Gone and Back - Spots, Symptoms, and Scares

Reader’s Digest—March 15, 2006

Neil Young is shaving in the bathroom of his hotel room when he notices something weird going on in his left eye. It's doubly odd because the revered singer and songwriter felt perfectly fine the night before, attending a raucous ceremony and inducting the Pretenders into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But now little shapes -- squiggles, spirals -- float on the top half of his eye. He blinks. Same thing. Squiggles, spirals. Seconds later, Young realizes the shapes he is seeing look more like pieces of broken glass.

On that late winter day, the first call went out to Rock Positano, DPM, MSc, MPH, director of the Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. Young had seen him just the day before, complaining that his foot felt numb. Positano had noted that his patient's ankles weren't the same size, a symptom that can indicate a blood pressure problem. Young knew he had high blood pressure but, like many people with the condition, he had never bothered to treat it.

Now, as the podiatrist heard about Young's blurred vision, he told the singer to come to his office right away. By the time he arrived, Young's eyes were fine. No squiggles, no broken glass, no wobbly room. Still, Positano insisted that his patient get further tests. 

Young was soon diagnosed with an aneurysm of the brain.


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