By Michael K. Todd
Down to one good eye, Dick Kulpa’s remaining retina was steadily detaching. He had 24-72 hours to get this fixed, with no jury-rigging, no options, no credit and unfortunately, no insurance.
“When somebody shorts you $50 grand in a tainted magazine sale that ultimately was never closed, that tends to limit one’s options,” he explained. “When they got an award from the President himself, that took the cake. Unfortunately I could not do a thing about it in my condition.”
“My forthcoming book will cover all that'” he added. “As one can see, I had mighty good reasons why I was hog-tied.”
He’s limped along on a heavily-cataracted left eye after losing his right eye to a detached retina in 2008. “I was grounded, but I could still see to draw,” he proudly proclaimed, “and I did just that. I knew the jig would be up at some point, however, because that cataract was getting worse.”
As the retinal curtain steadily fell, Kulpa communicated his crisis to Boca Raton attorney and fellow creative collaborator Kathy Johnson, who immediately researched Dick’s available options. “You need to get to Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Hospital,” she advised. “They will work with you.”
She was proven absolutely right, so Dick went to Miami. Albeit reluctantly.
Why reluctantly? Kulpa, former cartoonist for the Chicago Bear Report newspaper, always “hated” Miami. While having many friends and events there, he never forgave that city’s Miami Dolphins for denying the 1985 Chicago Bears a perfect winning season.
Dick frequently drew Bears cartoons along with “anti-Red Russian Menace” cartoons back in the 1980s-90s, never expecting to need his life saved, as it would turn out…by representatives of both Miami and Russia. That’s because his surgeon-savior was a Russian-born doctor out of St. Petersburg, the former Leningrad of Russia. “And,” says Kulpa, “she, along with the cataract removal surgeon, were damned good at it.”
“Everything about that place was solid…staff, equipment, even the coffee. There’s a good reason why the Miami University Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute is number one in the world,” Kulpa said.
“I saw that with my own eye!”
“I now love Miami and I am also very happy we never nuked Russia,” he added.
- Tomorrow: Eye of the Tiger! Dick Kulpa gets the shock of his life when he “really” sees everything he had missed, the color “yellow” being one of them.
- “My restoration appears to be geometric, going beyond vision issues,” says Kulpa. Find out why.
- “Before and after” cartoons will be posted.