It is not easy to put eye drops into a wriggling 2 year old who is screaming “NO MOMMY IT HURTS.” We have it down to an art. She chooses the “treat” for being brave. My hubbie and I both wash our hands. Then I pick Elly up and sit on a chair. I hold her arms down and pull the bottom of her eyelid down, while my husband holds the top of her eyelid up and puts a drop in. Screaming for 2 seconds follows, then Elly sits up and says, “I’m ready for my treat.”
2 months after starting atropine drops, I felt like I lost my child. Elliana was a sweet adventurous, kind little girl. The drops made her clingy, fussy, and scared. She stopped sleeping through the night and had frequent tantrums. I addressed these concerns both with our PO and the vision specialist from the school from the Deaf and Blind. They both talked about trauma. The treatment our PO chose for Elly’s condition is to make the vision in her strong eye weak (drops) or not at all (patching) Because she could see with her strong eye before, the treatment was in a nutshell, taking her vision away. For any child or adult this would be a traumatic experience. Each person deals with trauma in their own way. I think it was about 6 weeks into the atropine drop treatment where I thought, “there is no way I can do this anymore.” I talked about these concerns with the PO and staff. They told me that most parents stop treatment because it is difficult. As the parent, it is up to me whether or not to implement the treatment plan. I can continue drops and have her vision keep improving, find a way to keep the patch on, or I can give up and let stay visually impaired for the rest of her life.
For us, we felt it was important to work through all of this for the chance at her vision improving. We have acknowledged and are teaching her how to work through her newfound fears of sirens, being alone, and the dark. We have also worked at teaching her ways to calm her body when upset; deep breaths, yoga, hugging a lovey, and rocking with mommy. I will also continue to ask questions and make use of all the resources available. Our next appointment is Tuesday and I will ask about the contact lens and if it would be an option for Elly. It also sounds hard, but I am open to new challenges if they will be better for Elly.
Not all days are peachy, but it has been over 3 months since she began the eye drops. She is now sleeping through the night again. I can also tell her focus has improved as she is holding books and other objects further away from her eyes (about 6 inches away as opposed to 2) We are having less tantrums and her vision in her right eye has improved significantly. It’s not easy, but knowing that as parents we are trying everything in our power to strengthen and improve her vision, it’s worth it.