Mayo Round Three & Signing Off For Now


This morning, we made our way to Mayo Clinic for round three. It was time for Seth’s one month post-surgical eye cancer appointment with Dr. G. So we woke at 4:15 a.m., got ready and headed down the road for his 7:30 a.m. appointment.

We arrived 25 minutes early. Seth grabbed some coffee across the street at Starbucks, and I went straight downstairs to the piano, my favorite hanging spot at Mayo by a landslide.

I sat down next to an elderly woman who’d just placed a sign on top of the piano. I thought for a minute she might be performing. But she was a patient, and a regular at that. For 10 years, she’s been coming to Mayo for treatment. Heck, Mayo’s like a second home to her. The woman was feisty, brilliant, beautiful, insightful and with it. Whatever 10 years of health problems ailed her had absolutely NOTHING to do with her brain and her psyche. She was amazing. Yes, she was a glimpse of who I’d like to be at 80-something.

We chatted briskly, like time was short, like we just needed to get down to the business of this piano we loved so dearly. She told me about the elderly woman who comes to play every Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. She plays by heart, by ear. She doesn’t get paid a penny; she does it because she loves it. She watches doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers pass in front of her, above her, all around on each side. She lets the music flow out of her fingers based on what she sees. If peoples’ tone is somber, she plays accordingly. If peoples’ tone is hopeful, she plays accordingly. She’s witnessed, too many times to count, peoples’ moods shift completely as they pass. Hopelessness turns to hope in the form of familiar words and tunes.


There’s a small group of people who don’t care for the piano music. They want to ban it. Get rid of it. Take that piano out of here. It’s distracting us from our work. It’s distracting for our patients. The sound travels too far. Move it somewhere else.

But people love it. It’s healing. It’s holy. There’s no better place for it.

Move it over here.

Move it over there.

Forget it, man. The acoustics have been tested. The acoustics have been measured. THIS is the place for the piano.

The elderly woman and I ponder the WHY of it all. WHY this place? WHY here? WHY not here? WHY is this so perfect? The three-leveled open atrium? The curved walls? The walls mixed with open spaces for sound to travel and dissipate wherever it may? Who knows WHY, but God? This holy anointed piano is here because God wants it to be. Because He wants to heal HERE. That’s WHY.

A princess donated the piano to Mayo, had it shipped after she’d been a patient. It’s worth $150,000 said the elderly woman as we gazed at its grandeur. “Oh, I imagine,” I said. It’s priceless.

We chatted some more, that elderly woman and I. I loved her dear. Such a treasure. Such strength. I’m sure I could’ve sat there all day, but duty called. After all, I wasn’t there to chat with an elderly woman, nor was I there to chat about a piano! Seth had arrived with his coffee and was gently prompting me from behind. “It’s time to go, we have to go.” “Good bye,” I said to the elderly woman. “I hope we see you again, I hope we see you later.”

As we walked to the elevators up to ophthalmology, I told Seth “Twenty minutes in Mayo, and I already found an amazing story. I love this place.” “That kind of thing doesn’t float my boat,” he said. “Oh, it totally floats mine,” I responded.


We arrived upstairs and were called in within minutes.

Over the course of the next two hours, we saw a nurse, a doctor, and Dr. G.

As of this one-month postoperative eye cancer follow-up, Seth had this to report to the doctors:

  • He’s continuing to see mild strobing lights in 3/4 of the periphery of his right eye (prior to surgery, the strobing was in 1/4 of the periphery).
  • His vision is “not as good as it used to be, but is acceptable.”
  • The vision in his right eye seems to have worsened as compared to before the surgeries, but when he has both eyes open and they’re working together, it’s just fine.
  • He still needs Tylenol for headaches.
  • He’s using wetting drops for his eyes.
  • No double vision.
  • On the extreme periphery, his vision is not as “trustworthy” as before, but it doesn’t seem to be a major problem.

The doctors checked his pupils to see if they’re working together. They checked the pressure of Seth’s eyes with some fancy device made by Medtronic. They did a quick examination of his sight. They asked a lot of questions and did a lot of “look up, look down, look right, look left.”

As of this one-month postoperative eye cancer follow-up, Dr. G had this to report to Seth:

  • Seth is on the upswing now in regards to his vision. His vision will continue getting better, probably for the next year and a half, then it typically gets worse after that.
  • He has “perfect mobility!” (Dr. G was VERY happy about this.)
  • Dr. G was fairly certain Seth would have double vision given the size of the melanoma, so he was delighted to hear Seth hasn’t had any issues with double vision!
  • A few little stitches remained in the eye.
  • Seth can do “anything [he] wants” in regards to exercise and lifting weights from here on out.
  • Seth is free to see the optometrist for a new prescription, but will need shatter-resistant lenses in his new glasses.
  • No eye ointment is needed after today.
  • He should use “systane drops” for his eyes for dryness and irritation.
  • Dr. G recommends prescription goggles for swimming.
  • He should wear glasses all the time to protect the eyes, especially the good eye, even when getting ready in the morning. (Dr. G was most adamant about Seth wearing glasses. Yes, this has been a bit of a struggle as Seth indicated in his guest post, but is something he’ll be working through.)

As Dr. G removed the stitches in Seth’s eyes with a tiny tweezers, I noticed faint classical music coming from the computer. I hadn’t heard it before. Dr. G must have turned it on when he entered the room. The artist was busy with his craft. The art of eyes. The art of helping human beings SEE. The art of restoring VISION.

Dr. G called into an automated phone system and dictated a report in a flash. Amazing. Incredible. Brilliant.

Dr. G shook our hands and smiled.

“One-month check up? GOOD!” he said as we walked out of the room.

Before we left, we made our next set of appointments for May 21st and 22nd when they’ll look exhaustively at the tumor to see if it’s begun shrinking. They’ll draw blood, do a MRI, take an ultrasound and photographs of the eye, and Seth will see Dr. G again.

At lunch, Seth joked about how we’ll make an overnight date of it. How we’ll leave the kids at home with one of our parents. How we’ll go out for a nice dinner just the two of us that first day back at Mayo, round four. How we’ll stay in a quiet hotel and head back for more testing in the morning. Yes, that’s my Seth. An eternal optimist. Always looking at the bright side of life. Even in the midst of eye cancer.

Signing off for now, friends. I won’t be writing about our journey through eye cancer until May when we’re back at Mayo. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing…right here. So join me, will you? Good stuff’s coming between now and then!






  1. Carol Femling says:

    I smiled when I read this 🙂 . First of all, I learned more in this post about the details of your appointment than I did talking to you two about it over lunch, the day you returned from Mayo. Second, I remembered that Amy and I smiled at each other and shook our heads, when Seth started talking and making his plans for the May appointments. He was excited about the special date he would be having with Amy during the May appointment stay in Rochester – -having dinner out and staying in a motel together. I looked at Seth and said, “No wonder I told you that you are an INSPIRATION to all of us!!” That’s so true! Seth can find the most positive things out of an eye cancer appointment at Mayo??? Yes, that’s our Seth!! He is an INSPIRATION!! 🙂

  2. Joyce Jacobson says:

    Each step in this journey brings some new challenges and some new normals. Seth, the chance to see twice the fish, twice the Shamrock shakes, or even twice the faces of your loved ones may not be in the cards but that’s one of many good reports.

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