Monday, October 18, 2010

Google: Blurry Vision – 801,000 results

I have been waiting for the resolution of this problem before I mentioned it here. About a month ago Jakob woke up complaining about the vision in one eye. He described it as blurry in the peripheral but clear in the center. A day or two later he was having the problem in both eyes. He was having trouble at school and losing his balance at practice. It was leading to dizziness and then headaches. We took him to his doctor which began a month long journey with many ups and downs.

He was coming off a nasty stomach virus that he had fought for a couple of weeks. At about the same time the symptoms of the virus were diminishing, the vision started to falter. At first it was only in one eye and not too bad so we weren’t extremely concerned. With the help of Google, I learned that viruses did sometimes attack the vision and with time it should subside.

When he wanted to leave practice early we began to question. He never wants to quit early. When he came home from school saying that it had moved to both eyes, one of them completely blurry and they were now hurting, we began to get really concerned. We took him to the doctor. He was sent to an ophthalmologist who then sent him to a pediatric ophthalmologist. It was obvious that he was experiencing a problem, that was gradually getting worse, but they could not find a cause and had little comfort to offer. They speculated that it could possibly be a tumor pressing on the optic nerve and suggested an MRI.

Of course, they could not rush him to the MRI, an appointment had to be made. You have to wait for the appointment. They don’t give you an immediate answer when a test is done. You have to wait for the results. Minutes seem like hours and days seem like weeks. All the while we had decided to keep a positive attitude for Jakob’s sake and did our best to reassure him each time he would complain about his vision. This is far more difficult in practice than in theory.

To his face it was, "don’t worry it will all work out." In my head it was more like, what if he is going blind? Was he going to die? You try to remain optimistic but the numerous nightmarish stories you have heard in the past of healthy children stricken with cancer or freakish diseases flood your mind. We were overcome with emotions and stress. Until this time Jakob has always been exceptionally healthy. I have never before experienced the utter and absolute helplessness that can come with a serious threat to your child. There is nothing you can do but wait and try to comfort them. I have a new found respect for those parents with children fighting chronic health issues. You place your child in the hands of doctors and pray for miracles.

Finally the results of the MRI came back. We were pleased to find out there was not a tumor. Relief! Then in their brainstorming (something I wish they wouldn’t do in front of you), they mentioned MS. Multiple sclerosis would be extremely rare in a boy of this age but blurry vision is a symptom and once they throw something like that out there it is hard to forget. The doctors thought we should see a neurologist. However, the neurologist here wouldn’t be available for several weeks. Are you serious? WEEKS!

After a couple more days, his vision continuing to get worse, they were able to get us an appointment with a neurologist at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital within a few days. It was an amazing facility and we felt confident that they would be able to help him. They performed numerous tests. They wanted another MRI, looking more closely at the eyes, and they did a full blood workup. Again, unfortunately, they could find nothing. Perhaps unfortunately is the wrong word. We were fortunate that they did not find any tumors or cancer or other deadly illness. It felt unfortunate because while they ruled out the bad things, we still didn’t have any answers whatsoever. The only thing they offered was that nothing appears broken so it should come back, eventually. How long? No clue. Maybe tomorrow, maybe a year.

During all of this, friends and family members were trying to help and show their concern. Everyone we know was Googling and calling and telling us all the potential maladies they thought it could be. At times like this, Google can be your best friend and your worst enemy. I had turned to it myself many times throughout the ordeal. In case you’re wondering, it says it could be anything from allergies to AIDS. It brought up nearly a million possible explanations. While I realize these calls were a deeply heartfelt effort to help, with each new uninformed opinion, Sara was presented with another possible malady to worry about. I tried to remind her that she needed to be listening to the neurologists at one of the best children's hospitals in the world. They were highly trained doctors who were looking at blood test results and high resolution pictures of his brain. We had plenty to worry about without relying on the speculation of anyone with an internet connection.

At this point it had been 3 weeks since the symptoms had appeared. We finally received the results of the second MRI and there was nothing negative. We received the results of all the blood work and everything seemed healthy. Again we were pleased they had found nothing terrible but disheartened that they could offer him no relief. Another long week passed with no change. The doctors had pretty much told us either it will resolve itself or another symptom will manifest to give us a new direction. And so we waited, hoping, praying, reassuring, secretly freaking out.

Then, as suddenly as the symptoms had set in, he began to feel better. His vision is now better and his headaches are gone. He has returned to gymnastics and is again throwing big tricks and laughing with his teammates. It seems like a simple ending to such a long and stressful set of events but I really couldn’t ask for a better result. I don’t know exactly what it was that caused it and I don’t really care. I’m really just glad to see him smile again.

Week of October 11 - 40 Run, 16 bike, 10 walk


  1. Thanks for sharing, so very glad everything turned out OK. You and Sara are great parents, and Jake is a wonderful young man.

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