Back into battle! I think I’ll call it “Operation Shark Patch.”

I’m not even going to pretend to be positive right now. I’ll get there. But not yet. Because I’ve just been asked to do the equivalent of putting mascara on a shark. For hours each day.

Yesterday we found out that Stella is starting to favor her right eye–her left eye is just ever so slightly starting to be tuned out by the brain. So we have to patch Stella’s right eye for three to four hours daily, to force her slacker eye to work harder and get tuned back in. My first, very gentle attempts at encouraging patch use reminded me of the horrors of inserting Stella’s NG tube into her nose when she was three months old. The screaming and utter rage and fear and defiance. She will not let me stick that thing to her face–not even if it’s pink and red with music notes and hearts on it. No. Way. So I’m taking a step back and re-grouping. Ordering books about patching and pirates. Buying her a pirate costume and a DVD featuring a cast of patched puppets. Ordering five different types of patches–namely, a pirate-style patch, two styles of cloth patches that go over the glasses, and two styles of cloth patches that go under the glasses. Anything but adhesive on Stella’s skin. Seriously, F THAT. Been there, done that, and have pictures of redness and irritation to prove it. I’m not even going to TRY to patch Stella again until my patch propaganda has been absorbed, and the non-sticky patches are in hand.

Yeah. So I’m just going to go ahead and say that this blows. I was blindsided by this news in yesterday’s follow-up appointment at Seattle Children’s ophthalmology. I didn’t think this was on the horizon for Stella. Yes, a military metaphor is probably wildly inappropriate in this situation but I can’t help it: I thought we’d won the war. I had a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner hanging in our living room. Through much “strategerizing”, focus, effort, and expenditures, we got her to wear her glasses! Her eyes stopped crossing! But holy crap there is a huge battle is ahead. Could it be our toughest yet? Doesn’t matter. We have no choice! To save Stella’s vision, particularly that of her weaker left eye, we must patch her strong eye. No effing way am I going to let her eyesight and quality of life go downhill. Not when there is something I can do about it! Even if it’s as insane and seemingly impossible as putting an eye patch on the eye of a small tornado.

Guess I better set my ring tone to “Eye of the Tiger,” smear on some war paint, and do some push-ups and wind-sprints and shit. Oh wait–this is the new type of war. Where brute force is obsolete. I must infiltrate the mind and culture of my target (check! i.e. puppet DVD, books, pirate garb) and win her heart. Again. Possibly with chocolate and a new play kitchen. War really is expensive and good for the economy.

May God have mercy on our souls.


  1. Auntie Corinne · July 30, 2010

    If anyone can do it you guys can, you have proven that before! If it helps Hauntie will wear a patch with her in Duxbury!

  2. kathleen · July 30, 2010

    Oh, dear. Life threw you yet another lemon. Persevere, persevere, persevere. You can do it.

  3. Cindy · July 31, 2010

    “War really is expensive and good for the economy”- You are too funny! We’re going to be funding our own little war soon enough. We’ve got an appt with a pediatric opthamologist for our 19 month old daugher, Evie. I’m scouring the internet to find out more about strabismus, that’s how I found your site. We’re SOOOO not looking forward to glasses or patches! She can’t even keep a hair bow in for more than a minute! We joked that if she has to be patched, we’re going to keep her in full pirate costume all of the time, so it looks appropriate. Good luck with Stella!

    • amberhj · July 31, 2010

      Cindy, thanks! Also, I really wanted to say that Stella is that same type of girl. She does not tolerate anything in her hair — ponytails, clips, bows, etc. get pulled out in seconds. Stella is quite fiesty (okay that’s a vast understatement). So I dreaded her glasses. But in hindsight, glasses really weren’t that bad! Two months later they are just part of life and she doesn’t fight them. And she hasn’t fought them for a while, actually. Just hang in there. And I know what you mean about full pirate garb–I actually found a full toddler girl pirate get-up on Etsy and almost bought it. I’ll post a pic if it comes to that! Best of luck to you and Evie, too! Keep me posted if you can.

  4. Julie · August 3, 2010

    I haven’t posted before, but we’ve been through so many of the same things you have (it’s like deja vu everytime I read your blog) but our issues are spread out between with two kids (twins) instead of one. My boy is the one who had the feeding issues, food aversions, and also had an NG tube for 2 months (worst 2 months of my life, btw). And it’s my daughter who is severely far sighted and has one lazy eye (I know, hate that term), aka strabismus, we found out at 14 months, she wears glasses, and we too have to patch her “good” eye. I feel your pain (oh, so very much), and one of the only things that worked for us … having everyone in the family also wear a patch. Oh yes, fun times. That and lots of candy (M&M’s, Junior Mints, Oreos, anything with chocolate really). Good luck!

  5. Jenny · August 3, 2010

    Thud. I can’t believe this!! What a crazy turn of events, just when things were cruising along so perfectly. You are amazing, Amber, and I know you and Cody will soon be navigating your pirate ship into fairer waters. Arrrrrr!!

  6. Cindy · August 29, 2010

    Hey! You said to keep you posted, so here’s the update on Evie. I took her to Emory, and during a 5 hour appointment (dragging out through not one but two naptimes!) we saw four different people. The optometrist did a really detailed exam, then the PO came in and reviewed his results, peeked in Evie’s eyes herself, and wrote a script. Well, when we check out, they gave us another (different!?) script that the optometrist had written. The receptionist advised us to go with the PO’s script, I guess since she’s more qualified? I’m not feeling good about this, her exam didn’t seem nearly as complete as his. I called back to ask, and they checked her chart and gave me the same script we have. Apparently the optometrist’s script was thrown out. Sigh. I wish I had said something more before I left the office, but I was brain dead and trying to keep Evie happy and quiet (for five hours!) We go back near the end of Oct., and in the meantime she’s going to be wearing glasses (Miraflex) and not patching. Her eyes are pretty close, one is +5.75, the other is +4.75 with a +.5 for astigmatism. I’m amazed that she’s managed to function with such bad vision! I’m actually looking forward to the glasses, even though they’re going to be a battle. She’ll be able to seeee!!!!

    • amberhj · August 31, 2010

      Yay! Thanks for following up on how it went! I am SO SORRY that it wound up being convoluted in terms of the prescription. I’ve had mix-ups and miscommunications happen like that during Stella’s medical care and it’s maddening. Do you feel comfortable with everything now? No doubt torturing you, I hope? I’m thinking that the PO probably read what the optometrist’s exam findings were, and based the decision on that and what he personally saw in Evie’s eyes. That’s how it seemed to work at Children’s ophthalmology anyway. Good job on slogging through FIVE HOURS! That’s hard work! I hope the transition to glasses goes as smoothly as it did for us (much better than expected) and that she loves her new view of the world! YAY! Stay in touch!

  7. Pingback: Eye on Stella: Strabismus Watch 2010 Continues | The Life and Times of Stella

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