Archive for November, 2015


Since the fateful day when I, innocently nestled in my baby carriage, started to roll unattended down that hill in Highland Park, my journey has continued for almost 84 years.  I’ll reach that august age on December 3rd, God willing , and as a reward for hanging in there so long, I’m allowed to let it all hang out here.  So, as a treat for  Halloween, I’m going to entertain you with a scary tale of perils you’ve been spared till now.

If you were mystified by that lone, intriguing paragraph, my itchy finger clicked Publish instead of Save Draft when I was just warming up.  “Well begun is half done,” my mom’s frequent mantra, doesn’t always work for me. Besides, recent troubles have prevented me from posting by October 31st, as intended.

My down mood continued (see September’s “Be Not Afraid”) but my spirits were beginning to lift, and I agreed to Dr. Schwartz’s recommendation of another tabeculectomy  on my left eye.  The surgery at Johns Hopkins two years ago had increased visual field loss in what had been my better eye, but a second procedure could prevent further damage.

She performed the operation on October 14th, and all seemed to go well, but in about a week I felt very ill — nauseous, my head heavy and full. I drove carefully in the right lane to an emergency appointment , and Dr. Schwartz found my left eye pressure  was an alarming fifty-five.  She brought it down to a too low three, immediately relieving my discomfort.  “It’s normal for pressure to fluctuate after this surgery,” she said.  Though she admitted she’d never seen it that extreme.

On another visit, as she removed the last stitch, a dense fog fell over the left eye. A broken blood vessel, Dr. Schwartz reported, but it should dissolve in about a week.  In about 10 days, as my sight began to clear,  I began seeing double when reading with my right eye. An irritation under the cataract implant she had inserted in April,he said, but new drops would correct this.  Oh, please!

When I woke a few days later, the fog had again fallen again over my left eye.  “You probably poked your eye in your sleep, shouldn’t have stopped wearing the eye shield at night,” she chided.  Bear in mind  I was still adjusting to a visual annoyance that began in March, often seeing  several tiny objects — something like broccoli florets — in the upper left corner of my left eye. A description that seemed to amuse Dr. Schwartz.

Apparently not her area of expertise, so referred me to a retinal specialist.  Dr. Grodin explained that the vitreous, a gel-like substance, shrinks with age (among other things,I thought) causing “posterior vitreous detachment,” and others more serious, such as detached retina. “Nothing can be done to correct it,” he intoned.

If you’re still with me — and I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve lost interest after this litany of lamentations — the following is a random selection of other “dangers, toils and snares” I’ve staunchly survived. Don’t think I’ve forgotten.  I always keep my promises, and usually finish what I start.  Brace yourself.

The dating maze, where I wandered too long, taking more than one wrong turn.  But when I’d almost given up hope (maybe arranged marriages were a smart idea) I saw Kieran John Gallagher standing in the light at the end, waiting patiently all that time for me to find my way to him. Then we entered the marriage marathon . . .

Our young son’s severe asthma attacks. Watching him struggle to breathe.  Visits to the emergency room, especially during the night.  Bur Kieran endured a series of allergy injections rather than give up Frisky, the stray cat he’d adopted. Tearfully, he firmly announced:   “Love is more important than being sick.”

The boy on the block who constantly bullied him, and one day sprayed Right Guard at his mouth, saying:  “Too bad, Kieran.  Fatal if swallowed.” My son managed to clamp his mouth shut, turn his head, break free, and run home. My husband called an overdue family conference at our house.  The bully’s mom didn’t show.  His dad commented: “Keith is just going through a Huck Finn phase.” Not long after, Kieran found his beloved pet dead, her ribs broken, in a wooded area where the troubled boy often played.

An earlier near collision.  (See “Fasten Your Seat Belts.”)  As we drove to Massachusetts for Tim Hogan’s First Communion, our car began to speed out of control, and  accelerated as my husband pressed the brake pedal to the floor. A bus was stopped at a red light at the crossroad just ahead of us. “Get off the road,” I shouted, he swerved to the shoulder, turned  off the the ignition.  AAA arranged an arbitration with Oldsmobile —  we learned that gas had kept flowing through a broken flap, meant to close when brakes are applied. We went home with a big check and bought a Nissan Sentra.

My husband’s age discrimination case against AIG, heard in court in 1994, soon after his death. The company had replaced him with a man under forty in the October 1991 downsizing.  A naive, young lawyer I’d found through the ABA stammered and dropped papers on the floor, obviously intimidated by AIG’s impressive charts and entourage — including three vice presidents boldly lying under oath.  The judge never left the bench, joking with the V.P.’s and sipping from his coffee mug as he found for AIG.

While I’ve been moaning and complaining about my current predicaments, I’ve met and talked to people who shared their stories with me —

Michael, a  Uber driver, an Army veteran and former security guard in a prison where a woman inmate threw a cup of cleaning fluid at his face, splashing in his eyes — meant for her archenemy, another woman.  Immediate treatment saved his sight.

Michelle, a computer technician at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.  Her mom and dad died within a month of each other this summer.   And  her sister was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Jaymie, one of Dr. Sood’s Physician’s Assistants.  While pregnant with her first child, with a sarcoma on her thigh, facing possible amputation of her leg, was cured in time.

Tasha, a medical technician working for Dr. Sood.  Diagnosed with leukemia at five years of age, under treatment for six years, ever since in remission.  Now in her forties, looking healthy and fabulous.

Dr.Schwartz assures me “You’ll be fine,” but I still can’t read with my left eye or even see clearly at a distance.  We shall see.  Pun intended.  And it’s reassuring, as I’ve noted, that Our Creator generously gave us two of most parts.

Amazingly, I’ve managed to stay afloat again — With the help of  my wonderful family: Kieran, Bethany, Nolan and Jack.  Charlotte, patient with  her own disabilities, who drove me to Dr. Schwartz’s office via busy highways. Marilyn, who delivered kindness and casseroles, and  treated me to dinner at Applebee’s. My angelic pet Angel.  But first, last and always — God.






































































































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