Category Archives: Dr. Joseph Mackey

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway

Scary? Scary How?

Just a tidbit from Bill Maher’s latest spew:

“If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he already would have done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Chaney over to The Hague. Here’s what Obama actually did: he cut taxes and spending…, he didn’t go on a spending spree, he didn’t break up the ‘too big to fail’ banks — they’ve only gotten bigger and fail-y-er. That’s not what liberals wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted…. [U]nder Obama, there’s more drilling than ever. That’s not what environmentalists wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted. Obama spent most of last year conceding the Republican premise that government needed cutting. That’s not what progressives wanted; that’s what the Tea Party wanted. The Dow was at 7949 when he took office, now it’s at 12,000 and over. Corporates profits are at their highest ever. If he’s a socialist, he’s a lousy one. He could not be less threatening if he was walking home with iced tea and Skittles.”

I DUNNO. WHADDA YOU WANNA DO?

Don’t do a single thing today until you visit the Pencil’s GO! Events Listings.

SLEEPLESS IN SUCCESSVILLE

I am a world champion napper. Napping is one of humankind’s finest pursuits. A day spent without a nap is a day wasted.

I’ve been partial to naps ever since I emerged from the womb and yawned.

Imagine how thrilled I was when my cardiologist told me that due to my congenitally malformed heart, I ought to take a nap whenever I feel the need for one. (Almost as giddy as when he told me drinking a glass of wine and eating a piece of chocolate a day would be of great benefit to me — I nearly kissed him.)

Now, I love working at the Book Corner save for one terrible drawback — Margaret, the owner of the place, won’t let me take a nap while I’m on the clock. The tyrant.

Apparently, much of the world seems to be able to get by without naps. Poor souls.

And, if I can believe what I read, there are those who have energy to burn, who are on the go, go, go, all day long, who can get by with only three or four hours of sleep in a night.

Crazy, no?

Do I Have To Do This?

Bill Clinton is one of those people. I suppose any number of presidents and aspirants to that sleepless office have less than the average bear’s need for slumber.

I’ve met dozens of people who are great successes in business and entertainment, many of whom view sleeping at night as a kind of annoyance. They can’t get anything done when they’re asleep, they complain. They’re aghast at the idea of taking a nap.

Man.

It seems as though the real hard-chargers in this mixed-up world, people like Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Wozniak, Jamie Dimon and any Mexican drug cartel boss worth his salt rarely go to sleep.

Who Has Time To Sleep?

Maybe that’s the key to their fabulous success. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump and Lady Gaga are who they are. They’re blazing trails while the rest of us are laying on the sofa.

Oh, sure, they have piles of dough. Big deal. I’ve got my naps.

I was thinking about all this yesterday when I went to go see young Dr. Joe Mackey at the Eye Center. I went in for my one-week follow up exam after eye surgery. The verdict: All is well. That’s pretty much all Mackey said to me.

As always, he was in a mad rush.

I’ll bet he’s one of the people who don’t sleep much. The guy darts from room to room like a crystal meth fiend. He once told me that on his day for surgery he performs 14 or so procedures. Sheesh! The other days of the week he’s peering into and jiggering with the eyes of dozens and dozens of people each day.

If I tried to keep up his pace for fifteen minutes I’d have to take a nap. A good long one — 45 minutes, maybe, or an hour.

What An Exhausting Day!

On the bell curve of human sleep needs, he and I occupy the opposite flanges.

Guys like Mackey, big time sports stars, Hollywood actors and actresses, corporate CEOs, big city mayors — all sorts of high achievers seem to be racing every minute of the day. And their days last from before dawn often until after midnight.

Mackey could have elected to live a nice, relaxed lifestyle. He could have opened his own opthalmology practice in some far off locale where he’d see a couple of patients a day. That’s what I would have done. He could do one eye surgery a week. Maybe one every couple of weeks.

Then he could take a nap.

You’re My Third Patient This Month!

But he chose to go to work for a multi-million-dollar eyeball factory. The Eye Center has dozens of employees, its own surgery center in the basement, enough high-tech, high-buck machines to fill a medium-sized warehouse, and most likely a huge debt load. If you work for old man Grossman and his partners, you’d better be ready to hustle from room to room, checking patients out and sending them home, calling for the next one, chop chop, saying only what you need to say, generating revenue.

