Adventurer’s agonising battle.

BRILLIANT NATURAL history filmmaker, Malcolm Douglas, has won a desperate battle to save his sight. For two pain filled months the man who has built a formidable reputation with superb documentaries like Across The Top, Follow The Sun and North To Niugini lay in a darkened room at his Sydney home.

His only supports during those shattering days and nights were painkilling drugs, antibiotics and his family. Malcolm had suffered a particularly severe attack of shingles, the inflammatory disease of the nerve ends which spreads around the body. It entered Malcolm's left eye and it was feared that the right eye would also be hit. A Specialist told the 42 year old professional adventurer: "You have more than an even chance of losing your left eye, I'm afraid." "You just can't imagine what it was like during those weeks," said Malcolm. "To just have to lie there in that room, trying to get used to the idea that I was going to go blind in at least one eye. "For the first time in my life I was really terrified. I can remember thinking: 'Why can't it be my right eye! You see, I'm left handed and I was about to lose my 'camera eye'."

The disease set in suddenly, just after Malcolm got back to Sydney after three tough months filming at and around Mount Kosciusko in the snow. The result of that Douglas expedition will be a special for the Seven Network called a Season of Snow. Getting the necessary footage for this survival type documentary meant that Malcolm, in his usual daring style, spent three months living in rough-hewn igloos and bleak caves. "It was pretty rugged going," admitted Malcolm, who has been attacked by crocodiles, sharks and snakes, survived boat capsizes on the open sea, floods and unfriendly native warriors in his perilous line of business. "A few times there it looked like the cold would get me. As a matter of fact, when the shingle first hit, I thought it was an aftermath of the Kosciusko trip, "I started getting these migraine headaches. . . or that's what I thought they were. "Then suddenly ... wham, There were all these red blisters all over my face and head and shoulders. The pain was unbearable -just like being on fire." “The eye became so swollen you couldn't see the lashes. I can also remember thinking it was just as well I wasn't the suicidal type."

For Malcolm Douglas, January 28, 1982, was without much doubt the most dramatic day in a lifetime filled with drama and danger. "I can tell you the exact time on that day that I'll never forget," he said. "It was spot on 4.03pm. Even though the inflammation had settled down quite a bit, there were still doubts about the eye. "When the specialist gave me the old thumbs up I don't remember what my exact reaction was. I think I may have blubbered a little. And that stung too." After such a jolting experience it would be natural to assume that even a stoic like Malcolm is going to take it a bit easy for a while. Not so. He's just taken off again on another typical Douglas mission. This time it's another trip up to New Guinea. He and an unusually fit journalist called Sean Dixon, who only recently paddled a kayak from Townsville to Thursday Island, headed for the remote Strickland River.