Maddie has to go to the eye doctor more often than the average baby because, as a former premie, she is at risk of retinopathy of prematurity, or R.O.P. as the cool kids call it. R.O.P. is where the retina’s blood vessels are damaged and can lead to blindness, so, as you can imagine, it is pretty serious.
Yesterday we had an eye appointment so I bundled up the little one and shuttled her over to the UCLA Eye Center by nine a.m. which was WAY too early after she made me get up three times the previous night.
Once we took a seat in the waiting room I pulled Maddie out of her stroller and put her on my lap. Then something strange happened. No one gasped. No one went “AWWWW.” No one came over to pinch her cheeks. I know, I know. You’re thinking I am an arrogant jerk and that my baby is not THAT cute. But she kind of is…
Anyway, I started to tickle Maddie so she would giggle, mooshed her hair up like a mohawk, even hoisted her in the air, but still not one of the a-holes in the waiting room so much as even looked at her! I was getting seriously miffed. After a few minutes of growing indignation it finally dawned on me why no one was going ga-ga over Maddie – most of the people in the waiting room were blind. Yeah, I’m totally going to hell.
Eventually a very stern looking doctor called Maddie’s name, so Maddie and I went with him back to an exam room. The doctor then instructed me to sit in a specific chair with a scowl.
“Let’s review the child’s medical history, shall we?”
“Uh, okay,” I said. The doctor scrutinized me with a serious expression before asking a series of questions. He then took copious notes of everything I said without removing the scowl from his face.
“Very well,” he finally snarled. “Let’s examine the patient.”
I nodded as the doctor pulled up a chair with an instrument that he pointed at Maddie. Then, suddenly, he started speaking really loud with a dead-on impersonation of Daffy Duck.
“Hi there, Sweetie! Look here!”
Maddie, as shocked as I was, did just as he said. The doctor nodded, wrote down a note, then turned away from us before turning back wearing a pig’s nose!
“Look at the pig! Look at the pig!”
“Wow,” I said. “I guess you really have to go to extremes to examine little kids’ eyes, huh?”
“What do you mean?” the doctor blurted out before waving his hands and doing a little dance in his chair.
A few moments later the doctor turned off the lights and pressed a lever on the floor. An until then unnoticed box on the opposite wall illuminated. Inside was a toy dog who moved back and forth, barking.
I clasped my hands together, delighted.
“Oh! How wonderful!”
The doctor glared at me.
“The dog is for the children.”
“Of course,” I said, humiliated. I almost couldn’t stand to keep looking at the cute doggie. ALMOST.
Anyway, in the end there was good news…Maddie’s eyes are perfect! I was very happy.
On the way out I was starving because we had been there for over three hours (another story), and I decided to see if the cafeteria I ate at every one of the 68 days Maddie was in the NICU was still open. The reason I feared it might not be open is because it is in the old UCLA hospital which had recently been shut down and moved down the street to a new location. There seemed to be some activity inside the old building though, so I went inside.
It was weird inside. All the chairs in the lobby – chairs I sat in while I called friends and family to tell them that Maddie was likely going to die – were gone. It almost made it seem like all the madness of just ten months ago never happened…or was something I dreamt.
Further inside we reached the cafeteria and, lo and behold, it was still open! It turned out that the old hospital was still being used for teaching purposes, so the cafeteria was still in business.
Once again I strolled the surprisingly large food choices – a sandwich bar, sushi counter, traditional grill, Mexican food bar, International corner, salad bar, soup bar, etc. – before getting something a little healthier than I got in the dark days (I am a stress eater and gained twenty pounds while Maddie lived at the hospital). I paid for my food and sat down at the same table I used to sit at.
After a few minutes of eating I looked at Maddie in her stroller and saw that she was smiling and cooing at me. It then dawned on me how amazing it was that I was sitting there, eating as I had before, but with a healthy, smiling Maddie at my side as opposed to four floors up fighting for her life.
Maddie couldn’t have known why, but I pulled her out of her stroller and kissed her. It felt like a triumphant moment. Nonetheless, I was quick to finish my meal and hurry us out of the past and back to the future.
I’m glad you re-did this post; it is a good one.
I have to say, I don’t think I’d be brave enough to go back into that cafeteria, although it sounds better than the food court at my local mall.
And, is Maddie getting more hair?
jennis last blog post..Notes
Headless Mom says:
That must have been quite eerie to see all of the changes in such a short period of time. You 3 are so blessed!
Oh, btw, you guys suck. I want to go tonight! *stomping feet* Hello? Try a weekend next time! In all seriousness, though, have a great time!
Headless Moms last blog post..You Know You’re From Colorado if:
Great post. I’m glad to hear Maddie’s eyes are a-okay. I have a niece that was born at 28 weeks and she’s completely blind due to R.O.P. It’s sad.
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Glad you found (ok, re-wrote) the post –
Great news! And I was puzzled about the lack of oohing and aaahing until you made the “everyone was blind” observation.
