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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Neuro Ophthalmologist

Today I had an important follow-up test with the neuro ophthalmologist. He is the man who originally ordered the MRI that found the tumor in September. It was about two hours of tests, very thorough. Lots of eye drops, lots of clicking on a remote, lots of bright lights.

At the end, the neuro ophthalmologist came back in the room. He grinned.

“Your vision is practically normal. All signs confirm your tumor is gone.”

“Great!” I said.

“Congratulations, you beat it!”

He offered his hand to shake.

I took it.

I was going to say thank you, but in all honesty my voice cracked.

It was a sweet moment, one of the sweetest of my life. There are moments when two men are alone where it is okay to weep. The last time this happened was in 1989 when it was me in the audience and Kevin Costner on the screen in “Field of Dreams.” That was a sweet moment too.

I gathered up my coat to leave, relieved. I said, “It’s been great knowing you. Which way out?”

He motioned me back into my chair and cleared his throat. “Your tumor probably will grow back.”


As a matter of fact, my brother tirelessly researched my condition in the days before surgery, and I knew this was an eventuality but had forgotten. Yet—regardless of what I knew—there was only one path everyone agreed upon in the beginning. Brain surgery. Get it out. Recover. Then look at your options. Here we are now.

“How long until it returns?” I asked.

He said, “No one thought yours would balloon back just two weeks after the first surgery. That was a record!”

I wondered who won big in the office pool.

“Everyone is different,” he concluded.

“How long?”

He went on to tell me, in so many words, he didn’t know. No one could know.

In a few weeks, I will have an MRI to take a peek at how things are progressing. We are currently tracking a speck. If everything looks about the same, I’ll have more vision tests and another MRI a few months after that. Then a few months later I’ll have it all again. Then again.

I have many concerned eyes on me now, tracking every little bit, for the rest of my life.

And now I have what is called a “pre-existing condition.”

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