This, said Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in ” The Godfather Part II,” is the business we’ve chosen.

We talk a lot about doctors needing a comforting bedside manner these days. We need the doc to hold our hands while she tells us to lay off the pie and the french fries. That’s fine for a general practitioner. They have to lay the oil on us if only to get us to open up and tell them about the ache in our knees or the funny mole on our back.

But specialists like Mackey don’t need to cajole information out of us. They’ve got special skills and devices that can tell them a hundred times more about us than we ever could. Then, when it’s time to act, they wield other devices like Jedi knights, they flutter their fingers over our most fragile organs with a deftness that borders on magic.

Has The Patient Been Prepped?

Mackey shined some tiny beacons into my eyes and muttered notes to an assistant who transcribed his impressions at the keyboard. “Terrific,” he said. “Excellent.” “Very good.” “Healing well.” “Vision better than can be expected.”

I felt flattered, as if somehow I had a hand in the whole procedure. “Yeah,” I said, “I feel great. No complaints.”

Dr. Mackey recoiled slightly from his machine, as if he were surprised I was there. And you know what? He probably was.

He’d been commenting on his own handiwork. He’s a borderline magician and he knows it.

Voila — You Can See!

And the truth is, without that confidence, without that arrogance, he wouldn’t be one-tenth as good as he is.

How big does your ego have to be to carve up another person’s eyeball and hope not only that you don’t blind the poor sap but can actually make him see better?

Answer: Huge.

Mackey pulled his diagnostic machine away and wished me a pleasant weekend. And like that he was out the door. He moved so fast I thought there’d be a sonic boom.

Dr. Joe Mackey is of a different breed than I am. Maybe even a different species. But that’s what makes him so spectacularly good.

Me? I’m gonna take a nap.

The Pencil Today:

THE (VIDEO) QUOTE

“YES, I CAN SEE NOW.”

I’ve rejoined the binocular world.

The excruciatingly young Dr. Joseph Mackey (when I see him, I have to resist the urge to tousle his hair and say, “How’s Little Joey doin’ today?”) carved up my left eyeball yesterday and whaddya know? I can see again.

First time in a few years.

As The Loved One drove me home, I peered at the world as if for the first time. Admittedly, because my pupil was max-dilated and because certain topical anesthetic meds were still splashing around in my left socket, things looked fairly psychedelic at first.

For instance, the grass was a sort of blue-black in color, the sky greenish-gray, and it felt as though I was viewing the sun from the planet Mercury, but still, I could see.

Blades of grass. Clover. Fence slats. The person sitting on my left. I had no idea how much of the world I’d been missing.

My pal Dr. Alex Straiker (a scientist, not a medic) tells me that’s called the Clean Windshield Effect. You drive your car for weeks or months with a filthy windshield that you can hardly see out of, then one day a big rain comes along or you splurge on a car wash and you’re amazed at how much you can see now.

T-Lo got a big kick out of me pointing out everything I could see. Heck, when we got home I looked out the window and marveled, “Oh my god, I can see the screen in the window!” as if I’d just peered upon the Great Sphinx of Giza for the first time.

“Oh My God…!”

I saw Little Dr. Joey this AM for my next-day follow-up exam and he pronounced my eye in fine shape. He asked me if I had any complaints or problems and I told him no. “It’s perfect,” I said.

The truth is, my vision is not quite perfect at this moment — yesterday’s dilation is still lingering and I’ve got a good bit of corneal swelling, which is to be expected. Little Dr. Joey tells me my vision will get even better over the next few days.

Wow!

Anyway, this whole shebang brought to mind that fabulous scene in the vid above. Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights” is without a doubt one of the ten greatest movies ever made in any language. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor.

The movie has to do with the Little Tramp pretending to be a rich man and doing all sorts of things to get money to pay for an operation on the blind Flower Girl’s eyes. He gets the dough but in the process becomes wanted by the law and winds up a penniless hobo again. The Flower Girl never knows that he’s as broke as she is.

