Many thanks to Lindsay for sharing this story about her son Jack who has congenital cataracts. She blogs about his story at Jack’s Journey. -Ann Z
Jack was the picture of health for the first 2 months of his life. He hit all of his milestones on time, if not early. That’s why we were shocked to find out that he had developed congenital cataracts. There was no history of it in either of our families, and we hadn’t even heard of it. The pediatrician got us in with the pediatric opthamologist right away, and she quickly began to feel like part of the family. I’ll never forget that first appointment. I went alone with Jack thinking it was just another one of those “send ya to a specialist to cover ourselves” things by the pediatrician. I was overwhelmed immediately when she started talking about surgeries, and glasses and eyedrops. I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. As Jack slept soundly in his carseat, I called my husband crying from the lobby, not able to comprehend what I had just been told.
The 10 days between finding out and his first surgery were the hardest 10 days of my life. I felt so desperate to somehow make it go away. I felt like it was somehow my fault, or that the surgery was going to change my little guy. I was blessed with a strong support system and my husband and I had all of our parents there the morning we went to the hospital. When we handed him over to the anasthesiologist, all we could do was pray that these people understood that they held our life in their hands.
He came through the surgery like a champ. He was none too thrilled with the giant patch taped to his head for the next 24 hours, and it took an army to make sure it didn’t come off. My husband and I became experts at eyedrops and were so much more prepared for his second surgery 3 weeks later. After that surgery, Jack was able to wear his glasses right away. When you saw how much better he saw, you knew that all that pain and hurt you felt the past month was worth it.
It’s amazing what people say when they see a 3 month old wearing glasses. I’ll admit, I would probably take a second look if I saw him as well. What hurt the most is that people thought I was putting them on him as an accessory or to look cute. I had no problem explaining why he had to wear the glasses. Jack is now wearing contact lenses in both eyes. They are a stronger prescription (-20 and -26) and keeping glasses on a 3 month old is as difficult as you would think!
Looking back over the past 6 weeks, I am amazed at how scared we were. Coming through it, you feel like you have grown a second backbone. We are blessed to have such a wonderful little guy like Jack who was stronger than anyone. He still faces lots of eyedrops, prescription changes and trips to the doctor. He’ll go back in for surgery when he is about 5 years old to receive his permanent lenses. (In children as young as he is, they have to remove the lens to get the cataracts, but cannot give him a replacement as his vision is still changing.)We are so thankful for our doctor and that people were put on this earth with talents and gifts like she has. We have been inducted into the stresses of parenthood rather quickly (Jack is our first), but we survived and we’re better for it!