After squirming and whimpering and squeezing her eyes shut as best she could while the nurse attempted to pry them open to apply three sets of eye drops, Zoe earned a lollipop from said very persistent nurse. We were out in the hall and Zoe was marveling at her lollipop. “That was fun!” she said. “Getting the eye drops?” I asked. “Yes!” she said. I guess the reward of the lollipop was so incredibly exciting that it erased entirely her memory of the eyedrops. The miracle of candy.
We spent nearly two hours today at the Children’s Hospital outpatient center for opthalmology and other specialities for a consultation with an eye surgeon about the next step toward treating Zoe’s ptosis (droopy eyelid). She was born with ptosis in both eyes, but it is most severe in her left. Her father was born with the same condition and had two surgeries of his own as a child to repair it.
I was disappointed (but not as much as Zoe) at the lack of toys in the waiting room. I had (naively) promised toys because I expected Children’s Hospital would furnish them in a room full of waiting children. There were books and tvs, but no toys. Luckily I had brought some of ours, but someone else’s toys are always more intriguing, especially when you’re waiting.
Overall Zoe was very cooperative and patient, the eye drop incident notwithstanding. She did a great job with the vision tests, and impressed the doctors because she knew all her letters. She has long since graduated from using the picture vision test. The doctors were great with her, and were extremely gentle, patient, and soothing. That certainly helped.
We’ve been seeing an eye doctor since Zoe was a baby to monitor the condition to make sure it hasn’t impaired her vision or development, and to watch for strabismus, the other (and more serious) eye condition that Randy has. So far no sign of strabismus, which is great. So we’ve known since the beginning that Zoe would one day have to have surgery.
Apparently that day is upon us, or at least will be on April 23. The surgeon will be someone we met with last week, who is affiliated with Children’s and comes highly recommended by the doctor we saw today. The surgery will be at Children’s.
I have been reminded by dozens of people–strangers and friends–who have offered their advice on how to prepare a child for surgery, that we are not alone. I am thankful that Zoe’s condition is easily treatable and correctable and hopefully will have no lingering effects. But of course it is still scary. I have three kids books on the way, including Curious George Goes to the Hospital, to help introduce the topic. Zoe loves loves loves to read and I believe that slipping these books in our regular reading rotation will make it easier when we have to talk with her about her own surgery.
I’ve heard from a couple parents that the hardest part is when your child wakes up from the anesthesia and completely freaks out and screams and cries for 45 minutes. At least we’ll be prepared. I’ve also heard about the merits of focusing with the child on all the treats she’ll get after the surgery, like ice cream. A little ice cream goes a long way with Zoe. Hopefully that will help.
We had been thinking, at the suggestion of Zoe’s regular eye doctor, that the surgery would be in the summer so she wouldn’t have to miss school (not as if she falls behind if she skips a few days of preschool), but the surgeon we saw last week encouraged us to have it done sooner rather than later so we wouldn’t have to keep Zoe away from the pool or the beach this summer as she recovers. So suddenly it is scheduled, one month from today. Zoe will be three by then and I will have just turned 36. Hopefully my present will be a healthy little girl who can see just a little better.