Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How did I survive all of this??

I've been tripping down memory lane, and got to thinking about when Matthew was first born.
The year was 1996, and I was mere 20 years old. We were surprised to find out he had a cleft nose, and later to discover he had a cataract in his right eye.
We were poor. Very poor. Matt worked 3 jobs for quite awhile to make ends meet for us. I had always planned on going back to work after Matthew was born (somehow I didn't know how much daycare cost!) but that would prove impossible, as you will see. This memory simply involves traveling. What it leaves out is the hard time we had with drops, and the terrible things that came with a baby wearing a contact. The good thing I will never forget about this time is how wonderful our family friend and optician, Gary, was to us. I owe that man so much, and will never be able to repay him for all he did for us. I remember many, many times, being in his office, him trying to get a contact in little Matthew's eye. He would always be wearing a sweater, it seems like. It wouldn't take long before he was stripping it off and working in a cooler shirt. He would be sweating up a storm. It was NOT easy, by any stretch of the imagination.
But again..this is about traveling, not those things.

Matthew's eye doctor was a 6 hour drive away. He started seeing him at 2 weeks old. Had his first surgery at one month old. After that, he wore a contact lens in his right eye because they had removed his lens during the first surgery. During his first two years, he would go on to have four more surgeries on his eye.
During the first year, while he wore his contact, we had to go to the doctor every two-three weeks. Well, we were poor and couldn't afford for Matt to take off. We had one car then, so Matt would arrange for people to take him to and from his jobs.
I would drive me and Matthew up there the day before the appointment, spend the night, and come home the next day after his appointment. Sometimes, he would have several appointments with different doctors. On those trips we'd have to stay the night a second night. Many of the appointments were sedated, so that would add another level to it. If they weren't sedated, they would wrap him in a blanket on a papoose board, then use a tiny little speculum to hold his eyelids open while he screamed. These were awful, awful times for me.
OK, so what is crazy to me is...we didn't even have cell phones back then! I would have to wait till I got home, or till that night to be able to call Matt, using a calling card, to tell him what transpired! Often, if I got bad news, I would call my mother-in-law from the hospital pay phone, collect,to tell SOMEONE what had happened.
Also crazy to me is that we toyed with the idea of getting a CB radio. A CB!!! CRAZY!! But there was a mountain pass I had to go over and in the winter it was white knuckle driving. The only reason we didn't get a CB was because we couldn't afford it.
Luckily, Matt was able to be with us for those first surgeries, but nothing else because we just couldn't afford it.
Apropos to nothing, Matthew started having his nose reconstructed when he was 6. He has had 3 surgeries to date on it, Matt has been there for one. The first one, he was in Spain. He was due to be home, but they changed the orders on us, so he was in Spain. The second, he was there for, and the third he was in school, I think it was probably finals week or something. Or else, as usual, we couldn't afford for him to take off from work and pay for a trip.
Somehow, I have managed to do all of this, and survive it! Through the years I have seen more medical procedures done on my children than I thought possible. And I have been there for every one. Holding that sweet child after the procedure.
I don't know how I managed to survive through the early years with Matthew. God was definitely watching out for us.
If I've learned anything through the years, it is that while I may feel weak, I am strong.

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