Just Feed the Boy Some Rice Cereal

I see the journey the path that I have taken like the wake of a great ship.

So to my few readers I apologize because sometimes things just happen and if you can’t tell sometimes its a struggle for me. To make up for it, I give you three snippets of thoughts before continuing my story.

I had a great July 4 holiday and then had what is always in the back of my mind a setback. While sitting outside with my friends I caught a more than glimmering black spot in my vision which appeared to me to be a veil a sure indication of a detachment. It is not impossible  to have detachments with bubbles in your eye even oil bubbles which never diminish in size. My doctor saw me the next day and even though I had seen it that morning, whatever it was had disappeared. My doctor took a good hard look and said that my retina was flat with no sign of fluid. She recommended I take it easy and monitor for a few days. She was going out of town for about two weeks so I literally did nothing but lay around a lot and worry for those two weeks and then slowly increased my activity. I think it was just an anomaly with the oil in my eyes.

I thought I would creep you out by describing eye exams that involve the retina. Almost everyone has been dilated at one time or another usually in routine exams where the doctor looks through his scope and says everything is ok. Those of you who have seen a retina specialist have probably gone through more intense examinations.  When you first see a doctor with a suspected tear or detachment you get all kinds of tests to check the range of your vision before the doctor comes in and does the dirty work. All of my retina exams now include being tilted back in the chair and then the doctor with a magnifier in her hand and a super bright light shined into your eye gives you all sorts of fun commands, down and to the right, right, up and to the right, up, up and to the left, left, down and to the left., straight down. This is done from both sides with that bright light searing into your dilated eyes and right into your skull. The times that I have come in with a suspected detachment include this exam plus another even more fun exam. Multiple numbing drops are place in your eye. These drops are very sticky and then a thick magnifying lens is placed in your eye under the eyelid. You can’t blink there is nowhere to blink and then another really intense exam with all sorts of up down all around commands. It is very uncomfortable. Now compounding all of these issues is that I have a hole in my sclera right next to the iris in my left eye from  past glaucoma pressure that makes dilation really hard. I just tell them to start with three drops and then check in five minutes. Eventually I will have this hole patched with a scleral patch.

Finally a word on my doctor.  If you ever have to see a retina specialist plan for a long appointment. My doctor has a lot of patients, gets a lot of referrals and does a lot of surgeries. At different times family members who really don’t understand at all will tell me to get a new doctor because she is the cause of all my detachments. Its nonsense. Every retina specialist will likely have one or two patients just like me, where nothing really work and success is measured differently. Most people unfortunate enough to have a tear or detachment recover just fine after one surgery. There are a lot of people like me, just not usually in one practice. Go to some place like Southwest Medical Center and you will see more like me. I feel like family at my doctor’s office. Everyone knows me. I have slugged it out with my doctor, shouted at her, broke down into a mess of sobbing tears. She has calmly told me that despite all our efforts I am legally blind. Telling me that hurt her as much as me. She has joked with me, laughed at me, told me that despite all my troubles I remain remarkably upbeat. When I have had to go to surgery and after I am prepped and waiting for surgery I try and stay as calm as possible. Some of these times have been frightening. Usually after you are prepped the nurse only has a cursory interest in you. You see the anesthesiologist, and the surgical nurse will come in and make sure you are positioned just right on the gurney. They don’t ask if you are afraid they don’t worry that half of your vision is black and that you worry whether it will all be black when you wake up. As many as I have gone through a few of them have been terrifying.  I can’t tell you what a comfort it is to hear her voice. She chats with everyone and then she comes to see you and there have been times when I have just blurted out fears and she is always so calm. I know its her job but you can see it in her eyes that she gives a damn how you are doing. I think she is amazing.

So finally the ex and I had produced a son that we happily took home. It was a happy time, and we had the usual visitors from friends and family who wanted to welcome Dylan to the world. My mom was thrilled. She could have and would have held him forever.  That was just the way my mom was, all about her family.  Things changed though within days; colic was the enemy.

Almost everyone who has had a baby deals with colic at some level. For us it was the worst  kind of colic. For six months we dealt with the worst colic imaginable. Dylan cried incessantly with only rare moments of quiet and sleep. To this day he has trouble sleeping. My wife and I slept in shifts and for that six months we averaged between three and four hours a day. We fell asleep with him crying in our lap. We burned a million bottles, nipples and anything else that was supposed to be sterilized. There were no prescription drops strong enough for any comfort.  I can’t tell you what this does to a person psychologically. At the worst of times horrible thoughts would go through your head to just set him outside and let him cry and then you would come to and hold him closer in tears that you could ever think such a thing. My mom was a savior to our sanity. She could come over and hold him and sing to him despite the crying so we could get away so we could sleep. My sister came over one night so we could have a break and called us in tears because she could not take it.  Slowly Dylan wasted away and his doctor began talking about admitting him to the hospital. I can tell you that it was not the loss of sleep that weighed on me, it was the fact that my child was in pain and could not be comforted. I couldn’t help him. Throughout this time my mom offered advice usually, “Just feed the boy rice cereal. We were feeding you kids rice cereal two weeks after we brought you home.” And we would respond, “We are trusting the doctor mom, cutting edge, yada yda yada.”

A couple of weeks later with Dylan wasting away the doctor said he was nearly failure to thrive. We had an ER doctor tell us to go to Mexico and purchase perigoric but said he would deny telling us this if we said anything. We were considering this when our doctor told us that we could place some rice cereal in with his formula and see how this worked. I remember on the way home my wife looked at me and said, “Let’s not tell your mom this for a few days. ” I laughed. It helped but did not take it all away. He gained weight cried less. On Christmas day while gathered around the tree I said to my wife, “Have you noticed that he is sleeping better, and that he is not crying so much?”

“Shut up, ” she answered.