Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright
©

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Friday, October 8, 2010

My Journal - Week 59 (08Oct10)

"Eye" spy with my little   E  Y  E  S  P  Q  X??

Yes, that was a play on words and a eye chart....  Today Hunter had our first (legitimate) Optometrist appointment.  I say "Legitimate" because Dr. Perry Mittelholzer is my cousin and he has seen Hunter's eyes before this but not in a clinical setting.  Very convienient I must say.  If Perry was not my cousin, and or he wasn't our Optomestrist, I would likely have taken Hunter for an eye exam much earlier....

Back when Hunter was about 8 weeks old, we had a Meet & Greet party for his arrival and also for one of my cousins (Jonny) who had been visiting from England.  At that time Dr. Perry had a chance to take a look at Hunter's eyes and give his off duty medical opinion regarding his eyes.  At that time he had told me that Hunter's eyes looked great and that they seemed to be focusing as much as they possibly could be for being 8 weeks old.  Honestly there wasn't' much he could tell me at such a young age, other then the fact that at 8 weeks old, Hunter was barely focusing on anything more than my own face.

Skip forward a few months after his Meet & Greet, I noticed that Hunter's left eye seemed to cross inward (looking like a lazy eye) on a few occasions when he was tired.  I wasn't terribly concerned at that point only because I knew that there was a high possibility that lazy eyes happen in children with Down syndrome and that is was correctable.  After that point in time, the lazy eye seemed to vanish all on it's own.

Skip forward again to a few months ago and I noticed on occasion that Hunter's left eye seemed to be more runny then the right eye, weeping as if he were silently crying.  (The odd thing was, he wasn't crying and his right eye was dry.)  I receieved a copy of Exceptional Families Magaizne in early spring of this year which had a complete article regarding "Common Eye Problems in Children with Down syndrome".  I was very happy to see this article because it defined and explained many possible eye aliments and their causes which can occur in children who have Ds.  It also showed their likeliness by percentage and their symptoms.  One of the eye issues listed was "weepy eyes caused by tear duct blockages"  Although this sounded like an oxymoron (weeping caused by a blockage?) I was glad that there seemed to be an explaination for his one weeping eye.  I immediately emailed my cousin and asked him of Hunter needed to be seen in case there was a possible blockage.  He told me to bring him in any time.  He also told me that unless there was gooey green discharge, his eyes were probably fine and that Hunter may just have allergies.

Onto the 8th of October - our real scheduled eye exam appointment.  We arrived and Dr. Perry had his associate Optometrist (who specialized in Pediatric appointments) Dr. Jimmy Ing take a look at Hunter's eyes and do an eye exam.  The funny thing was, at the age of One, there isn't much you can do in terms of testing eyes.  It's not like you can ask the baby to read back letters to you on the wall, it's not like you can tell a baby to look over your left shoulder while he shines a very bright light into your eye, all the while not looking at the light?  So, Dr. Ing was forced to do what he could to see if there was any inflammation or concerns with Hunter's eyes.  At the end of about 20 minutes, Dr. Ing declared Hunter to be optically fit (with what he could see) and was also amused that Hunter sat and was happy with him for the length of time he did.  (Apparently most babies (even older then Hunter) are usually done half way through what Hunter sat through.  So it was good to know that Hunter's eyes seemed to be fine - not requiring any prescription at all and more over no infections or problems that could be seen.  The interesting thing we did discuss was that despite the increased need for children who have Ds to need or require glasses, it was obvious (purly by genetics in our family) that Hunter would likely end up needing glasses - not because he has Down syndrome, but because EVERYONE in our family wears glasses - which included me from the age of 13 until the age of 32 when I had laser eye surgery.

Which moves me to my next point.  I had my checkup right after Hunter.  It had been a very long time since I had an eye exam because about 7 years ago Dr. Perry convinced me that I should have Laser eye surgery.  I have to say - it was the best money I ever spent in my entire life.  The Bochner Eye Institute (Then run by Doctors. Harold Stein and Albert Cheskes) was completely recommended for the procedure because my cousin was friends and went to school with with Dr. Harold Stein's son, Dr. Raymond Stein who now runs the clinic in Toronto with Jordan Cheskes.  They took very good care of me, which included a life time of follow-up should I ever need it (but never yet have).  Up until this date I never went back after the initial follow-up simply because I could see crystal clearly!  I discovered at this checkup with my cousin that my eyes were 20/15.  That means I can see better then 20/20!  I honestly could not believe it!  Perry was so happy that I was corrected to that level and also that it has stayed so stable.  We were both ecstatic!  I had not really realized that my eye sight was that good to this date!  (After all, it was originally bad... -400 in both eyes before Laser eye surgery)

I have to say (and maybe this might sound like a public service announcement) I wish I had gotten my eyes done so much sooner.  You never really realize what a gift eye sight really is until you have to put glasses on everyday, or deal with contacts every morning and night.  After you have the surgery, you also get the chance to realize how much time and money was spent on personal eye care as far as prescriptions and or contact lens maintenance are concerned.  It was worth the cost to have the surgery and also being able to submit it on my income tax as a medical expense was helpful.  At the end of the day, it didn't cost me very much.  The out of pocket expense was a bit more back then (as it is likely less now), but it was definitely worth it.

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