Be still and watch

We often rush through our daily lives and we have to be reminded to sit down and watch. Just be still and watch. To be patient and observe what is right there in front of us. To take the time and not over look those little things that are so easily over looked and easy to blow off as other things.

Yesterday was one of those days where I could not brush off the problems that were staring me in the face.

I was trying to finish up the cute little shaped cheesy crackers after school yesterday so I was actually sitting at the table while Lance was doing his homework. I am often in the room with Lance while he is working on his homework but I am busy doing other things. I usually prepping and making dinner when he does his homework so that we can get out the door to karate on time.

Yesterday, however, I was trying to finish cutting all those cute little animal shapes before I started dinner.

A little lead into the story, Lance got into the car after school with another headache. We passed an ambulance with its lights flashing through the neighborhood on the way home. This intensified his headache. This is the third time in the past week that “flashing lights” have intensified or started the headache. He was nearly in tears by the time we made it the two miles home.

His having the headache nor the severity of it does not change the fact that he still has homework that needs to be done. It also did not change the fact that I still needed to drive over to the Kuykendahl Park-and-Ride after I dropped him off for karate that evening to pick Ben up after work before returning to fetch him and his cousin, Katlynn, from karate. We had things that needed to be done that evening and his homework needed to be done before we left.

As I sat there, I will confess to my patience wearing a little thin. It usually does when it comes to the homework because there are the usual stall tactics involved. However, instead of getting terribly upset with him I took pause and sat there and watched him. While encouraging him to do his work in spite of the headache, I really watched him.

It was in those encouraging moments that I realized that he was stalling but it was not all stalling. He was struggling. He was really struggling. I watched him while I worked on the crackers. It was in those observations that I began to ask questions.

He has not been feeling well and honestly we still did not have answers. Even the Brain CT came back inconclusive as far as giving us answers as it was perfectly normal. It gave us no answers thus it was inconclusive. At least it is not the brain tumor the clinician at the CVS Minute Clinic tried to scare us with.

It was then that I found out that the headaches had started at Christmas time. I had never asked him when they started. I just knew that they had been bad for a couple of weeks. I asked him if it went back when he was diagnosed with mono. That was a “no.” So at least I now knew that the two events were two different isolated points in time. I could work with that. It does not mean that they were not related, it just meant that we were dealing with something that was new rather than something that was on going.

However, this did not make feel better as a mother for not realizing that my nine year old son had been suffering from bad headaches since Christmas. He would tell me that he had one I would treat it and he would not mention it again for a little while and I would not give it a second thought. That was until recently when it became more and more frequent and he could not hid the fact that his head hurt a lot and often.

Yesterday, however, there was no denying that he had measurable pain as he laid his head on an ice pack on the kitchen table. There was also no denying that he was struggling to focus on the paper in front of him on the table as he worked on his homework. He had his glasses on, that was not the problem. He only got those glasses last October, could they already be the problem? His vision goes all “wonky” as he puts when he gets the headache, could it be related? I honestly could not rule anything out at this point.

I immediately called the optometrist, Jeffery Penn. We would be out for Spring Break next week and I honestly did not want to take him out of school if I did not have to. I wanted to get him an appointment next week. I was more curious than anything. I just wanted to rule out that it “could” be his eyes and/or vision causing problems. At this point I did not want to leave any stone unturned when it came to figuring out what was wrong with him. My call for an appointment, however, yielded an appointment in just over an hour from the call I placed. I scrambled to have Ben switch his bus to the Kuykendahl Park-and-Ride to the Seton Lake Park-and-Ride so that I would not have to drive across town to get him as the other one was close to where the optometrist office is located. We drew a close to everything we were doing and we walked out the door.

We walked into that appointment complete with Lance’s head still hurting. Getting him back out into the sun did not help any. He sat in my lap in the waiting room. These headaches have reduced my nine year old boy that is too cool to sit in my lap to curling up in my lap again. I cannot say that I mind so much as it is just not usual behavior for him. I honestly did not know what to expect from the appointment itself.

First the nurse checked the measurements of his eyes with the machine that has the yellow something or another in it. I have to call it a “something or another” because there is some question as to what it is. I believe it is a house on a hill personally. I do not forget the day that Kyle said “look it is Sponge Bob.” So it could be a yellow sponge with arms and legs. That is the most notable. When Lance sat down at the machine yesterday he could not even see the yellow “thing.” I was a little concerned.

Then the nurse did the preliminary eye exam with the chart on the wall. He could not read the chart. He tried every which way to read it. He turned his head every which way. Both eyes. One eye. The other eye. It made no difference. He was struggling to read the chart. I was really starting to worry. How could I as his mother miss this? How could I let his vision going from practically no correction in October to being so bad in less than six months?

I was trying not to panic. I was there that day taking care of it.

The nurse left the room and I knew from my own past experiences what to ask him. “What do the words do on the page when you read?” The answer I heard in the response was priceless. Maybe it would get us answers finally. He looked at me and with his hands and his words he both showed and told me, “They scatter. They go everywhere.” My heart lifted. His vision did not get that bad in six months. He just needed more help than his glasses were giving him. I smiled and now we knew what to tell the optometrist when he came into the room. My heart and mind was at peace.

The optometrist gave him a good check over. His distance vision is holding steady. He still has a very slight correction for distance in one eye and no correction in the other eye. That is the good news. He really had not changed much since October.

The catch? There is always a catch, right?

He has some change visually that we needed to take care of. He has some eye problems like his mother it would seem. He could not focus on the homework paper right in front of him because his little eyes could not physically do it. His eyes focus “short” of the page. He cannot focus on the page consistently no matter how hard he tries. He cannot keep it focused. This is similar to what I have, except for me instead of the words scattering, they swim.

At least we have answers. The solution?

Yesterday night I bought Lance a pair of prescription reading glasses. This is a trial to see if what worked for me at the age of 27 will work for him at the age of 9. We might have to tweak his a little bit and putting him in readers is cheaper than jumping in 100%. He may not know any differently and may not know what is going on visually because this may be how he has seen it his entire life. We do not know that. I know that when I learned the difference, I realized that it had always been that way for me. It was just something I learned to deal with.

For him, he will have to switch back and forth between his readers and regular glasses during the day until we get the right mix. If this works for him, we should be able to put him in a pair of bifocals this fall. If it does not work, we will have to try something else. The good news is that the bifocals did work for me. So there is hope.

The unfortunate thing is that the optometrist does not think that this will stop his headaches 100% of the time. We may not have found the root of the headaches. At least we did find one of his problems. His grades have suffered dramatically this year between being bullied and missing quite a bit of school from being sick. I am hopeful that this will give him a positive turn around in school because he will have a tool that will help him succeed where he just could not no matter how hard he tried before. If you cannot read the paper in front of you, it is hard to succeed.

The good news is that Lance’s eyes are mostly fine. He just cannot read easily until we get his glasses in.

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