The Jewish Woman
- From: Lelouch <misa426@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 03:01:35 -0700 (PDT)
Stories from the Clinic
5: The Jewish Woman
By Emily C. Lierman
Just before the war a Jewish woman, sixty-three years of age, came to
the clinic and begged me to help her just a little.
"Please don't bother trying to cure me," she said. "That is too
much to expect, and anyhow I am an old lady, so what does it matter?"
Her eyes were half shut, because the light bothered her and she felt
more comfortable with the lids lowered. She told me that she was
suffering great pain both in her eyes and head, and when I had her
look at the test card at ten feet it was all a blur to her. I showed
her how to palm, but the position tired her, and she said she was not
accustomed to praying so long—she was quite a sinner. As she weighed
over two hundred pounds and was sick in both mind and body, I asked
her how much she ate every day.
"Oh, I don't each much—nothing to speak of at all," she said. "In
the morning I eat eggs, or something like that, and rolls and butter
and coffee. Then about ten I have a few slices of bread with more
butter and more coffee. At noon I have soup, bread and butter and more
coffee. For supper I have bread, butter, meat, vegetables and more
coffee. That's all."
She took more food in one day that I did in three, and when I told her
she ate too much, it appeared to frighten her, for she staid away for
two weeks. Eating, no doubt, was one of the few pleasures she had in
life, and she did not wish to be deprived of it.
When she returned I had her palm and this improved her sight from
20/100 to 20/50. It also relieved her pain markedly, and when I told
her that she would get still more help, both for her eyes and her body
generally, if she would eat less, she agreed to do so.
In spite of her pain and misery, my patient had always been full of
humor, and her witty remarks had been a source of much amusement to
me; but one day, just after the declaration of war, I found her in a
corner weeping. When I asked her to read the test card for me, she
said with tears:
"Please, nurse, I can't see anything today. My two sons have
enlisted, one as a marine, and the other as an aviator, and they are
never coming back, I am afraid. I cannot sleep. I am suffering great
pain all over my body. My heart is breaking."
From the beginning I had felt that she had been a devoted mother, andas I am always drawn to good mothers, I now felt a great pity for her
grief. In order to get her mind off her pain, I encouraged her to talk
about her boys.
"How proud you must be to have two sons to fight for your country,
and for you!" I said. "I wish I had ten sons, I would give them all
for my country."
These remarks were not very consoling, I admit, in the presence of a
sorrow like this, and the stricken mother refused to be comforted. But
when I said, "You wouldn't be proud of them if they were cowards, and
Uncle Sam wouldn't want them if they were criminals in a jail," she
straightened up and said:
"You are right. They are brave boys all right, and I am proud of
I now tested her sight with the card, and found it better than ever
"You have the right medicine," she said, "I am coming again. I do
not understand why I can see so well now after being so blind a few
I squeezed her arm above the elbow and asked:
"Do you feel that?"
"Yes," she replied.
"Well, that is just what you are doing to the muscles of your eyes,
and the strain blinded you. When you relaxed, the pressure was
relieved and your sight improved. It was the pressure that lowered the
At a later visit she brought a package for me, explaining that she had
no money and wanted to express her gratitude. I took the package home,
and when I opened it I found a loaf of delicious real bread—not Hoover
bread. My neighbors were very envious of me, because the only bread
they could obtain had a flavor like that of sawdust. At the time I
appreciated that bread more than a five dollar bill.
Every time the patient came to the clinic we talked about her boys for
a few minutes, and it certainly had a good effect upon her eyesight.
When the war ended and the boys came home, every one who would listen
heard of the great things they had done "over there." One would have
thought one was attending an annual convention of some sort instead of
an eye clinic.
During the war and up to about six months ago, the patient came more
or less regularly to the clinic. Palming always helped her, but as she
complained it made her arms ache to hold her hands over her eyes, I
had her simply close her eyes without palming. This also helped her.
One day I placed her two feet further from the card than usual, and
asked her how much she could see. She replied:
"Now, you know I am an old woman, and I guess my eyes are getting
old too. I cannot see so far."
I told her to close her eyes and rest them, forget that she had eyes,
and think of black velvet, or her black hat. Ten minutes later she
read 10/20, and her eyes had a natural appearance. She became very
much excited and asked me what I did to her.
Dieting also helped her eyesight and nerves very much, but she could
not always bring herself to forego the pleasure of eating what she
wanted. She forgot most of the things I told her to do at home, but I
don't think she ever forgot a meal, nor did she realize the quantity
of food she consumed when she gave free rein to her appetite. If she
had always done as she was told, I am sure she wold have been
completely cured long ago. As it was, her improvement was very
remarkable. Not only did she become able to read 10/20, but at the
time she stopped coming to the clinic she said that the pain and
discomfort in her eyes had entirely ceased. She was sleeping better,
and her general physical condition was greatly improved.
Her case made me realize more clearly than ever the relation of mental
strain to defective vision. I could not help her until I found out
what she had on her heart, and when, by means of a little sympathy—I
could give her nothing else—I was able to get her mind off her
trouble, or make it seem less to her, her nerves always relaxed. It
was very remarkable the way a pleasant conversation, without further
treatment, would improve her sight. The experience was afterward a
great help to me in treating other patients. In the rush of work at
the dispensary it has often seemed that I could not take the time to
talk to the patients, to get acquainted with them, to let them tell me
about their troubles. I know now that this is not a waste of time, but
a very necessary part of the treatment.
A monthly magazine devoted to the prevention and cure of imperfect
sight without glasses
Copyright, 1920, by the Central Fixation Publishing Company
Editor—W. H. Bates, M.D.
Publisher—Central Fixation Publishing Co.
$2.00 per year, 20 cents per copy
342 West 42nd Street, New York, N. Y.
Vol. III - July, 1920 - No. 1
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