Monday, May 7, 2012
Amblyopia means that for Elizabeth her left eye sees poorly. In fact, it the difference between how well her left eye sees and her right eye sees that if not corrected the brain will begin to ignore the eye that sees poorly and put all of the work on the other eye. When she was four we realized her eye was going to the side a little, it was for a brief moment and then it would straighten out. I noticed it for a split second then it would go back so I thought maybe I was seeing things. But when her preschool teacher told me she had been doing some testing and noticed it as well I knew we needed to go to the pediatric opthamologist. My Aunt Myrna, my sister, Marjorie and now Elizabeth all struggle with this problem.
So after a visit to the pediatric opthamologist, we got her glasses and began patching. At first we patched from the moment she woke up until an bathtime, which was an hour or so before bed. As her left eye has improved we have been able to decrease the amount of time we need to patch, now we require patching four hours each day.
Now though at 10 years old with her 11th birthday looming we are facing a new challenge. Elizabeth is at an age where being different is tough on kids. Elizabeth is already noticeably different without wearing an eye patch, so I have found the eye patches hidden in the house and I mentioned this to Dr. Lenart when I took Beka into her eye check up (she does not have amblyopia) and he asked the question I had hoped we would be able to avoid, "How do you feel about surgery?"
How do I feel about surgery? Well it's one thing to have your child sedated for an MRI test, hearing test (yes they do sedation hearing tests), and sedation to stitch up her foot after she cut it on a piece of broken tea cup. But this is them messing with her eyes, going inside her body and adjusting with things. . . I feel anxious, but I didn't say this. He said we could get more bang for our buck with this surgery. Because we still have some drifting by performing this surgery it would help Elizabeth's eye to see better. The surgery is 15 minutes, he would go in and tighten up the muscles in her eye that are weak so the drifting would not be as bad and this would mean her eye could work on seeing better without also struggling to remain where it should and fighting the drifting. It sounds great doesn't it? Well there is a hitch - it only has a 70% success rate. That sounds great, but personally I would feel less anxious if there was a 30 % chance she will require further surgery in the future. I'd like the odds to be more like 85/15 or 90/10, but 70/30 is as good as it's going to get, so I have to take it. So how do I feel about surgery? Oh and after the surgery we are going to switch to eye drops that work the same as the patch she wears now. It will be a patch without patching physically so the other children can see it. It will blur her vision in the right eye so the left eye has to work. This makes her left eye keep working, and stops her brain from ignoring it - if we left this unchecked her left eye would eventually go blind and her right eye would do all the work.
How do I feel about surgery? Anxious, what if it doesn't work? What if they over-correct or under-correct? What if it gets totally botched and she ends up blind? Those are the questions I try not to think about. . .instead I try to focus on the idea of her eye continuing to improve. I focus on the finding child care for Beka for the day of surgery and making plans for the 2 weeks she isn't supposed to play outside, run, etc. . . I'm thinking lots of coloring, games, movies, and jammie days. I focus on praying that Lizzie is a part of the 70% that have success with the surgery. It helps that some of my friends on Twitter are fasting and praying for her on alternating days leading up to her surgery. There is comfort in that.
So this is where we are - The week prior we go in for a physcial. May 30 we go in for pre-op consult, then May 31st I let them have my daughter to adjust her eye. Post op is Monday, June 4th. So until then I try to take a lot of deep breaths and remember if this is how anxious I am for an eye surgery how much more anxious would I be if she had something life threatening?
Have a good week.