alcohol blindness, alcohol cure for blindness, Auckland City Hospital, Casper Dalhoff, Copenhagen Institution for Chronic Alcoholics, Denis Duthie, formaldehyde poisoning, Johnnie Walker Black label, Laurel Massé, Manhattan Transfer, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth Western Institute of Technology, New Zealand, squint-eyed, Strabismus, Taranaki Base Hospital, wall-eyed
A show of hands of all who either wear glasses or contact lenses or who either chronically or occasionally squint to read what’s before you, perhaps even this post.
Aha, just as I thought; more than a few.
After some recent bouts with my own peepers and normal surgeries for my age group, I’ve become more appreciative than ever of how very much my life and likely yours too depends upon the ability to see and especially to read.
I started to think about all the things that prevent one seeing things as they ought to be. For example, think of all the modifiers about someone’s being ….(something)-eyed.
There’s the condition of being wall-eyed, or Strabismus (‘squint-eyed’), indicated by one’s being prevented from bringing the gaze of each eye to the same point in space.
Amblyopia (lazy eye) falls into this category, as does esotropia (cross-eyed). Opthalmologists are always the best bet for solving these issues, and I can recommend the very best of the best in a few locales, both in England (London) and the USA (Leawood or Overland Park, Kansas).
Until I ran across what’s on my mind today, I’d never thought of being pie-eyed (synonyms: sozzled, sloshed, p*ssed, knee-walking, drunk-as-a-skunk, etc.) as being anything more than a temporary condition.
Or, usually temporary. Overdoing doing it can, indeed, do you in.
The Copenhagen Institution for Chronic Alcoholics is unlike any other, think “One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson for a warden.
The Institute doesn’t stop the thirty-nine men and women who live there from drinking, they encourage it. Photographer Casper Dalhoff of Vice Magazine recently compiled a photo-essay of the institute’s unique approach to alcoholism.
For many alcoholics who have reached the chronic stage, quitting is not an option. In fact, for advanced alkies, putting an end to drinking can quickly lead to death, as years of relentless boozing alters one’s metabolism to the point that a sudden lack of the sauce will wreak havoc. The symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal include a dangerously accelerated heart rate, palpitations, catatonia, and hallucinations.
If it doesn’t all kill you, one might well go blind, or so one has always heard. Want some spooky proof, and from New Zealand, of all places?
Whisky saves man’s eyesight after being blinded by vodka
Alcohol doesn’t tend to make you see more clearly, but in Denis Duthie’s case a bottle of whisky literally saved his sight.
The 65-year-old Taranaki man suddenly went blind when vodka he had been drinking reacted with his diabetes medication.
He regained his sight only after hospital staff administered expensive whisky.
Mr Duthie, a catering tutor at New Plymouth’s Western Institute of Technology, had been celebrating his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in June by having a few vodkas from a bottle his students had given him as a present.
When he walked into a bedroom in his home everything suddenly went black.
“I thought it had got dark and I’d missed out on a bit of time but it was only about half-past-three in the afternoon. I was fumbling around the bedroom for the light switch but … I’d just gone completely blind.”
He thought he’d sleep it off, but the next morning he still couldn’t see a thing, so went to Taranaki Base Hospital.
“I don’t remember much after I arrived in hospital. They put me onto the trolley and into the theatre [US: operating room] straight away.
“I know the doctor told my wife to say goodbye because they didn’t think I’d be coming out again.”
The surgeon later told him a strong smell like nail polish remover had come out of the incision in his stomach.
“They asked me if I’d been drinking that and I said ‘Jesus no’. They didn’t know what was going on.”
The doctor thought he might have formaldehyde poisoning, which is associated with ingesting methanol and can be treated by administering ethanol – the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
There wasn’t enough medical ethanol available in the hospital, so the registrar nipped down to the local bottle store and picked up a bottle of whisky.
“Johnnie Walker Black Label. It was good whisky, yeah.”
They dripped the whisky – which retails for about NZ$55 a bottle [US$45.32, £28.15, ¥3,712, €34.60] – into his stomach through a tube, and hoped for the best.
“I woke up five days later and I could see as soon as I could open my eyes,” Mr Duthie said.
He was feeling “good as gold” and was most impressed by the hospital’s improvised treatment.
“I thought it was pretty bloody good – I’m alive. The hospital was absolutely awesome. Couldn’t have been better.”
Auckland City Hospital intensive care medicine specialist Tony Smith said administering ethanol was a well-established treatment for methanol poisoning.
It worked because the ethanol competed with the methanol and prevented it from being metabolised into harmful formaldehyde, which can cause blindness.
“There are two potential ways of doing it: one is to give intravenous ethanol through a drip [US: IV], but that is not available in all hospitals. There is also nothing wrong with supplying that alcohol via the gastro-intestinal tract, which is what they’ve chosen to do in this circumstance, and that’s a well established treatment. If the patient’s awake they can just drink it.”
Dr Smith said methanol poisoning could be caused by home-brewed alcohol which had not been made using the standard process.
Mr Duthie was told his condition had been caused by the vodka reacting with his diabetes medication.
He had decided to speak about his ordeal to warn other diabetics: “If you’re a diabetic, take it easy,” he said.
He hadn’t touched alcohol since being released from hospital.
As shown, it’s the old ‘all things in moderation’ adage that succeeds, or in most instances.
That said, the Johnnie Walker Distillery must be very pleased indeed to know that, despite all the odds and the critics, they sometimes create what is a truly life-saving blend.
So, Mr. Duthie, we’re all extremely relieved and delighted that not only your sight has been restored but also indeed by the ancient skills of Scottish distillers.
We’re sure that when you blinked your way back into The World, someone who cares about you said, or at least thought: “All I need is one of your smiles. Sunshine of your eyes, oh, me, oh, my. Do I feel higher than a kite can fly!”
If this fails to play, my apologies. Please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAXb1gnxoAg
Matthew Theunissen, APNZ, writing for The New Zealand Herald (Auckland) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10851152
Laurel Massé and Manhattan Transfer: Ms. Massé’s website is here: Laurel Masse website Twitter: @LaurelMasse
Both her own and Manhattan Transfer’s recordings are widely available. http://www.manhattantransfer.net
The Danes do have a different way of doing things. Because both the text and voyeuristic, painful images are or could be considered more than offensive by many readers, I have omitting quoting or reprinting the photos or text of the article, The River Styx Is Full of Booze; Drinking Oneself to Death Is Serious Business. With that caveat, the link is here: http://www.vice.com/read/river-styx-full-of-booze-616-v16n2