The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) - THE MIND'S EYE Chapter Two
April 15, 2013

There were a couple of options for treatment to alleviate the symptoms, and somewhat help the vision. Unfortunately, Adolph was not a candidate for them. The constant hemorrhages in his eye were causing scar tissue to form over the retina, blocking out all central vision, and most light. If the scar covers fifty or sixty percent, or less, it is possible to seal off the edges with laser surgery, which will keep it at its present size. Adolph’s scar was too large and his eye was still hemorrhaging.

Andre Gregory and Adolph - 1994A very kind, and visibly upset, doctor had told me on January 31, 1992 (our thirty second wedding anniversary), that Adolph was legally blind.

All he could suggest was for us to get in touch with the Lighthouse and start trying out various visual aids. It was a very long and very grey train ride home to New York from the clinic in Baltimore.

Luckily, we were having dinner that night with a few close friends. We described the day in not terribly great detail, because one can usually read faces and judge the bad news tolerance quotient. Two words were conspicuously left out: “legally blind”. Later in the evening after vodka and wine, I whispered those words into ears and around corners. I guess to provoke more sympathy and to drive home the gravity of the situation to myself as well.

February and March in New York City are not exactly “high season” months for either weather or activity, so we had an empty, cloudy slate on which to begin our journey of adjustment. Through a friend, we found one of the great macular specialists and researchers, just across town. Adolph went to see him and took more exhaustive tests. The conclusions were the same, however the doctor was experimenting with the powerful drug, Interferon. He had some success using it to arrest the scar tissue where it was. He explained that at that moment, Adolph had a tiny slit in the middle of the blockage, which, if he could keep open, would help somewhat with his vision. Time was of the essence. He wanted Adolph to start taking daily injections of Interferon right away.


He cautioned that it was possible for Adolph to have severe side effects, and that it would be necessary for him to have his blood and vital signs checked often with a consulting oncologist. He suggested that Adolph give himself the shot every day. When Adolph explained that he was incapable of cutting off the head of a cooked sardine on his plate, the doctor looked towards me. I stopped him quickly with an ear shattering...”NOT FOR A MILLION DOLLARS!”

Lauren Bacall and Adolph - 1994We hired a series of practical nurses to come every day at five thirty, when Adolph would finish working, and give him a pre-measured shot. Oh yes, he continued to work daily. It was his salvation. And he would strongly encourage the nurses to leave immediately after the shot.

No help needed, thank you very much.

At first, Adolph didn’t seem to experience any disturbing symptoms. After a couple of weeks, he started sleeping twelve or thirteen hours a day, falling asleep in the middle of his sentences, and becoming disoriented. There were changes of doses. He was not supposed to miss a day, but one weekend, he was so sick, that we got frightened, and he stopped until he could check with the oncologist.

All through this time, the “activity” in his eye didn’t seem to let up. Was that good or bad? The doctor chose to view that as a good sign that the Interferon was working. It was evident that Adolph’s eyesight was getting worse. Enlargers, special glasses, and other visual aids that we had either purchased or rented became useless. We started piling all the hardware on one particular shelf in Adolph’s office. As the pile grew larger, our expectations lessened.

Click here to read chapter three.
Add comment