Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Straight Eye for the Sam Guy

With my sad and whiny post out of the way, let me tell you about some of Sam's awesomeness. 

When I updated in November, Sam had just come home from having surgery. His eye surgeon said that the strabismus repair went smoothly but his eyes were totally freaking us out. They were blood-red and goopy and awful looking, yes, but we were also sure that they were now turning out instead of in. On day six post-op, I called our people at Vision Clinic and asked if they would take a look at him. The follow-up was booked for 3 weeks out and I could not wait that long to know that Sam's ghoulish-looking eyeballs were okay. 

The ophthalmologist measured Sam's eyes and declared, "his eyes are straight. They are both straight and they look great." Uh-maze-ing. Really. The whole thing. The ophthalmologist with his grown-up man-hands operates on my little baby's little eyes for 40 minutes, cutting the little muscles and putting in little stitches. And now Sam's eyes that turned inward are straight. 

We'd become so accustomed to his eyes pointing inwards that the straightness looked "wrong" to us for a little while. It's hard to explain to others that his eyes really looked normal to us. It reminds me of parents who have a child in a wheelchair and they say that they don't see the chair. We could see in pictures that his eyes where wonky. We could see in the expressions of others that they weren't sure where he was looking. But for us as his family, hanging out with him every day, he was our Sam and those were his eyes. 

Sam in the summer, right when his strabismus started progressing more quickly.
We began to notice a difference in Sam's vision that second week after surgery. He started grabbing food off of our plates at the dinner table. He started mimicking our actions and facial expressions even without us giving him voice clues. His big brother came home from school and took off his pants that were wet from sledding; Sam took off his pants too. He started going after things in his environment differently, exploring, taking things apart, reaching. The change was so dramatic that we concluded that Sam was seeing the world in a whole new way.

Vision is an awesome, awesome gift. There is nothing that can be done to correct Sam's underlying visual impairment and so his vision is far from perfect. But fixing the secondary problems does help to compensate for the effects of his ocular albinism. The strabismus repair means that his eyes can work together, that he has depth perception and doesn't have to work so hard to see. That has made a world of difference. 

The new level of exploration has created a whole lot of mess around here. Sam regularly takes all the tupperware out of the cupboard and throws it down the basement stairs. He climbs into the pantry and takes out all the boxes so I find crackers, corn starch and raisins all over the floor. He opens any drawer he can reach and moves the contents into other drawers. He found a roll of paper towel in a grocery bag I had yet to unpack and he unraveled the whole thing. He threw his bath toys in the toilet. He redistributed all the items from his brother's bedroom garbage so we found halloween candy wrappers under the sink and in our shoes. Sam
 was all about Christmas oranges and once got into a full box and took one bite out of each one. 

You may wonder where his adult supervisors were when all this was going on. Fair enough. I admit that sometimes I was online Christmas shopping or emailing clients. And I was not at home during the toys in toilet event. (Ahem.). But sometimes I knew he was doing it and I grabbed for my camera or gave him a spoon to stir his concoctions. Because these are the things that toddlers DO. Displays of normal toddler behaviour when your kiddo has had a whole lot of *not* normal are... MAGIC.

Here is photographic evidence of Toddler Misdemeanors and/or Parental Neglect. 

You go ahead and check Facebook, Mum. I'm good here. 
Sure I can "help" you make supper, Mum. I'll prepare the soup.
Need to shower, Mum? I'll just entertain myself quietly in brother's room.
Checking your email? I'll just be here in this drawer full of cleanly folded laundry.
Christmas shopping online? No problem. I will quietly clean up the kitchen. 
That last picture was a pretty great one for me. Sure, I saw that he'd taken a bite out of every single orange and smeared juice everywhere. And I saw that his eyes were still red and vaguely ghoulish. But more importantly, I actually SAW for the first time that Sam's eyes are straight. Very cool. 

Here's a final bit of awesomeness. Sam has had to be checked out a few times during his last couple of months of respiratory illnesses. This has resulted in me hearing repeatedly how strong Sam is to be kicking these viruses that are even taking down kids with healthy lungs. We have versions of this conversation: 

Doctor/nurse: He has good breath sounds.
Me: On both sides?
Doctor/nurse: Yes.
Me: Right to the bottom of his lungs on both sides?
Doctor/nurse: Yes.
Me: Like two lungs that both sound the same to you?
Doctor/nurse: Um, yes.
Me: Alrighty, then. Just checking. 

The emergency room people don't seem to get it no matter what kind of history I provide. They look at me like I am a little bonkers, which is kind of awesome in its own way. 

The medical peeps who have followed our Sam since early on, they get it. They know that they are not just hearing breath sounds; they are hearing a miracle. They know that 22.5% predicted fetal lung volume means that Sam should not be here at all, nevermind should he have good breath sounds on both sides, lungs that sound full and healthy, or the ability to kick butt on this season's nasty respiratory infections. And we share a moment, just a moment, to breathe in a WOW. 

Pure awesomeness. 


  1. Entirely awesome, as all the posts are. Glad to hear that his world is expanding every day :)

    (a friend of the other Corinne's from Ottawa)

  2. LOVE THIS! So *love* this.

  3. Feb 1st .... HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!!!!! and your eyes are beautiful ... just like you (and of course your mama too) thoughts and love ... Sam ... make sure you continue to be the person you are and continue to "surprise" and delight those who are around you . . . missing you all UJ and Michael

  4. What a little bit of sweetness to top off my morning today. So glad to read about Sam's new and improved vision (and mommy's "improved" mess making imp).

    (mom to Payton)

  5. I am doing the happy dance! Gosh to read this post in comparison to the posts after he is born is just so so truly God like amazing. Yes, Sam is amazing on all accounts! So is his family. I LOVED the captions of Sam giving mom permission to go do things while he explores with his new vision - nothing is safe as he wants to touch, sense, feel, and absorb everything he can. His neurons are firing and his is living life to its fullest!

    Gosh, I get tingles of joy and great waves of happiness thinking of him ALIVE and WELL living in a very nurturing, caring family. Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop!

    I am glad to hear self-care stuff in your posts now... shower, email, facebook, etc! GOOD Corinne!

    Sweet feelings,

  6. I just love that poor neglected baby's face!!!! He's about the cutest thing ever.

  7. could this kid BE any more amazing???

  8. Wow! He looks amazing and what a great surprise that he can see better too. I'm elated for you!