Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eyes on Leo

My nephew Leo was born in 2002. A few weeks later, my sister started saying, "His eyes don't look right. How do they look to you?" We were all smiling inside, thinking to ourselves, "new mom" with that knowing superiority. Karen took Leo to the doctor, "His eyes don't look right." The pediatrician said, "No, they don't look right," and sent Karen and Leo to Children's Hospital. Leo was blind. A few weeks later, Leo had surgery for congenital cataracts, and now Leo had vision. He started wearing hard contact lenses as a tiny infant, and sometimes he wears those Coke bottle glasses.

In the meantime, Leo was slow on hitting developmental milestones. It was a bit concerning. And then at 18 months, Leo caught up to other children his age. And at 21 months, he knew all his colors. Yes, I'm not exaggerating. Leo spent the next several years learning about machinery and trains and electricity, and pretending to BE machinery and trains, complete with sound effects. He makes that sound that a train makes when it pulls into the station and comes to a stop. It's wonderful and funny and adorable.

Nobody ever really knew what Leo could see out of his eyes, 'cause we weren't in there with him, and he didn't know what to compare his vision to in describing his vision. We knew that his depth perception sucked, nevertheless, by age four he was able to run. Granted, he'd run with his arms up to guard his face in case he ran directly into a wall or something, but the running was a big relief to the rest of us.

One day Karen and I took all the kids to the Butterfly Pavilion. The other kids looked at the spiders and centipedes and butterflies. Leo would look behind the display cases at the cords plugged into the outlets. Then he'd follow the cord to the machinery that it operated, in an attempt to know what service the machine provided with the electricity. Okayyyy. Leo was destined to be a bit unusual.

When he turned six and entered first grade, Leo began multiplying out to the thousands, in his head. When he turned 6 1/2, he picked up a Harry Potter book, and finished it within two weeks. But his eyes...what was going on in there? His eyeballs didn't move in tandem, and when he'd watch t.v., he'd hold his head sort of sideways and glance out of the sides of his eyeballs, not straight-on like the rest of us.

Last week, Leo had eye surgery again. The doctor cut right through the white part of his eyeballs, detached the mucles, repositioned the eyeballs, and re-attached the muscles. He was a good sport, and brought his blankies and doll into surgery with him. Everything went seemingly well.

Yesterday, Leo's dad Mark said, "Leo, look at me. How many of me do you see?" "I see one of you Dad, but I'm only looking out of one eye." (Leo used to see double.) Mark said, "No Leo, you're using both eyes, and you're looking at me straight-on. That's the way your vision is supposed to work."

Hurray for Leo!

Leo will begin a gifted & talented program in second grade. We're looking forward to what else the LORD has in store for Leo. I hope it includes more sound effects!

1 comment:

msbeeee said...

Leo sounds darling and so wonderful! I'm thankful for the success of his surgery and hope all continues to progress. What a special (in the real, God-given sense) kid! And what a great family he must have ;-)