of review, here’s what happened. 

I suffered (with fair grace) a detached retina in the right eye back on October 1st 2016, while Sionna and crew were pinned behind the north end of Assatigue Island at Ocean City, Maryland by a 3-day norther. What began as a very small blind spot on the edge of vision (NEVER ignore a blind spot, folks!) gradually spread, and by the time we arrived in Hampton Roads, VA following a 20-hour passage in the Atlantic, I was 80% blind in that eye.

A quick Google search found a surgeon nearby, the initial laser repair was accomplished on October 5th, and we left Hampton on the 21st following a good report and release from the surgeon. As part of the after-care, it was discovered that my left eye also showed weakening retinal attachment, so a preventative laser procedure was performed to avoid a future crisis.

But unfortunately that wasn’t the end. My vision at first cleared gradually, but then stabilized before beginning to deteriorate again, and a follow-up appointment with a surgeon in Charleston, SC confirmed my assessment – the retina had begun to detach again. A second surgury was required.

The second surgury took place on November 15th, and was a more aggressive and invasive style, including the implantation of a band (called a “buckle”) around the circumference of the eye to relieve tension on the retina, and the injection of a silicone oil into the eye to act as a bandage, holding the retina in place as it heals. 

As of this writing (January 7th, 2017) the second surgery appears to have been successful. I say “appears” because – being extremely nearsighted and unable to wear a contact lens or glasses over my right eye until the oil is removed – I’m still functionally blind on that side. In addition, passing a laser beam through the eye’s lense causes cataracts in short order, and my follow-up appointment with yet a third surgeon in December confirmed that I now have cataracts forming in both eyes, with a vision loss of 20% in the left and 40% in the right. 

This is, as they say, a bummer.

But there are bright notes.

First, we’re still cruising,(though I sometimes lament the visual detail I’m unable to see) and have reached the warmth and sun of Florida’s Gulf coast. Score!

Second, when we return to Maine in May we’ll be back “in-network” for our health insurance, and should be able to have the cataracts corrected – as well as a good portion of my near-sightedness. A bonus!

 And speaking of insurance…. 

You’ve heard of the Affordable Care Act? Some folks call it Obama Care – often in a derogatory way, which I’ve never understood, but for us, it’s been the difference between living life and bankruptcy. The total bill for these eye issues has been nearly $30,000, but our insurance has paid over 3/4ths of that. We never had health insurance before the ACA, and won’t have it in future if the program is stolen from us. Yes, we’re broke again – but at least we’re still solvent. Thank you, President Obama – you done good.

Oh dear, I suppose I’ve crossed some line there, injecting politics into a sailing blog? 

But hey – that’s life. 

At least I’m not blind.

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house, we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

2 thoughts on “The Vision Thing

  1. Like you we have benefited by the ACA. It was because of this act we were able to retire early. Pre-ACA, we tried to buy healthcare on the open market and because of our ages and a pre-existing condition we were denied. We weren’t even able to purchase insurance with the pre-existing condition exempt from the policy. We were willing and could afford to pay but after trying about 10 companies we gave up. Mark is British and has free healthcare for life in the UK (all we need to do is get him there if he is really sick). Living in the USA without healthcare insurance is really scary. Healthcare in the USA is a complete disaster. We have never understood why a doctor is willing to perform a service for X amount of dollars for an insurance payment but without insurance that same service is 20X. How the hell is that fair. In our opinion it is the worst system in the civilized world. Where else but America do they turn away sick people because they can’t pay?

    Yesterday we were amazed to see the GOP start the procedure to abolish the ACA. The reason being, the insurance premiums had gone up. So what, we say. At least we can get insurance. This is like saying, we are going to close all the gas station because the oil cost has gone up.

    Thank God we plan on being out of the USA for the next few years where healthcare is comparable and affordable. People in the USA need to really start looking elsewhere in the world for healthcare services. In many cases the service is better and cost less than someone’s deductible.

    Sorry about this rant! You touched a nerve.

    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry about the eye issues, sounds like a nightmare. In regards to health insurance. As a small business owner my wife and I went without insurance for 25 years, praying we did not get sick, charging some big bills over the years. With obamacare I was finally able to afford to buy health insurance. It is very hard for me to understand why the GOP wants to get rid of it. It does need improvement I will say that.. They say they will make things better and cheaper, OK I am good with that. I just really hope that is true. I have often felt the real reason we can not get everyone on the same page with this issue is that anyone that has insurance provided to them through an employer for little or nothing has no skin in the game. If we simply were to require all individuals to purchase there own insurance direct, eliminate it given to people as a job benefit, I think you would see a seismic shift in peoples thinking and we could begin to have a rational conversation on how to cover everyone…. just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

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