Vodka Blinds Kiwi, Whiskey Shows Him the Light | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Vodka Blinds Kiwi, Whiskey Shows Him the Light

Desperate doctors used Johnnie Walker Black Label to save the sight of a hard-drinking diabetic. He's stayed sober since.

Image: 

Denis Duthie, with his "hero" Photo via

By Bryan Le

11/30/12

| Share

Solving a problem caused by alcohol with even more alcohol doesn't sound like the most responsible course of action. But for one diabetic New Zealander who went blind after drinking vodka, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Catering tutor Denis Duthie, 65, was knocking back some Red Square Russian vodka—a gift from his students—in celebration of his parents' 50th wedding anniversary back in June. Suddenly, everything 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,” he says. “I was fumbling around the bedroom for the light switch but...I'd just gone completely blind.” Awaking to an equally black morning, he realized this wasn't something he could just sleep off, so headed to the nearest hospital.

Things got worse. A doctor actually told Duthie's wife to say her last goodbyes before her husband was wheeled off into urgent surgery. When the first incision was made into Duthie's stomach, the stink of nail polish remover came out. "They asked me if I'd been drinking that and I said, 'Jesus no,'” continues Duthie. “They didn't know what was going on." The suspected cause was formaldehyde poisoning—something that happens to people who drink highly poisonous methanol. The official medical solution? Ethanol—the form of alcohol that humans can drink without going blind and dying—dilutes the body's reception of methanol, preventing it from metabolizing too much methanol into formaldehyde. But the hospital had run out of medical ethanol—so a registrar rushed to buy a replacement from a local store: "Johnnie Walker Black Label. It was good whiskey, yeah,” Duthie recalls. After having it dripped into his stomach via a tube through his nose, Duthie's sight was restored. As it turns out, his condition was caused by the vodka mixing with diabetes meds in his body. Duthie decided to tell his story to warn other diabetics: “If you're a diabetic, take it easy,” he says. He hasn't had a drink since.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
PMS: A Natural Threat to Sobriety

I remember slamming things around the kitchen one night and feeling like I’d lost my mind. I was angry about something so minor, I literally can’t remember what it was and I don’t know that I knew then either

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv