I share here some recent music. One of my favorite songs that I wrote at the age of 19 is called “How We Don’t Care.” I will post a story for it soon. Clicking the blue links below play recordings of my song:
Life was getting difficult for me. My eyes hurt. It seemed that everything about my eye condition had accelerated. Only a week before, I saw a specialist outside my HMO. It turned out that the fogginess that bothered me was actually a result of seeing through the cloudy edge of my remaining cataract; it wasn’t just a floater that I was told I’d eventually get used to.
For two months it bothered me how I wasn’t getting used to it. I just couldn’t stand the irritating curtain in my eye. Then both my eyes began to hurt and the pain gnawed at me. When I shared this with my friend, Dr. Sam, he encouraged me to push my HMO to do something sooner. Otherwise it was two weeks until my appointment. I share our correspondence below, with his words in brown:
Judy, I would certainly advocate getting this done sooner. Tell them that you are essentially visually disabled until the procedure is done. It’s only 12 days away, but it sounds like it will be a long 12 days, can you go through a patient ombudsman? After all, your HMO should have been on this much sooner. It was only because you went out of the system that you discovered you needed this done. I’m so sorry it’s getting worse! I know you have that big art project; feel better and let me know how it’s going! Sam
I wrote this message to my primary doctor:
Hi Dr. , I was given an appointment on April 1st. The problem is my condition is worsening and in both of my eyes now. I feel like there is a gray curtain in my vision. It is very uncomfortable and my eyes are watering all the time. Can you please contact the head of ophthalmology? He denied my request for an outside opinion and is allowing me to suffer – because now I have information from a doctor outside this HMO stating that my condition is treatable. I am more than willing to see a different doctor, or even go to a private doctor. I really don’t want to go on disability for a problem that is correctable when quickly treated. Please find out if I can have this taken care of ASAP! Thank you!
I received a phone call giving me an appointment a week sooner. I shared the news with Sam. He wrote back:
You might want to verify that it is an appointment at which you will be treated. Show up with a white cane and a German Shepherd that should help! Sam
Thanks, Sam. Good idea. I’ll call tomorrow. I have to steel myself to face a doctor who might be pretty huffy that I complained and was demanding. It’s only my life that has been totally affected by this. I’ll remind myself of that. It was so bad tonight. I had dinner with friends and sat there in a fog. It was hard to converse or think.
You were advocating for your health; every patient has the right to do that. It’s your vision that is getting worse, not his, and you are paying your HMO to take care of you. They dropped the ball here!
I share links here to my story about how I reconnected with Sam when he left a message on my blog. We dated in high school:
Now I was counting the days. My nerves were frayed. I cried easily and had a constant headache. I forged ahead on my illustration assignment, but my eyes were constantly hurting.
It was Saturday and I had only four more days until my appointment. I thought about going to Urgent Care because of my pain. I wished I could just go to sleep and wake up the day I’d be treated. As discouraged as I felt, I held onto the knowledge that I’d have relief soon.
Although I felt like hibernating and staying in bed, I decided to stick with my routine. I drove to see my mother at her nursing home for our weekly Saturday lunch outing. As I sat trying to hold it together, my mother continuously beamed at me. Her dementia did not allow her to converse anymore, but I could still feel her love. I tried hard not to appear distraught.
It was after I dropped my mother back at her nursing home that I received the phone call.
It was so beautiful and amazing that it left me breathless.
I believe God definitely sent me a message to help me.
I wrote my story with flashbacks interspersed. They are in purple italics.
“Judy, it’s Jeanne! Do you remember me?”
My heart skipped a beat as I yelled, “Are you kidding? Of course! I would never forget you!”
It was three days after Jason’s funeral. I was numb and in a fog. But Jeanne and her husband Josh were at the door. They had come over to make breakfast and I was so grateful to see them. I was filled with desperation. There was no one else who understood my desolation – no one. It was because Jeanne had experienced a stillbirth many years before; to me, she was an expert about grief. Her explanations comforted me and I could never get enough. But it always led to the same place. I needed to know when the agony would subside. Sadly, it had only just begun.
Jeanne was crying as she said, “Judy, I was thinking of you and looked you up on the Internet. I have been reading your blog. Oh my god, you had me crying and laughing! I saw Jason’s pictures, heard your music and caught up on your life. You are such an incredible person and a gifted writer. I am so excited about where you are going with your life. I couldn’t wait to call you!”
Then that explained the 200 views I had on my blog one day last week. I knew someone was reading a lot of pages and I had a premonition about it. I often wondered about certain people from my past and hoped to hear from them someday. Jeanne was definitely one of them.
Jeanne explained why she had looked me up. It was because of her anniversary of the heart for Jillian. Her beloved little girl would have been 25 years old had she lived. She said, “There’s no one I can share that day with anymore. My ex was the only one and that’s over. But then I thought of you; I went on the Internet to look you up.”
I told Jeanne I had a calendar with events marked on it. Her daughter’s anniversary of the heart was there and whenever I saw it, I always remembered Jeanne and what she taught me about grief through Jillian’s death. I would never forget how much she helped me during my horrible grief.
I wailed to Jeanne – I couldn’t smell Jason anymore. I was forgetting him! Jeanne was patient and gentle when she said she had felt the same way. She said that the fear of forgetting was very real. I cried and cried to her.
