Memoirist, essayist and novelist Gallagher (The Sacred Meal, 2009, etc.) explores the series of events set into motion by the startling diagnosis that she suffered from a condition causing blindness.
Now in her 60s, the author has written extensively about her faith, including her attraction to Episcopal liturgy and, for a time, to the church's priesthood and the fundamental questions about the religion and its administration. Gallagher opens by explaining that her initial interest in Christianity, as an adult, stemmed from a need to fit her life into a "larger story." In the same chapter, the Californian describes how a 2009 routine doctor's visit, which she almost skipped, resulted in the discovery that her right optic nerve was dangerously inflamed and that the condition (called optic neuritis) could destroy her vision. "I dropped out of the world I lived in," she confesses. "It was like falling into Oz." What ensued was a slew of consultations with one specialist after another, during which the author received conflicting advice that included the suggestion to have her eye removed. She was eventually referred to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. Groggy from prescribed steroids and anxious about the strain that this ordeal placed on her marriage, Gallagher began a deeply introspective journey that led to, among other shifts, a foundational change in her faith and religious outlook. In her book, the author navigates the complex American health care system, the fear and mystery surrounding her search for medical answers and healing, and her renewed appreciation for the necessity of vision: to read, to write and to view the world.
A poetic tale of a personal medical crisis.