Thursday, October 3, 2013

31 for 21: Vision

I posted this little story on Facebook back in March.....
Hunter and I picked Ella up at school and decided to go to the park. We stopped at Walgreens on the way for bottled water and to let Ella use the bathroom. As we were picking out our water this elderly lady (we are talking probably in her 90s) kept staring at Ella. Not smiling. She looks at me and said "that is just so sad," while pointing at Ella. Hunter looked up at me with a look of question on his face and I could feel my pulse speeding up. I was thinking very carefully about how to have a respectful conversation with this lady, how to explain Down syndrome. I started with "no she is great! Nothing to be sad about." The lady shook her head and said "it really is so sad. She is so young and has glasses already." I literally started to laugh. The lady said "how do they even know she needs them?" I explained very briefly how they test Ella's eyes and told her that Ella does really well with her glasses. The lady said "well the important thing is that she can see." Indeed. I'm soooo glad it ended up not being the conversation I feared!
Phew. LOL.
Ella's vision....
Ella first started wearing glasses in October of 2010, at the age of 4. I CRIED the day the eye doctor told us it was time for glasses. Seems silly now, but it was just one more thing that made her different. Also I just KNEW that she would NEVER tolerate wearing glasses. Boy was I wrong. Ella took to her glasses right away, and besides having to figure out how to adjust them to stay up on her little no-nose, we had no problems!
                                                                 Ella's 1st day of glasses
On March 10th, 2011 (her big brother's 7th birthday) Ella had her first eye surgery to fix her strabismus (eye crossing.)  In this surgery they loosened the inside muscle in each eye. Ella was a rockstar and her eyes did not seem to bother her except for when she was asleep and then she would try to rub them.
All seemed well after the first surgery....for awhile and then the crossing began again. The doctor said that Ella was crossing mostly when she was trying to focus up close so she put Ella in bifocals. Now that was a pain in the butt. When a small child wears bifocals, the line is supposed to bisect their pupil. Weird right? That would drive me nuts. As usual Ella did great with them once we fought with the glasses place about where the middle of her pupil was. If you look closely you can see the lines.
After a while the bifocals no longer fixed her crossing. Surgery #2 was on September 27, 2012.
Getting ready to head back for surgery.
 In this surgery she had the outside muscle of her right eye tightened, as well as the tear ducts in both eyes probed. When she came out of anesthesisia she tried clawing her eyes out but after that she was fine.

9 days after her 2nd surgery we were sitting at Hunter's soccer game. Ella was sitting between Chris and I, kind of sitting sideways in her chair.  A teenager kicked a ball behind Ella (during a game, not doing anything wrong) and it nailed Ella on the outside corner of her right eye. Yep the same eye that just got "fixed." The ball sent her glasses flying and left the markings of the ball on her face. We of course took Ella into the eye doctor and she was worried that the force of the ball could have knocked out the stitches that were holding her muscle tight but all we could do was wait and see.
She looked good from a far
                                      But this is what her eye looked like up close still makes me nauseous
We had her 8 week post op appointment and it was determined that she would indeed need a 3rd surgery. Ugh. This time she cut into both the outside and inside of her eye. This surgery was the worst for Ella. She woke up in extreme pain, crying and covering her eyes. It was SO sad. The pain continued through that day and we would have to cover her eyes with a washcloth to calm her down. This kid doesn't really show when she is in pain so it must have been pretty bad.

The great news in all of this is that the last surgery seems to have done the trick!!!!  We have gone to the eye doctor every 3 months since that surgery and I am thrilled each time when the doctor says that her eyes look better than ever! Phew!!!!! Her vision itself is changing every time it's checked though, which is not only expensive (to keep getting new lenses) but also a bit worrisome to me.  She hardly has any vision correction (as far as near/far) in either eye, just a little nearsighted in one eye, but has pretty bad astigmatisms that keep getting worse and will keep her in glasses. She got some new glasses this past spring, after wearing her old ones for 2 1/2 years! She outgrew her old ones, never broke them! 

Ella's new glasses!

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