How wonderful to have this happy ending to a terrifying several months. It’s a story that should give hope to many.
Kates last blog post..In Honor of the Messiest Man Alive
Andrea's Sweet Life says:
Isn’t it interesting how certain smells or locations can rip us out of the present and back to the past? I’m so happy Maddie is in such excellent health in just 10 short months.
And, dude – you are SO going to hell for being miffed at blind people for not noticing Maddie’s cuteness.
Daddy Dan says:
Is this the lost post? If so, I’m glad you found it. Fantastic post and news about Maddie’s eyes. I have an eye appointment this afternoon. I hope the doctor does some of the same stuff to make me more comfortable.
Daddy Dans last blog post..Our Dogs, the Pitas*
OMG, I would’ve totally been annoyed if people hadn’t noticed my cutie too! How funny though! And what a weird dr. At least Maddie’s ok.
I’m sure it was bittersweet to visit that cafeteria. Those memories must be hard, but seeing that beauty that gave you quite a scare is worth it all.
Loris last blog post..Are you trying to insult me?
OK, first of all, even if I was blind I would still be able to tell how totally cute Maddie is because she RADIATES cuteness. So no excuses.
Second, my son’s ENT doc was just like your daughter’s eye doc! He was so goofy, and Logan just loved him. After each appointment he would race Logan down the hall to go get a sticker. So funny.
And last, gosh – the hospital!! My daughter was only in the special care nursery for 17 days and I thought I was going to lose it. I don’t think I ever want to go back there again. I can’t even imagine what that was like for you! Wow. At least you had Maddie to hug on while you were there.
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Hooray for Maddie! That is wonderful news!
And you are one brave guy, going back to that cafeteria. When I have bad times, I hate returning to the scene. Ugh.
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Anna Marie says:
Hooray for good vision! And I know what you mean about revisiting the cafeteria. The Caf at Duke where Thomas was still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Anna Maries last blog post..Does Starbucks sell these?
It’s great to hear all is well. The doctor should lighten up a little. The barking dog should be for everyone. Is he some kind of barking toy dog hoarder? Fascist…
I’m saving seats in hell by the way. Let me know if you need one.
Jims last blog post..They really shouldn’t let me in the doors
Ms. Moon says:
Oh Mike. I know. When one of my daughters was fifteen, she was hit by a car. I can barely stand to talk of it, even now, fifteen years later. The few days I spent in the hospital were so grim, so horrible. The thing I remember about the cafeteria was that they had Fresca in the soda fountain thingee. I was so grateful for that Fresca. To this day, Fresca makes me think of hope and fear and being completely unable to control any damn thing in my life.
Bless your girl and her perfect eyesight. Bless my girl and the way she can still dance, sing, and bring joy to this world. Bless us for living through it all and being able to grab up our children and kiss them.
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Lisa Pedersen says:
Amen………How I have walked those shoes as well.
Lisa Pedersens last blog post..Living the Life
P was not in the NICU nearly as long as Maddie. But every time I drive down the 405 and don’t get off at the exit for the hospital I breathe a sigh of relief. Still. I cannot imagine going back. I don’t think I could.
Lots and lots of kisses for Maddie.
So glad Maddie is doing well.
The past – a great place to visit, as long as you have your ticket home.
Willows last blog post..You’re Fired
Maddie’s the sort of little baby girl that makes me hurry wanna get married and have a little girl of my own.
THAT THOUGHT freaks me out!!
what’s your blog doing to me!? i’m literally having a new born identity, one that involves me wanting kids and settling.
i hope i won’t radiate that desperate air of “want-child-like-maddie” to all the guys around me or i’d so send ’em running the other direction.
i’ve got 2 of my other asian girlfriends reading your blog regularly and now we’re all ooh-ing and ahh-ing over your little girl. more pictures pleaseeeeee.
glad everything’s going great with her health!
she’s so cute, even if i were blind i’d know she’s around. hurhur.
What a wonderful moment for you. I totally get it.
My uhsband took the girls for their eye appointment last month. I am glad I didnt need to be there- I hate those appointments.
Solil has slight R.O.P but the doctors are sayign that they believe that there is nothing to worry about. Prematurity seems to be a lifelong concern- even when they are in the 80th percintile.
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Mary Beth says:
With that amount of cuteness, they should have sensed her! Obviously she used her powers on the grouchy doctor:)
Mary Beths last blog post..MY WII FIT IS STALKING ME!
Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at blackhatbootcamp.com/listofwordpressblogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.
Maddie is a total rockstar. she’s come so far! great post, Mike.
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Auntie Lynn says:
Sigh…….I can tell why Madddie is sooo in love with her Daddy.
This post is AWESOME!
Great seeing you and Heather last night!
nanettes last blog post..Pretty in pink… or not
Blind or not, they should have sensed Maddie’s cuteness!
Bonnies last blog post..Because she doesn’t have superpowers…yet
I clasped my hands together, delighted.
“Oh! How wonderful!”
BWAH hahahahha…. this is win.
Joes last blog post..My baby girl!!