He took the envelope out of his backpack and placed it on the kitchen table when the days were still short and cold. “This is for you.” In a matter of seconds, I held a vision screening brochure in my hands. On the front, the words “passed test” had been crossed out in red and there was a note stapled with an exam sheet to be taken to an ophthalmologist. Chase had failed vision screening.
I’ve done many interesting things with Chase, but one of the more challenging was performing any semblance of a useful eye exam. In a paradigm where letters, numbers, shapes, and spacial agreement are all so highly relied on to diagnose, a child who struggles with all of those thing as well as memory and direction poses quite a dilemma .
Did he call that “P” a “T” because he can’t see it or because he doesn’t remember the name of the letter?
Is he saying “I don’t know” because he can’t see or because he can’t remember the words to say that drawing on the screen is a man on a horse?
Is he saying 2 is clearer than 1 because it really is or because it was the last option given and it’s the only one he remembers?
I learn in life with Chase on the regular that I take things for granted far too often. But, through a prolonged time of trial and error, we devised a system to try and put the tests into words and actions that Chase could work with – including tapping his chest on the right or left side to identify which was clearer (as he gets his right and left confused). I couldn’t help but agree with him, for, as the lights came back on, he hopped off the chair, turned around to look at us, giggled a little and said “Well, that was awkward.”
Despite the difficulties of the exam, Chase was still Chase, and at one point, for that puff of air in the eye that even I dislike, he ran a bargaining session so experienced and smooth that the tech and I ended up promising an extra glass of juice at lunch (a luxury usually only given at breakfast), iPad time, stickers, and we were about to bet the farm when he finally agreed to the terms. That kid knows how to work a room.
At the end of the long morning, as we sat in the exam room with the doctor, she looked in Chase’s eyes, looked again a little closer and longer, and then turned and asked if he’d been on steroids as part of his treatment. In truth, Chase had less than two weeks of steroids around the time of his brain surgery, but she seemed perplexed and then explained: both of Chase’s eyes were filled with cataracts and that is something she usually sees from long periods of steroid use. We concluded the eye exam with a recommendation for a local specialist to make an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
As far as this preliminary exam could be given, it would seem that overall, Chase’s eyesight is quite poor, but that he is still seeing fairly well around the cataracts at this time. Our prayer is that Chase can retain full sight and that surgery can be put off for as long as possible. We meet with the specialist in the next few weeks.
After a brief discussion with his oncology team, there is strong reason to believe this is due to radiation. More collateral damage… yet, Chase lives.
Choosing hope and thankfulness. Moment by moment.
The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Mark 8:24-25 NLT
Chase practices cutting along a line we aren’t sure that he can actually see