Trip to Florida

Excerpt from 1999: an eye-opening medical memoir

By Renée Richards, MD

I flew out Wednesday morning and got to Tampa in time to play a full 18 holes. I left by myself a day earlier than my closest friends, who joined me Thursday afternoon, Les Pollack and his wife Yvonne and Steven Greenberg—my pediatric ophthalmology associate and former Fellow—and his son, William, the designated kid, who is nine years old. He’s the one who gets all the autographs on his ball, and the coaches and the players always throw him balls at the games. He’s terrific.

The first game we saw was at Legends Field in Tampa, and George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, got the tickets for us because of my friendship with Dick Savitt, who is good friends with the Yankees’ owner. Dick is grateful because of how I’ve helped him with his eyes and the problem he had with retinal detachment. Because of all this connection, Mr. Steinbrenner got us fantastic seats for the Yankees games. We saw a great game Thursday night, and then we saw three more games, culminating in the wonderful game Sunday against the Atlanta Braves.

I also played some golf with Steve Greenberg’s brother, Larry. We played a little tennis and we had a lovely time. We do it every year. Spring training every year with the Pollacks, the Greenbergs, and me.

It was my second trip to Florida within a month and the last one until probably the fall.

Tuesday, March 23

I arrived in Newark at midnight, got home at 1:30 in the morning. Fortunately, Amy and Arleen had rescheduled the patients to start at 10:00 am instead of 8:00, so I was able to get a little sleep before starting in again.

I was very happy to see Ralph Roland, the 80-year-old man who is on so many medications and has so many heart, vascular, and cancer problems. It’s been three weeks since I operated on him. His eyes are perfectly straight. No prisms, no double vision. Absolutely wonderful results, and he knows it. He’s a pretty sharp old guy. He’s a retired doorman. He knows his way around, and he knows we did a pretty good job in fixing his eyes. He’s right on for distance and near, and he’s delighted.

I saw Adam Reifsnyder, whom I’ve been following for a head tilt. He’s now two-and-a-half years old, and it’s time to bite the bullet and do a tuck of his left superior oblique, one of the more difficult operations we have to do on a little child. It’s the only operation that’s going to help his head tilt.

I didn’t stay for grand rounds. The subject was glaucoma, and I was tired anyway because I didn’t have much sleep, having arrived so late from Florida. I came back to the apartment to have dinner and rest.

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