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The Hands of Hegarty

In Those Days, There were No MRIs or CAT Scans

In Those Days, There were No MRIs or CAT Scans

One of the most galling things about the Internet is that I can’t find any pictures of the people—other than my immediate family, of course—who had the greatest influence on my life. Two Catholic priests who taught me English in the 9th and 10th grades at Chanel High School in Bedford, Ohio, have little or no Internet presence. I am referring to the Rev. Gerard R. Hageman SM and the Rev. Raymond E. Healy SM. (The SM refers to Society of Mary, Marist rather than Marianist.)

Next are the two doctors who saved my life in 1966 when I was in a coma at Fairview General Hospital in Cleveland. If you want some background on my strange medical history, check out this posting I wrote a year ago under the bland title of More Personal History.

My family doctor just happened to be an endocrinologist: Michael J. Eymontt MD. In those days, there were no MRIs or CAT Scans. All that doctors had to detect a brain tumor was the very imperfect X-Ray. Fortunately, Eymontt guessed I had a pituitary tumor.

Nowadays, a pituitary tumor, or chromophobe adenoma, is no big thing. They operate through the nostrils or the roof of the mouth. Back then, they had to disconnect part of my brain tissue and go in from the top. The pituitary gland is located directly in the center of the head. The chances that I would wind up dead or paralyzed or at least blind were overwhelming.

That’s where my neurosurgeon, William M. Hegarty MD came in. On that September morning in 1966, he had a very good day. And I had a very good day. He went in where angels feared to tread and sucked out the tumor (which was benign, like almost all pituitary tumors). When I came to and asked him how big it was, he smiled and said about as big as a grapefruit.

I know that Fathers Hageman and Healy have passed on, as has Dr. Eymontt. But I wonder if Hegarty is still alive. I would like to thank him for letting me have an interesting life. I keep searching on Google….