Although I am a dentist, I have a good singing voice and I dabble in cantorial music. In 1981, I was asked to sing for a Conservative synagogue, which held its High Holiday services at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, north of Los Angeles. The hall was full – probably 1,500 people were there – and I had a solo to sing, the prayer Unesaneh Tokef. One bar before the solo, a massive headache struck me and I fell to the ground – they had to carry me off the bimah in the middle of Rosh Hashanah.
I was taken to a room where I could lie down and rest for a while. But two hours later, the headache had not gone away, its intensity was unchanged, and it was clear this was not a good thing.
At that point, I was taken to the hospital, where they took X-rays of my skull and neck, and came back with the diagnosis, “You have a tumor
in the pituitary gland. It’s destroying the bone, and the pressure is causing the headache.”
At that point a neurologist was called in who ordered a tomograph, in order to get a better picture of the bone destruction. After he got the results, he said, “There is no tumor. There is no destruction of the bone.”
Relieved, I thought, “That’s good – I’m going home!”
But he said, “Since we do not have a cause for your headache, we need to do further tests.” He ordered a CAT-scan.
The CAT-scan revealed that behind my right eye, in the middle of the grey matter, I had an aneurysm – a blood vessel that had blown up like a balloon – and it was about ready to burst. If it burst, death would be instant.
When my wife heard that, she became hysterical. She was pregnant with our third child and the idea of being alone with three young kids without a husband scared her witless. (more…)