Dad Goes Blind
When my father was in his eighties he made an appointment to see his ophthalmologist because of a sudden visual disturbance when he was driving. He described it as severe blurring whenever he was trying to look up.
The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him, including the fact that there was no change in his long-standing nearsightedness. But because of the nature of the symptoms he sent him for a CAT scan of his brain.
This study revealed a very large arachnoid cyst that seemed to be pressing on the right side of his brain; a finding that caused a great deal of consternation that he might requires delicate neurosurgery to have it removed.
Of course this led to a consultation with a neurosurgeon, who put him through another series of tests, only to conclude that his neurologic function was intact. He opined that my father should simply be watched and periodically reevaluated in lieu of having immediate brain surgery. Apparently the cyst was not pressing on his optic nerve or his brain’s visual centers.
My mother was of the opinion that the cyst may not have been responsible for changes in his sight but seized upon it’s presence to explain any of his personality quirks that she didn’t like. She said she always suspected he must have had some sort of hole in his brain in the first place.
After about six months of medical tests, worries, concerns, and the agonizing family fretting that goes along with wondering if a major brain operation was going to be in the offing, my father solved the problem himself when he realized that he had been using my mother’s farsighted progressive bifocals instead of his own glasses when he got behind the wheel of the car.
Because he was nearsighted, he probably couldn’t see his own glasses case. He then assumed that any glasses in a reachable glasses case would do. When the dust finally settled on the entire affair he still couldn’t “see” what all the fuss had been about. He said:
- So I made a mistake. What’s the big deal anyway? It could happen to anyone.
This was opposed to the situation involving my second wife’s mother, who almost did lose her vision because she had a benign meningioma compressing her optic chiasm. She would certainly have gone blind if she didn’t have it operated on.
Having the middle name Vituperation, she was a bitter, mean-spirited woman, who never had anything kind or nice to say about anyone or anything. So harboring thoughts like my mother’s theory that my father’s cyst may have altered his personality, I began to hope that my mother-in law would come out of the operation a bit sweeter, kinder or gentler than when she went into it.
Unfortunately, because that was not the case, I suggested to my wife that if the tumor recurred and required repeat operative intervention, perhaps we could ask the neurosurgeon to look around for her Mean Streak. If he could excise that part of her brain along with the pesky mass of balled up tumor cells, life would be good.
- Doctor, does a mean streak show up on a CAT scan of the brain?
- Only if it’s malignant. Last one I removed left the patient totally mute.
- Do tell.
The Waiting Room
- Excuse me miss, but I’ve been waiting here to see the doctor for about an hour and I’m getting a little bit annoyed. I am a new patient and I do not care to be treated like this. It’s a bad first impression. So can you tell me when the doctor will see me?
- I’m sorry sir, but I don’t think it’s possible that the doctor is going to be able to see you at all today.
- What? That’s ridiculous. I’ve had this appointment for three months; I’ve already waited here for over an hour today and now you’re telling me the doctor can’t see me? This is outrageous. You haven’t heard the end of this one. I’m going to file a complaint with the State Medical Board.
- Please calm down, go back and have a seat sir. The doctor is running behind but I assure you that he will be with you in just a few more minutes.
- But I thought you just said the doctor couldn’t see me?
- That is true sir. The doctor will be with you shortly, but the doctor will still not be able to see you.
- What kind of nonsense is that?
- The doctor is blind.
Assumptions: They are false and they are limiting. But they are also reversible