Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is wrong with your eyes?

One thing that I am determined for my girls to have and appreciate is confidence. They are going to be growing up in a time when there are a million negative influences on them, telling them what "beautiful, smart, successful" looks like. And it might not always look like them. I do not want them to grow up thinking they are anything less than they are and it is such an easy trap for girls to get stuck in. Pretty much every girl/woman I know has struggled with some sort of insecurity and the degree of that struggle can literally be life-threatening. This is the last thing I want for my wonderful girls, but I also know that instilling confidence in young girls is sometimes easier said than done.

I was blessed growing up in a family that CONSTANTLY told me how smart, pretty, funny, I was. In fact, I probably developed an OVER-confident view of myself because of all the praise I received. Turns out though, God put me in the right family because if I hadn't had that view of myself, what happened to me at 15 years old might have proven to be too much.

Not everyone knows this about me, but I have had some pretty serious thyroid issues since I was 15 years old. Typically thyroid problems don't begin until women are middle-aged, however I was one of those "lucky few" who developed problems early and will therefore deal with it my whole life. I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease just after my 16th birthday. It is an autoimmune disorder that basically stimulates thyroid production. (You can read more about it here.) In my case, I also developed Graves' opthalmopathy, which was what led me to go see a doctor in the first place. Basically, one of my eyes started to bulge out of my head and my eye-lids couldn't completely close around my eye. It was such a gradual change that it wasn't until it was VERY obvious that my mom decided it was worth a trip to the doctor. As soon as I was seen by our family physician he made a referral for an endocrinologist and highly recommended I make an appointment with my opthamologist as well. I spent the next month or so in and out of doctors offices trying to figure out the best way to deal with my condition. I was put on medication to regulate my thyroid levels, given a TON of lubricating eye drops and gels, and told I could not wear my contacts while my eyes were so bulged out. I had been wearing contacts since 6th grade, so being forced to wear glasses for an unknown amount of time was torture enough. I was given hope that EVENTUALLY they would be able to do surgery to try and fix my eyes, but until they were sure that they were not going to keep changing, I would have to wait. I spent my entire Junior year of high school wearing glasses that I hated, and fielding countless questions about "what is wrong with your eyes?" Unfortunately, that was the nicest way people would go about asking me. I had everything from young children to grown adults basically insult me and very rudely tell me that I looked weird, ugly, like a freak. No joke. I still can't believe that there are people in the world with so little tact that they would verbally attack a teenage girl. I could have easily gone into a depression and refused to go out into the world, for fear of what people would say or think of me, but I decided that I was stronger than that. I consciously decided that I would still go out with my friends, go to football games, and basically enjoy my life, despite what people had to say. It was not always easy, and I'm sure I did my fair share of crying and questioning why it was happening to me, but I am proud of myself for not stopping my life.

I was able to get one of my eye surgeries about 10 months after my diagnosis and could wear my contacts about 2 months after that. That surgery was pretty invasive and I had to wear a patch over my eye for 2 weeks. It did not completely fix the problem with my eyelids, so I had to have another surgery a couple years later so that my eyelids would finally completely close. After the second surgery I had both my eyelids stitched shut for a week. That was quite a weird experience.

Because of everything I had to go through with my eyes, I developed a very thick skin. I learned how strong I could be and how to have confidence even though I "looked like a freak." I am thankful for having gone through that experience because it really did make me a stronger, more confident person. Even though I am thankful for the lessons I learned, I truly hope my girls never have to go through such an extensive trial of self-discovery. Nobody wishes hardships upon their children, and I hope that they are able to have confidence and self-worth without having to go through something so hard. But if they do end up having some disfiguring condition, I pray that they are able to get through it and come out the other side, better, stronger people.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kaitlyn, nose, and a bunny...

It's a good thing that moms develop some kind of sixth sense about their children's cries otherwise, you might not realize that a sudden outburst of tears during nap time is the result of a 2 year old attempting to retrieve something that they have shoved up their nose. Good gravy it never ends!!!

I knew that this particular cry was not just a refusal to sleep and that there must be something physically wrong with her. I assumed poop. Because that is almost always what the problem is 30 minutes into nap time. Well, I was half right. There was a poopy diaper situation. However, the more pressing matter was the very small crayon my child decided to put up her nose. I traipsed up the stairs, wipes and diaper in hand, prepared to change and send back to bed, but as soon as I opened the door, she started yelling about her nose and a bunny. It did not take me long to understand what she was talking about. We recently bought the girls these cute little bunny crayons that they have both been carrying around with them for days. Well, key word being LITTLE. I have never had one of my children put something in their nose, but I guess there is a first time for everything!

 I had her tilt her head back and sure enough I could see the end of the crayon just out of reach. I tried having her blow as hard as she could while I held her other nostril closed. Nothing happened. So plan B, call our wonderful pediatric neighbor to come to our rescue. Yet again. He was over within 5 minutes and had it pulled out within 30 seconds. Crisis averted. I seriously have no idea what we would do without Dr. Wilhelm. I suppose we will find out soon enough what life is like without a trusty doctor just around the corner once we move.

Here is the bunny culprit complete with boogers on the crayon. Crazy child!