It’s no surprise that Michael Ciszek, OD ’93, loves Star Trek. The sci-fi show is famous for bringing diversity and inclusivity to television. In turn, Dr. Ciszek brings these principles to his everyday life.
Visionary Eye Care, which has two locations in Chicago, has been proudly LGBT-owned for 20 years. Dr. Ciszek shares this responsibility with Joe Warner, OD ’00. Their practice has a reputation of openness and respect for all. Dr. Ciszek hosts externs from ICO, which has resulted in multiple alumni hires. Visionary’s staff now includes Jamie Johnson, OD ’10, and Fatima Ibrahim, OD ’16.
Dr. Ciszek lives in Andersonville with his husband, Randall. They enjoy riding motorcycles, going on mission trips, and doting on their rescued pets. From the gym to the dog boutique, it seems like the entire neighborhood knows this family!
Here’s a Close Up look at a day in Dr. Ciszek’s enterprising life:
“We went to PAWS… I saw this shih-poo in a cage. Porsche was so matted that they’d shaved off her hair. Randall said, ‘We have to save her.’ Then, last summer, we kept running into this couple we know. One of the women, her father died. He had a shih-tzu. They brought Missy all the way from Kansas City to Chicago.”
“I take the dogs on the same route every day. Along Ravenswood, there’s a community garden where I volunteer. I try to walk them through that to watch my plot and see if anything needs to be weeded. I have an anemone plant; nobody else has been able to grow those!”
“One of the beautiful things about Randall and me is that we are very opposite. He’s an extreme extrovert, I’m a pretty extreme social introvert. I love Star Trek, he loves documentaries. I have a house in Michigan where I can dig in the dirt and chop down trees. He wants to hang out in the city. Yet, we have a similar outlook on what we want from life.”
“Probably twenty years ago, I started going to the gym and realized it was a fun place. I’ve worked with four different personal trainers at Cheetah Gym. Both of my parents have diabetes, have had heart surgeries. I’m going to stay healthy.”
“We’re really busy in the morning. When I get to the office, most times the extern will take the first patient and I’ll look at my schedule for the day and see if there’s anything weird going on with it.”
“[Visionary] has become a place where the LGBT community knows they can come and be welcomed and well taken care of. When we did our expansion, we had to have two ADA bathrooms. I refused to mark them ‘man and woman’ or whatever. We’re all human beings. We just have two bathrooms. Use one of them.”
“If there’s any slow time in the middle of the day, I’ll spend some time answering e-mails or doing some work for VOSH. I have been on five VOSH trips. I have two albums from two different trips. Giving back just gives you a very good sense of accomplishment.”
“I’m a huge Star Trek geek. I have seen every episode way too many times. If I had to pick a favorite character, it would have to be Picard. The bobblehead was given to me by one of my previous externs. [The uniform] was given to me by one of our Howard Brown patients. I was so touched.”
“When we redesigned, I was very adamant that we had the computers so that I could see both the screen and the patient at the same time. I also think we did a really good job of storing trial lenses. I put a picture of that when we first did it on Facebook, and got over 850 likes.”
“I’ve been precepting now for fourth year students from ICO for five years. It’s important to me. I’ve been wanting to give back, to show the students what a private practice can look like.”
“Andersonville feels like a little tiny village inside the city of Chicago. The people here are very, very supportive of small businesses. There’s a lot of pride in the neighborhood. People know each other. They still reach out and say, ‘Hi.’”
“Jameson Loves Danger is a local pet boutique. They’ve been a really great resource when we have questions about the dogs or training or food. …and they’re super nice people.”
“This is Lady Gregory’s, an Andersonville Irish Pub. Randall and I like our wine. We’ll typically have a glass or two at the end of the day.”