Thursday, April 19, 2012


I think one of the really tough things about parenting is that when you're not privvy to the details of other people's lives, you assume that everything is 100% perfect. Many times we don't talk about our struggles. But I think it's important to address these roadblocks as well - everyone has some cross to bear. Life isn't perfect for anyone.

In October a friend came to visit with her little one. We had a great time seeing them. We took the boys for a walk and chatted and just hung out. Although the boys are about 2.5 months apart, we were due only a month apart. So developmentally the boys are much closer in age. The boys were sitting on a blanket in our living room when I noticed something that I'd been getting suspicious of over the past week or so. "There! Look! Is his eye crossed?!" I pointed to Emmett and my friend looked at him carefully. She is a detail-oriented person, Type A, a social worker. Also honest. Not the kind of person to ignore or sugarcoat things. She looked at him carefully for a minute or two before answering. "I don't see it. I don't think it is. Maybe it just looked that way for a minute," she said. I was glad she was there in the moment to give me her opinion. But I couldn't sweep the feeling under the rug. Couldn't dismiss it. Later when I was uploading pictures from the weekend, I noticed that his eye definitely looked crossed in any pictures where he was looking straight at the camera.

One of the pics from that weekend
I rooted around in my photo files. Just a week earlier his eye might have been a little off in one picture I took (of 100).
A couple of weeks earlier at the pumpkin patch
And a few weeks before that, at his school pictures in September, it looked just fine.

I started compiling pics of Emmett and his eyes into a flickr set, and planned to bring it up at his well baby visit with his pediatrician a three weeks later.

The following week, everyone else started noticing. My Dad asked if his eyes were crossed. Dad is a minister and has seen a lot of people and A LOT of situations. He pretty much knows everything (one time he asked me what a kind of cheese was that we were eating in Chicago and I was all "Holy cow I know something Dad doesn't." So dumb, a type of cheese. haha) I felt a sense of vindication that I wasn't just blowing things out of proportion, but also dismayed that there could be something actually wrong with Emmett.
That week, I saw a notice at his daycare that they would be doing eye exams at his school for the older kids. I asked them to have the person take a look at his eyes. I was given a note in a sealed envelope that night. "Dear Emmett's Mom, I would recommend taking Emmett to a pediatric opthamologist." Ugh. Not words you want to read.The next week at his pediatrician appointment, his doc looked at his eyes and said that while she thought his eye health was good, she was referring us to a doctor at Riley Children's hospital in downtown Indy. The soonest they could get us in was the first week in December. And so we waited.

The first appointment was pretty straightforward. They measured his eyes and agreed with my assessment. They prescribed glasses. The doctor told me that it would most likely correct with the glasses. If not, they'd try patching the good eye to encourage the development of the bad one. If that didn't work, then we'd try surgery.

Emmett turns a lot of heads in his tiny glasses. He is admittedly very cute in them. I'm glad I picked the square frames, as they "turn him into a tiny intellectual" as a friend commented.

In February we took him back to Riley to check on progress and they reported that the eye was less crossed. 18-20 diopters of crossed instead of 30 at the original appointment. But not enough to conclude that the glasses would correct the problem. They recommended patching but wanted to schedule the surgery for early summer. We were more than a little taken aback with what we thought was skipping a step straight to surgery. The error rate the surgeon quoted us was 20%. This was alarming to us, for sure. We scheduled a second opinion at Children's Memorial in Chicago.

Let's just say that the 773 Chicago area code cell phone and Indiana address really confused the administrative staff while making the appointment.

But the appointment was great. We were much better prepared to ask questions at this one, which probably explains most of why we felt better about it. The eye was also slightly better and they did extensive tests on eye health which put his eyesight at completely normal and equally good in each eye. But the doctor recommended the same exact course of treatment as Riley. Same methods, same strategy, same everything. The doctor even recommended Riley as highly as she did Children's. I knew Riley was very well-regarded, but I'm from Indiana. I wanted to know the opinion of the hospital outside of the state, and it's good to know that they are held in high esteem by Children's.

So here we are. Waiting until his next appointment May 11. Looking at him critically each day to see if it's gotten better. Waiting to see if the surgery works. Hoping that it does, to give our little man a chance at a normal life with two normal eyes.


Erin said...

My best friend (and roommate) from college lived almost her whole life with crossed eyes. She had surgery last year to correct it and she wishes she'd had it done earlier. I hope Emmett doesn't need surgery but, if he does, let me know if you want to talk to someone who has been there as both a child and an adult.

Mich said...

E is quite a handsome little man. Cannot wait to see his cute face in a few weeks. And fingers crossed for May 11!

MonkeyBusiness said...

I am 99% certain he will need the surgery. I'm just hoping it works!! They did say it is less painful than LASIK, which I've had and that makes me feel better knowing that he won't be in much pain really.

LMK said...

A little girl about E's age at Taryn's daycare has the same thing going on. Lee and I kind of watched her eye start to cross over the last year and they are currently on the glasses method of correcting too. E is definitely dapper in his glasses just like Baby Sarah is a cutie in hers at daycare. Hoping everything goes well!