Monday, July 17, 2006

It's all in the eyes

When I took the Door Man to his two week newborn checkup at the local pediatrician office, I thought that I was going in for just another normal newborn checkup. I mean, he had gotten the clean bill of health at the hospital upon our release.

It never really dawned on me that his lack of eye contact meant something. I just thought it was the typical lack of newborn focus, and that we would see some improvement over the next few weeks.

The doctor took a long look at his right eye, and then his left, and moved back to his right eye. He said "have you noticed that he isn't focusing on you at all?" and I responded that I had noticed that, but thought it was normal. I mean, come on ... I was already the mother of one child and she was still alive.

He started talking about there being a lack of red reflex in the eyes. You know that red eye you see in pictures of people, the red eye that people will try to Photo Shop out of pictures? Well apparently, the Door Man had no light getting through his lenses to the retina to have it then bounce back. Hence his lack of focusing.

The doctor then said two words ... cancer and cataracts. That first one floored me. Something called neuroblastoma. Something I couldn't fathom because I just didn't want to think about it. But the second one didn't sound as threatening because I knew about cataracts. I was born with them.

I told the doc that I had them (and still did at that appointment), and he was very relieved. He got us scheduled in for an appointment with my opthamologist.

When we had that appointment, it was all I could do not to turn into a blubbering pile of goo in the dr's chair. But that is what I did when he told me that the Door Man did indeed have cataracts in both eyes. Handing me a tissue, the doctor instructed that we needed to move quickly on getting them removed because days with the cataracts were that many days that his vision was deteriorating. And having had to live through all of this myself, I knew of the urgent need.

We were scheduled to visit a pediatric eye specialist the next day, who then scheduled us in for the Door Man's first of two cataract surgeries the following week.

Putting contacts in the eyes of my child at the tender age of six weeks was one of the most difficult things to do. But I kept reminding myself that we could have gotten off a LOT worse than we had, especially considering that one of the first words out of our ped's mouth was neuroblastoma.

We now have a thriving five (soon to be six) year old who can take his own contacts out of his eyes. And let me tell you ... we have been through SOOOOO many pairs of contacts in the last five and half years to supply a small country.

I only hope that people can see past the size of the Door Man's eyes. I only hope that people can see past the fact that the Door Man still has to have books up close to his face. I only hope that people can look past the fact that the Door Man sometimes can't recognize his own father in an aisle in the grocery store. And I can only hope and pray that friends will be merciful and not hateful when the Door Man starts to wear glasses to read. I have lived through it all. It is a hurtful place to be when a peer calls you "four eyes" or "funny looking" because of the thickness of your glasses.

But I know the Door Man will be just fine. He has a good sense of humor and a wonderful sense of self.


Anonymous Jacque said...

Your little Door Man is such a sweetheart. As moms it's always like our heart is being ripped out when someone makes fun of our children. I hope kindergarten is a good experience for him. We'll just say a prayer for these kids and hope they turn out ok!!!! Being a mom....ummm exhausting!!!! Can't I be transported back to 1990 when all I worried about was my hair and where I was going on Sat night!!!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Elleoz said...

Aww! My heart breaks for you! I am sure that Door Man will be just fine. My DH was born with severe crossed eyes and still has a prominent lazy eye today. He has passed that on to my DS. DS was born with alternating esotropia (alternating crossed eyes) and had surgery on both eyes to correct it at 10 months old. He is doing well so far. He is slightly right eye dominant and still crosses the left when looking close up, but you would neber know he had crossed eyes now. We are still patching an hour every other day.

Children can be cruel, but he will be fine (just as you were) and be a better person for enduring it all. I know that we want only the best for our children and when they aren't exactly perfect we feel like it is our faults. It isn't. Hug that little man like there is no tomorrow!

9:43 AM  
Blogger The "Mind" said...

I could not imagine putting contacts into the eyes of an infant.

Hugs for the Door Man and yourself.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Kel said...

Door Man has beautiful eyes.

I couldn't imagine putting contacts in my infants eyes. I'm sure there were some hair raising times that were had.

Hugs to you!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Tonya said...

I was surprised that my son wasn't teased when he started wearing glasses. They have such "cool" glasses now that maybe he'll have the same luck.

If he's still young when he gets them, buy a bunch of cheap sunglasses and pop the lenses out. Let him take "new glasses" for everyone else to wear that day too.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Knitting Maniac said...

Tonya! Great advice!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Neurotic Mom said...

Awww big hugs to the little Door Man. With all the styles of kids frames now it's not as common for kids to get picked on and they can do special high index lenses which is what i have they are just a little more expensive but it's worth it. So chances are he wouldn't have the super thick glasses.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Just Me said...

When he is older (age 6+) you may want to see about Lions Club camps in your state. I worked at one through college, and they are entirely designed for kids with low/no vision. The kids get a lot out of being with 60 other kids with thick lenses, white canes, sighted guides, or whatever needs. A lot of my kids said it was their favorite time all year.

11:26 PM  

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I'm a mom of three peeps ... Queen Bee, The Door Man, and the Chandelier Monkey, and wife to Ace, the Helpful Hardware Man. I created this space to get away from the people known as my inlaws, and because life with three kids and a hubby is all Unexplored Territory.

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