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A health note from the editor

Christian Clemmensen
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Christian Clemmensen
A health note from the editor   Wednesday, May 21, 2008 (8:53 a.m.) 

As veterans of Filmtracks may remember, I was diagnosed in the late 1990's with a rare, hereditary form of lattice degeneration in my eyes. Combined with my nearsightedness, this condition led to rhegmatogenous retinal detachment in both eyes over a two-year period from 1997 to 1999.

To avert immediate blindness at the time, doctors used nearly every available treatment, ranging from basic laser welding of the retinas to full blown scleral buckling (the physical placement of an encircling plastic band around the eyes). Luckily, the damage caused by the posterior vitreous separation was concentrated on the sides of the retina, avoiding the macula and therefore primarily threatening my peripheral vision. Because of my youth (compared to most others who experience these problems late in life), my eyes have proven resilient enough to allow me a normal lifestyle (minus roller coasters, unfortunately, which I dearly miss from my childhood).

On Monday of this week, the condition struck again. Upon suddenly losing some sight in my right eye, I was diagnosed with new retinal tears caused by renewed vitreous separation. A combination of laser welding and the injection of gas into the vitreous cavity is being used to repair the damage and hopefully prevent further problems for several more years to come. These procedures started on Tuesday and will continue through Thursday (when the bulk of the surgery will be done). There is an 80% chance of success with these procedures, and, if not achieved, a more invasive vitrectomy or additional scleral buckling carries a 98% chance of success.

Either way, I'll likely get through this relapse with my previous vision maintained. It's a frustrating and scary distraction, however, and it obviously means that my schedule for Filmtracks will be delayed. Despite the fact that these problems never require surgery on both eyes at the same time (my left eye is currently still holding together), my experience is that each of these procedures on one eye or the other causes double vision, the inability to focus, or enough general irritation to keep me from easily reading or writing for up to a week.

As far as Filmtracks is concerned, the bad news is that I have not been able to finish coverage for the new scores for Ironman, Indiana Jones, or The Chronicles of Narnia (among others) before the remainder of these procedures. They'll be reviewed eventually, maybe even by the end of next week if all goes smoothly. The good news is that 2008 has been extremely productive so far in terms of the re-writes; I've finished 104 of them this year, which means that (barring continued eyeball difficulties) the entire re-write process could be done by the end of 2009.

The advice that I give to everyone I meet in life, including all who read this site, is to never take your eyesight for granted. Appreciate your ability to admire your surroundings, drive a car, watch movies in theatres, or, simply, find the toilet. While only 1 in 10,000 Americans will suffer from retinal detachment and its associated threat of blindness, you may never know if you'll have to deal with it until the day you wake up and you can't see in one of your eyes because it's filling with blood. Take a moment to just look around and enjoy the sense.

Christian



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Christian Clemmensen
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(caelen.filmtracks.com)
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  In Response to:
Christian Clemmensen

  Responses to this Update:
Christian Clemmensen
An update on the editor's eyesight   Tuesday, May 27, 2008 (11:26 a.m.) 

Doctors revealed this morning that my eye surgery last Thursday has proven unsuccessful. The procedure carried an 80% chance of success, but unfortunately my retina is continuing to leak and thus lead to vision loss, albeit at a temporarily slower pace.

I am scheduled for a more invasive procedure (a full vitrectomy) this next Thursday (the 29th) that carries a greater chance of success. Resumption of activities after this surgery will be slower given its more extensive duration. The doctors are confident, however, that almost all of my current vision in the eye can be saved for several more years.

With my other eye, I managed to finish five reviews (three new, two re-writes) during my recovery from the last surgery and I'm going to attempt to get them published before the next surgery knocks me out more thoroughly.

I want to extend my thanks to the nearly 100 Filmtracks readers who have sent their well-wishes. I greatly appreciate the support. This round of surgeries is extremely frustrating. That's really all I can say at this point. We'll know in another week if the second one works. If it doesn't, the options get nastier.

Christian



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Christian Clemmensen
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(caelen.filmtracks.com)
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Christian Clemmensen
A final update on the editor's eyesight   Friday, June 6, 2008 (12:05 p.m.) 

It was confirmed by doctors this morning that my vitrectomy last week was successful. It'll be two or three weeks before we can know just how much vision in that eye was lost, but the prognosis is good. At the moment, the distortion caused by the gas bubble and new fluids filling the eye are making it somewhat useless, but by next Friday I should be able to resume most normal activities. So disaster has been averted... again!

I'm starting to resume my writing schedule, and some regular re-write work and a few new reviews will be finished as early as this weekend.

I want to thank all of those who have e-mailed me with kind words over the past two weeks. I did not anticipate hearing from so many readers (over 250), and it's heartening to know that Stella and I have your support. It's a little frightening, though, to learn that many Filmtracks readers also suffer from similar retinal or vitreal problems.

I had to chuckle at the one, inevitable moron who e-mailed with the response: "God has struck your vision because of your refusal to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior." It's priceless and, given this site's history, predictable.

Thanks again to all,

Christian



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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.