Posted by: mahlbrandt | October 10, 2008

The Frustrated Princess, the Gracious Mother and the Good Eye Doctor

If anyone can appreciate a good eye doctor, it’s me. I can’t even count how many different opthamologists and optomotrists I’ve seen in my lifetime. When we first moved to Nashville we had insurance from Starbucks though Aetna. In general it is good insurance for a good price. For some strange reason, though I could never get them to approve me going to an opthamologist without an optomotrist recommending/referring me. And they did. Everytime. Because when an honest/humble optomotrist looks in my right eye they say, “Hmm…interesting…” One even showed me my eye in the mirror and said, “Is this normal?” The proud/dishonest/uncareful optomotrist says nothing but I can tell by their reaction they have no idea what to think. On the other hand, I’ve never had an opthamologist have a surprised reaction.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what is wrong with my right eye. I was born with a cataract in my right eye. At age three they figured it out and did lens implant surgery. In order to push the nerves in my right eye to work as hard as possible (by this point my brain was already relying almost entirely on my left eye for visual information) they put a patch over my left eye. This was extremely frustrating when I was a child. Even with the lens implant, the best vision I could get out of my right eye was 20/60 (actually they used to say 20/70…maybe it’s gotten a little better?) So try to imagine that you have one eye that’s good and the other eye everything is blurry. Then cover up your good eye. All day. Everyday. My poor mother felt terrible about me having to go through this. Especially at the tender age of 3! When I was in preschool I decided I wanted to be a princess for Halloween. My mom made my costume: a long flowing white flannel dress, a pink collar, a tall silver (aluminum foil) hat with pink flowing tassles…and a silver eye patch. It was a pirate patch covered with aluminum foil, to be precise. Mom tried so hard to make the best of it. The picture (even in my mind) brings tears to my eyes even today. I can imagine her secretly crying after she sent me off to school. (I’m going to try to track down this photo later.)

Bless her heart. She is such a good mom. Even through all the times I took out my frustration on my glasses…once I skidded them lens-down all the way across the length of the kitchen floor, another time (or was it twice?) I deliberately slammed them in my bedroom door and snapped the frames in half…I don’t ever remember her getting mad at me or punishing me. As angry as she must have been about having to replace my surely expensive glasses, her heart was probably more broken about the frustration I was going through.

My recommendation of Dr. Parker. (You can skip this section unless you are really interested in finding a great opthamologist in Nashville. Please read the last paragraph though.)
Today I saw Dr. Morgan Parker. I’m stating his full name so it will come up in searches, because I am highly recommending him. He is not surprised by my right eye at all. I’ve been to him 3 times and this is the first time it was for an extensive exam. All three times I have learned things about my eye that I never knew before. He is a wealth of knowledge without sounding condemning at all. I feel very at ease asking him questions about my eyes and he always has a smart sensible answer. The first time I saw him was because my right eye was infected. I woke up one morning and it was all red and yucky and I hurridly called the first opthamologist I could find on our insurance list (which is Blue Cross, now, FYI) that was close to my work. He staff was very quick about seeing me and asked if I could be there in 30 minutes. He fully explained how it happened (through contact over-use) and because of my condition my eye is naturally prone to dryness and irritation. He gave me a bunch of suggestions and free samples of drops which cleared up the infection within days. Three weeks ago I went in because I thought my eye was infected again. He said it was not, but it was close and recommended taking more breaks from my contacts. Again he gave me bunches of samples for dryness and allergy drops. They didn’t charge me for this appointment…unless it was some kind of insurance mixup and the bill is on the way.

One of the things Dr. Parker explained to me today is that by patching my eye, they were able to push me to 20/60 in my right eye. He said that is actually really good, considering the circumstances. He said it is also great that they discovered it when I was only 3. If I had been 6 or 8 before they figured it out, my optic nerves in my right eye should have been pretty much useless. So, thank you Mom! Thank you for pushing me to do something that was so frustrating. Thank you for watching me suffer and never letting me see how much it hurt you, too. Thank you for trying so hard to make it fun – with the doggie cloth eye patch, with the fun stickers, with the colorful glasses cords — even though it still wasn’t fun. It really did make a difference. The fact that I can see 20/60 out of my eye today is thanks to your diligence. And to any other mothers out there reading this, I hope it is an encouragement to you too. And for everyone, sometimes Father God has to push us through things that we don’t want to do, things that are frustrating and painful. It hurts him, too, to watch us struggle but He knows what is best for us in the long run.


