Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

Human body, the wonder of the world

14th October 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

About the beginning of May, a near imperceptible narrowing of my left eye caught my attention. Completely new to me, I watched it day by day until it became apparent that the narrowing was slowly progressing. Appendicitis and tonsillitis aside, since I had never had a malady that did not correct itself, I expected the problem to reverse itself at some point.

To the contrary, the slit became smaller with the passage of the days and weeks. It was observed by my SVD confreres at our annual June retreat in Bay St. Louis without many remarks. Again, at OMM Church, it was noticed by most without remarks being made, until the time came when it grabbed everyone’s attention and piqued the curiosity of all.

Everyone wanted to know, “What happened?” Frankly, I had no clue about what might have caused it. My speculation was that I had contracted some phase of what is sometimes called “the truckers disease,” brought on by many truckers’ habit of cruising with their left front window down, inviting the air to rush past the left side of their face.

Urban legend or not, the reasoning is that such a face-beating over time weakens the facial muscles, making them susceptible to viruses that may morph into something like Bell’s Palsy, a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. For decades, my left front window down, I cruised many tens of thousands of miles, often in hot weather.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot,” said Albert Einstein. Yes, I think that, except for my intellectual dipping into all sorts of things, I could and should have jumped on the case much sooner by contacting someone like Ophthalmologist Dr. Sam. But only God knows whether that would have made any substantial difference in the outcome.

Realizing at length in August that medical science had to be put into the equation, I called Ophthal­mology Associates and was put in touch with eye surgeon Sam Abdul-Rahim who at first suspected that the problem was a cyst. But then he scheduled a CAT (computed tomography) Scan of my left eye to determine what was going on around the eye.

Results from the CT indicated a swollen lacrimal (tear) duct. Since Dr. Sam wanted to know what caused the swelling, he scheduled me for surgery to obtain a flesh sample from the tear gland on which a biopsy could be done. Under general anesthesia propofol — the drug that took Michael Jackson’s life — I was out like a light for two hours. Thank God, only two.

Rising from my cot to put my clothes on, I was stunned to feel very strong, so that I flexed my muscles, reflecting that my strength had waned for three months. “Samson’s hair has grown back,” I smiled, feeling the rippling effect throughout the muscles of my body.

Alas, I arose the next morning only to find that my renewed muscular surge had all but disappeared, leading me to say, “It seems Delilah has cut Samson’s hair off again.”

Dr. Sam called about 2:15 Thurs­day afternoon, September 19, with the biopsy report on the flesh sample taken from the lacrimal (tear) gland above my left eye. “The report shows that the gland has developed follicular lymphoma,” he told me. “This would be the one if you had to choose the least troublesome and the most curable of all the lymphomas.

“I will contact your primary doctor. She will connect you with an oncologist who will determine what course is to be taken. From what I have seen of similar cases of orbital lymphoma, the oncologist will arrange for radiation of the lacrimal gland. This remedy has worked very well for all the cases of this kind that I have seen.”
Faithful Frank “Paco” Norvel chauffered me to my next rendezvous with Dr. Sam Monday, September 23. The doctor e­ntered with his usual radiant smile and removed the eye pad that I had worn — with twice-daily changes — since September 10. What a relief, even though the eye was nearly closed! I was told to anoint the eye for only four more days.

Amid all this, Paco mentioned my book, War Of The Pews, to the doctor. To our surprise, he said, “Oh, I know all about the book. I purchased it online through Amazon.”

Dr. Sam sent the results of the biopsy to Ro­wena Maclin, D.O., my primary physician who forwarded them to the Center For Can­­­cer and Blood Dis­orders where I must appear for a series of daily radiation beginning October 22 at 8:45 a.m. That should take care of all of it.

No restrictions were placed on my activities as long as my body feels up to the task.

As you have noticed, this is more a column-report than just a column. I will keep you posted on whatever developments take place with my left eye or the rest of me. As always, many thanks for your prayers and thoughtfulness, and may God ever bless you and yours.

This article originally published in the October 14, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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