It was 5:20 pm on a Wednesday when I arrived at my sister’s place to pick up Proximo.
“Hey,” said my sister, “Have you noticed his eye?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Look at his right eye, it’s lazy.”
“What? When did you notice it?”
“Oh, on Sunday.”
“And you just waited until NOW to tell me?” I asked her, my voice rising (mostly because I, as his mother, hadn't noticed this obvious vision emergency.)
I knelt in front of Proximo, “Hey, baby, look over there. Now look back at me.” I made him look a dozen different ways and every time the result was the same: while his left eye came right back, his right eye didn’t. I started panicking. It was already after 5:00--too late to call a doctor. By the strangest of flukes, J had taken El Guille camping with my dad for the only night that will ever happen, so I bore the brunt of this development alone.
And what an alone.
I was pretty sure that Proximo had a brain tumor pressing on his optic nerve. What else could such a sudden change in his eyesight be except cancer? I told Noelle. “No,” she answered, “That only happens to other people’s children, like your friend’s friend, that doesn’t happen to us.”
“I’m someone’s friend’s friend,” I replied, not feeling very convinced.
The absence of J’s force of logic propelled me into the Diagnosis Fear Cycle (DFC.) You know the one: type in the symptoms and start Googling. First comes WedMD, then major websites, and finally the fringe health boards. Before you know it you’ve got seventeen different diagnoses, have decided you aren’t going to let a doctor tell you what to do, and have written down the experimental treatment options with a vague curse at the FDA thrown in for good measure.
Narrow down the diagnoses to the most probable one.
Now, search your diagnosis.
I did. I found a support group on Facebook and I joined it. I nearly cried with relief at finding other moms whose children’s eyes had issues and would be patching with possible corrective surgery. I left an emotional response on the group’s page (best to handle the introductions, I’m going to be needing these ladies soon enough.) I sent out a bunch of emails to friends who I thought might help. And finally, after working through the DFC, I went to bed with Proximo in the next bedroom, clueless to his newly helpless state.
I woke up in the morning and called Bek. I told her the symptoms. She asked me far more detailed questions than any doctor would and gave me a course of action to expect. She’s good like that, her kids have had everything.
I called the doctor after Bek (of course) and they gave me an appointment a month away. A MONTH? A MONTH? We’re not supposed to have waiting lists until AFTER socialized medicine! I pushed back a little and asked if perhaps, considering his delicate three years and sudden onset, they might be able to squeeze him in earlier? Success! An appointment in a week.
That’s when we learned that Proximo has estropia with astigmatism and is farsighted. Glasses it is! Cancer it is not! Nor is it anything else really terrible, he just has to wear corrective lenses.
Turns out I had to unlike the support group. Not the right group.
Jumping the gun and all that.
But I’d already signed up (in my mind) to organize the 1K for Lazy Eye! The kids could just walk in a circle!
All photos by my sister, fotohok, who's a great kid-wrangling photog.