Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I took Monster Boy and Miss Sunshine in for vision screenings yesterday.  Monster Boy has been complaining of headaches at school, and has been telling his teacher he can't see the screen.  So, in we went.  Since our state does a vision screening program for three year olds that our eye doctor participates in (meaning it's free for us!) I decided to kill two birds with one stone and just have Miss Sunshine checked out as well.

I was a bit nervous going in.  I myself have HORRENDOUS vision.  I've been in glasses since the third grade, and I went from perfect vision to blind as a bat in a summer's time.  Daddy Mac has also been in glasses since about that age, so we know the kid's risk of needing glasses is high.

Since we were taking Monster Boy in for his complaints, I figured our luck would be that either both kids would need glasses, or just Miss Sunshine would need them, because God has a sense of humor with our family on these things. 

Lucky for us, neither kiddo needed glasses this trip!  Monster Boy did have some slight degeneration in vision - at his last vision test he was 20/10 in both eyes, and right now he is about 20/25-20/30 - still within normal range, and nothing that the doctor felt corrective lenses were necessary for, but it does mean we need to keep an eye on him in the future - as it is likely he will at some point cross that line where he needs glasses.  Miss Sunshine has perfect vision, but is showing some signs of a very slight astigmatism in one eye.  That could also have been due to how fidgety she was during the exam, so again the eye doctor wasn't too concerned and said to just continue to have her screened yearly to make sure all is well.

Monster Boy did have to have his eyes dilated as one test came back strange, but once they were dilated everything tested normal.  Of course, he's been milking the "blurry, light hurts my eyes" thing since then - I wound up sending a note in to his teacher letting her know his vision is fine but that he may be complaining today due to the dilation.

Now to figure out why he is having headaches... I have a theory that it's either A) attention related or B) he's getting overheated during recess.  So we are going to try and watch what time the headaches happen and see if it's consistent with recess times.  He hasn't been complaining as much for the last 10 days or so, and it has been cooler here those days, so I'm fairly confident that it's the heat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The ears have it.

Miss Sunshine had an ENT visit this week.  Our local ENT wants to see us every six months until she no longer needs the tubes, and possibly longer, depending.  So, in we went.

Her tubes are still in place - amazingly.  Her hearing is within normal range in both ears.  Her left ear was FULL of wax, which she would not let the ENT clean out.  He said we may at some point need to sedate her and clear it out, but for now, it's not interfering in hearing or tube function so we will just leave it.  He did say that he is not as optimistic as Shriners about her not needing anymore sets, but we will just keep watching and waiting.  He also said her tonsils are very enlarged, but he would not remove them because it could affect her palate repair and speech.  She has never had an infection in them, or strep throat, so they are just naturally large (thanks, Daddy!).  We will keep an eye on this as well.  It's ironic, really.  Likely the reason she has done so well with minimal nasal tones in her speech is because of the size of her tonsils!

So that's our cleft update for now.  We go back to the ENT in six months, won't see Shriners for two more years.  We are in the maintenance phase now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I want to take a couple of minutes...

to discuss something with you.

I started this blog to talk about our journey with Miss Sunshine's cleft.  I know that as of late, it's been more about family life and less about cleft life.  But life is full of seasons, and right now it's not a cleft season for us.  Things may change soon, or they may not.  I will not have a lot of updates about cleft happenings until they do, as for right now, Miss Sunshine is considered successfully post-op with no further specialized treatment needed.

What I want to do today, instead, is talk about something else.  Something that most certainly can be counted as cleft related, but also is not.  Confused yet? 

I want to talk to you about depression.  If you have read some of my earliest posts, you may realize that I battled some pretty severe post-partum depression mainly brought on by finding out about Miss Sunshine's cleft.  However, this isn't my first time around the depression track.  I also had delayed onset PPD with Monster Boy.

Depression is that silent monster.  The skeleton in the closet.  The elephant in the room.  People see it, but they don't want to talk about it.  PPD is especially hard.  Because, as a mother, you are fed all this "You should be so happy!  This is the most special time of your life!  Enjoy this all!" mumbo jumbo, and it just leaves you feeling even more guilty when you don't feel that excitement, happiness, or joy. 

The reality is that depression exists.  It can be very hard for people to admit they are suffering from it.  It can be very hard for people to realize they are suffering from it.  With Monster Boy, I was ANGRY.  SO angry.  All the time.  Never at him - he was my joy, and I did find joy in being his mom.  But at the world in general, I was just angry.  And I reached a point when he was about 18 months old, that I said to myself, "This isn't normal.  You should not be mad all the time."  And so I went to see a counselor.  Imagine my surprise when I was told I was suffering from depression!  That was not the answer I thought I would hear.  But after several counseling sessions, it was decided that medications were in order.  I spent six months taking an antidepressant, and I finally felt back to my old self again!  After six months, I was able to stop using anti-depressants and regained my equilibrium.

When Miss Sunshine was born, depression set in almost immediately.  I really struggled with it.  I had the typical "baby blues" - crying, sleeplessness, lethargy, a general down feeling - only amplified about ten times.  I honestly think I cried at least once every day for the first three months of her life.  I had a very hard time bonding with her - something that still causes me grief to this day.  I blamed myself for her cleft - what had I done wrong?  I had failed her somehow, I was sure.  The truth is - I did nothing wrong.  It was not my fault.  It was just one of those things that happen, and we will probably never really know why.  But to a new mother, whose hormones are already crazy out of whack?  Those answers just aren't good enough.  After about six months of really struggling - with daily and weekly crying spells - I finally went to my doctor.  He told me that he was going to give me one more month to come to him before he came to me himself - and said he was surprised I made it as long as I had.  We started antidepressants that were safe for breastfeeding.  After about four months, they really weren't helping.  We switched to another antidepressant, and again, I didn't feel a change.  After the third antidepressant, I finally made the decision to just stop.  I was getting all of the side effects of antidepressants, and none of the benefits.  I am still operating under a diagnosis of depression, but I am unmedicated.  At this point, the depression is not significantly interfering with my life.  I more likely have a condition called PMDD than true depression now.  My levels of depression fluctuate with my monthly cycles.  I do have weeks where my temper is too short, where I get angry too easily, where I cry at the drop of a hat, where I just want to stay in bed all day long.  But, it is not continual, and I don't let it define me.  I make myself get out of bed (because honestly, I don't really have a choice), I try to seperate myself when I can feel that my temper is getting to a breaking point.  I have coping mechanisms and I struggle to use them.  I may, in the future, attempt the use of medication again - after all, I did have success with it the first time around.  It was truly life changing for me back then.  But for me, for now, simply admitting to my depression is working enough. 

I guess I just want to give a face to the concept.  So many women I know have struggled with depression, but are afraid to admit it or to seek help.  There is such a stigma surrounding depression - as if it is somehow our fault for being this way.  As if we are too weak to handle life.  The truth is that depression is a REAL illness - there is a physical reason for why we are depressed.  It is a chemical imbalance - our body either does not produce enough of a specific hormone, or does not accept enough of the specific hormone into receptors.  Depression is nobody's fault - it just is.  And having it does not mean that we are weak.  It means we are real.   We are human.  And sometimes, we just need a little understanding.