The doctor had an opening to get Emerie in this week for her eye procedure. Earlier is sort of a blessing since it takes away the stress of waiting to schedule and get it over with, but also gives Emerie more time with a more straightened eye.
Surgery was bright and early at the new Surgery Center, with Grandma Anne staying home with the other two for the morning. Emerie was a good sport for everything, including her rapid COVID test accurately called “the lady wants to clean out your boogers.”
COVID rules meant that only one of us could go back into pre and post op and we let her choose…today she was Team Mom. The whole walk back she asked where’s Doctor Winkle and smiled when he arrived.
Now that she is a little older she followed more normal pre surgery things like wearing a hospital gown top, getting clean socks and getting to lay in a blanket on her own hospital bed. One of the pre-op nurses put her hairnet on her monkey and that was exciting! Emerie also sucked down her calming medicine, Versed, without any convincing. She also told her name and both sisters names to the doctors when asked. Middle names included, of course!
The anesthesiologist recommended putting her in a diaper so that no one had to clean up any accidents and that was definitely a good call. Pretty quickly she was back in the OR for her procedure and we hung out in the front waiting room.
After about 45 minutes Dr. Winkle came out and let us know everything went great and he didn’t have to do any cutting on the eye muscles. The Botox allows the muscle to shift how the eye is straightened in an attempt for her brain to catch on and stay that way. He said it is typical for some droopy eyelids and wandering eyeballs to occur over the next month so other than having to keep myself in check at that weirdness, we should be back to normal pretty quick. Hopefully this will improve her eye!
She came out of anesthesia better than her last two surgeries and other than immediately demanding a snuggle under a warm blanket, she was good! After a fifteen minute snooze I opted to take her home and let the rest of it melt off from the comfort of her house.
Thanks everyone for all the prayers. Our brave girl is currently snoring on my lap in her room.
There’s been a lot going on the past several weeks, doctors visits, errands, work and a lot of busy toddler time! In addition to our normal “keep the kids entertained and out of trouble” routine, other random things continue to pop up. For example, we are proactively working toward getting the girls passports so we can adventure through Canada at some point- this is pretty standard on years without mind numbing pandemics and we know at some point we will travel out of country to go to Haines or Dawson City on an adventure. The first piece to that adventured apparently meant spending ninety minutes at the local DMV to get the girls identification cards and update our drivers license to the Real ID compliant ones.
Would you like to guess how ninety minutes at the DMV with three toddlers and no strollers went?? Well, I can fill you in on the details…not great. They were running and shrieking around the place enough that the poor photo lady, who we found out later was pretty new, nicely asked us to wait outside of the area. This wouldn’t have been so bad except that the girls badly needed to burn more energy and were running down the halls of the University Center and having a good ‘ole time. It was stressful but we managed to get three photos and by the end of the visit Reagan was helping that same employee take our photos, sitting on the chair behind the computer and telling us to smile.
I’m happy to say that first step is over and can tell you, toddler IDs are so cute. Their non-committal faces are seriously so completely cute!! Hopefully their passports will turn out as well!
Other more stressful life things this month seem to relate with two important parts of ones face – the teeth and the eyes! While my need for more dental work isn’t a super call for stress (since pregnancy really throws a wrench in your face when it comes to healthy teeth) and I find myself needing more cavities drilled and a crown for the first time; that same week we took all three kiddos to their second dental visit. We did this visit one-by-one while the others waited for their turn in the car. By the end, we were told the unfortunate news that Reagan would need to go to a pediatric dentist to have a tooth pulled. Last year she chipped her front tooth in half tripping on the floor in the dining room, and while we didn’t notice the chip until a few hours later, we were still able to find the tooth chunk on the floor later.
The dentist smoothed out the jagged tip the following day and off and on she would complain that it hurt for a month or two; after that she didn’t mention it anymore. We watched for the tooth to change colors and die but it didn’t. The X-ray at this visit showed that the tooth is indeed dead and needs extraction so the root isn’t damaged for her future adult teeth.
Reagan was fantastic for the entire appointment, letting the tech do new X-rays, opening her mouth wide when asked, and asking to see “Mr. Thirsty”, the water tool, and enthusiastically drinking cups of water. By the end of the appointment she was telling Dr. Barnes she loved her and excitedly selected a princess sticker and tiny, stuffed tiger. It is such a relief to take one kiddo to the doctor at a time, no matter what the reason for the visit. The visits involve minor scolding and more conversation and explanation than just trying to survive it!
