Hi there! Long, long, LONG time, no talk. Ben is, like, 8 months old now. Mind blowing. And also kind of sad. Because dude. I’ve documented exactly NONE of this infancy, and that kind of breaks my heart sometimes. But life has been full and busy over the past 6 months, and I am grateful. Mascara slinging went from “just a side thing” to, well, almost earning the same monthly pay I made as a teacher… soo….. yeah. And it’s been weirdly fun. I mean, I have a legit, money making reason to get pretty in the morning. And I am still home with these two beautiful children whom I am beyond words thankful for. Which is really why I’m here again. This is, like, my place, you know? Even though I haven’t been here in months. I don’t have a zillion outlets these days for all the feelings and it feels unfair and wrong to complain to anyone who is dealing with more than this. After all, our issue isn’t life threatening. I mean, it’s fine. It’s not a big deal in the scheme of Things That Can Be or Go Wrong with Your Child. But I just need to tell someone. I mean. I’ve told people. My parents. C’s parents. Some friends. But I don’t have a place to really chew it on the whole thing, you know? So here I am. Hi.
Several months ago I was sitting with Elle while she was eating. This had to be almost a full 6 months or more ago. I looked over at her and she was crossing her eyes. I tried not to make a thing, because you know, toddlers do things. They experiment with the capacity of their bodies and they sometimes end up doing goofy things just because they found out they can. I assumed the crossed eyes thing was part of that. She uncrossed them, grinned a little, and went about eating. It happened a handful more times in the following weeks. I thought nothing of it.
Over the course of the months leading up to December, it happened a couple more times. Mostly I was still thinking this was toddler silliness, but slowly and surely, I started to feel a little bit wary of it. I couldn’t help but wonder if something wasn’t going on when this eye crossing was happening. Like, was she having a seizure or something? I know that sounds ludicrous, but I actually had a student several years ago with epilepsy. Except her seizures weren’t grand mal or stereotypical. When she was having a seizure, she literally completely zoned out and stared off. You could talk to her and it would be as if… nothing. Just nothing. So not really being an expert in any of these things, I couldn’t help myself from wondering if this crossing of the eyes was a way in which seizures manifested themselves. Just days before Christmas it happened while C’s parents were here. It seemed to be happening kind of a lot in December especially. And she had since stopped reacting entirely when it happened. Not in the typical attention-seeking toddler way, you know? It happened, then her eyes would correct, and she would go about whatever she was doing without even so much as looking in our direction. So I mentioned it to C and asked if it was a sign of a seizure. He said not normally, but told me we need to get her into the doctor as soon as we could after the holidays. Then he told me about strabismus.
Strabismus is basically a medical condition that most commonly occurs in babies and children, and it’s essentially crossed eyes. There are about a zillion (okay, exaggeration) variations of it. C instructed me to start making note of when it happens, how often, what the circumstances are, and if it’s both or just one eye. Over Christmas while we had family here, it was BAD. It mostly only happens when she’s tired, which is common with this condition, but I mean. It became EXTREMELY apparent that this was NOT being done on purpose. Like, one eye would spin wildly around while the other one stayed perfectly straight ahead. Um. Cue me being TOTALLY freaked out for my poor child.
Upon reading more, I learned that strabismus can be corrected and isn’t necessarily permanent. If left untreated it can cause loss of vision and other serious things, but if caught early and treated (like we’re in the process of doing), it can be resolved. It’s treated by either patching of one or both eyes, glasses, or in very severe cases, surgery on the eye muscles. It’s generally caused by issues with some nerves and muscles stuff, but can be associated with other conditions like Downs, cerebral palsy, and TUMORS. Annnnnnd cue me talking myself off a ledge here because we ALL know where mama brain goes after reading that. I keep repeating to myself that it is MOST LIKELY not a tumor of any kind causing this, that’s fairly rare, and we don’t know ANYTHING yet. We just know that something is not right with her eyes. But the odds are in favor that it’s the typical causes of this kind of thing.
I was able to get the referral to the ophthalmologist a week and a half ago, and finally today was able to nail them down for an appointment. A week from today we will have some solid answers about exactly WHAT is going on with her eyes and hopefully have a solid course of action for fixing it.
Just in time, too, because it’s steady and getting worse every week. Tonight we were up a little later than normal. I guess it happened (she was in my lap and I couldn’t see her face), because she started rubbing her right eye (this is the eye it is only happening in now) hard and kind of shaking her head a bit. Trying to open them, then rubbing more, and was so upset by it that she was crying a little bit saying, “Eye hurt! Eye hurt!” I felt completely and utterly powerless. Eventually they righted themselves and she said, “Eye all better!”
We don’t have an official diagnosis, but from preliminary reading, I know these things: It’s probably not life threatening. It’s probably not even necessarily going to be permanent. I am grateful that this is all we are facing (from what I know about it now) in terms of Things That Can Be Wrong. But at the same time, it’s kind of scary because it’s unfamiliar territory. And sad. And you know? You have a baby who is healthy (Thank God. We are eternally grateful), and you just don’t really ever think about anything EVER being wrong with them, you know? I mean. You think about the what ifs. You hear stories of other kids. But you never really imagine that your perfect and healthy child will have something medically wrong with them, beyond your average kid illnesses and all that jazz. So when something does end up being wrong with your kid, regardless of severity, it feels sad. Or maybe that’s just me. I feel sad about it. I mostly have talked myself down and have given myself a healthy dose of perspective. But sometimes, like tonight when she was clearly upset by it and not able to immediately correct the eye turning in (and who even knows what that does to her vision), I feel sad. But you know? Stuff happens. WORSE stuff happens. I taught a student during my first year of teaching. He had just been diagnosed with brain cancer a year before. He died 2 years after I taught him. I know his parents never imagined having their son diagnosed with cancer, much less losing their son before he was even 18. My own parents had me and 45 minutes later found out I had a heart condition that was life threatening and they weren’t sure what they could do about it, if anything, and that I might die. 11 months later, they told them that I absolutely had to undergo heart surgery, and there was a good chance I could die during the surgery (1984 was not super advanced in the treatment of certain heart conditions. If I were born today with the same condition? They wouldn’t even crack my chest open. How’s that for medical advances, man!), but it was do this surgery, or die before I hit 2 years old. Far scarier things than crossing eyes. I guess what I’m saying is, this is small bones in the scheme of things. So I feel kind of guilty and bad for feeling scared and sad about it. By kind of, I mean REALLY. I feel REALLY guilty for feeling scared and sad about it. I am reminding myself daily to be thankful that this is all we are facing. So what if she has to wear a patch for awhile. So what if she has to wear glasses. And if she has to have surgery… well…. we’ll cross that bridge if we get there. The bottom line is that something can be done, and I need to remember that and be thankful.
SIDE NOTE THOUGH (thoughts just keep pouring into my mind): On the other side of that coin… I worry about other kids. I worry about her having to wear glasses to school and kids being mean. Or what if it’s bad enough that she has to wear the patch a LOT and other kids make fun of her. I don’t want my daughter believing that there is something less than about her because she has to wear glasses or an eye patch for awhile. I don’t want kids to be mean. I don’t want anyone to make her feel less than because of it. I think the social side of things worries me a lot. Or, what if she DOES need surgery and what if something goes wrong there?
BUT. There is worse. There is better. But there is far worse. We don’t even officially know what IT is yet. One week. 6 days now. So, it’s all good. It’ll all be good.
Thanks for letting me hash out some thoughts here, internet, old friend. I’ll let you know what happens.