Man, how time flies.
This time last year, Cam and I had just returned from two decadent, amazing weeks in New York City. If I remember rightly, I was on cloud nine – firstly to be reunited with the kids, and secondly due to my greatly enriched wardrobe. And a year down the track, my New York dress and Freddies jeans are still on regular rotation. They’re the souvenirs that keep on giving.
I started writing this post last week at the Royal Childrens’ Hospital, as Arlo and I waited for his annual opthalmology appointment. And because it’s only once a year now that we make that trip, I always find myself taking stock of life. Every year I cast my mind back to those horror few months when he was tiny, and we were told he may well be blind.
From about six weeks of age, I’d noticed that Arlo wasn’t responding to visual cues as did his eagle-eyed big sister. I could walk by him, and he wouldn’t turn his head – nor would his eyes follow me around the room. And at times I noticed his eyes would waver from side to side in a slow, rhythmic fashion. It was unnerving, but he was so little. I told myself that they all developed differently, and tried not to worry.
But by twelve weeks we were booked in to see our first paediatric ophthalmologist. She assessed him, and was fairly blunt about the situation – we were given the various forms we needed for a battery of further tests, and wandered, shell shocked out to the car. I bawled. And for a month or so we lamented and agonized over the idea that our precious little guy might never see our faces.
If we skip forward almost five years, those of your who know Arlo will know that he is not blind – not even close. He has a condition called congenital nystagmus – essentially a weakness in his eye muscles that makes focusing difficult, and causes a slight jiggling of his eyes (which you may notice if you’re up really close).
He does lose me easily in the playground (there have been more than one of those announcements over the loud speaker at school), and finds it hard to pick out tiny details in the distance. But oh – how I wish I could show him to the heartbroken mother who bawled in the car that day. I could save her a lot of anguish by telling her what we have since learnt: a twelve week old baby who smiles cannot be blind (and surely that is something that any paediatric ophthalmologist worth their salt should also know?).
We never saw that doctor again – we got a second, and a third opinion, and had an enormous amount of support from the wonderful people at Vision Australia. We were overjoyed to see his sight improve – slowly but surely – to where he is now.
And what of this year’s appointment? Arlo has improved one line on the vision test, and although he’s still technically below the driving level, we’re not worrying about that for a good eleven years or so. If it’s warranted in the future, there is the option of surgery – which can’t fix it, but should help a bit. And we’ve been off choosing glasses frames this week, to see if correcting his slight astigmatism with lenses will also help. He’s chosen the Country Road frames, as he felt they looked ‘sporty’.
And so, as I do every year around this time, I look around at how fortunate we are, and I thank my lucky stars that my little man can see.