Her actual procedure is at the end of the month and we are opting for keeping her awake without anesthesia. We know how a toddler reacts to being put under, even for something only ten minutes like Emerie’s ear tubes, and are hoping to avoid that if possible. The doctor notes the Versed will make her woozy (just like Emerie) and be strong enough she likely won’t even remember most of the procedure. It also helps that it’s on an easily accessible tooth and should only take a few minutes to pull. I’m hopeful she is still young enough that this won’t cause her to fear going to the dentist, but I guess we will see!
There’s a bigger issue at play though than being stressed out over a toddler tooth extraction. That bigger stress relates to the fact that we are still a binkie household at nap and bedtime; obviously pulling a tooth means she cannot (or won’t want to) suck on her binkie. Reagan loves them the most of the three and always has; they are very much a source of comfort for her in times of anxiety or pain so this might get really interesting. Throw in two sisters who also like their binkies at night; you have to take them away from all three at once or it’ll be hell to pay.
Emerie had another follow up visit with Dr. Winkle and her eye is again trending more inward again. Because she’s already had several surgeries and the more you cut, the more scar tissue builds up, the recommendation this time is a Botox procedure on the eye muscles. It’s less invasive (resulting in creation of less scar tissue) and often creates a similar result for kiddos whose eyes keep shifting in or out. The procedure will be in June once we schedule it.
The entire way to the doctor Emerie was saying I love Doctor Winkle! in the car. She was shy at first but warmed up pretty quick after a few color and depth tests and was playing with him by the end of the appointment.
While this is another added stress, hopefully the Botox next month will help with her not wanting to wear her glasses and with her patching. The three to four hour goal each day is still going pretty well, with us allowing it off early for activities like swimming and ice skating so she can see easier and be happier during them. Maybe this will also help with the removal of her glasses, which seems to constantly happen the past few weeks, with her even hiding them in a purse one night and handing them off to sisters upon occasion. The new prescription means new glasses will be ordered in the next size and her old glasses look so small now compared to her!
I am happy to report Harper is hanging in there strong and does NOT need any medical procedures at the moment, thank goodness! She is asking when is her turn to go to the doctor since both sisters had an appointments this week with both parents and no sisters. This week she is also mastering the eyebrow cringing glare though and it’s quite impressive (and adorable much to her dismay). She will request you take a photo when she makes the face and show it to her. Silly attitudy girl!
I am slacking this month on documenting some of the cute activities and conversations we witness throughout the busy days, most likely because I feel there is SO much going on all at once! On the drive home the other day the girls asked us to go by the purple house and then the yellow house! I wasn’t sure what they meant until Craig pointed out that one of the houses on a nearby street was getting painted a brilliant purple and they noticed before we did! The yellow house is the first one on our street. It’s funny to see the latest toddler observations!
They also now ask each other are you serious?! Probably because a few of the outrageous things they’ve done the past week had me beckoning the same sentiment and now they think it’s fun to say. For example, two littles were downstairs giggling away while Craig was outside with number three, Grandma Anne was washing dishes and I was working at my desk upstairs. Upon walking downstairs, a waterlogged bathroom was discovered and the girls were flinging water across the room using their toys and giggling with delight. I might have asked them if they were serious…
Mother’s Day was a relatively quiet day, with Craig taking the girls swimming so my Mom and I could run a couple errands in a kid free environment! Megan and the boys came over after and played with bubbles and outside until nap time. I woke up that morning to raspberry, white chocolate scones (that Harper devoured) and ended the evening eating ponset and lumpia courtesy of our awesome neighbors and a homemade cherry pie from Craig. Gotta love the delectable food for sure! The girls would want you to know they ended the day with flamingo pajamas from Grandma Anne and some Bob’s Burgers.
Otherwise we are busy busy with lots of conversations, outdoor activities and walks, swimming, gardening and everything in between. Bring on summer and let’s get through this next month of stress!
I haven’t posted a man update for a while on Emerie’s eye, so here goes. We appreciate all the prayers and people that ask how she is doing!
We had a doctor appointment earlier last week, with Craig and I finally allowed to both go (thanks covid). We assumed news of a needed next surgery was coming and happy to both be able to discuss with the doctor in person.
Emerie uncommonly walked in like a big girl, something we don’t often do when we go places with all three. She’s grown up (literally!) so much since the first time we visited and she struggled to climb into the patient room’s chair.
She followed and looked where Dr. Winkle asked her to, telling him the colors of the stickers and other details while he analyzed her eye.
He then surprised us with good news, noting that her eye is tracking better than it was on her last visit. Much of this can be attributed to daycare, where she is patching five to six hours a day; walking in the door at the daycare at 7:30 and wearing it until lunch, with another two hours or so after nap and on the way home.