Then one day, as portrayed in the vid, he happens upon her as she works in her new job in a flower shop. Naturally she doesn’t recognize him just by looking at him.

But then when she touches his hand, she recognizes him.

I’ve seen City Lights a dozen times and still cry over that scene every time. Two images from the scene have become iconic in cinematic history: when she extends her hand with the flower in it to him and when he smiles coyly after she declares that yes, she can see now.

Hell, I may as well give you my top ten movies list here and now. I’m not going to do my regular pontificating because I’m too busy telling all my Soma Coffee mates about how cool it is to see again.

So, enjoy. And come back for the rants tomorrow.

BIG MIKE’S TEN (ACTUALLY, ELEVEN) BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME

The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (they have to be listed as a single entry)

City Lights

The Third Man

“The Third Man”

North by Northwest

Casablanca

An American in Paris

White Heat

“White Heat”

Some Like It Hot

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Not the Keanu Reaves abomination but the Robert Wise original)

Fort Apache (Trust me, this is an anti-war movie despite being made by John Ford and starring John Wayne.)

“Fort Apache”

There you have it, in no particular order. Feel free to argue with me in the comments section. You’d be wrong, but you can still argue.

See you tomorrow.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

When I was a kid and this was on TV, I would run out of the room when the robot came on screen. Then I’d creep back in because I wanted to be scared to death again.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There is less to this than meets the eye.” — Tallulah Bankhead

IT’S A MIRACLE!

So, this little old guy named Boshkov walks into the Book Corner yesterday while I’m holding court.

There are about five people clustered around the check-out counter in a semi-circle, listening to me tell them the tallest of tales, the most dramatic of which is about how the docs are going to slice my eyeball open tomorrow morning and implant a hunk of plastic where my old lens used to be.

I tell them I’ve been virtually blind in my left eye for a couple of years. Then I confide that maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t have been driving all this time, considering I’ve been a cyclops for so long. Dan the Jeweler tells me there was an early, two-time Indy 500 champion who was actually blind in one eye. The rest of us marvel at this and reaffirm to each other how important it is to have binocular vision when driving, for perspective and all that, you see.

Tommy Milton, Half-Blind Speed King

There’s a lot of nodding going on and then one of the women remarks what a brave trouper I am, facing such a gory procedure. I give her the old “Aw gee, me?” treatment, although her comment is what I was after in the first place.

Meanwhile, the little old guy Boshkov is standing just outside the semicircle, waiting patiently with a few bucks in his hand, listening.

“Oh my gosh,” I say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”

He tells me it’s quite alright as he walks up the counter. He lays his few bucks down to pay in advance for Sunday’s New York Times. I ring him up and check his name off on our reserve list.

“Pardon me for eavesdropping,” he says in a courtly, old European manner, “but did I hear you say you were having eye surgery tomorrow?”

“Why, yes I did,” I say.

“Cataract?”

“Yup.”

“Believe me. I’ve had it done. It’s nothing. Don’t be afraid,” he says.

Which I’m not, although I’m also not thrilled he’s revealing this inside information to my audience.

“It’s Nothing.”

“You see,” he continues, “you’ll be able to see again.” He points to his own eye. “It’s a miracle!”

Now, the crowd turns to him and congratulates him. Well, hell, I suppose I can share a bit of the glory. Finally little old Boshkov tells us he has to be buzzing off. He turns to leave but then halts, turns back to me, and iterates, “It’s a miracle!”

Well, tomorrow morning is now today. My miracle day.

I’m due at Doc Grossman’s Eye Center of Southern Indiana at 9:45am. Dr. Joe Mackey will be handling the switchblade. I’m lucky if he’s half my age. The profile of him in the slick, glossy pamphlet for the Eye Center says he’s recently married. He probably had to get parental permission to do so.

He’d better be good. When I saw him a couple of weeks ago, he came thisclose to saying he can do this procedure in his sleep. I hope he’s awake, regardless.

Mackey

I should be out of the place by noon.

I may or may not add to this post after I get home, depending on how wonderful I feel, thanks to the substances they’ll have doped me up with prior to carving up my eye.

If I’m too blissed out, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Fingers crossed for a miracle.

THESE EYES

The Guess Who hit from my favorite year, 1969.

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