Friday, January 29, 2010


Actually I don't know if scalpels are used in strabismus surgery. Maybe they use something else equally sharp and horrifying.

We went for our second opinion this week. Kiddo was pretty well-behaved, I must say. We read a Highlights together in the waiting room (infinitely more interesting than Rachael Ray on the TV) and after we headed to the examining room, he was perfectly happy to play with the toys in it while hanging out in the big chair. He answered the opthalmologist's questions like a pro. Even after getting his eyes dilated, he shrugged it off pretty quickly and bopped around the rear waiting room -- clearly designed for dilated kids and bored mamas, with more toys and a few magazines -- not even trying to escape and run wild through the place, which he's been known to do. The opthalmologist was impressed, calling him both smart and mature for his age. Excuse me while I bask in that for a minute.

Of course, he also said kiddo absolutely needs surgery. Excuse me while I freak.

He said 25 percent of kids with this problem grow out of it more or less on their own, and the trick is figuring out whether the kid you're looking at is in the 25 percent or the 75 percent that need intervention. He also said he doesn't think patching ever works and he's had kids come to him after patching, vision therapy and glasses but he's never had to redo a surgery. And that the parents most against the surgery in the first place tend to be happiest with the results.

It's a half-hour procedure, they put the kid under for it, he's been doing it for years, etc. and yada and yikes.

I can't argue the fact that kiddo's eyes are worse. And obviously patching only worked for a little while, and you can't patch an eye indefinitely unless your name is One-Eyed Willie. And boy, there was absolutely no hesitation on the doctor's part; about five seconds into the exam he was talking surgery.

So there's the second opinion. The pediatrician recommended yet another specialist if we wanted to explore the issue further; do we try for a third?


Better writers than me have already weighed in on the late lamented Mr. Salinger, but I thought I'd note that I just reread "Catcher" a couple months ago and liked it all over again. Holden's such a screwed-up kid, but you can see the wry, caring adult he might actually become if he can manage to survive to adulthood. I especially like when he offers to buy the nuns a drink, which is both kinda creepy and a nobly failed attempt to be as sophisticated and gentlemanly as the adults he hates.

I think I'd like to be the catcher in the rye too. Except I'm old enough to know you can't always save people from themselves.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Strabismus: The Sequel

For the longest time we thought kiddo's eyes were better. The patching seemed to work. It was almost like the visits with the pediatric opthalmologist were a formality.

Yeah, that didn't last.

So his eyes are worse. To the point where someone besides us might notice the wandering eyeball if they watched him closely enough. Sometimes he seems to do it deliberately, push them in opposite directions to get a rise out of us, and then he looks a little like a lizard creature. Which kills me, because he's a pretty adorable kid.

And the doctor's verdict, so far, has been, and I'm paraphrasing here: "Huh. Looks worse. See you in three months."

I cannot believe there's nothing else we could be doing right now. What are we supposed to do, sit back and wait for it to get bad enough to require surgery? Because that seems to be the doctor's strategy. And surgery doesn't always work. And also: It's surgery! He's not even 3 yet.

So I'm taking him to another specialist for a second opinion, because I'd like to feel like we really did exhaust all other options.

Periodically I meet another adult who clearly has a variation on what he has, and it's incredibly disconcerting. You can't tell whether they're looking at you, so you can't watch their face for social cues. Makes conversation difficult. I always want to ask them about it -- have you always had it? did anyone try to treat it? how does it affect your life? -- but of course that would be crazily rude so I don't. And then I feel like a jerk, hoping my son doesn't turn out like them.

On the plus side, he seems to function pretty well with a wonky eyeball. He loves being read to, and is starting to figure out the words in books (by having them read to him over and over and over and over and sigh). He can focus on his toys or his food or that godawful "Super Why" show with no problem. Just sometimes, when he's tired or cranky or when he feels like it, he unfocuses.

I hope the doctor tells us something useful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I hate to eat and run, but the kid sure doesn't

This time around on the baby train, I've definitely expanded my repertoire of semi-public  places to nurse in. I don't know if it's because I'm more laid back about the whole thing or because kiddette is hungrier than her big brother was (which I find hard to believe, considering his monster appetite). For instance, I discovered handicapped fitting rooms in department stores work nicely, because the stroller fits in them and there's a seating area. But it does bring up the Miss Manners question: "So, Miss Manners, does a hungry baby get dibs over a disabled person looking to try on a blouse?"

I was using just such a fitting room recently when I heard a knock on a door -- couldn't tell if it was my door -- and a woman poked her head in, saw me (didn't see much else, I'm quite discreet), apologized and backed out. I heard her wheeling something away and muttering something or other about trying the store's other set of fitting rooms. And I thought, Oh dear Lord, I just prevented a woman in a wheelchair from using the fitting room legally designed for her use. And I felt horribly guilty. And also annoyed because if regular fitting rooms were bigger, I could've used one of those; if there were another sort of private-ish room I could use in the vicinity, I'd use that; if people weren't so weird about mothers nursing in public, I could just grab a bench near the food court and no one would blink an eye, and I wouldn't have to worry about, say, getting the cops called on me at Target.

But I finished feeding kiddette and put her gently snoozing body back in the stroller, then opened the door to see the same woman from before. And I was hugely relieved to see she was pushing ... another stroller. I told her we were done and she was welcome to the room. We chatted briefly, exchanged our daughters' vitals (age? weight? serial number?) and then kiddette and I headed out. I have no idea whether the other mom wanted the room to feed in or just to try stuff on in, but it's a bit of a moot point.

Still my etiquette question remains. What if it had been a woman in a wheelchair? Because normally I get all kinds of peeved at non-disabled people who use disabled fitting rooms and restroom stalls and parking spaces. But if there isn't another space available to use, what's a mother (and wailing baby) to do? You'd think, as more women breastfeed and do so for longer periods of time, that this issue would pop up more often. 

In case you were wondering what other wacky places I've nursed lately: Church. Precisely one minute into the baptism we were attending. (In the hallway, not the pew.) Hungry little stroller jockey, isn't she?