UGH! Constructing the first real sentence of this post and I'm already anxious. Rehashing the time period when our eldest daughter endured a battle against chalazia is still uncomfortable for me, almost three years later. Needless to say, this particular story does not detail fond memories or frame-worthy photographs, but there is a happy ending.
We know there are other families and individuals out there who are making every effort to fend off chalazia, so as much as I shudder with the recollection of our own fight, this one is for you.
About 4 months after our daughter's first birthday, I started to notice redness developing in the corner of her left eye. Initially, it didn't seem serious. I figured she'd just gotten glitter (Somehow, with girls, there is glitter EVERYWHERE!) in her eye or accidentally poked herself with one of her toys. But the redness didn't diminish over the next few days. Mommy-Radar sounded its alarm as that eye seemed to be getting worse.
After a few days with no improvement, I called the pediatrician and made an appointment for an exam.
We learned that she had developed a chalazion, a blockage in an oil gland of the eyelid and were given a prescription for Tobramycin eye drops and instructed to give our daughter warm compresses twice a day to encourage drainage. And so it began…
Diligently, I tried to hold a warm washcloth on our daughter's eye as I attempted to read her stories for nap time and before bed. It became quite the balancing act as she'd throw my arm away so she could have use of BOTH eyes for the entertainment. Without a book to captivate her, there was no chance I'd be able to hold her still for these compresses. It was an arduous struggle twice a day, but I persevered through gritted teeth every time, barely managing 3 minutes of lukewarm compresses on the affected eye. And this scene wasn't getting any sunnier- not only was her left eye not improving, her right eye began to redden and swell as well!
So the next step was to visit with a pediatric ophthalmologist to determine a course of action. He confirmed that she had two chalazia and that a THIRD was beginning to form on the lid of her left eye. Because of the size of these blockages and the persistence of the initial chalazion, he recommended surgery to drain them to prevent damage from the pressure on her eyes.
I felt the room pulling away from me in tunnel vision. Surgery?!? I had to sign a piece of paper consenting to put my baby girl under anesthesia? Understand that the risk of anything happening was low, but in a rare event, death may result? Trying to disguise my complete panic, I took a few deep breaths, re-read the papers and forced myself to be a rational grown-up.
With my breath held and eyes closed, I signed the forms and agreed to bring my sweet daughter in for the surgery in two days time.
And for those two days, I was a complete wreck, losing control of rational thought entirely. What could I have done to prevent this from happening to my daughter? How can I undergo the surgery FOR her? What if she is traumatized for the rest of her life from this experience? What if there are complications during the surgery? What if...?
What can I say? There are times when mamas get a lil' batty. For me, just the word "anesthesia" gives me a case of the willies. Add the name of a loved one into the sentence and I'm a nervous wreck until the work is done. We were talkin' about my BABY here! Man.
On the night before the procedure, I don't know if I slept at all. Perhaps I drifted in and out between my worrying, praying, tossing and turning, but it was certainly one of the longest nights of my life to date.
Okay, I'm getting a little dramatic here. I'll spare you (and myself) the ultra-descriptive version of the tale and get on with it.
The surgery went smoothly, took about 25 minutes and there were no complications. The outlook was good, and as soon as she calmed down upon awakening, we could take our darling home.
And so we did. But our sweet beauty wasn't looking quite like herself after surgery.It was sad. Poor kid had to keep her right eye patched for 24 hours, and we'd need to administer more Tobramycin eye drops three times a day for a week. As prevention of future chalazion development, we were advised to incorporate ground flaxseed into her diet and give at least 3 warm compresses a day for 15 minutes each. Fifteen minutes of compresses for each eye?!? This was going to be tricky.
We continued to give warm compresses for several weeks after the surgery to ensure that the chalazia would not return. Having gotten used to the connection between sitting for a compress and watching Sesame Street, we developed a smooth routine that worked well for everyone. Compresses were given right before naps and bedtime, and she began to associate the process with winding down. She benefited from the warmth and calm relaxation and WE benefited from the ability to actually get some snuggle time with our toddler who was otherwise on the GO GO GO! Who doesn't crave a little cuddling now and then, right?
The pediatric ophthalmologist told us that it is a mystery why some children are afflicted with this problem but the situation often just clears itself up suddenly. The mysterious programming inside our bodies can just shift- like that- can simply adjust and stop making the thick oil that had been causing blockages, chalazia, to develop.
And that's all there was to it. As parents, we learned many a lesson from our daughter's battle with chalazia. There will be times when tricky situations are bound to sneak up on us. There will be days when we will be filled with apprehension and concern. There will be moments when decisions will have to be made. But, if we're lucky, the ickies will be gone in the blink of an eye. We're left with the confidence that we can band together to get through any obstacle- as a family and as a team.
Now it's all eyes ahead for a bright future...
If you have any other questions, concerns or feedback in regards to chalazia, please feel free to contact me or leave comments here. Grappling with these stinkers is definitely a drag, but we'd be happy to help lend support till the ducts are clear. Wink. Wink.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
***Follow up, when the BLASTED chalazia returned 2 years later- "Looking Chalazia Right in the Eyes." Drat.
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