Responses

  1. Love of my life. You are so beautiful. One of the beautiful things about you is this trial that you went through in life, and the strong, courageous woman it has made you. Although you are strong, you are not hardened. You are meek, tender, gentle, and loving. You are the picture of a true, virtuous woman. I’m glad that your mom was so diligent as well. I’m also glad that God took something like this, and used it for the work of His Kingdom. I love you!

  2. Great blog entry by the way! I’ll admit, I cried.

  3. […] No, that’s probably not the reason. This was Halloween 1987, referreced here: The Frustrated Princess, The Gracious Mother and the Good Eye Doctor. […]

  4. Hi, I just came across this post (WordPress linked it to one of my posts), and it really touched me. I run a blog for parents of young kids (under 5) in glasses, and I was wondering if you would mind if I linked to this post. Some of my readers have children with cataracts, and many have kids that need patching, and I think they would really appreciate reading this. It’s tough, and it’s always nice to read that it does make a difference. Your mother sounds truly wonderful. I love how much she did to make a difficult situation fun.

  5. […] The frustrated princess, the gracious mother and the good eye doctor […]

  6. Hello, it encourages me and also breaks my heart reading your story. I am the mother of 2 wonderful children, my son Alex is 21 months old and my daughter Mia just turned 6 months old. My daughter was also born with a congenital unilateral cataract in her right eye. Mia’s cataract was discovered at her 2 week check up when she was 12 days old. She had surgery at 1 month old at which point she had an IOL placed in her eye. She began wearing glasses and patching at 2 months old. It kills me everyday hearing her cry and watching her try to rub the patch off her eye, I feel like I am putting her in a room and shutting off all the lights. I know the pain your mother must have felt. Everyday I want to give up and then I think; what if something ever happens to her left eye, she would be completely blind. Soon after her first surgery she developed glaucoma in her aphakia eye and had valve surgery 2 months ago to help reduce her intraocular pressure. She will be going in for an exam under anesthesia next week to ensure the valve has opened and is draining excess fluid. After her glaucoma surgery we had to place 5 different drops and ointments in her eye 15 times a day. There are times when I catch myself staring at her wondering if she will resent me for making her go through this daily routine of patching, drops, ointments and glasses. But reading your post lets me know that even though I feel like I am put her through torture, she will one day realize that I am doing what is best for her vision, she will eventually understand. There is not a day that goes by that I do not cry for my daughter, I will never let her know this pain, she will only see how proud I am of her, she is such a strong willed little girl. She is only 6 months old and she has had 2 surgeries and 2 exams under anesthesia, she is my hero.
    Thank you for your story, it has definitely given me encouragement knowing that it is all worth it, everyday it’s worth the struggle, no matter how hard. Thank you.

    Danielle

  7. Hi Martina- I found your site through someone on preventblindness.org. I’m patching my 5 year-old princess and your story is SO encouraging! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

    Amy

  8. Martina… Thank you for your story. My baby daughter just had an injury to her left eye and luckily the eye was saved. We are currently going through many of the things your mom went through. I’ve been looking for testimonials like yours on the web to comfort us and show us the path ahead, and yours is a really beautiful one that helps me to feel hopeful. I wish you the best of luck. I’m so encouraged and I think you should feel very proud of the strides you’ve taken. I think that your Mom and the experience both have made you the extraordinary person you seem to be.

  9. Thanks for telling your story! Patching my baby is the hardest thing that I have ever done. I know that if he didn’t recover the vision in that eye, I would not be able to live with myself. He had a congenital unilateral cataract in his right eye that was removed when he was 6 weeks old. We have been patching since he was 6 and 1/2 weeks. He is now 5 and 1/2 months. This story is inspiring because I know that one day he will be thankful and that one day he will understand.


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