Monday, October 22, 2012

Cal's Alignment Surgery

On Friday Calvin had his third eye surgery; it was his sixth time under anesthesia. I guess maybe it gets easier, but it still is hard to carry him back to the operating room in paper clothes, put him on the operating table, and hold him while they strap the mask over his mouth and nose. I sing to him quietly in his ear and then he goes limp in my arms. I get a kind look from the anesthesiologist and usually from the doctor. This time, she squeezed my hand and told me they’d take good care of him. Also this time, the anesthesiologist was a different one. Up until then we’d had the same guy, most times with Cal and the one who did my epidural—he cried a little with me when Cal was three months old and the doctor told us he’d never see. This time the anesthesiologists’ name was Dawn, which made me comfortable for an absolutely irrelevant reason. It’s not often you meet a Dawn, so it felt meaningful.

The surgery was to align his eyes. His right eye had always turned in a little, but was turning more and more the past six months. Since his vision has improved over the past year, ever since we found the fantastic, more aggressive pediatric ophthalmologist, she wanted to align the eyes not only for cosmetic reasons, but because she says there’s a chance he could see at the same time with both eyes. Statistically, binocular vision is not likely with his past, but when she said there was a chance, of course we wanted to give it to him. The disconcerting part about this alignment surgery was that she actually went into both eyes and loosened the muscles to align them. Allowing her to go in to his good eye was up to us—she could have done the alignment just in his one eye, but that type of alignment surgery often doesn’t take as well as when it’s done with two eyes. When she showed me what she would do with her giant eyeball model in her office, and how less intrusive this surgery was than his past surgeries, I felt better. We finally decided to let her go for the surgery that statistically works much better.
He came through like a champ. The nurses said that just two minutes out of the operating room he started stirring and asking for Mom, a hug, and a popsicle, the first of which he got quickly, the third he had to wait awhile for, but did eventually get.  The doctor said the surgery went great—she looked at the retina, cornea, did a pressure test, and everything checked out well. She warned us that he’d look like he’d been punched in the eyes for a week or two. She also said that for the next few weeks his eyes would probably wander around occasionally. We were prepared for the worst, but his eyes look great. The right eye doesn’t turn in at all. His eyes are red, but not black around them, as we’d pictured. I have to put ointment in each eye twice a day, which is tries my patience and his lungs, but is not as all-consuming as the fourteen eye drops a day when he was four months old.

We also got some more great news: he doesn’t need to wear a contact anymore! His eye has been bothered by contacts over the past year—he had two serious eye infections— and so for the last year we’ve been putting the contact in every morning and taking it out every night. Before that, he could wear one for a week. As you can imagine he was happy to hear the no-contact news too.
So that’s the news on the eye-front. Great news, in fact. I’m continually amazed at how well his eye has done after we were told he’d never see and probably have to have it removed from his head. Again I say to everyone: get second opinions! Get third opinions! We’ve done both and that’s why he has his eye—a healthy eye, albeit abnormal, but a seeing eye. We thank everyone for so much support and love we’ve had with this challenge we’ve had most of his life. And thank you for your unending prayers. They’ve made a difference. Please keep them up!

For the full story of Cal's diagnosis and initial surgeries, click here.

For the story of his second second and third opinion stories, click here.

Saying goodbye to him for his first exam under anesthesia-- 3 months old
After first surgery-- 4 months old
Decorating his anesthesia mask with stickers,
and my clothes with crayons-- 3 1/2 years old

Hugging Clark before surgery

All set to go to surgery
A couple days later...still a bit puffy and red, but back to normal shenanigans

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