Remembering the works, life of Dr. Loch

September 01, 1994|By Alice Lynn Rogers

WHAT A GREAT sadness overcame me, just back from holiday, reading the newspapers. Dr. Walter E. Loch and his wife, Mary, had been brutally slain in their Guilford home on a summer weekend. Steadily -- like a breeze -- a shadow settled over and began to envelop me.

I'd been out in the wilds of Colorado -- well, the semi-wilds, and then for a peep at the innocent and quick glory of summer in Maine.

All had seemed well and hopeful in our universe. There were no newspapers to read. There was no need to fear my fellow man.

I had started my walks in a park at daybreak carrying a big stick. The one person I passed said he used to do that, carry a big stick, then he understood the park belonged to the creatures which inhabit it, not to us, and he felt ashamed to arm himself against the inhabitants. I put my stick down. I had carried it, not to defend against the park's natural inhabitants, but potential unnatural ones, here at the break of day.

It was unecessary. No sticks were needed as weapons against unnatural inhabitants or potential violent acts during my many walks these few weeks.

Upon reflection, I realize that I wouldn't have been able to enjoy my vacation -- or many of the other pleasurable things in life -- had it not been for the wonderful work of Dr. Loch.

I came to need the assistance of Dr. Loch as the result of an on the job accident that happened about 25 years ago. I caught my shoe heel on a metal strip at the top of a flight of stairs.

My upper body careened forward, sideways, leaving my feet behind. I don't know where my hands were. In the absence of their protection, my large Roman nose smashed into the iron rail at the side of the stairs. After that, my face hurt for four years.

My employer, the benevolent state of Maryland, said there was not much it could do -- you can't set a nose. Workmen's compensation offered me $65, the relative value of a nose at the time.

To my alarm, my facial pain worsened with time, and my nose appeared to be growing.

Because I couldn't stand the pain of water hitting my nose, I could no longer wash my hair myself. So I began frequenting beauty salons. It was at a beauty salon that I learned about the wonderful work of Dr. Loch. While waiting to be shampooed, it wasn't long before before I began talking about my nose because the pain was so great. On one occasion, a stranger suggested that I contact Dr. Loch.

First, Dr. Loch told me that indeed my nose was growing. He said the fierceness of the shock was so great that my body did not know it was time to stop repairing the injury. My body had continued to produce calcium deposits. As a result, my nose hurt more and grew bigger.

The surgery to repair the damage took an entire morning. My friends and family began to worry, but there was no need. Dr. Loch delicately put the shattered nose back together. In this process, he also corrected my deviated septum, the cause of many years of sinus infections. It also was the apparent cause of my lack of energy -- what I had dismissed as laziness.

The doctor also gave me a prettier nose than the one that had seemed out of place among my other delicate features.

Whatever my health insurance paid him for his wonderful work was all the compensation he would accept.

During the next couple of years, Dr. Loch checked my progress carefully. Each appointment ended with the scheduling of another. He was proud that I could breathe with increasing comfort and that the work looked very good.

During that time, my quality of life gradually improved, eventually to the point that it was better than it was before the accident.

The pain subsided and I could breathe better than ever before. What had appeared to be laziness before disappeared. I suddenly had more energy. I liked myself better. I was more capable.

Always, I've been grateful to this man for his expertise, compassion and generosity. What a great sadness covers me now.

In the wake of the death of this wonderful doctor and his wife, the Guilford community is thinking of building gates -- an illusion of insulation from more acts of violence from others, from ourselves. We don't know whether to carry a big stick against the natural inhabitants or outsiders who would do us harm.

The old self of the community recently died with some of its members and must form a new life.

Who or what can we be now? Dr. Loch opened up a new life for me. As we look for a new and vital life for the community, one a fitting memorial in which he might have lived, we walk softly and carry a big stick.

Alice Lynn Rogers writes from Baltimore.

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