Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 25


Today's Challenge: 3rd person post. Write about a memory and use 3rd person.

At Columbia College in Chicago I majored in fiction writing. (Would you like fries with that? Will that be for here or to go?) I have always loved writing and the power of words. Here's a memory, one I'll never forget. It's the day that changed my life forever.


She sat in the hospital waiting room with her father. In a few moments the nurse would call her name. Her heart beat fast and her eyes throbbed. The pain in her eyes was worse than not being able to see. Fourteen months is a long time to be in pain. Various doctors had explained to her that the pain was because of a muscle spasm in her eye. A tiny muscle cramped and wouldn’t let go. Why? How many times had she asked that? Sixteen doctors didn’t know the answer. The 17th doctor thought he might have an answer. It’s why she was in the waiting room. She pushed her black eye shades toward her nose. The folded white cane in her hands had a rubber band around it. She ran her fingers under the rubber band, feeling it stretch and tighten and stretch again.

“Marie Smith?” A woman’s voice asked.

Her heart caught in her throat. “I’m Marie,” she managed to say. She stood and extended the cane. It snapped into a long stick. Months of living in the dark had taught her to navigate without sight. She didn't need her sight back. She needed for the pain to stop. The tiniest ray of light felt like a thousand needles jabbing her eyes. Behind her eye shades Marie’s eyes cramped tighter with every movement. An invisible grapefruit spoon gouged behind her eyes, cutting tearing. Crying out didn’t help. Narcotics didn’t help. Maybe, just maybe, Dr. #17 would help. She listened for the nurse to speak again and found her way forward.

Hands guided her to a chair where she sat down. The room smelled of betadine, alcohol, and medicine. She rolled up her sleeve. Dr. 17 explained that if his hunch was right, and the medication worked, Marie would be able to see. The effect would last a few minutes and then disappear. He asked, “Are you ready?”

Was she? Was she ready to learn if she had Myasthenia Gravis? A rare neuromuscular disease that is progressive, incurable and can be fatal? Was she ready? No. Yes. NO! She felt her head nod. Hands held her arm, cleaned it with alcohol and inserted an IV needle into her vein. The needle missed. It always missed. The hands turned the needle around hoping to puncture the vein. Perhaps they were unaware they were mining human flesh? Marie winced. Voices apologized.

Strips of tape held the needle down. An IV dripped cool fluid into her arm. Dr. #17 injected a medication called Tensilon into Marie’s IV. In two heartbeats, her whole body relaxed. The muscles lost their strength and she melted into the back of the chair. She opened her mouth to speak and saliva drooled out of her mouth. Before she could speak the doctor took off her dark glasses. The light in the room hurt her eyes for a moment.

“Can you see anything?”

She looked around and saw the world come into focus. Blurry, because she wasn’t wearing her glasses, but normal blurry. Not crazy insane nightmare blurry like it had been. The doctor handed her a book. It was a tawdry romance novel one of the nurses in the nursing station had with her.

He opened it to a random page. “Read this for us.”

She nodded and began to read. Out loud she read an entire page of the novel and then her vision blurred. The gift of sight disappeared. The world became a blurry haze with double vision. Nystagmus made her eyes move uncontrollably. The medication wore off and the disease returned.

Four times the doctor repeated the test and four times Marie could see.

It has a name. Myasthenia gravis. It is a real disease. How many doctors had told her it was all in her head? How many had asked if she was under stress? Ten? Fourteen? The only stress in her life was the invisible red hot barbecue fork in the center of her eyes. Now it was gone. Forever gone.

Dr. #17 gave her a prescription for Mestinon. The little white tablet restored her sight. Marie could see her husband and look into his eyes again. She could see her little girl. The last time she saw Evelyn she was six. Now Evelyn was eight and beautiful. Everything Marie saw was beautiful. Purple flowers. Trees. A falcon in the sky. Wood paneling. Ketchup stains. Cat hair on the sofa. One white tablet restored her sight. Because a doctor cared enough to search for answers she can see again. How amazing is it to be able to see.


  1. Your posts always leave me speechless but this one left me with tears too. <3

  2. Thanks Christina. That was an incredible day. Two weeks later I found out I had cancer. My world spun upside down all over again. However, ever since that experience doctors take me seriously. No one has ever asked, "Are you under any stress?" If I could speak to a room full of doctors I would tell them to take the mental illness script and shove it up their asses. Check weird diseases first because they are out there and real.

    The whole time I was waiting for a diagnosis a tumor was growing in the center of my chest and wrapping around my aorta like a snake.

    I'm still damn angry over this. I think I will go to my grave damn angry. And also grateful forever to Dr. 17.

  3. Aw, this made me cry. Amazing post.

  4. Thanks Jacquie. Glad you liked it. It was an incredible life changing day.



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