Van Gogh Brings a Doctor and Patient Together After 24 Years

During the premiere of a new film about Vincent van Gogh, A retired doctor got a surprise visit from a former surgery patient

On Wednesday, November 21, 2018 I. Kaufman Arenberg MD was doing a book signing for his recently released book, ‘Killing Vincent: The Man, The Myth, and The Murder’, at the Landmark Chez Artiste Theatre, Denver, CO, during the premiere of the film ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ when he was surprised by a visit from a former patient, Aimee Olson, a nurse from Brighton, CO, who he hadn’t seen in 24 years.

Aimee first met Dr. Arenberg in 1993 at the age of 10 years old because she was suffering from an inner-ear disorder in her left ear like Meniere’s Disease. “I had dizziness and would get a little vertigo from time to time. It would really knock me off my feet,” she said.

As Aimee continued visiting Dr. Arenberg, she would notice all the van Gogh books, art, and pictures around his office. Dr. Arenberg’s enthusiasm for van Gogh peaked Aimee’s interest in the famous artist. “Dr. Arenberg’s passion for Vincent van Gogh inspired me,” she said. “My conversations about Vincent with Dr. Arenberg really had a positive influence on my life. He even had me do a book report on Vincent during one of my visits.”

Aimee would continue visiting Dr. Arenberg until the closing of his practice a few years later. The two of them would not meet again for another 24 years.

Aimee grew up and eventually joined the United States Army where she was stationed in Germany. During that time, a Claymore Mine blew up near Aimee blowing out her right ear. She was taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Kaiserslautern, Germany, for medical care. Upon examination of Aimee, the medical professional asked her if she had previous ear surgery and by whom. “When I told her it was Dr. Irv Arenberg, she simply responded, ‘oh I know him, we all know him!’,” said Aimee. “Then she refused to touch my left ear because she didn’t want to mess with perfection.”

While Aimee is no longer in the Army, her enthusiasm for Vincent van Gogh has never diminished. When she heard about the new film ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh, she started looking up showtimes at her local theatres. This got her back to thinking of her childhood doctor, Dr. Arenberg and his love for Vincent van Gogh too.

She decided to look him up on Facebook and discovered that Dr. Arenberg had just written a new book about van Gogh and was doing the book signing at the premiere of the movie. Aimee and her two parents surprised Dr. Arenberg at the premiere after 24 years. The emotions where high, and many spectators were filled with tears. “I just wanted to shake his [Dr. Arenberg] hand one more time,” said Aimee. “When I was younger and struggling with my hearing, Dr. Arenberg’s voice was soothing to me. Hearing him again feels like a little piece of home. He’s [Dr. Arenberg] done a lot more for my little family than I think anyone would realize. He has filled us with a thirst for knowledge and culture, which has led to some trips to Europe to see the works of some of history’s greatest artists.”

Aimee Olson currently works as a nurse in Brighton, CO. Since her surgeries she has become an avid music lover and plays several instruments. She has had no vertigo since her surgery 25 years ago. Her hearing in her left operated ear is much better than before her inner ear surgery. She now relies on her left ear for her hearing since the explosion damaged the hearing in her right ear.