A Sight Worth Feeling (Excerpt from Chapter One)

July, 2008

“So, doctor, you’re comfortable with the decision to wait and watch?”

He nodded and at the same time replied, “Yes”.

I knew from past experience that sometimes under stress we can misinterpret information that is told to us.  So, before leaving his office; I questioned him once again just to confirm that I heard him correctly.

After going over our earlier conversation, I was satisfied and left feeling reassured.

I didn’t get a second opinion because I had complete confidence in this doctor.  It was a decision I would forever regret.

Nine months later, on April 30, 2009, I was laid-off from my job where I had been working as an admin assistant for the last three years.  This would usually have bothered me to no end and brought me to tears, but I realized this was the perfect opportunity to forge ahead with a project that had been on my mind since my mother passed away the year before.  I wanted to tell the world about some very special people in my life who played a vital role in my upbringing.  They were the children of Italian immigrants who came to the United States during the early 1920s.  Inspired by their memory and the unique relationship I had with them, I was excited about having something to keep me busy while I applied and interviewed for jobs.  I began formulating an outline in my head.  I even thought of a title, “Aunts and Uncles – The Other Parents”.

I was unemployed for just over a month when I finally plunged into my dream.  I was having trouble choosing a starting point for my book.  The thought of writing it seemed a lot easier than it actually was.

Little did I know that mind-blowing circumstances would relieve me of having to struggle with where or how to begin.  I only got as far as a partial outline when my project came to an abrupt halt after receiving the shocking news that I had eye cancer.

As it turned out, after some time had passed since my first visit with the Dr. Taylor in 2008, I noticed the lesion was still present.  So I scheduled a follow-up visit with him for
May 1, 2009.

At the time I called to make that appointment, I had no idea I would be unemployed when the day arrived.  As long as I was working, I could afford to pay the extra out-of-network costs I would incur for Dr. Taylor’s services.  Now that I was unemployed, this was no longer an option. Even so, as a precaution, I kept the appointment with him.

During that exam, once again, I was relieved when he confirmed his original diagnosis from the year before; the lesion was benign.

“Mrs. Arena, the lesion has increased only minimally, but I recommend having it excised and biopsied.”

“Doctor Taylor, I agree and it was my intention during this visit to schedule a date for you to do the surgery, but things have changed.”

I explained that I lost my job the day before and would need to find another doctor who could do the procedure.  I asked if he would give me the name of a few of his peer colleagues who were not associated with this hospital.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy finding an Oculoplastic Ophthalmologist since my recent search efforts within my local area produced zero names.

“You need to find them on your own.” He offered.

A lot of help he was.

Fortunately, Patrick was employed and had medical benefits so I was able to go on his plan.  I found an in-network specialist, also located in Jacksonville, and scheduled a consultation with him to discuss removing the lesion.  Since I was previously told on two different occasions it was benign, I didn’t feel it was an urgent matter and made the appointment for the early part of June.

The day of my first visit with Dr. Ernst Nicolitz shook my composure like a volcano that had been dormant for 1000 years and suddenly spewed fire.  It marked the beginning of numerous revelations about the one thing I dreaded the most.

After he conducted a brief examination of the area, he gave his opinion.

“Mrs. Arena, I don’t think the lesion is benign, in fact, I’m sure it is malignant.”

Feeling shocked and irked at the same time, I responded, “How could this be, just recently my former doctor diagnosed it as benign?  Look at his report, it’s all there!”

With a molasses coated drawl, he responded, “Mrs. Arena, I hope I’m wrong.”

Something in the way he said those words made me think that he wasn’t.

He stressed the need to have it excised as soon as possible.  I could tell he was concerned for me.

Although, I wasn’t happy with his diagnosis, I decided I liked him; he was sincere and compassionate.

I didn’t know it then, but, I would be forever indebted to Dr. Nicolitz and he would always hold a special place in my heart.


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