Many thanks to Megan for sharing the story of her daughter, Ruby – Ann Z
Ruby is just like any other 16 month old. She’s working on mastering the art of walking, enjoys searching for the perfect bedtime book by pulling them all off the shelf and playing with her parents and little friends. She’s just like any other toddler — any other toddler that is who wears a contact in their right eye and needs to wear an eye patch.
I realize a contact case and saline isn’t in your average diaper bag, but it’s in mine. My daughter was born with a pediatric cataract. It was discovered when she was three months old during trip to Urgent Care to deal with a scary cough that turned out to be our first case of RSV. However the during the exam, the doctor kept going back to her right eye. He mentioned it just didn’t look right. But I was more concerned with the fact that she couldn’t breath very well. Lucky for me, he was concerned with both issues.
Turned out, that night at Urgent Care (in the middle of a horrible snow storm, because really isn’t that when we all go to Urgent Care in the middle of the night in a horrible snow storm?) the doctor saved my baby’s eye sight. Within 2 days we were in a pediatric ophthalmologist office. Less that a week later we were visiting specialists at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. The date was set. Her cataract was coming out. In early April 2012, it did. She was a trooper during the surgery and recovery. She even did well patching those first few months. Her little friends at daycare enjoyed picking out which patch she’d wear on her eye that day. She’d happily sit back and let them fuss over her and entertain her while she had her patch on. It was wonderful. I thought, hey this isn’t so bad. I can do this.
And then she turned one. And became a full-fledged toddler. And the days of wearing her patch are long gone. She screams when you get a patch out of the box. We wrestle and cry and try to get it on her. But she rips it right off. At daycare, her little friends still pick out her patch and keep her distracted – for about 10 minutes. If we can get a good 20 minutes of patching in, we call it a good day. However, we need to have her wear the patch 4-6 hours a day, every day. We have a long way to go.
And the patching only happens if the contact lens is on her pupil. Many days her contact floats off to the side of her eye. Sometimes we can manipulate it back on, but sometimes we can’t. Plus she’s gotten stronger and rubs it out more often. She’s so strong and fights her contact so much that her dad and I can’t get it into her eye ourselves. These days we seem to be making weekly pilgrimages to the contact specialists. Luckily, they love Ruby. They get us right in and it takes four of us to get her contact in her eye. She kicks, screams and cries during the process. I just hold her tight, tell her it’s all going to be all right and that she needs her contact to see. I tell her it’s very important for the future President of the United States to have good vision. She cries. I cry. They tell me it’ll get easier. They’ve been telling me this for a while now.
I do know it’l get easier. She’s just a baby. A baby who doesn’t know she can’t see out of her right eye without a contact lens. A baby who doesn’t know she needs to wear her patch everyday faithfully to have good eye sight. A baby who’s mother and father are trying everything to make this work. I’ve done the research and I’m constantly doing more on ways to get your baby to wear their eye patches. But every time I feel like we make progress, her contact floats to the side of her eye and there’s a day without patching. Or worse, the contact comes out. There’s three to four days without patching while we wait to get to the doctor or get a new lens.
If any parents have advice on how to get a spirited 16 month old to wear a patch, or how to deal with a contact in a toddler, I’d love to hear them.