Ira was born with a ticking time bomb in his head. An “arteriovenous malformation” or abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the brain occurring in only 1/1,000 babies. The bomb silently ticked away until Ira was thirty-three years old. It was May of 1981 and Ira was in the office with his father.
“You’re not doing a good job for the company!” Ira’s father scolded him.
The way his father spoke was so upsetting that Ira developed a headache. But this was no ordinary headache, it was the worst headache Ira had ever had. He left the office immediately at 5:00 and went home to see his wife of three months, Susan. He took two Tylenol and went to bed. The pain continued to intensify throughout the rest of the evening. At 2:30 in the morning Ira went to the bathroom and dropped to the floor unconscious.
Susan called an ambulance and they took Ira to New York Presbyterian Hospital. The doctors were able to ascertain there was bleeding in Ira’s brain, but they didn’t know how much or where. They told Susan that if they didn’t operate Ira would die.
The internist called a neurosurgeon specialist who was vacationing in New Hampshire.
“I need you to operate on a patient immediately.” The internist said. “This is a life or death scenario.”
The next morning the neurosurgeon flew in on his private plane and successfully clipped the hemorrhaging blood vessels in Ira’s brain. The operation was so complicated that that it took over three hours to complete and was written up in New York Hospital Magazine.
After the procedure Ira was in a coma for days and then had to be hospitalized for five weeks. He shared a room with a man named TC. TC was in his mid-forties, had an inoperable brain tumor and was unconscious the entire time Ira stayed at the hospital. TC had a girlfriend named Lorraine. Every day Lorraine came in at 8:00 AM and stayed until 6:00 PM. She sat by TC’s bed all morning, afternoon and evening hoping TC would wake up. Even though her boyfriend was in a coma five feet away, Lorraine always did what she could to help Ira. She always said, “Ira if you ever need water or a nurse or you’re not feeling well, just tell me know and I'll help you.” Lorraine was as good to Ira as she was to TC. TC never woke up but Ira was able to leave the hospital after five weeks.
The next few years were tough for Ira. He lost his short term memory. He had to re-learn to walk. He couldn't stand to take a shower. Because of a “short circuit” in his brain he perspired in bed every night so heavily that he had to change his pajamas two to three times a night. He couldn't sleep at night so he was fatigued during the day. His work suffered so he started volunteering. He became epileptic and routinely had seizures. It was five years before he started to feel a semblance of normalcy.
Even decades later Ira still has cognitive and functional issues, but he maintains an iron will to get better and still volunteers every day.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“God gave me a second chance. I was lucky compared to some. Lucky. Very lucky.”
“I keep a log book so I know what happens.”
“Do you forget what happens every day?”
“No, but I still take notes for reassurance.”
“I miss my wife every day.”
“What happened to her?”
“We divorced in 1988.”
“One day my father came over and called her a Jewish American Princess. I didn’t stand up for her. She walked out on me, which is absolutely what she should have done. I haven’t spoken to her in a decade.”
“Your father doesn’t sound like he was a very nice man.”
“No. He wasn’t.”
“What keeps you going?”
“Lorraine. She was very altruistic. I have to maintain the will to get better. I owe it to her for what she did for me.
“When is the last time you spoke with her?”
“My last day in the hospital. 1981.”