Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Virginia Beach: Part One

Vitals:  The boys are doing well.  Everyone keeps asking me if the probation period is over.  The answer to this question is, "YES.  Just don't tell Bill, because he doesn't know it yet."

Details:  Will had his eye surgery on Wednesday (3/16).  It was both better and worse than I expected.  We had two preliminary appointments with the eye doctor.  At the first appointment the doctor measured both eyes with a few instruments and said that Will has no dominant eye, which is good, but that his eyes, instead of being crossed, actually point outward.  So that while one is focusing forward, the other is looking away. 

A few weeks later, we had a second follow up appointment to make sure the initial measurements were accurate.  This is where things got tricky.  The doctor only measured ONE EYE.  He measured Will’s right eye and then went right to his Dictaphone and recorded the measurements and notes from our visit.  I wasn’t really sure how to handle it, but I was certain he had only re-measured one eye, while he had measured both eyes on our initial visit.  So, right or wrong, I asked the doctor about it.  He didn’t seem to take this well.  Apparently, he is not used to being questioned.  He gave me a sort of shocked look and said something dismissive. 

I really wasn’t sure what to do.  He is the only pediatric ophthalmologist in my “area” and I’d driven 20  miles to get to him.  It was either continue with him or drive to the next biggest city and start the process all over again.  So, I sat there with Will on my lap and finally decided the man looked pretty darn old.  If he’s been in practice since he was young and hasn’t been sued yet, he must be a reasonably safe bet.  I tried one more time, because I really would have been more comfortable if he re-measured both eyes, since both were going to be operated on, but he actually told me it was only necessary to re-measure one eye, which I didn’t really believe, and then he quickly moved on by telling me details about the surgery and pre and post operative procedures.  What can you do?
So, the surgery was last Wednesday.  We couldn’t feed Will anything after midnight, but luckily, he was so distracted by the drive and the waiting room that he never even asked for food.  Will sat quietly on my lap while they checked him out, then they gave him some medicine to make him loopy before they put in the IV.  Will was hilarious.  He started giving me hugs and kisses and talking loudly in a kind of lofty voice.  After a few minutes, they came to take him to the surgery room and I had to pass my little drunk off to a relative stranger. 

This was more difficult than I expected.  A nurse was holding him, so I was free to go.  But as I was leaving,­­ I saw that the nurse was still in the room, holding Will and talking to another nurse.  Try as I might, I just couldn’t leave the room with her standing there.  It was like my feet were glued to the floor.  I just sort of hung out by the EXIT, fiddling with my stuff and glancing over at the nurse hoping she would leave so I could move my feet again.  I could see Will’s little legs, still in his braces, hanging over her arm.  He’s very little.  …. Anyway, she finally went out to surgery and I went out the exit and collapsed into the nearest chair. 

There were only two bits of relevant post-op information. One: they over correct the eyes. Will’s eyes pointed out,  for the next few weeks, they will be pointing inward.  Again, there is no use questioning this, because the doctor is not inclined to discuss the issue.  Apparently, in the pre-op paperwork, I agreed to the “one question per visit” policy (answers are optional) that is strictly enforced here.  It is what it is.  Two:  keep the eyes dry.  Not really an issue except in the tub.  Just keep a dry cloth over his eyes when you wash his hair and all is well.  … no swimming, by the way.

Therein lied the rub, since we went to VA beach over the weekend.  Bill stayed home so Matt and Paul could go to their soccer game and I took the four little ones with me to the beach.  I just love it there.  We stayed at Spring Hill Suites, in an Oceanside room.  Anytime I wanted to for a full 24 hours, I could look up and see light brown sand, white surf, the clear blue sky and the white-yellow sun.  Endless beauty was just a quick glance away.  I could live in that room, even with six children. 

Of course, we weren’t in there much, but it was still worth it.   We spent most of Saturday playing in the giant sand box, and letting the boys put their feet in the waves.  Then, as you might guess, in the evening we went swimming.  I had no choice about this.  We HAD to go.  Every time we went to or from an elevator, we passed the indoor swimming pool.   It was the boys first time seeing a swimming pool.  I couldn’t walk them past it over and over again without letting them try it out.  They were already drawing attention to themselves just by existing: the walker, the braces, the loud shrieks of excitement at EVERYTHING, and Will, with eyes now crossed inward and looking like I had spent last 24 hours hitting him in the head with a shovel.  If I said “no” to swimming, I’m certain someone would have reported me to DEFACS.

So, yeah.  I took them swimming.  I got them both in bathing suits, life jackets, water wings and goggles.  They had SUCH a good time.  Will really loved it.  He spent most of the time with Reilly so I could watch Ruslan.  Ruslan had a harder time in the water because his feet are not heavy enough to go DOWN and keep his head UP so I really needed to stay with him and trust Will’s eyes to my ten year old.    

I have to confess, I did feel a little guilty this.  I know I sounded like a neurotic lunatic to the rest of the people in the pool, but theoretically, as long as Will kept the goggles on, his eyes would stay dry and there would be no problem.  I just had to keep reminding Reilly and Will about this and check constantly to make sure the goggles were on right and not leaking. 

Lest you are reading this and thinking, “what an idiot,” take comfort in the fact that I heard your voice, along with the voices of every one of my Type-A-non-risk-taking-friends shrieking in my ear about stitches, infection, swelling, and the resulting blindness.  You were there.  Trust me.    

Anyway, all that worry was over nothing.  Will’s eyes stayed bone dry the entire time.  He loved the goggles so much, he actually slept with them that night. 

We drove home Sunday and his eyes still looked fine.  I started to relax a little since the redness was diminishing and there are no indoor pools in my county. 

On Monday the kids all played outside after school.   It was a relatively nice day here and when I went out to check on them, I found Will totally drenched.  They had filled up the kiddie pool and Will, who just loves water, was sitting on the edge of the pool and dumping water on his head with a cup.  He smiled up at me, blinking water out of his eyes and said, “Look mama, water!”

Yesterday, Tuesday, was the follow up appointment.  I used my one question to ask if Will’s eyes looked OK, since he had been dumping water on his head.  I thought the doctor might ask me some questions like; When? How much water? Was the water especially dirty?  Have the eyes seemed more painful or bloodshot since then?  Has Will had a fever, swelling, etc.   However, the doctor sort of waved me off, gave Will a quick glance, got out the familiar measuring tool, measured the same ONE EYE that he did on the last visit (though he operated on both), declared that all was well and went straight to the Dictaphone.  Apparently the one-question-answers-optional policy is the only thing that is really strictly adhered to when it comes to eye surgery.  Things like keeping the eyes dry and measuring both of them after surgery are not as vital as one might first believe.  …Now I know.


  1. Grouchy doctors are the worst. I am glad that he is doing well! When will Bill know about the probation period?

  2. Hi. Words do not express how excited I am to find your blog! I recently found out from Sasha Skripak that Ruslan was adopted. He showed me video of Ruslan walking with his walker and I just couldn't believe it! For the last 2 summers I have co-led a trip to Vorzel and have spent much of my time there with Ruslan. I cannot express what an answer to prayer it is to know that he is in the states and with a family and receiving love & care. I look forward to following your family's story.

  3. Our daughter could get her eyes wet, just not go swimming... maybe the chlorine? I dislike mean, grouchy, above-question doctors!