One for the Memory Bank
When one door closes, another opens. For those who’ve read my previous stories, you might remember my disappointing lost opportunity to go to Machu Picchu. All because of the damage the lack of oxygen at high altitude could cause to my eyes. There is still so much of the world I want to see before AMD might make it less visible.
A month-long trip
Fast forward a few months. My friend with the broken knee was healing well and planning to join four of her friends on a month-long trip to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. We had been out with our walking group one morning when she said she was looking for someone to share experiences and hotel expenses.
Nothing was keeping me from going
After checking airfares, it looked like I could manage it! But there were so many things to check out and to prepare. The doctor at the travel medicine clinic gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, just in case; one for malaria, and another for typhoid. He also warned me not to even brush my teeth with tap water, or eat anything not cooked. The fruit was ok if I peeled it myself. This was starting to sound ominous, but I was determined. Nothing would keep me home this time.
Eye injections on vacation?
After visa applications, my next worry was my AMD. I’d be having a regular check-up with my retinal specialist a week before I left, so hopefully, there would be nothing new happening in that regard. To be safe, I researched English speaking doctors in or near each city, then, how to find ophthalmologists who could give me an injection if a new bleed started. Nothing was going to play havoc with my trip of a lifetime.
Impaired depth perception
Online pictures showed quite a number of the temples having steps with no handrails and most required removing shoes. I knew that my AMD had thrown my depth perception a little off, so I found a folding walking stick that would fit in my carry-on. Hard to believe I was traveling for a month with just a carry-on! And yes, I took an Amsler grid!
The day finally arrived! A twelve-hour flight to Seoul, then a few more hours to Bangkok. The other four - two couples, arrived the next day and we were on our way. The bazaars with their multi-coloured silks, the monks in their bright orange robes, the cultures so richly steeped in tradition, all found a place in my memory bank.
As for those formidable looking temple steps which seemed to be everywhere, the two men in our group were always there for me with an arm to hold. Chivalry is still alive and well!
The best memory
People ask what my favourite memory of that journey is now. I think the best experience was walking with the elephants through the trees to the Mekong River in Laos. My favourite place would have to be the beautiful Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. But the best part of the whole trip? The people in all three countries, who are the most friendly and helpful I’ve met anywhere, and where respect for their elders is still part of the culture.
Do you feel that you've maintained independence with macular degeneration?