I really don’t like writing a positive review. I am always sure that what I extol will be overrun the next time I have a moment to enjoy what I’ve just announced to Southern California is most enjoyable, the best – supreme. In this case, though, this doctor’s office is already overrun. In fact, the wonderful woman who makes sure my teeth hold steady and sparkle left this doctor because she couldn’t bear the waits.
Dr. Arthur Astorino and his sidekick, Dr. Judd Cahoon, are ophthalmologists who practice in a veritable sea of experienced, excellent, and probably likewise crowded eye doctors in Newport Beach, but these guys are easily worth the wait and then some. I arrived with a pair of cataracts – “ripe,” Dr. Cahoon called them – and more than 50 years of astigmatisms, which, of course, meant 50 years of eyeglasses that diminished my native good looks, right at a time when all my friends were finding and marrying all the beautiful women of Southern California who, no doubt, regarded me as a second choice – even when I was the only choice.
My cataracts were getting worse. By the time I entered the offices of Dr. Astorino and Associates, the standard eye chart – the one with the enormous capital E at the top, two slightly smaller letters below, three smaller below those, and then four below and so one – looked to me like a guinea pig’s family tree: even that top E was dark and fuzzy.
Thanks to the nettlesome fact that my right eye refused to provide stable measurements, Dr. Astorino kept measuring and checking, measuring and checking. “Jack, I know you want eyes fixed, but – I’m a perfectionist. I have to get better, more consistent measurements.” Thanks to his persistence he discovered a Salzmann’s nodule. He called to his sidekick, “You ever seen a Salzmann’s before?”
“Yes,” said Dr. Cahoon, “but I’ve never one repaired.”
These guys repaired mine. It’s a patch of something that doesn’t belong between the first, upper layer of skin and what’s called the Bowman’s layer of the cornea, a layer of something like cellophane that possesses no human cell. I learned tons just listening to these guys.
On the morning after the first surgery for my left, non-dominant eye, I reported to Dr. Astorino’s office, per post-op instructions. “Well, how are you, Jack?”
“I almost didn’t make it this morning.”
That got his attention. He turned his focus on me. I told him that in the shower that morning, I could see the hot water condensing on the glass of the shower, and the droplets, the droplets were so clear, threw off such sparkle that if I hadn't run out of hot water, I wouldn’t have left the shower.
He chuckled. “Dr. Astorino, you’ve restored my eye’s sex life.” And he did the same for my other eye.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention Dr. Ho, another giant among giants, and Charlie who was a master at providing accurate measurements of my uncooperative eyes; Julia, likewise expert, ever the professional, with whom I shared family stories about Eastern Europe and who gave me a magnificent recipe for borscht; and Susan, punctilious, perfectionist, conversationalist: the great Susan. They all treated me like royalty.