Friday, July 22, 2011

I Drove A Cataract...

A while back, I shared a column describing my experience with prostate surgery. The date of that surgery was December 9, 2010. I’ll always remember that date as my prostate gland joined the ranks of my previously removed tonsils in 1941 and my gall bladder in 1994.

Recently, my wife quipped, “Now that you have all new parts, I won’t have to trade you in.” I smiled ever so slightly. The smile was acknowledging her worthy attempt to say something cute. The “slightly” was because in my mind, I knew that I did not have new parts. The old were removed but nothing was replaced.

The urologist who laid waste my prostate gland had an interesting name, that being Dr. Tim Goodson. Remember that name, especially the “Good” part. Being somewhat apprehensive about losing such a sensitive body part, there was indeed comfort in knowing that my surgeon’s name contained such positive implications.

Another reason I wanted to share Dr. Goodson’s name with you is because that on April 14, 2011, I was admitted to the clinic to undergo double-cataract surgery. The Ophthalmologist who performed this surgery was named Dr. Phil Suffridge.

Do you see my quandary? I had just been spoiled by an Urologist named Goodson. Now I was expected to risk my very precious eyesight to an Ophthalmologist whose name sounded to me a whole lot like “suffer.” After studying his name carefully, I decided that Suffridge was safe enough so I calmed down.

The term “double” in double-cataract surgery means simply that both eyes will be involved. The procedure, however, is performed on one eye at a time. When the first eye heals then the second surgery is scheduled. In my case, the doctor decided to operate first on my right eye.

I remember lying on my back in a brilliantly-lit room. There were a few people standing around but the only one I knew was Dr. Suffridge. I slipped into a twi-light zone and could hear clinking sounds. Little circles of color kept spinning around the room. There was uncertainty on my part as to whether I was awake or asleep.

During the surgery, a strong urge compelled me to begin telling the doctor about Beaumont and my hometown memories. These stories were extremely interesting to me and I babbled away, explaining in fine detail and with great exuberance all about growing up in the South Park area of Beaumont. I felt so refreshed at finding an audience willing to listen to the tales of my youth.

Suddenly, right in the middle of my explaining about that beautiful organ at the Jefferson Theater in downtown Beaumont, a booming, authoritative voice commanded, “Mr. Hamby, stop talking. When you talk, it makes your eyes move.” I was insulted but decided not to talk anymore. I continued to drift in and out of reality.

Soon, Doc said, “Okay, we’re all done.” I looked around and discovered my right eye sported a patch. “Come by in the morning and I’ll remove the patch.” That was good news to me because with that patch, my depth-perception was at a standstill.

May 12, 2011, I returned to the clinic and had the other eye corrected. Now, I have new glasses and can see better than since I was a kid.

Some of the symptoms of cataracts are cloudy or blurry vision, faded colors, sensitivity to light, and/or poor night vision. One good web site for additional information is

Anyway, my experiences with prostate surgery and double cataract surgery were good and I didn’t suffer, thanks to Doctors Goodson and Suffridge.

My next round in early August will be something they call a “colonoscopy.” But do not expect an in-depth description of that procedure.

Winston Hamby

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's A Furr Piece To Farr Point...

Spellbinding! That’s the only way to describe it. All the way from “Splat!” to “Eddie, don’t you know that yet?” I have not read such an enthralling book in a long, long time. Some of you know with many of my columns, I tend to get ahead of the story. This is another one of those times. So here we go.

When I was four years old, my family moved from Nederland to South Park in Beaumont. The year was 1941 and there were not many houses in the 1300 block of Pipkin. Thus there were not a lot of kids in the neighborhood. Nearly a year later, someone moved into the house behind our house. They lived on Edwin Street and our backyards met at the hedge row.

I watched our new neighbors as they moved their belongings into the new house. There was a tall, slender lady. The first thing I noticed was her red hair. Don’t know why but I always liked red hair. Then there was a little boy about my age. All I could tell from my vantage point was that he was skinny, had slender legs with boney knees and his hair was curly. I was too shy to venture closer, so I just watched.

A few days later, a new friend on Pipkin Street came over to play. His name was J. D. Middleton. His two front teeth were missing. My mom called him “snaggled-toothed.” Anyway, J. D. told me that a new family had moved in behind our house on Edwin Street and that they had a boy named, “Thammy Heaven.” I cupped my ear closer and asked, “Thammy who?” J. D. retorted, “Not Thammy. I thed, Thammy! Thammy Heaven.”

Thus was my indirect, informal introduction to Sammy Havens. Sammy was the skinny kid I saw moving in along with the tall red-headed lady who turned out to be his widowed mother. Mrs. Havens was a school teacher. I thought school teachers were very smart. I wanted her to notice me and say nice things to my mother about me. But I digress.

One day, Mrs. Havens and Sammy came to our house. She had baked for us a delicious lemon pie. She and my mother, who was a former school teacher, sat and visited while Sammy and I walked around the house looking at pictures on the walls and stuff like that.

I liked Sammy. He was very well-mannered and didn’t tear up my toys like Don Viguet and J. D. often did. I’ll never forget one night about 3:00 a.m., when Sammy and I stood out in front of my house and watched flames leap hundreds of feet into the air. Gasoline storage tanks had exploded at Magnolia Refinery. What a sight that was…vivid memory indeed.

Then the Havens moved away. And we moved. I have not seen Sammy in more than sixty years. We have, however, reunited on Face Book and on occasion chat about those yesteryears.

Today, I am proud to know Sam Havens, Professor Emeritus in Drama at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He founded the Drama Department and still teaches playwriting and screenwriting. He also taught playwriting and screenwriting for ten years at Rice University’s School of Continuing Studies. Some of his fifteen plays have been produced in the USA, Canada and Australia.

Recently, Sam published his first novel entitled, “Farr Point.” This is a mix of fictional non-fiction telling about a young boy’s experiences growing up with his school teaching mother. Warning! Once you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down.

And Mrs. Havens? I’ll always love her. One day she told my mother that, “Winston is a very nice boy. I know you are proud of him.”

Winston Hamby