When Sunshine was in first grade, her school nurse gave her a vision screening and she failed it. We followed up with a professional exam. When it was over, the doctor sent all the kids out into the waiting room, looked me in the eyes and said, “There is a problem…Blah blah… Amblyopia….blah blah… Strabismus… Legally blind in that eye…”
If you are a mother you can understand that I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and had all the air let out of me.
“Strabismus” (lazy eye) is the physical condition of the eyes not being in proper alignment with each other. “Amblyopia” is the condition of the brain’s ignoring the input of an eye. The two conditions are often related, because when the eyes are misaligned, it’s like looking in binoculars that aren’t focused– you see 2 images– so the brain eventually just tunes out one of them.
The doctor referred us to Texas Children’s Hospital in the Houston Medical Center, and Dr. Steinkuller, who he said was the best in the field. He also warned us not to hope for too much; at 6, she was very old for the condition to reverse. They usually catch it much earlier–like 2 or 3– and at some point, the retina “forgets” how to receive signals from that eye.
We had no idea there had been any problem. Sunshine was an enthusiastic reader and good student in a GT class, and had never given any signs of eye problems. However when we got to Houston, Dr. Steinkuller asked if we had noticed that she tilted her head? No. He said parents never do! Looking back on her early pictures, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s very obvious, and in some pictures you can see a very slight turning inward of one eye.
Let me tell you how mad at God I was. This was my third child, my baby. She was so funny, and sweet, and tender-hearted, and precious, and PERFECT! I couldn’t bear the thought that everything about her wasn’t perfect, and especially that I had not seen the problem.
As I prayed about it,
of course I asked for
of her sight. But the
“what ifs” plagued me,
and I knew that we are
not promised that.
Over the course of about 2 weeks, I finally got to, “Even if this eye doesn’t get restored, her other eye is fine; God will take care of her.” Then of course other fears came at me, and I knew that there were blind people in the world that God takes care of too.
And finally, I surrendered Sunshine’s eyes to God.
I trusted Him to take care of her regardless of her eyesight.
What ended up happening was that by the time we got to Houston, the vision in the eye was 20/200 (up from 20/400 at the first doc’s. Coincidence? I don’t think so.) They began treatment with 6 weeks of patching round the clock, forcing the brain to use the signals from the weak eye. The treatment started during spring break, so she got over a week to adjust before she had to go back to school. (It was very hard at first. I remember her playing Jeopardy on the computer and being unable to read it unless she got right up next to the monitor, and crying in frustration.) We got glitter paint, and Sis and I painted a new patch for each day.
Next in the treatment was surgery. In a strabismic eye, one muscle is stronger than its partner, so they clip it to weaken it, hopefully equalizing the pair of opposing muscles. The doctors warned that it’s very precise, and often they have to go back and fine tune. But not this time. They were very pleased with the success of the surgery.
Now, almost 20 years later, Sunshine’s eyes look perfect. While her vision wasn’t restored to 20/20, it is functional.
What beauty did I find? The assurance that our Father can be trusted with out physical bodies as well as our spirits and hearts. The compliance that Sunshine showed going through patch therapy– she never fought it at all. The financial help that was available through state agencies and charitable groups that worked with the hospital. (That was a time when Mr X was in college and I was in my first year or two of teaching– I had insurance but they didn’t.) Plus, as so often happens when we surrender something to God, He gave healing!
I met Melinda while blogging. She is a teacher at heart and genuinely wants to help people with their struggles. She blogs about cooking, reading, faith and the things that she has learned. She’s been married to the same man (referred to as “Mr X”) for over 30 years and lives in Texas. All of her children are “self-sufficient, tax-paying adults who we love to visit and socialize with”.
You can follow her at Auntie Em’s Guide to Life “Contentment and peace– that’s what you’ll find at Auntie Em’s house. Sit down and visit a while, and you can find it too.”
One of life’s greatest joys is having a child.
I remember, several years ago, driving in my car listening to the radio. The man on the radio was sharing about how his daughter was in the hospital, near death. The man shared how he went into the parking lot of that hospital and yelled at God saying, “Why God? I’m faithful to you….I pray, I tithe, I worship you….and this is how you bless me? By taking her away? She’s my child.”
He stopped speaking then shared, “I looked at the ground and heard a still small voice say, “Who’s child is it?”
At that point, the dad said, “God….she’s your child. She’s not mine. You’ve just given her to me to watch over and care for her. I know You can take better care of her than I can. I give her over to you.”
I was in tears hearing his story.
How many of us can relinquish control of our children like that?
Our children are not really ours. Their on loan to us. Our job is to be good stewards of the things God has given us.
Melinda placed her sacrifice (Sunshine) on God’s altar and surrendered her to the Great Physician.
Thank you Melinda for sharing your story!