Retinal Detachment – 2022 in a nutshell

On New Year’s Day I heard someone saying, “No more resolutions – it’s the circumstances turn to improve”. That one resonated deeply with me. I’ve had to be stronger than I possibly can be for years now, hoping that next year will be a little bit easier, but next year always says “You thought that was a total shitshow? Hold my beer…”

I’m not going to list all the disasters and misfortunes of 2022, I’m so so so so tired of doing that each year, I don’t want to turn into Dostoevsky, but there are some things that really pulled a dark curtain over this year. The worst being the death of my uncle Bosse. I’ve more or less been his “parent” these last couple of years since dementia stole his mind. And after surviving blood sugar levels that would have killed a mountain, a heart attack, several bouts of covid, and even breast cancer; he just stopped breathing one evening. He had turned 81, which for a diabetic is like being 110 (they have at least 20 years shorter lifespan), and I suspected that he was actually immortal, but everything ends…

Since I’ve been “in charge” of him these last couple of years, it fell on me to handle all the administrative procedures, and boy is it a lot of paperwork when somebody dies. It took months. And it such a weird feeling to bury someone close in both a practical and emotional sense as well as in a bureaucratical way. Now it’s done, but I still keep his number in my phone…

The other shitty thing was when I woke up one morning and the vision in my right eye was like looking through an old jam jar – the world looked blurry, twisted and green. I got sent to the eye-doctor, and the verdict was retinal detachment. The retina is the layers of nerve tissue at the back of the eye that receive images and sends them to the brain. So it’s kinda vital for being able to see. If you are very unlucky, the retina can start to peel away from the eye and eventually tear. And of course I was that unlucky. This is an emergency, so I was quickly transported to a hospital specialised in this kind of surgery. When the surgeon explained the procedure to me, I was thinking that going blind would be the better option. First they cut open the eye, then they squeeze out all the stuff inside the eye, fixate the retina with laser, then fill the eye with nitrous oxide and close it again. But before the anxiety could rev its engines, I was drugged with a lot of funny pills, so by the time I was wheeled into surgery I was having my own private rave party. In fact, the procedure was a very chill and trippy experience that I almost enjoyed. Now I get why people do drugs.

Surprisingly the worst part of the procedure was sleeping after the surgery. The reason my eye was filled with N2O was so the gas could put pressure on the retina. In order to put pressure on the right side of the eye, I had to sleep face down. No biggie, I thought, but goddammit how frustrating it can be to not move at all during the night. I also had to have my head bent downwards for 24 hours, walking around like a contemplating monk (or someone with a floor-fetish). It took almost two months for the gas to leave my eye, and when I could see again I noticed that the world looked weird. Unfortunately, the tear in the retina had damaged the macula (the most sensitive part of the retina that process sharp and detailed vision), and that is a permanent damage. The best way I can describe it is like a sort of mix between a funhouse mirror and looking out a window on a rainy day. The world seen through my right eye is bent and askew. It’s survivable when I’m out and about but sitting in front of a screen is a pain in the ass. The letters look weird and it’s difficult to read, and my head gets tired quickly. Not a great thing when my job as a writer is 100% screentime. Now it takes me a day to do what I used to do in 1-2 hours. Stupid retina, wanting to separate when we had it so good together….

This is just two picks from a big pile of shit happening this year, and there is a lot more there that I don’t even have the strength to talk about yet. Sure, when I’ve been talking with my friends in Ukraine and Iran, I have realised that things could definitely be worse, but I am only human, and I passed my limit a long time ago. My mental and physical warning lights are blinking so frantic now that I must look like a christmas tree having a seizure. Lately I’ve been having blackouts where I suddenly find myself crying and hyperventilating on the floor without having any idea how I got there. And my blood-pressure is probably 4 digits by now. If things doesn’t change I suspect my 2023 year-in-review will be replaced with my obituary. But I’m crazy enough to have hope. Hope that I will tell stories about the most wonderful things next year…

At least this disaster of a year had a really good soundtrack. Great releases from Rammstein, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend, Tegan & Sara, Polyphia, Spiritbox, Muna and many others. But my favourite album was Soilwork’s Övergivenheten (The Abandonment). A beautiful collection of songs blending melodic death metal with melancholy like only Soilwork can. Making this album even more special was the tragic twist that their guitarist and main songwriter David Andersson passed away (from mental health problems and alcohol) shortly after the release. With titles like Dreams of Nowhere, Is It In Your Darkness and Death I Hear You Calling, maybe there were signs that something wasn’t right. You will be deeply missed David…

Of the movies that I’ve watched 2022, I can highly recommend Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Werewolf By Night, Deadstream, The Batman, Top Gun Maverick, Prey, Mad God, and most of all: Everything Everywhere All at Once (this was definitely Michelle Yeoh’s year).

Lots of great tv too. But there were two shows that really blew me away. I was so thrilled to finally see Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece The Sandman on screen. Like many others I was cautiously hopeful, because it is a very special story that is hard to translate into moving pictures. But they made it, and it was a bliss to watch Dream, his sister Death, and the others come to life. I have watched the first season three times now, and it is perfection! But the biggest surprise of the year was Andor. How can a prequel to a prequel starring the third lead from Rouge One be this good?! This is what Star Wars can be when you take the franchise seriously. Great writing and even greater acting. Mature, thrilling, complex, intelligent, and the most realistic and captivating Star Wars ever.

Since 2022 was all about surviving and enduring, stuff like being creative or having a life had to be put aside. But I did take some pictures…

Stay safe peeps!

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