I admit it. When it comes to my kids I can be a bit of a hypochondriac. Sometimes I feel like I have to be since Simon is the Yin to my Yang – in the sense that he never thinks anything is wrong. After the ordeal (that I’m about to tell you about) I asked my friend Chloe, “Why is it that Moms usually jump to the worst case scenario? Or is it just me?” She replied that she often does it also. Honestly, I think most good Moms do. Moms (and Dads) are the first line defense for our children- the most important advocates they have.
So- a few weeks ago I was reading a blog post by another Mom who was talking about how her 3 year old son had a fast growing eye cancer called Retinoblastoma. The way she found out he had it was through the photographer taking their Christmas photos! He noticed that in the pictures where he used a flash, only one of her son’s eyes showed up red- the other was white. I guess a young relative of the photographer had the same condition so he knew all about it and urged them to take their son to the Doctor to get it checked out….
Check out this article (not the same woman I was talking about, but a similar story).
And this one (more info with another picture)
Cut to two hours later. I’ve just gotten back home after picking up Kiera from school. I’d just taken some photos of her and was editing them on the computer. I was trying to fix her eyes in a flash photo I had taken of her, but the Red Eye Reduction wouldn’t work. Then I realized that it wasn’t working because her eyes were reflecting back white- NOT red.
The photo that started it all…
I had JUST read that article about Retinoblastoma so of course my mind jumped to that. Then I thought, “OK- relax. Could be a fluke. Take a bunch more flash photos of Kiera and Quinnie (for a control) and see what happens…
Here’s Quinnie’s- nice and red like they should be.
later in the tub I took some more…
I called Simon in a panic and told him about my concerns. I sent him the photos and after he saw them I think even he was a little concerned. He called Kiera’s Pediatrician so we could make an appointment for the next day. The Dr. asked us to email the photos to him. It was closing time at his office (of course!) but he would try and look at them before he left for the day. We never heard back.
So of course I spent HOURS online researching Retinoblastoma. During my research I read that Retinoblastoma sometimes occurs along with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in children. One of the symptoms of Osteosarcoma is pain behind the knees that wakes the child in the middle of the night. This is when I started to unravel. Kiera has been waking from extreme pain behind her knees for almost 2 years now (anywhere from two nights per week- two night per month). Her Pediatrician in America said that it was just growing pains, but I felt a bit skeptical because I didn’t think growing pains were THAT painful.
I didn’t sleep one minute the whole night. My whole body was in knots. I couldn’t eat a bite. I haven’t felt stress like that in a long time. Of course, reading about prognosis and treatment options (some were truly horrible) before bed didn’t help. I couldn’t fathom having to put my precious, tiny 5 year old through all of those treatments. And having to deal with all of this in a country where I’m not fluent in the language…
I was spiraling out of control fast. I was so convinced of her diagnosis that I was already trying to figure out how I was going to get her to her many Dr. appointments without having a driver’s license here. We also have to move into our new place in a month. Never mind dealing with a move on top of all of this- how am I going to carry my daughter up the stairs to our apartment after her treatments (our new place doesn’t have an elevator and I have a knee/ foot injury). See what I mean by spiraling?
I tried SO hard not to call my Mom because I didn’t want to worry her. I managed to hold off for hours but finally broke down and called- I HAD to talk to someone- and Simon was sleeping like a baby (see what I mean about Yin/ Yang?). I emailed my Mom the pics of Kiera (she’s a retired nurse), and her comment back was, “Well- they’re all pretty consistent.” She of course then said, “Don’t worry- it’s probably fine.” But through my hypo filter it didn’t sound very convincing…
In the morning we call the Dr. right when his office opens. He says that her eyes in the photos look abnormal and that we should definitely go see a specialist. NOT WHAT I WANTED TO HEAR. I was hoping for something like,”Looks fine to me- perfectly healthy!” We get Kiera in the car (Quinnie was already at school) and head to her Pediatrician to pick up the prescription to see the specialist. The Dr. sees us in the waiting room and comes by to tell us that he doesn’t think it’s Retinoblastoma because the whiteness in her eye is very reflective and it would be cloudier if it was cancer (probably). First hint of hope in 13 hours… He wants us to call him after we see the specialist to let him know what’s going on with her eyes.
We head straight to the specialist and only have to wait about 20 minutes to see her. Kiera had to get eye drops to dilate her eyes and have a full eye exam- she did great! We then got the AMAZING news that it wasn’t Retinoblastoma! She said that Kiera is very nearsighted in one eye (probably born with it) and needs glasses (not even a rush to get them at her age- we’ll get them in a few months, after our move). The relief I felt was like a physical thing- a wave of warmth washing over my body.
Simon took this picture of me and Kiera after we got the good news (I was silently crying and squeezing her like crazy). I feel like I’ve won the lottery to have two healthy kids. Nothing else is more important than that. It puts everything into perspective. Parents who have seriously ill children and can function at all are my heroes- I couldn’t even manage one night!
So if I’m the Yin, I’m thankful that I have Simon as my Yang. He’s been my rock of stability numerous times over the past 14 years that we’ve been together.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Yin and Yang… I found it pretty interesting.
Here’s my favorite part- “Yin and Yang are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.”