Cassie Shepherd

October 30, 2015

Lazy Eye: Addie



Round Two. Emily had lazy eye surgery the first part of August, and about a month later, Addie presented with lazy eye. Three months exactly, to the day, after Emily's appeared. It never seizes to amaze me how fascinating identical twins are.

Our PO, pediatric ophthalmologist, skipped right over the patching with Addie. Why should we? It's genetic and Emily's patching didn't help at all. I was actually okay with it. Well, I wasn't okay with the lazy eye, but I was okay with not patching again. It's a pain.

The days leading up to Addie's surgery were much more stressful this time around because I knew what to expect. Had Emily's surgery gone perfectly, without her having a complete meltdown post-op, I think it wouldn't have been so bad. But, seeing Emily and replaying her terror for weeks made it harder on me. 

When we arrived at the hospital, I asked what my options were for post-op. Can I be there when she woke up? Could we give her different medication? Can you administer more or less anesthesia? What can we do to make this a better experience? 

In hindsight, I realize the nurse and NP saw exactly what was going on - I was sitting there talking all about Emily and how she's had such a hard time recovering since her surgery - she's overly clingy and hardly ever lets me out of her sight. And, I just wanted everything to go more smoothly this time around...ect. Before I even realized what was going on, they had called in a Child Life Specialist to talk with me. She explained to me that it sounded like Emily was going through some post-tramautic stress since her surgery. And, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course. Of course Emily was. It made sense now. Emily's story and what's happened since is for a different day though.

The CLS told me she was going to help Addie (and me) try to have a better experience. Unfortunately, Addie was doing relatively well before the surgery so I said, maybe we shouldn't administer the anti-anxiety meds. So, we didn't. And then I started to have anxiety that Addie would have a terrible time once she was in the OR, away from me, and it would be the longest minute of her life while they put her under anesthesia. So, at the last minute I changed my mind and insisted she had the dose.



The OR was prepped so they were anxious to get her in for surgery. They administered the medication via nose spray (instead of orally). And it was supposed to work quicker. But, there was no happy 'bye, c-ya's' when Addie wheeled away in her wagon. She was crying out for mama and my heart broke again as they took her away.

While I was in the waiting room, I couldn't help but be much more anxious than when Emily was in the OR. It wasn't the surgery I was worried about. I was worried about Addie being carried off and not having all the meds sink into her yet. I was worried and absolutely dreading walking into the recovery room. I didn't want to hear those same screams again. I didn't want to re-live the hour of helplessness I felt with Emily. 

And, here I am worrying about Addie, but I am also worrying about Emily. She was at home with our nanny whom she's never been left alone with without Addie or me. In fact, the only time Emily has even been separated from Addie is if she's been with me and maybe once to the store with Mitch. But, that's it. Like I mentioned, Emily was having a hard time if I left the room lately, let alone everyone leaving her. I was a mess worrying about both of them.

While I was wallowing away in my worries, the CLS came in and informed me she started to sing to Addie along the way to the OR and once they entered the room, Addie stopped crying and was totally fine. What a relief. I'm thinking, where was this CLS with Emily's surgery? All in all the staff at Addie's surgery was MUCH better.

The CLS talked with me about Emily and what we could do over the next few weeks to help Addie transition better. She recommended buying a doctor's kit and letting the girls act their feelings out. She also mentioned leaving the girl's with items they know I'll come back for - to help with the separation anxiety. Also, buy books and read more about doctor's, hospitals, eyes...It was a laundry list of items I realized, duh, why hadn't I thought of all this!? (I have the same degree that qualifies the CLS - in fact, I think I would've loved a position like that if I wasn't a SAHM.)

Further, she also so very gently hinted to me that it's also very normal for me to be experiencing a little post-tramatic stress. 

Oh. Me? No. Well, maybe. Yeah...yeah. Okay. 
She was right. I see it now, but, again, thats a post for another day.

The doctor came out and explained the surgery went great! Whew! A relief, again. Same story as Emily - she had to go in through both eyes but everything was great and Addie would be awake soon.

Well, last time, with Emily, they brought me back almost immediately after the doctor had brought me up to speed. But, this time, ten minutes went by. Twenty minutes went by and I am starting to freak out a little. And then over the intercom I hear, code blue, code blue! And, then I really start freaking out. Just inside though. If you looked at me, I made sure I looked okay, because the last thing I wanted to do was stress my mom out.

