No one ever wants to admit that there is something wrong with her child. So, when our local Belgian pediatrician took one look at Flora two months ago and said, "there's something going on with her right eye," I was miffed and momentarily convinced that the doctor was a mean sadist who liked to hurt people. But, of course, after I pulled myself together and gave it some real thought, I had to agree that there was something "going on with her right eye." I dutifully gave Stefan the name and number of the pediatric ophthalmologist and asked him to call and make an appointment right away. My French, though getting better, still isn't good enough to navigate a hospital switchboard.
Right away turned out to be two months later, this past Monday. While we waited for the appointment, we told ourselves many stories about how this was something she would grow out of. "It's a developmental thing. She'll be fine." But in the backs of our minds, we were fearing that the something "going on" was a lazy eye or as the medical community calls it, "Strabismus."
When our Monday appointment finally arrived, we were thrilled to be able to at last dispel our fears and move on. Unfortunately, after what was the most horrendous and unpleasant doctor's appointment my children or I have ever had, we found out that she does, indeed, have strabismus. Her right eye is severely far-sighted, so much so that the strain of trying to see out of it has forced it to turn inward. Poor little peanut can't see and we really had no idea. Of course, now we know why she has refused to walk more than 6 or 7 steps before stopping, sitting down and reassessing the route. It's a bummer, but at least we know that there isn't something more sinister at play.
It's funny how life works. When I was living in San Francisco, trying to get a catering business off the ground, I doubled as the personal assistant for the former president of the International Council of Ophthalmology. He was and is one of the most well-respected and forward-thinking doctors to practice in the field. He also has spent the better part of his retirement working to put an end to preventable blindness in developing countries. You know what one of the most common causes of otherwise preventable blindness is? Strabismus. So, of course, after being largely mistreated by a very nervous student doctor who spoke badly broken English, I immediately sent my old boss and friend an email, asking him every question under the sun about this condition, its treatments and prognosis. Of course, he searched his vast Rolodex for the foremost pediatric ophthalmologist in Belgium and got us an appointment for a few weeks from now. We will be seeing the HEAD of Pediatric Ophthalmology at University Hospital Ghent (there's the opportunity to return to Ghent we've been waiting for...)He also assured me that with proper care (glasses in the best case, surgery in the worst), the prognosis for both vision and appearance are excellent.
So... now we are just waiting, for the glasses to be made (apparently, this "special" corrective lens takes a very long time to make... but I think it's just the Belgian way of doing things: very, very slowly with little concern for customer experience. That's another blog post all together, however) and for our next ophthalmological appointment. Unfortunately, I am assuming Flora will face another grueling exam in which she's held down, kicking and screaming, for upwards of two hours. While I am looking forward to having a competent doctor evaluate her condition, I am not looking forward to that.
When the glasses are finally ready, I will post pics of my little bespectacled Flora May. If anyone can pull this off, it's her.
Little House in the Big Tokyo
1 week ago