Wednesday, July 23, 2008


One aspect of Alyce's life that we haven't discussed is her strabismus. Strabismus is a condition normally called cross-eyed where a person cannot align both eyes under normal conditions. There are different types of strabismus and in all cases it does require some treatment. Alyce's case was first diagnosed at her 3 month checkup by our pediatrician. At that point we were sent to a specialist in pediatric opthamology at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Alyce's case was different than most in that her eyes deviated vertically rather than horizontally. Her eyes didn't cross, but pointed differently up and down. The doctor seemed interested by this and wanted to take some pictures of Alyce for his records. A childhood model at three months! He wanted us to come back in month to see if the situation progressed or regressed and at that point would determine if surgery was needed.

It turned out that surgery was needed and was scheduled for the middle part of April 2007. Leading up to the surgery Alyce needed to have an MRI of her eye muscles. It is impossible to get a 6 month old to sit still in a loud MRI machine so she had to be put under sedation for the procedure. The worst part of that experience was that the only vein they could find for an IV was in her forehead; up to that point they had stuck her unsuccessfully in both arms. It is hard being a parent seeing your child in pain and not being able to do anything about it. I have to give the nurses credit they did all they could to minimize Alyce's discomfort.

Strabismus surgery requires repositioning of they eye muscles where they attach to the eye. By adjusting the connection point you can make a muscle either stronger or weaker in a specific direction. If memory serves each eye is controlled by six muscles two on top, two on bottom, and one on each side. In Alyces case they had to work on the muscles on both eyes. What surprised us about that was it seemed like Alyce had one "good" eye and one "bad" eye so why did both need to be worked on? The explanation we received was that both eyes had issues, but since she had a dominant eye it looked right even though it wasn't. The surgury went off without a hitch and after the longest hour and a half of our life our daughter was back in our arms.

The recovery post surgery looked much worse than it actually was. The whites of Alyce's were red, she was groggy, and her eyes felt scratchy. After a nap she seemed to bounce back to normal with no averse effects from the surgery.

In later posts I will explain the continuation of this story. I will give this hint, it does have a happy ending.

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