Grand Mom is still ‘plugging away’ Print
Grand Mom
Written by Audrey Mettel Fixmer   
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's note: We are pleased to welcome back our popular "Grand Mom" columnist, Audrey Mettel Fixmer. We published her last column in November of 2012. This week she explains some of the challenges she has faced in the past 14 months. We hope that Audrey will continue to share her wisdom with us as often as possible. God bless you, Audrey!

Our wonderful editor, Mary Uhler, phoned me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that so many of my faithful readers inquired about me that she felt obliged to offer an excuse for my absence.

Where was my "Grand Mom" column for the past 14 months? It was obvious that I was an old lady who had gone past my "sell by date." Did they miss my obituary? (My terms, not hers.)

I was flattered and humbled by your concern, dear readers, so please accept my thanks and let me offer this explanation of the bumpy road I have traveled since October of 2012.

Eye problem diagnosed

It was about that time I began to have severe pain in my left eye, piercing headaches, and loss of vision.

My local ophthalmologist sent me to a neurosurgeon at University Clinic, where several specialists, including a glaucoma doctor, treated me.

The diagnosis was a "pseudo tumor" that might require surgery, inserting a drain to relieve the pressure. I expressed the opinion that at my age (84 then) I should no longer agree to surgeries of any kind. I took pain relievers, prednisone, and we prayed.

My son, John (child number nine), has two young boys in our parish school. Instead of just dropping them off for Mass that day, he decided to stay and pray for me. He couldn’t believe his ears when Fr. Brian Wilk stood before the school children and told them that the patron saint for that day was St. Lucy, the patron saint of eyesight, and then proceeded to tell them her story.

John was so moved, of course, that he couldn’t wait to talk to Father after Mass and tell him about me. And then he called me. And then we stormed heaven with pleas to St. Lucy.

During an entire MRI the next day I endured the impossible stillness by repeatedly saying, "St. Lucy, pray for me!" over and over. I could not see a thing with my left eye.

St. Lucy to the rescue

The next day was Saturday, and after our kids were satisfied that I was safe with my Life Line alarm and my phones, they left me to myself. Later that evening I experienced a stabbing eye pain that would not let up.

I thought, "This is it." I was going to die and there was no point in calling for help because no one could do anything. In fact, death would be welcome, but I still prayed, "St. Lucy, pray for me."

After what seemed like hours but may have been only 20 minutes, the water began to pour out of my eye . . . and pour . . . and pour. And then the pain was gone. I had nothing but a pile of wet tissues for evidence, and a guarantee that St. Lucy even worked weekends. I could rest for the night.

The next day was Sunday, and I don’t recall if I made it to church or not. What I do remember was watching the Packer game by myself, and suddenly wondering if my left eye was still completely blind. So I covered my right eye and what to my wondering left eye should appear? A green field and two beautiful teams running about like ants swarming on the grass. I said, "Thank you, St. Lucy."

I couldn't wait for my next appointment in Madison. When I told my story to the two doctors, I noticed they looked surprised. I asked if this was an ordinary occurrence, and they both said no, that they had not heard of it before.

The glaucoma guy put me on a water pill, but there is no more talk of surgery. The prednisone had to have played a big role in my improvement too, but that is a dangerous medicine used only with the greatest precaution.

My first thought on writing this column was to cover several health topics at once. Then I realized I owed it St. Lucy to tell her story first. Now that I have paid that debt, I can tell some of the other adventures of my past 14 months.

So hang in there with me and (God willing) I will be back and try to explain why, at age 86, my first and last prayer of the day is always, "Thank you, Lord, for the gift of long life.

Because it is a gift. It comes with a price, but it is worth it.

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