She does not like it and will repeatedly ask to take it off. Not like patch and mommycan I take my patch off are muttered constantly, more some days than others- it’s good to know that the struggle is helping! She handles patch time better at daycare than at home, probably because there is more activity and distractions occurring with multiple other kiddos around. Prior to the shift to daycare, we were concerned with how well it would go and are so relieved!
She is a bit more clumsy when wearing the patch, but clearly she can see with her good eye covered. We try to encourage good behavior about it, such as letting her choose which color patch she would like for the morning or rewarding with a jelly bean when it’s easily put on. Some days she begs to take it off and sometimes we let her, simply because she asks and is so distressed over it- we try to be as good about it as possible and we’ve come so far from the days that Nanny Chris had to tape it onto her face! Emerie always insists on taking it off herself and will push her glasses to her forehead, peel it off, and carry it around as a prize for a few minutes. I’ve also found used patches stuck to book pages, forever stuck on blankets already through the wash, and in many random places around the house. She’s pretty cute about it and has become a good sport about it each day. That helps us parents so much, since it’s hard to force your kiddo to do something that you KNOW is good for them and helping in the long run, but causes so much angst and grumpiness at this age and they don’t understand why it’s necessary. This process is certainly easier than the previous year!
While we are very encouraged at a delayed surgery, we also recognize come summer there will likely be another one to fully straighten her eye out. I am thankful to not do that in the high of winter season and while covid is still raging through our community. And who knows? Maybe the patching will solve the issue by then…one can dream!
Almost a year ago today we were headed to the surgery center for Emerie’s first eye surgery, to remove her cataract and hopefully improve use of her left eye. Today we are back for her third eye surgery (second strabismus procedures), and fourth overall surgery, in 365 days. It’s been quite a year and little did we know what was ahead of us as we walked into the center last June, but we’ve made it through with resilience and minimal scrapes and bruises.
Unlike last year, medical processes have changed a little to accommodate the worldwide pandemic. We’ve waited several months for this procedure while the medical field responded to the current COVID-19 crisis; i.e. it wasn’t on the approved, non-emergent surgery list. For us, this meant continuing to patch a few hours a day and convince Emerie to wear her glasses as much as possible, which is easier than this time last year, but still a fight.
All doctors appointments this spring only allowed one parent to attend, wearing a mask, with an attempt to keep all patients far apart to lessen the risk of spreading illness. The specialist appointment in late April was encouraging, with Dr. Winkle noting that he would determine which eye muscle to tighten once he was in there. Her eye was trending inward about 20%, as opposed to wandering outward as it did prior to October’s adjustment.
Unfortunately, when I took Emerie to her pre-op appointment last week, her left eye alignment is now trending inward at 50%, a significant change in about a month. This means that both muscles will likely need adjustment and he has shifted his prior surgical plan accordingly. When I asked why such a change in a short time period, he said sometimes this happens and there’s really no good explanation. If he had never done the first strabismus surgery, her eye would still not be aligned correctly (since I asked!). It also means that she is on the more severe scale for pediatric cases and will likely require additional surgeries going forward. Needless to say, I did not leave that visit feeling as optimistic as when we arrived.
All surgical procedures require a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of going in. I expected some screaming rage at the nose swab and had snacks and juice at hand as well as Bear and a wubbanub, but she did great! It was unexpectedly easy- we didn’t have to get out of the car and the nurse came down to our parking spot for the whole thing. She explained swabbing adults was more extensive than younger kids, and just swabbed her nostril and talked sweetly, evening producing a half toddler smile before heading back into the office. We found out right before surgery that her test returned negative, as we expected.
Emerie was ready to take on the day this morning. Little did she know where we were headed, but after Craig pulled her out of the nursery she was chatty and running around, even with our shhhhh’ing to not wake the other two.
We’ve had three prior surgeries at the surgery center and yet I’ve never noticed the pre-op playroom before today. Needless to say, Emerie much preferred exploring the enclosed room full of activities rather than be confined to my lap in the tiny pre-op space. Only one of us could go back into the area due to COVID-19 rules, so Craig waited in the waiting room out front while I went back with her. I gave her the purple, surgery monkey to cuddle with, which is almost as big as her, and she snuggled it, “changed” its diaper, and showed it the puppy book.
After the Versed kicked in she wanted to read her book on my lap, under her moose blanket. Adorably, she was super ticked off that she couldn’t shut! the door IN the book and kept repeating it. When I informed her we couldn’t shut the door, she told me no.
Also, the CUTEST thing ever….she wore two bracelets for her adventure today and look what colors they are! One pink and one blue, i.e. one in Harper’s color and one in Reagan’s. I melted when I noticed that! She is definitely the jewelry wearer of the three.
Dr. Winkle explained that the procedure would take a little longer the second time around, probably about 45 minutes versus the 25 previously, usually due to minimal scar tissue. He came out with an update about 40 minutes after I put her in the wheelchair and they wheeled her off.
