Taking stock of health, life, and faith

January 2, 2009 4:45:31 PM PST
For Shoshanna Garfinkel, of Northeast Philadelphia, the little things mean a lot - like being able to see her daughter Emma's smile.

5 years ago, that didn't seem possible


When she was pregnant with Emma, the diabetes she'd battled since childhood began to steal her sight. Keeping her blood sugar under control had always been a balancing act, but pregnancy made that even tougher.

Shoshanna recalls, "All of a sudden, I saw a smear, like a spider crawling. I saw it on my husband's shirt, and tried to wipe it away. But it didn't go away."

Tiny blood vessels in her eye had begun to bleed -

Turning her vision from clear, to a curtain of spots and blotches.

The condition is called diabetic retinopathy and it can be sped up by pregnancy.

Dr. Leonard Ginsburg of the Moore Eye Institute sealed off some vessels by laser, but it wasn't enough. By the time Shoshanna gave birth, she could barely see.

"I couldn't take care of my baby. I couldn't even see her when she was born, " she says.

And even though her eyesight did start to improve later... She still needed surgery. Dr. Ginsburg started with the RIGHT eye.

Dr. Ginsburg describes how he did it. "We put a needle here and here, and take out all the jelly, then put brand new clear water in here. It was like emptying out a dirty fish tank, and putting clean water in."

A day later, the right eye was clear - but so was the left!

Shoshanna says, "I could see out of both eyes clearly. It was a miracle."

Dr. Ginsburg recalls, "I started to cry, Shoshanna started to cry."

Dr. Ginsburg says he has seen this condition clear on its own but never this quickly.

Her left eye did worsen again... And eventually Shoshanna had to have surgery but Dr. Ginsburg says what happened with her made him rethink his role in medicine and the role he says a higher power may have.

"Now I'm more excited about being a doctor because I realize I'm not alone, " Dr,. Ginsburg says.

Shoshanna has had near 20-20 vision since that second surgery. She says..even years later, she doesn't take anything for granted.