October 2013

Mr. W has said before that he’s “always” gotten into trouble for his exaggerations. For saying things like, “You always…”, “You never…” etc. I’ve yelled at him before for that, too. I don’t like being accused of things that aren’t true and 2 times does not an “always” make.

Earlier this evening, we had dinner with Allie at Claim Jumper. Allie spent a good part of the time chanting about wanting to get out of her high chair, and/or to go outside and play. “Allie can’t get out. Allie can’t get out. Allie go outside. Allie go outside.” We didn’t cave. Suddenly, she said sadly, “Allie never never go outside. Never never never go outside. Allie never never go outside.” I told her to stop exaggerating, she’s outside plenty.

Then on the walk home, she pointed at stores we passed and said, “Allie never go in there. Allie never go in THERE. Allie want ice cream. Allie never eat ice cream. Allie never go in there.”
In amazement and awe, Mr. W asked me, “Where did she learn that?”
I looked at him incredulously and said, “From YOU!”

They’re always listening, parents. Always always always.

P.S. Today marks her least nutritious meal she’s ever had: restaurant chicken nuggets (but made with real chunks of chicken breast), mac-n-cheese, bits of carrots/peas/potato from my chicken pot pie, and a few pieces of shoestring fries. I took 80% of the fries off her plate and gave them to Mr. W. She did eat grapes, honeydew and cantaloupe for dessert, though. She tried the fries and said, “Allie like it.” She said the same thing about a tiny bite of her dada’s pickle. Crap. Well, she’s almost 2 years old, I suppose it’s inevitable that she try some of this junk, but it’s so high in sodium and so low in nutrition that I felt like the shittiest mom in the world when she stopped mid-walk on the way back and said with a sad little frown, “Allie’s tummy hurt.” I hope it was just because she was running and jumping so soon after she ate, and not because she ate total garbage. 🙁

We liked our photos shot by Kari Flores last year so much that I’d booked her again for this year. We did the shoot on Sunday in San Juan Capistrano’s historic Los Rios old town district. Allie was more temperamental than she was last year, since she’ll now exert her will just to assert her will, even if her true intentions are in line with ours. So when we asked her to smile, she said “no.” Just because she wanted to say no. Even when we make her laugh, she’ll clamp down on her lips and try hard to keep a straight face. Just because she’d previously told us she doesn’t want to smile for us. But she giggled up a storm in the car on the way back, and then declared to her dada, “Allie’s happy.”

Kari sent this “teaser” yesterday. It makes me hopeful that we have some smiley photos in the mix. 🙂

Bet you can’t tell I spent 40 minutes curling my hair that morning with a curling iron.

To address Allie’s eye issue, Mr. W and I took Allie to her first pediatric ophthalmologist appointment yesterday. The doctor was a young(ish) Indian guy and I liked him. Could’ve been one of my UCLA friends. By that I mean he seemed cool and was one of my generation. Allie did really well, was cooperative, even with the dilation eye drops. The nurse was expecting a full-on fight and tantrum but the most Allie did was whimper, and even held the Kleenex to dab her own eyes after each of the drops (3 in each eye, 30 secs apart). So here’s the diagnosis.

Like I thought, Allie has intermittent exotropia. This only happens when she’s tired or otherwise not “feeling it.”
Unlike what I thought, the doctor says it’s alternating, meaning both eyes turn outward, and that it only appears to me like only her right eye turns out because Allie favors her left eye. So she’ll fix on the image with her left eye and let her right eye do its own thing.
He also found some mild hyperopia (far-sightedness) in both eyes. This could be due to her difficulty focusing inward (converging).

He said her intermittent exotropia has good control and good recovery, and that he measured the degree of outturn at 20 degrees.
Also interesting, he found no amblyopia.

His treatment plan: alternatingly patch both eyes for an indeterminate amount of time. Followup visit in 3 months.
So basically, I cover her right eye with a patch 4 hour a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then I cover up her left eye with a patch for 4 hours a day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. She gets a break on Sundays.

We bought a box of patches on the way home and Allie allowed us to put one on her in the afternoon, and she asked me to do one, too. So I did. She kept hers on for 20-30 mins before taking it off. I was nauseated and had a headache within the first 5 mins, started to feel edgy, like I was on the verge of a claustrophobic panic attack, and my patched eye had an over-sensitivity feel going on. I wanted to rip it off immediately but kept it on cuz Allie still was going around and playing with hers on. My headache and nausea persisted the rest of the night. I still have a headache now.