And then, the nurse was walking toward me...and inside I'm freaking out even more. And maybe she knew that. Maybe she could sense it. Because all she told me was that Addie was still asleep and just taking her time coming out of the anesthesia. Phew. Okay. I could handle that.

Finally, when it was time to go back to see Addie. I was bracing myself for the worse. As I walked down the same halls as I just recently had for Emily's surgery, my ears were on high alert, waiting for the ear piercing screams. But, as we kept walking I heard nothing. No screams. No crys for mama. I round the corner and see Addie, laying in her gigantic hospital bed slurping up her apple juice like life is no big deal.



And, that's when I was really okay. Addie was okay. I was okay. We were going to get through this because from here on out it would be smooth sailing. I knew because that's how it went with Emily.

Addie was smiling and so excited to see her new stuffed animal, Peppa Pig. She let me rock her in the recovery room and she snuggled with me which doesn't happen much at home anymore. It's a moment I'll always cherish as I prayed and thanked the Lord for my sweet babies and their well-being.

Addie was discharged with no problems. My mom rode in the back with her, just like she did with Emily and she was even more alert and upbeat than Emily had been on the way home. But, then it all changed.

I was talking with Mitch, bringing him up to speed when Addie started puking in the back seat. My mom took charge and I hung up with Mitch. She spit out some clear liquid, nothing too much, but immediately she went white as a ghost. I was watching her in my rear view mirror and I could see had lost all color in her face. And then her head started to bob down. My first reaction was that she was tired. So I kept telling my mom to wake her up, but she wouldn't wake up. Was she just REALLY tired? No. Her head would bob back up and she'd look at us, but she was gone, there was nothing in her eyes. 

This was the moment my mom kicked into survival mode. I kicked into survival mode. It was just an instinct. There was no panic. There was pure adrenaline taking over. My mom did everything right and tried to keep her head up. Me. I guess I focused on the road. But, I was also watching her in the rearview mirror, talking to her. But, like I said, I wasn't panicking. And in hindsight, I have no idea why because I should've been.

Three minutes went by. I know because I looked at my phone records. It was all a blur. I called Mitch back and told him Addie was going in and out of consciousness. What do I do? He asked me a bunch of questions. Questions I don't remember. And, I said, I'm pretty close to the ER - should I take her in? And, it's when he said yes, yes you need to get to an ER right now that the panic poured in me. 

I remember not being able to communicate where I was. I knew I was close to the hospital 2-3 exits away, but I kept telling Mitch I was somewhere else. I had a fleeting thought I should probably pull over and call 911 because I wasn't in the condition to drive, but once Mitch told me he was coming and needed to know where I was - I got it out. We were just down the street from his work and I knew that. I knew he could be there in a minutes.

And then just about the time I pulled off the freeway, Addie was back. She had laughed at my mom trying to grab her attention by making noises with her new pig. We pulled into the ER and it was like nothing had ever happened. Aside from being a little pale, Addie was fine. I called Mitch and just waited for him to come. We got Addie out of the car and waited on the grass right in front of the ER doors. Mitch came and did a full evaluation on her. Checked her oxygen and her heartbeat..ect. And, everything was okay. And, I was okay again.

I contacted the recovery room where we had just been discharged from and no one could explain what happened. We hung out in the ER parking lot for about an hour just to make sure she was okay. And she was. She wanted to run on the grass and acted completely like her normal two year old self. It was a good sight.

When we got home, we were all tired. My parents took over watching Emily (who was doing pretty well, thank goodness) and I went and laid down with Addie. I wrapped my arms around her and I replayed the morning events and thought, wow, that was scary. It was the longest seven minutes of my life. As I drifted off to sleep I realized, yes, I am physically exhausted, but I am more emotionally exhausted than I have been in a very very long time.

The next few days were hard. I had the emotions surrounding Emily's surgery fresh on my mind combined with Addie's surgery and her fainting spell. Mitch wasn't home and in the middle of all this I was trying to make another major decision on the house.

And, then I lost it. Three days after Addie's surgery, Emily's sweet little right eye, the one we just operated on two months ago, fell completely back into her lazy eye position.

The surgery had failed.

Read about what happens next.

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