So yesterday was a pretty big day for us…months in the making. Jack was finally set to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. (No matter how many times I try, I never spell that word right.) I was nervous and excited. Anyone who has been around Jack for longer than 10 minutes will probably have noticed that his eyes can sort of float, particularly his left one. Sometimes he has me fooled because it looks like that’s the one he’s using. He holds books and video games way too close to his eyes. We’ve heard every technical term that involves things like lazy eye and being far sighted and even near sighted. We had no idea just how much he was seeing. Beyond that, I was starting to consider that lack of sight might account for his developmental delay.
Some of you are new here, so I’ll back up a little bit. Jack was a special needs adoption. His special need was a developmental delay. That delay could be caused and was likely to be caused by institutionalization. When we went to China, we had no idea how bad the delay would be but we were very hopeful that it would be mild. In some ways, we were right. In other ways, we were very, very wrong. In China, Jack could barely walk. He didn’t speak Chinese, or Mandarin or any other dialect. He only parroted what others said. It didn’t take him long to learn to walk, step off of things and soon he is running and jumping. I promise you he has way better dance moves than I’ve ever had. The boy can get his groove on! His language is still not picking up. He still says very little on his own without repeating someone. He does understand. If I say, “Let’s clean up,” he’ll put his cars back in their respective tubs. If I say we need to go potty, he marches to the bathroom. He will also stand and stare at me while he pees in the floor instead of telling me he needs to go. Frustrating much? So it’s a big old balance.
Back to the doctor’s office. We walked in and Jack was a Rock Star! Every person in that office knew him by name even though we had never been there before. He was saying, “Hi Jack!” (This is what he always says when someone says hello.) All it took was one person cracking up and he was working the room, high fives all around. We headed back to our little room…our new home for a bit. He sat up in the big chair and let the assistant check him out. Before long, the doc came in. He was a really good guy. One look at Jack and he said that he would probably need glasses but Mallory would be in to put in some drops before he could tell. Mallory came in. I warned her. He doesn’t like it when I mess with his eyes. He may scream. She said no worries, she has a baby at home. All I can say is I warned her! Jack through a major hissy fit from the time the first drop hit his first eye. Mallory quickly left so I could try and calm him.
Somewhere around the time I finally got Jack to act like Jack, Mallory came back in. Jack may not say much but his eyes speak volumes. I am constantly getting a look that says, “Look (Insert any one of a dozen cuss words here) I don’t know what you think you’re going to pull but no!” He had that look. His eyes…were…not….dilated. This is where I want to cuss. One of the other things that Jack says sounds like GUH GUH Glease! It started as milk please but has morphed into his version of give it to me now I am not happy! At one point he started yelling GUH GUH Glease over and over and swinging at Mallory. Good times! New drops, different prescription went in but little man wasn’t pleased. He proceeded to scream his head off FOREVER. Then he stopped and just started wailing. He absolutely could not understand why I would hold him down while she did that. The office workers started coming in to cheer him up. I can officially tell you that squeaky toys are not the answer. Neither is sending Mallory back in. They started to worry that his tears would dilute and wash out the drops. No one wanted to go through that again.
The next man in was Dr. Hidaji. Jack wasn’t very happy with him either. He somehow understood that the good doctor made the call to put burning liquid in his eyes. I let Dr. Hidaji look at my eyes first with Jack on my lap. I overdid it with the how fun it was and suddenly Jack was game to do whatever he needed to do to get out of that dark little room. Dr. Hidaji looked and Jack’s eyes, then looked again. He told me that he was shocked but Jack’s vision is actually excellent, both eyes are great. He did say that the eye rolling thing isn’t normal. I told him that I didn’t need his medical degree to know that. He then began to explain the plan of treatment and what could be causing the problem. I asked approximately 578 questions and we were done.
Here’s the short story to Dr. Hidaji’s answers. Jack’s brain and the muscles in his eyes aren’t doing a great job of communicating. They are capable of it, because Jack’s eyes don’t always float around they just don’t communicate all the time. Sort of reminded me of a bad marriage. Our first step is see if he can train them to communicate all the time. We’ll be patching Jack’s eye for about two hours a day. He’s not a fan so this is going to be a challenge. Hopefully this will correct. Most likely, sometime after we get settled in Hawaii Jack will need surgery. It’s pretty common but it does come with some risks. The other thing is, this is a neurological condition. Likely it’s no big deal. Because Jack’s gross motor skills have started to develop so well and so fast, it’s not very likely that he has a rare genetic disorder. We also don’t have any biological history on him or have any idea why he was abandoned. It’s not like he had severe heart disease that his parents couldn’t pay for. So, we have to stay vigilant in watching for certain signs. So far, they are not there. Thank God.
Last, I know some of you reading this are in Hawaii or have lived there. We would love to get recommendations for pediatric ophthalmologists there. If you see someone or know someone, please let me know. Prayers have been answered but just like always, we covet them. Selfishly, I would love to see a miracle here and not have to go to surgery the second we get to a new duty station. Plus, about the time he gets over this visit… I have another appointment for Jack that will involve shots on Tuesday. I’m pretty sure he will never forgive me.