My first pregnancy was a big surprise: “I’m what?” I wasn’t ready to be a mom (but who is, really?). I was so scared and will be forever grateful that my parents stepped up to support and help me. After my son was born, my mom and I noticed something about his right eye… why was the eye not opening? Why was it SO SMALL? We took my son to the doctor, who referred us to a specialist at OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University). The specialist ran some tests and informed me that my son was blind in his right eye and that there had been birth trauma of some kind. They could really only guess at that point and they didn’t have many answers for me.
I was encouraged to consider getting my son glasses, when the time came, to protect his one seeing eye. They created a “conformer” for my son to wear; a clear plastic shield that would slip over his right eye (under his lids), pushing the eyelids open. This would tell his brain, “Don’t stop growing the orbital bones around his eye! This eye is not dead!” Every day I would pop the conformer in and remove it for sleeping.
One day, just before my son turned one, I went to put the conformer into his eye and he SCREAMED. I was a young mother and had no idea how to handle this stress but with a little faith and family… I made it through! I called my mother and then the specialist. “What should I do?” They told me to bring my son to them right away so we packed up for the hour long drive and away we went.
An ultrasound was performed on his right eye in order to see what was wrong. They found a few complications on the report and took me to another room to ‘lay it on me.’
The kind doctor told me I had two choices: leave the eye in and put my son on steroid eye drops for years to come or... remove the eye and get a prosthetic eye. He pointed out that the steroid drops would have numerous negative side effects; something I needed to consider long term.
I asked him, “If this was YOUR son, what would YOU do?” He answered, “I would remove the eye and give him a prosthetic eye. It’s safer and he’ll have a happier childhood.”
We booked the surgery that day. A month later we had the eye removed; the surgery took four hours. The head surgeon removed a cyst from behind the eye – the size of a small apple. My son’s headaches could now be understood! The eye was stitched up for healing (a bloody mess, mind you) and three weeks later the stitches were removed to allow for healing. Not long after, a beautiful prosthetic eye was created (a piece of artwork, really) by a master of eyes, Dr Kevin.
We get a new eye created every few years as my son grows. Chandler is now 12 years old, has tested out in the Gifted Program at school, plays sports (even with no peripheral vision on the right side) and excels at just about everything he puts his stubborn mind to.
A little faith mixed with the support of family... I’m blessed!
Shara at Mommy Perks
UPDATE - As of June 2012
Chandler is currently attending JR High. He excels in mathematics and enjoys video game playing and talking back to me (smile). We work hard to keep him engaged with reading, outdoor play and peer activities. It’s not easy parenting a teen, that’s for sure! Chandler used to say that he wanted to be a professional ball player for a living but he moved on to engineering and now he is more interested in business ownership. If he does choose to run a business, that’s certainly something I can help him with as I run two of my own and my husband runs his own business! We’ll be an entrepreneurial family, then, eh?