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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eyeballs and Ears

I had my annual appoint with the fabulous neuro-ophthalmologist, Doctor Simmons Lessell, yesterday.

All is well. My left cornea, always at risk due to nerve damage from my last giant brain fry up, is in good shape. No new surgery needed. Yea!

Doc Lessell is an incredibly warm, reassuring, wonderful man. For six months, eleven years ago—after the big one, I had double vision. I wore a pirate patch over my wonky left eye so that I could walk, read and, just generally, see. The good doctor kept me calm—a tremendous feat all by itself.

After examining the hell outta me, he pronounced that my fucked up sight was an artifact of my brain’s recent, giant adventure in Surgeryland. It would clear up within, about, six months.

SIX MONTHS! I grilled the world renowned, respected doc. How do you know? How can you be sure? Six months? Fer reals? Have you seen this sort of shit before?

 Yes. The man knew what he was about and my vision DID clear within six months. He held my hand throughout.

At yesterday’s visit, the always cheerful, buoyant doc seemed down, off. His hearing is going, he told me. He’s lost it entirely on the right and it’s heading south on the left side now. Doc Lessell's auditory nerves are crapping out and nothing can be done about it. He’ll be deaf within the year possibly.

I told him what I did when I knew my time with sound was coming to an end. I’d lay in bed in the evening and listen to all the music that I wanted to remember forever. Over and over again I would play Fanfair for the Common Man, Carmina Burana, Totentanz, David Byrne’s The Forest and more. I wanted to burn them into my brain so I could hear them in my head once deaf. It mostly worked too.

Apparently Lessell’s a big Copland fan. We talked about different pieces and then he told me—his beloved wife of 59 years died since I saw him last. The obituary in The Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology was entitled Fanfare for the Uncommon Neuro-Ophthalmologist.

Whoa! Your wife was a neuro-ophthalmologist too! Yes. After 18 years of momming and housewifing, she went back to school—med school. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston University School of Medicine and went on to the Lahey Clinic where she specialized in neuro-ops (as Lessell charmingly called it) and pediatric neurology.

Doctor Irma Lessell was also big into knitting, needlepoint and fly-fishing. She sounds like an incredible, fascinating person.  The two neurologists were best friends and he, unsurprisingly, misses her greatly.

It’s been a hell of a year for the good doc—losing this amazing friend/wife/partner/love and now his hearing’s doing a runner. He said he feels old (he’s 82) and that he’s happy that he can still work.

After that he asked if it was OK to bring in the baby docs so they could have a gander at my, apparently unique, eyeballs. Of course. It’s always OK but I like that he asks.

At the appointment’s end, I hugged him. Dunno if that was a weird thing for me to do. In all the years I’ve been seeing him, that was a first. I want to do something for him. Something to bring him a bit of happy. Maybe I’ll dig up all my old Copland CDs and give them to him.

I will sit right down, Waiting for the gift of sound and vision
And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision
Drifting into my solitude,
over my head

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