The doctor noted that he was pleased to see part of the reason for the eye drift and decided to only tighten the outer muscle and not mess with the interior one as originally planned. He said she developed a type of scar tendon, about 5mm long, that was pulling the eye inward. This is actually good news, because he removed it and tighten the outer muscle, which was simplier than having to work on both sides. Hopefully this will keep her straight for a while.
Another hour passed before our surgical buzzer went off, allowing me to go back and see her. We actually saw Dr. Winkle come back out after his next procedure, looking surprised to see we were still waiting. The nurse told me later that they gave her a different type of sedation so she was coming out of it slower than her prior surgeries. I went back to find her still out. It took another 20 minutes or so until she started to come out of it. The interesting thing is that she caught me by surprise; she was out one second and trying to roll off the bed in quite a fluster the next. This is more-or-less how our naps go…fully asleep one second, screaming and wanting up the next.
Now that she is a bit older and more talkative since her surgeries at 19 months and 21 months old, she can better communicate her feelings and it is intriguing to see. Her first word was owie, of course, and reaching for her eye. The nurse asked if she wanted a yummy and handed her a lime popsicle, which for a few minutes fully distracted her pain and she laid on the bed, eyes closed, sucking on the popsicle calmly. At some point, about halfway through the popsicle, she noticed that the paper towel previously wrapped around it was on the sheet and frantically commanded trash! at me several times, then went back to owie and booboo, pointing to her eye. And repeat.
Eventually we made it home, after she threw away her popsicle wrapper in the trash without my assistance, had her blanket tucked on her, monkey and binkie in hand in the car, and we did our usual surgical routine of taking a short nap to settle and let more Advil kick in. She definitely went to sleep easier today than back in December and didn’t fight it or cry. As I write this, she’s down for her normal nap, although her eyes on the crib camera tell me she is fighting this one hard while Harper and Reagan are both out.
Thank you, everyone, for the prayers. Our littlest triplet was very brave today and behaved great! <3<3<3
Last week we took Emerie to her eye specialist visit, that was conveniently scheduled out far enough that it wasn’t canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 closures.
The doctor’s office required I wear a mask and only one parent accompany the child. The one-to-one ratio is pretty fantastic and when the kiddo is well behaved, it’s even better! Emerie was a pro and you can tell that she likes Dr. Winkle. Not only did she sit very still on my lap while he checked her eye, but he also managed to get a few smiles, almost chuckles, out of her with some animals sounds. She took out on of the tools on the eye machine and nicely handed him his “toy” upon request.
The good news. She was great at her appointment and the eye patching is strengthening her eye. The bad news? Her eye muscles will require another surgery later this spring. Typically the over correction of the eye muscles accommodates the loosening over time, so that the eye ends up looking nice and straight. Since October’s surgery, her eye still trends inward a little more than it should and by now it over correction should be fixed. Dr. Winkle noted he would decide once she’s in surgery if the inside muscle requires loosening or the outside should be tightened.
I am hopeful that much of this quarantining will be passed us before she goes in, so her immune system doesn’t have to fight off any other potential invaders. Current rules also state that only one person is allowed back with a kiddo and that can be tough with a very unsettled and in pain toddler.
Harper and Reagan received their two year eye checkups with the specialist this week, more-or-less to confirm that no strabismus issues are present like their sister. The doctor did not appreciate that they were dressed alike, but did think it was funny! Both passed with flying colors and no longer need specialist eye care. Going forward, unless something changes, we will just monitor their eyes at the pediatrician. Great news!
Harper did well with the dilation drops and didn’t fight the doctor for the visit. She sat still on my lap and he examined those beautiful blue eyes without too much effort. (Random fact: light colored eyes like blue react easier to dilation!). Reagan, on the other hand, feels the way Harper feels about the dentist. Screaming, crying, trying to hold those eyes shut. She did not appreciate the drops and had her eye exam with arms held firmly down by Craig and her eyelids pried open by the doctor. Maybe we should be more appreciative that Emerie doesn’t respond to all the doctor visits like this.
They both had dilated eyes for the rest of the afternoon, but still enjoyed playing out in the sun and going for a family walk.
All in all, things are pretty good in terms of the Douglet eyeballs. We will continue to patch Emerie two to three hours per day and encourage use of her weaker eye, much to her dismay. The next plan is to purchase another pair of glasses with larger lenses and see if she likes them more than her current ones or if they improve her mood. We are also thinking outside the box…maybe getting a yellow pair instead of her usual purple! Either way, we know they will be cute on her.
Keep those prayers coming; and we will keep you all updated on her progress.