Monday, February 13, 2012

A Dear Doctor

It was 10 years ago that I asked Allan if he thought David's left eye was occasionally "falling" in towards his nose.  We watched for a few days and concluded that it was indeed turning in from time to time.

We immediately got him into what turned out to be a disastrous optical appointment where the Ophthalmologist become so irritated that a 2 year old boy wouldn't concentrate and follow instructions that he ended up yelling at David and I ended up walking out. 

A referral to a paediatric ophthalmologist we were told was a 6-8 month wait.  I know enough about brain development to know that is too long to wait for an intervention especially for something as important as vision. 

So I took the afternoon off and took David to Children's Hospital and sat in Emergency with "eye pain".  After the 3 hour wait they informed me he seemed ok but that he needed to see a Paediatric Ophthalmologist and that we could see Dr. Chris Lyons at Children's in the Ophthalmology clinic the next day.  BINGO!

A very comfortable place now!
And so our visits to Dr. Lyons and Children's Ophthalmology began - a relationship that continues today and for which I could not be more grateful.

Dr.Lyons is a gentle giant.  Soft-spoken and kind with smiling eyes and such an encouraging way with children.  We were shocked to learn that David had almost no vision in his left eye - his vision was 20/200 (functionally blind in his left eye) not because there was anything much wrong with the eye other than a small misalignment but that because of this small misalignment his brain had stopped sending vision information to his left eye and the right eye was doing all the work.  The fix was two-fold.....surgery to correct the eye alignment and then a patch over the right eye to make the brain form a new neural pathway to send vision information to the left eye.  He also had no 3D perception which explained his fear of stairs and water.  He still has no 3D but you would never know it - his brain has compensated completely.

Surgery went well and the patching began.  I can honestly say in all the 5 years David wore a patch - to daycare, to school, on vacation, he never complained.  It used to hurt my eye when we peeled the sticky patch off his little eyelid every night but he was stoic.

I went into his classroom every year from k-Grade 3 and did a lesson on why David wore a patch - all the kids got to try one on and ask the questions they had - some funny, some insightful.  We always told the teacher that he may appear deaf as well as he was working so hard to see he sometimes didn't hear unless the teacher made eye contact with him.

And now.......all these years later....with glasses on..... we celebrate vision that is 20/25!  A miracle of medical science and a marvel of persistence on David's part.  Dr. Lyons was and continues to be such an amazing cheerleader for the work that David has done and he is so affirming - today he told him "David you can do anything, be anything you want and your vision won't hold you back". 

D always gets hot choc and an oat fudge bar while his eyes dilate
While we sit and wait to see Dr Lyons, and then for the dilating drops to work, we see so many other children, now mostly younger than David, with so many challenges, so many frailties that we feel blessed that we got something relatively minor and fixable - wearing glasses is hardly a difficulty to even speak of when you see what some of those other little people and their families deal with.

Vancouver Children's Hospital is world class, Dr.Lyons is the leading Ophthalmologist for children in BC (he flies around the world to teach and lecture and perform surgery) and for all the time we saw him today, for all the advanced technology he used to look inside David's eyes and prescribe new lenses, for the added love and care and affirmation that he gives on top of his expertise,  I paid $11.65 for parking.

Truly blessed.

David and Dear Dr. Lyons

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