Friday, April 23, 2010
Eli's Most Recent Eye Exam....(warning: LONG)
Well, it’s been 9 months since we’ve brought Eli home. His recent eye surgery was telling. When we left to get Eli we expected him to have Cataracts in both eyes and childhood Glaucoma. In reality, Eli had HAD cataracts as an infant…most likely either from birth or from an infection shortly after birth. Chinese doctors had performed a surgery before his first birthday to remove the cloudy lens from each eye. This sounds severe, but our doctor assured me that this is the same surgery we would have performed on an infant with cataracts here in America. Apparently, by mistake, the lens was not completely removed in one eye. Therefore, when the cataract began to develop again in that eye, he underwent a second surgery to remove the piece of damaged lens. As you may be wondering, no, you can not see without your lens. What SHOULD have happened, was that Eli SHOULD have been put into glasses right away to correct his FOCUS. Eli went 2 years in the orphanage with no glasses. As a result his eyes became more and more OUT of FOCUS. Our American Doctor is sure that in China, he could see little more than light/dark. In the meantime, Eli was also developing higher and higher eye pressure in his right eye. Just like high blood pressure damages a heart…high eye pressure damages the optic nerve. Eli’s right eye pressure measured double what it should have been. During the surgery to correct that, the American Doctor discovered that Eli had a birth defect in his eye that could be corrected. However, “birth defect” meant that Eli had most likely had the high eye pressure since…well…BIRTH. He was now three years old.
His recent eye exam performed under anesthesia showed approx 99.9% damage to his right optic nerve. The .1% vision that was left was being impeded by the scarring from the previous surgeries. The scar could be removed, but the risk to his eye would out weigh the .1% vision he might recover. The Doctor recommends leaving it alone.
Upon leaving that visit, I pondered all I had just heard. Not best case scenario…but not worst case either. Oddly, I felt better reminding my self that Eli’s vision problems (which could have totally been taken care of in infancy) were not my fault. I wasn’t the one who had neglected him. I reminded myself that the amount of money I have or don’t have rather combined with the high cost of medical care…and the fact that I have more children than I know what to do with…these things are not the cause of Eli’s vision loss. I replayed the words of the Doctor -- that in fact -- Eli hadn’t “lost” any vision. From birth, Eli had simply never developed vision and for him there was no big difference here. He was simply seeing how he’d always saw.
In the meantime, the Doctor said, we’d work on strengthening the vision and focus of his left eye (he’ll still hopefully be a good candidate for an artificial lens put in in the future)…and work on saving the right eyeball. The Doctor mentioned that prosthetic eyes are very real looking and that no one would know that Eli’s eye wasn’t real unless they were very, very close to him. I of course attempt not to shudder when the Doctor talks of fake eyeballs, but in this case, Eli would probably appear more “normal” with a prosthetic eye. On the other hand, saving the eyeball means that future advanced procedures that may “re-grow” his optic nerve would be a possibility. The Doctor is not optimistic that his eye can be saved. It’s already very red and some what painful to Eli. That along with the very low pressure is an indication that the eye is getting ready to die for lack of better words.
We pray over him of course, and like good Charismatic Christians claim everything we know to claim over him. But the reality is that when my young son walks up to me and says, “Mommy, Eli eye hurt” - I feel the need to act and do something. If we do end up needing to remove Eli’s eye, I’m not disappointed. For all practical purposes, we are married too this once “Waiting Child”. When adopting him we were presented with the “risks” -- the best case AND worst cast scenarios. We still gladly, purposefully, joyfully, educated and with eyes wide open took on the task of making him a member of our family. There are 7 people who live in my household and I can’t fully or even mostly say where life will take any of us, after all. Only God knows where Eli is headed and to have both eyes completely restored -- isn’t the big miracle here anyway. The BIG miracle…what I have real, burning faith to believe God for is this…that Eli has a bright future now. He won’t be a beggar on the streets of China, who lost vision in both eyes without anyone to advocate for his health -- living in disrespect, cold at night and wondering where his next meal may come from. On the contrary, he’ll grow surrounded by a family…he’ll go to college…he’ll remember dozens of Christmas mornings and bday parties…he’ll watch family movies and fight with his big brother…he’ll have his favorite stories read to him over and over and get an IPOD all his own…he’ll have multiple pairs of shoes and good food that he can have at any moment. He’ll be able to find himself in HUNDREDS of Ramsdell Family Photos. He’ll be reminded over and over by his parents why God created him, who God created him do be and the purpose for which he lives…he’ll have parents who draw these things out of him and call him to be a disciple of Jesus…he’ll have the opportunity to become new…to have old things pass away…THAT is the BIG LIFE TRANSFORMING MIRACLE. Regardless of which way we go, in our home God is still God…and we’ve learned to say in all sorts of circumstances that He is good…as will Eli.