Mr. W and I also spoke with 3 people who had patching done in their childhood. It didn’t correct anything for any of the 3. Two of the three, however, didn’t have what Allie has (drifting eye), but instead had what used to be referred to as “lazy eye,” where one eye’s vision was just a lot worse than the other eye. Allie’s eyesight measured at good and even between the two eyes, altho the doctor wasn’t able to tell us in the quantitative measurement of the 20/20 scale because Allie wasn’t cooperative in identifying the Allen pictures (which are used in place of letters) on the chart. At home, however, I could ask her what each image in the Allen pictures are, and she would tell me, “Birdie. Hand. Bike (it was actually a stick figure of a car, but I can see why it looks more like a bike with a steering wheel). Telephone (this surprised me cuz it was a rotary phone and she’s never seen anything but cell phones in the house). Happy burday cake. Horsey.”

Christi also asked her pediatric ophthalmologist friend about Allie’s treatment plan, and the response was she would’ve done corrective eyeglasses, and that alternate patching wouldn’t have been her plan because it discourages the eyes from working together. I agree; since Allie’s problem only occurs infrequently and the eyes get a chance to cooperate most of the time, why would we make the brain separate the eyes and take away that benefit? Yeah, it’s a separate muscle training thing, but still, there’s gotta be a better way.

I’m still interested in vision therapy. Allie’s pediatric opth does SOME vision therapy, but only for older kids (age 5+) and doesn’t think it’s effective for Allie’s condition, and he pretty much said what I’d expected a Western doc to say about it, i.e. there’s no conclusive evidence it’s more effective than traditional methods, such as patching and surgery. He said he’s conservative in his approaches, so he would only do corrective glasses that force Allie’s eyes to work harder at convergence if Allie were already wearing glasses, and would only recommend surgery if her eyes were turned out more than 50% of the time. We’re at less than an hour a day of outturn presently. Probably less than half an hour. So I’ve called 2 local pediatric optometrists who do vision therapy already. One said they don’t do it for kids this young because they’re simply not old enough to follow instructions, which I understand. But the suggestion was to bring Allie to them for an evaluation in a year, since if she’s ahead of the curve in her abilities and understanding, she can start this earlier, too. The second office is going to have their vision therapy coordinator call me back and discuss. I expect this call some time today.
Earlier, a coworker came in and told me that her younger sister had much more severe exotropia in her childhood, and that instead of patching, they were recommended to take her to vision therapy in a local college of optometry/ophthalmology. It worked. The sister isn’t completely cured, just like Allie’s ped opth said she wouldn’t be, but it’s well-controlled to where the sister’s eyes are cooperative and straight all the time unless she’s exhausted, and she has no issues with 3D vision. Allie, btw, tested fine on 3D so her eyes ARE able to work together. (Doc put 3D glasses on her, showed her a picture of a fly and said, “Touch the bug’s wings.” And she swiped 2 inches above the picture.)

I was taking an after-dinner walk with Allie earlier, Allie dancing along on the sidewalk commenting on random things, holding my hand.

*neighbor’s dog barking*
Allie: Allie like doggies.
Me: Mama likes doggies!
Allie: Allie like mau-maus [“kitty” in Mandarin].
Me: Mama likes mau-maus!
Allie: Allie like people.
Me: …
Allie: *looking up at me* Allie like people.
Me: …that’s great!
Allie: Mama like people?
Me: It’s nice that you like people.
Allie: Mama like doggies, too?
Me: Yes, mama likes doggies, too.
Allie: Mama like mau-maus, too?
Me: Yeah, mama likes mau-maus, too.
Allie: Mama like people, too?
Me: …

Let it go, already, kid! So I’m more an animal person than a people-person. Lots of people are.

I have other things to blog about, such as our trip to Dallas a couple of days ago (Allie’s first plane flight, first stay in a shared room with us, first stay in a different time zone), but here’s a quickie about something else cuz I’m SO EXCITED ABOUT IT.

Every so often, I try to do the Crow Pose. Just to see if gravity still applies to me. It always did, and I would quickly, sometimes slowly, roll forward face-first into the floor. I usually catch myself before my nose makes actual impact, though. Tonight, I thought I’d try again, fully expecting the reaffirmation that yes, I am not impervious to the laws of physics.
Only…I WAS. In disbelief, I did it again. And again. And again. There were a few times I couldn’t get up because I rushed it too much, but mostly, I got up. I don’t know what stars aligned themselves tonight, how it is that I’m exempt from Newton’s principles, and this will probably never happen again after tonight, but it almost doesn’t matter, because I set up my phone’s camera timer and I GOT PROOF!

I love my yoga photos. 😀 Here are the other ones I have, in reverse-chronological order.
9-25-13, with our yoga instructor, at work:

7-4-13. I think this is some sort of Pigeon Pose variant.

6-29-13. Elephant Trunk Pose. I have short arms so you’ll have to take my word for it, but I’m off the ground.

