After seven eye surgeries in the past year, Sports Animal Radio Network afternoon personality Al Eschbach is glad his eyesight is getting better, allowing him to drive again and jet off to his favorite travel destinations.
His vacation trips, just before football season, have become a summer staple and interesting fodder for his afternoon talk show.
"Since 1976, I have flown over the ocean every year," said Eschbach, 64, who estimated he has been to more than 50 countries.
His sons also are glad he's regaining his sight. Alex, 24, and Max, 22, have been chauffeuring him to remotes for his talk show. They even have read him The Oklahoman sports section and kept him updated on the time when his eyes were too blurry to read as he recovered from surgery.
Al Eschbach said his ex-wife, DaOnne, whom he had been married to 28 years, has helped him keep a positive outlook in dealing with the horrible luck of having detached retinas in both eyes. He said he has been legally blind in his right eye since November.
"After the last surgery, I was like banging into walls," Eschbach said. "It was really difficult. She said something very meaningful to me, 'Instead of whining about the thing, be an inspiration with your situation.' "
The dean of Oklahoma sports talk with 33 years on the radio, Eschbach said he has missed only about 10 days of work due to the eye surgeries. WWLS/The Sports Animal (FM 98.1 and AM 640) installed audio equipment in his Norman home, allowing him to do his show from his house, including bidding farewell to callers with his signature "See ya!"
Eschbach said his eye problems began last June on a trip to Dubai. After returning to Oklahoma City, he underwent surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye. In August, on a flight to Bangkok, the right eye problem flared up again, and he had to return home for emergency surgery.
Trouble on his left eye began in March when he was driving to Kansas City, Mo., for the NCAA basketball tournament. He said his latest surgery on his left eye, performed six weeks ago by Dr. Reagan Bradford at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, has gone well.
"I'm very positive — knock on wood — that if nothing else happens, I'll be able to do whatever I want to do."
Eschbach said all of his doctors have told him that pressure on his eyes from air travel should not affect his retinas. So he plans to keep flying to OU football games and overseas to exotic travel destinations.
He said he is planning a three-week trip in late July, possibly to Bali or Costa Rica.
"I'm going to live my life right now," he said. "I've got to do the things I've got to do."
Al Eschbach rates his top five travel destinations:
Tahiti. It's so beautiful, it makes Hawaii look like Detroit.
Bali (Indonesia). I've always had a fascination with it from the movies. It's just another beautiful place that has incredible fruit.
Phuket (Thailand). It's just incredibly beautiful. Best seafood I've had in my life at a really good price.
Costa Rica. Been going there for years. Nice people and also beautiful.
Munich. Best beer in the world. That's where I first had beer with radishes.