Over the past nearly 30 years, the Neighborhood News has faced more challenges than I even care to remember — including new competition, the growth of online communities, paper shortages, Covid-19 and many more. 

When you’ve been doing what I have done for as long as I have, there also are likely to be at least a few health-related issues, but I’m appreciative I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with any long-term complications. 

A few weeks before the Covid pandemic shut everything down, I had the second of two cataract surgeries at the St. Luke’s Eye Center in Tarpon Springs. On my follow-up appointment with my optometrist, David Scamard , O.D., of Excellence in Eye Care, a few months later, Dr. Dave asked me if I was having any “floaters” in either of my surgically-repaired eyes and I emphatically and happily told him “No.” 

That response continued to be true until less than four weeks before this issue was supposed to go to press, when I finally understood what he meant by “floaters.” I visited Dr. Dave at the Costco south of S.R. 56, where he took digital photos of my eyes and said he saw the likely source of my floaters. He told me to come back a few days later for a full eye exam. 

It was at that appointment, at about 11 a.m., with my vision in my left eye suddenly blurry, that he determined that I had a detached retina. He immediately set up an appointment for 2-1/2 hours later with retinal specialist Alfred White, M.D., of Retina Vitreous Associates of Florida, which has an office on the north side of S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel. 

Dr. White, who combines a great bedside manner with being super matter-of-factly about what I was about to go through, confirmed the detached retina and scheduled me for emergency reattachment surgery the next day. I had two questions about this — could I hold off the surgery for a week or two so Jannah and I could go to North Carolina to visit her daughter and her family and see a concert we had been planning to attend for more than six months, and of course, how would I get the Oct 3 Wesley Chapel issue done if I had to keep my head in a face-down position in a massage chair donut hole for 45 minutes of every hour after surgery for at least the next 5-7 days? 

Dr. White told me that if I didn’t have the surgery, my detached retina could get worse and make the recovery from the surgery more difficult. And, whether I had it or not, the pressure in that eye could get so bad that the plane we planned to fly in to NC could have had to have made an emergency landing on my behalf. 

So of course, I had the surgery the next day. And, while keeping my head down for that many hours and that many days — and having to sleep face-down until my follow-up appointment a week later — was anything but easy, Jannah did everything for me to make sure I got through these difficulties by driving and doing most everything else for me during my recovery. 

For the few minutes each hour that I wasn’t looking down, I was at my computer working to finish that Oct 3 issue, which went to press just three days after our usual deadline — and arrived in mailboxes just two days after its planned Oct. 3 cover date. I was so thankful it wasn’t any more delayed than that. 

I also am sorry that we don’t have quite as many news stories in this New Tampa issue as we usually do. I was so far behind with the Wesley Chapel issue that I couldn’t get as many stories researched and done for this Oct. 17 issue. 

Even so, I appreciate the efforts of not only Drs. White and Scamard, but also of our editorial research specialist Joel Provenzano, who helped me get as much info as possible for the story on pages 12-14 of this issue about the two different approaches to determining the boundaries of Wesley Chapel; to our amazing primary graphic designer Valerie Wegeman, for getting the maps for that story and all of our ads done; and especially, to Jannah for doing pretty much everything else that I normally do to complete an issue and for making sure both editions are chock full of ads so I had less space to fill than usual. 

I also am equally appreciative for all of you — our amazing readers — who continue to give me a reason to do what I have done for nearly three decades. 

As to what caused my retinal detachment, Dr. White said that people who have been extremely nearsighted for most of their lives — as I was until I had my cataract surgeries in 2020 — are more prone to this problem because being nearsighted constantly stretches your retinas as you age. Other possible causes are actually having had cataract surgeries (but that would normally have happened sooner), being diabetic (which I’m not), injuries to the eye (which I haven’t had) and, as often as not, bad luck. 

So, while getting a detached retina may just have been bad luck, I am going to recover my eyesight, which actually makes me feel pretty lucky. 

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