Christi sent photos of Allie with my description of Allie’s eye symptoms to her pediatric ophthalmologist friend, who responded:
“sounds like intermittent exotropia which can manifest around that age. Doc will monitor to see if affecting visual development and frequency.
Not urgent but don’t want to wait a year either, like some of my pts wait for years…?!?!
Many reasons for eye to start wandering. Amblyopia, structural…etc. need to start with complete exam with Peds opth”

So I emailed Allie’s pediatrician at Kaiser, with a description of the symptoms and the 2 photos in the previous post. He responded within an hour or two saying that he has already put in the referral for Allie to see a pediatric ophthalmologist and that I should be contacted by the office of one in the next 2-3 days to set up an appointment. Wow, that ball got rolling faster than I’d dreamed. He recommended I see the specialist sooner rather than wait for Allie’s 2-year birthday. He also said that he believes Kaiser does offer some vision therapy, but thought that it was limited to kids age 5 and older. Bummer. So I may still need to go to an outside therapist and pay out of pocket, unless I can figure something out with insurance.

Some levity is needed…
Allie: Dada, why pee, why pee?
Dada: Huh? Why pee?
Allie: Why pee? Why pee? Why pee?
Dada: *blank*
Allie: Towel. Towel?
Dada: You want a towel?
Allie: Yeah!
Dada: Sorry, I don’t have a towel, but I have a wipey — OH! WIPEY!

I guess dada not speaking fluent Allie is forcing her to expand her vocabulary.

Since late July this year, Allie’s eyes have seemed to occasionally point in 2 different directions. It was initially just before her nap or before bedtime as she sat in her high chair for her lunch or dinner, spacing out. More recently it seems to be anytime she’s tired, so it’s common after she wakes up in the morning, prior to nap or bedtime. It’s now become pretty apparent to me that it’s the right eye drifting out to the side (away from her nose), whereas the left eye remains focused.

I was hoping it’d go away, since it was only happening occasionally, but the occasions have become more common now. Since Flip Flop Girl (Christi) and I were online chatting about parenting-related things last night, I decided to finally tell someone about this and (eek) make it a reality with my acknowledgement. Turned out it was the best thing I could’ve done. She validated my concerns, did some brief research online and said it seems like it could be extreme farsightedness. I was just hoping it wasn’t a brain tumor suddenly pulling on Allie’s internal eyeball parts. Christi offered to ask her friend about Allie’s symptoms for me, since her friend is a pediatric ophthalmologist. I gratefully accepted. Meanwhile, I thought, since Christi did some research, I ought to, too. So I looked. And I looked. And I looked. And I narrowed down the possibilities. And narrowed down the specifics. And I concluded with intermittent exotropia.

Within my research, intermittent exotropia seems to be a brain issue and not an eye issue. This can be tested by having Allie focus on my finger near her face when she’s having an “episode”, then covering her good (left) eye and seeing if the right eye immediately jumps in to focus on my finger. If it does, then it’s not a weak muscle that makes the eye unable to focus inward. Instead, it’s that her brain does not acknowledge the image being broadcasted by her right eye, so it ignores that eye’s information intake. Surgery can cosmetically correct the eye and force it in, but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem of making her brain recognize her right eye’s information. But there is something called “vision therapy” that could train the brain to properly accept and use information from the affected eye. Things like wearing 3-D glasses or glasses where she gets 2 different color lenses on each eye, then she’s asked to see or follow something that only can be seen by the weak eye. It’s less invasive than surgery AND the old method of forcing a kid to wear an eye patch over her “good” eye 3-8 hours a day for 3-12 months straight. Talk about traumatic. And it seems like vision therapy may be more effective both in immediate correction and in long-term maintenance. Plus it doesn’t risk messing up the good eye.

It’s October, which means we’re within the window to change/add to health insurance coverage to take advantage of any help with paying for this stuff. So glad October hasn’t passed me by until I go this swift kick in the pants to do something about this; I was going to just wait until Allie’s 2-year appointment at the end of next month, but open enrollment would be closed by then. I’ve received some advice to look up pediatric ophthalmologists who are board-certified in vision therapy (apparently still a new thing not recognized by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, but you know what they do recommend? Surgery. Screw that as a first line of defense; learned my lesson in Allie’s broken teeth/pediatric dentistry situation), and will be doing that. Insurance typically will pay for a surgery, but not therapy, so I’ll probably be paying out-of-pocket for the less invasive therapy (less risks, more promising). But I’m willing, able, and ready.

These are very recent photos.

Last night, upon exiting California Pizza Kitchen with Allie & her dada…
Allie: Dok. Dok. Dok.
Dada: What?
Allie. Dok! Dok!
Dada: What? What’s dok? I don’t understand you, baby.
Allie: People sleeping?
Dada: Yeah, people are probably sleeping, because it’s dark — oh! DARK!
Allie: Dok!