It has been said that prayer changes things, well here is my story. My four year old son has always been a free spirited soul. He runs and jumps with reckless abandon. Whenever we go shopping he always gets to get underneath our shopping cart, who knows why.
Going to school and playing in the sand are major parts of his daily activities as they should be. However, things have changed he is no longer allowed to run, throw, or hide underneath shopping carts. He is no longer allowed to play unsupervised. As parent, little did we know that something was looming undetected, something that changed everything for my son and everything for us.
A few months ago my four year old son was diagnosed with a rare eye condition. Diagnosis: Extreme Amblyopia, refractive myopia… basically he is blind in his right eye. Although this news was shocking, his mother and I developed a plan as an effort to reverse this condition. This plan includes “patching” his left eye (the 20-20 eye) for up to six hours a day, contacts, glasses, poly-carbonate lens, a lot of heart-ache and even more prayer. Needless to say the remedy and therapy were tough for the little fella, as well as us. After a few months, my son could only see about four feet in front of him and what he could see was blurry. Why was it necessary to take these extreme measures with his therapy? Because eye input controls brain function, no eye input equals no brain function. By patching the left eye it forces his brain to sort of rewire itself to make use of his right eye.
Every time I “patched” my son, I would ask him what can you see? With a smile he would say “Dad I can see everything”, something I knew wasn’t true. If he were left unattended for any period of time he would peel off the patch so that he could peek out of the corner, or he would take out his contact because he couldn’t really see.
After two months of fighting, crying, spending and praying my son’s response changed to “Dad I can’t see” usually followed by tears.
My son’s condition is said to be so rare that he is 1 out o 125,000 children. Mind you that all of this is happening as my new book is making the round, I have been invited to do radio show, I have a regular job and other children, so what is a father to do. My son is no idiot, we often have to restrain him to put the contact in his eye. Dealing with a four year old and fear can be tricky, the first facility we went to said that they were not equipped to handle him. As parents to say that we were helpless in this situation is an understatement. I became hardcore, because I knew what was at stake for my son. So I decided to toss away my sorrow, and I remembered how I cured asthma a decade earlier and the difficulty and negativity I experienced during that process, but more on that later.
The contact goes in… no compromise and a song is born… “Don’t touch the glasses, don’t move the glasses, these are my glasses”, a melody that is sure to be a household hit.
My question to the experts was what is his prognosis? There answer: Basketball-out, Soccer-out, Football-out even Water Polo was out as well as a lot of other activities. Okay, no problem, that just means more reading and writing… Did I mention the dyslexia? Because on his eye condition my son interprets letters and number incorrectly.
Side note this condition also causes my son to behave what what I deem somewhat “Neanderthalish”, which is equally frustrating for everyone. He falls a lot. He gets injured every day. I don’t even know how he plays like the other kids, but my best guess is that he is using the force.
“Patching” his good eye basically renders him sightless and forces the brain to use the unpatched eye.
1-Month: No noticeable improvement in vision, still fighting us. More singing. His 15-years old sister decides to call her older sister to apologize for all the pain she caused her when she was younger.
3 Months: Less fighting, still singing. Family members begin to realize the depth of the situation. His mother deserves a whole lot of credit.
6 Months: Hugs are given. Hope is found, routine established. The song is family wide now. Slight improvement in vision is noticeable. Attitude is up and down.
We return to the doctor. My son, with his eye patched, sits down in the chair. The doctor displays a large image on the projector and before the doctor could asked what do you see, my son excitedly exclaims “An Airplane!” His mother smiled. The doctor said “Remarkable”, I shed a single tear. six months a ago he saw four feet in front of him. The doctor said that his improvement was exponential and he was amazed at how fast this approach seemed to be working.
I held my son’s hand as we left the doctor’s office. As we walked back towards the car he asked me for some gum. I said “No gum”. He said, “But dad I listened to the doctor, I didn’t cry and now we are leaving the doctors. I need some gum.” His response stopped me in my tracks because I realized that he recalled the conversation we had when we initially tried to put the contact in six months ago. He actually remembered the conversation verbatim. He would later performed the same memory trick on his mother, in regard to when his patching for the day would be over. Perhaps,the side-effect of the therapy is an improved memory. I picked up my son, hugged and kissed him and said “You know what son… you can have some gum”.
Prayer really does change everything.
*Make sure you get your child’s eyes checked early as possible*
Update: a year into the patching and eye improvement has stunted. Decide to patch 20 hours a day. Kindergartner is extremely trying.
Update: A year in a half into patching Experts agree to abandon patching is no longer working. We decide on whether to hold him back or push him forward in school.
Update: We decide to push him forward. He is slowly catching up.