Jillian had died on the day she was born. I remember Jeanne breaking my heart when she shared how Josh carried his tiny dead infant daughter throughout the hospital so he could show everyone how perfect and beautiful she was.
I wasn’t feeling better. I wished I were dead. The only time I felt better was when I was with other people suffering the same way. I went to support groups several times a week; I searched high and low for them. Some support groups weren’t specifically about losing a child and weren’t as helpful for me. But it was better than nothing.
I wanted Jeanne to tell me about the group that helped her so much after her loss. I begged her, but she kept hesitating. After constantly badgering her, she finally told me why. She said, “Judy, I don’t want you to go this group. I’m concerned that you might say that your loss is greater because your child lived five years. This group is for infant loss, and there are people there suffering through miscarriages. If you say your loss is greater that would be very hurtful for them.”
I always remembered her words. I have written a lot about grief and about grief comparisons. It breaks my heart recalling how Jeanne and Josh were there for us, while constantly hearing from my family, friends and even from me how their loss was not comparable to mine. I totally readjusted my thinking after I healed from my grief. I do not believe in comparing grief anymore.
Both of us continued babbling. Jeanne’s tone was firm when she mentioned that she wanted to talk to me about my singing. She reminded me that I had performed at her wedding. I’d forgotten! It was the one and only time I had ever done something like that. She gushed to me about how much she loved my voice. My presence and the song I played at her wedding was something unforgettable to her. It was such a unique and beautiful song, but I no longer remembered how to play it. I wasn’t sure when to mention to her that I knew about her divorce because I had run into Josh.
I loved playing 70’s songs. Judy Collins had a sensitive, sweet song named “Since You’ve Asked.” I was extremely honored to play it for my friends’ wedding. The wedding was held outdoors and it was a warm day. There were orchards and sweet blossoms that intoxicated me as I gently fingerpicked my song and sang from my heart. It was a beautiful moment; singing next to my good friends with their eyes locked in love.
We talked about what had happened to our mutual friends. I had met Jeanne and her husband Josh at a workshop called “Making Marriage Work.” Just writing those words gave me a pang in my heart. Perhaps the class did work somewhat, as I had stayed married for many years through tribulations that most couples broke apart from. And the class did not work for Josh and Jeanne either.
Six years ago, I was shopping at the market when I heard a voice behind me. I was stunned; it was my friend Josh whom I hadn’t seen in seven years. I couldn’t believe it. He had gone through gastric bypass surgery and lost over 100 pounds; I hardly recognized him. He told me that he had gotten divorced and lived in the area. I took his business card and a week later I invited him to dinner at our house. My husband and I caught up with him over that dinner. I felt very sad when he talked about Jeanne. I realized that I was hearing only one side of the story. As he spoke about the deterioration of their relationship, most of his words flew over my head because it sounded so painful. Even though my husband and I talked about seeing him again, it was the last time we saw Josh.
Jeanne told me she certainly understood about the sadness of divorce after a long marriage. It was then when I told her how I had seen Josh. Because of my openness, I mentioned that I hadn’t believed the negative things he said about her during our reunion with him. I did not tell her what he said. But I regretted that remark instantly. Her voice revealed she was hurt as she brightly said that she had never said anything negative about him. She didn’t feel that it was fair for him to have done that. I certainly agreed.
We continued talking for a long time, until it was time for both of us to hang up. As I said goodbye, I felt exhilarated and looked forward to seeing her and catching up more. She didn’t live too far away from me.
Later that day, I tried to remember why my husband and I had lost touch with Josh and Jeanne. We had been close friends for about 20 years. At first, I thought it had to do with the problems I faced with my living children. For at least a decade, I was so encompassed with their challenges that there was little time left in my life for friendship. Then I remembered that they moved to another state and that truly was the reason. But they did end up moving back and I last saw them at my fortieth birthday party, which was a surprise for me.
Jeanne’s phone call meant so much to me!
It gave me the strength to cope a few more days until my eye appointment.
Up until her phone call, I had been prepping myself. I didn’t want to burst into tears when I went to the appointment with my eye surgeon. I didn’t want to yell either. I was overwhelmed with my eye discomfort and it deeply burdened my life.
At 53, I always felt rather young to have had cataract surgery, despite all the years of playing tennis in the sun without sunglasses.
But one of the first things Jeanne and I talked about was the fact that she had also had cataract surgery. It reminded me that it wasn’t as rare as I thought.
She said she not only had cataract surgery, but she also experienced the same complication I had.
Below is an explanation I found on Wikipedia:
The crystalline lens capsule is retained and used to contain and position the Intraocular Lens Implant. Months or years after the cataract operation, the crystalline lens capsule can become opaque. This happens in about 30% of eyes, and it can happen months or years after the cataract surgery. A laser capsulotomy is used to reduce this opacity of the crystalline lens capsule after cataract surgeries.
Jeanne said it was awful for her too, but a laser treatment had fixed it completely on one eye. Her other eye would need it soon. I listened because it was so amazing for me.
Her timing stunned me. Sometimes I believe there are no coincidences in life. This was one of those times.
I received a wonderful message and it was a beautiful moment for me receiving her phone call. Jeanne had counseled me during a horrible time during my bereavement. She was my mentor and I was her desperate pupil. Now I was someone who was reaching out to help others who were grieving.
I took in what that meant.
I savored it and lifted myself back off the ground.
© 2013 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.