We saw the opto-thingy on Tuesday and received the verdict we have been passionately hoping for for the last few months - No More Patches. Not for now, anyway. His vision continues fine in the left eye, he's clearly using it a lot more since he had the surgery, and we now have official permission to try without patches and see how we get on.
This is pretty much just formalising a decision that Jamie had already taken - keeping the patches on him for more than a few minutes has become next to impossible short of tying his hands down, a length to which I am not prepared to go, and so I can't believe they were actually making much difference to his sight in any case - but it's an incredible relief to have it made official. Or will be once it's sunk in - it's still hard to believe, after a year, that this particular mini-ritual no longer has to be a part of our day. No more struggling with the dilemma of whether I should interrupt a fun session of playing or reading together to stick on a patch that I know he's supposed to have but also know he'll hate. No more trying to nudge him into opening the packet up (he insists on opening them up himself and will complain bitterly if anyone deprives him of the privilege, but once he has the thing in his hands ready to open he has a marked tendency to decide that opening it at some unspecified point in the future when he's finished his book will do just fine, and it can take a lot of nudging to get him going). No more hovering around ready to grab the patch he's just ripped off and either try to straighten it enough to replace or slap another one on. No more watching the clock and wondering how much longer I can distract him for. Boy, oh, boy, I'm missing it all already.
Anyway, the appointment went much as usual - the pictures for Jamie to identify to test his vision, the singing unicorn that the opto-whatsit uses to check his focus at a distance (or something - I have no idea of the precise details behind the different tests she does), the machine with the slides for him to look at (ditto the above - all I know is that it looks like some bizarre throwback to the Victorian era. With a chin rest. And eyepieces.) All much as before, except, of course, that now Jamie can talk. This time around, he could name the pictures instead of just pointing. I wasn't at his last appointment, so this is the first one I've been to where this was the case. Another reminder of how far he's come with his speech in such a short time, and how good it is to be able to hear that little voice speaking up.
We have another appointment with her in September, and she's also arranging an appointment with the ophthalmologist (the doctor who specialises in eye problems, for those who were wondering) to check that his prescription is still correct. Meanwhile? No patches. It still feels bizarre to know that I can stop having to worry about all that.
A lot of people seem to find this blog via searches for information on squints in children - in fact, without having done any official counts, I'd estimate that it's the second most frequent way in which people find the blog. (In case you're interested, the third most frequent way is via searches on Gina Ford, and the most frequent is via searches on sleep training and CIO methods.) With that in mind, I add two practical points here before I close.
Firstly, if you're here because you're hoping to find out how the hell to get a toddler to keep his patches on - well, you'll already have gathered from the above that I have no magic to share here, but one thing I can highly recommend, for those with broadband, is the Teletubbies website (mainly the Fun and Games link, but also Nursery Rhymes). This distracted Jamie for many, many hours earlier in his patch-wearing days, with the bonus of giving him lots of stuff to look at and focus on with the eye that was meant to be getting the exercise. The Night Garden site is probably worth checking out as well. (And, you know - I never thought of it at the time, but do try Boohbahs, which my husband discovered years ago during general web browsing. It kept him happy for ages. If he'd had an eyepatch to distract himself from then he'd have been totally sorted.)
And, secondly, in case anyone wants to read the whole story of what might be involved in dealing with a child's squint, I've set up a separate category for posts relating to the squint to enable people to do so easily. You can get the category by clicking on the highlighted words in the last sentence, or in the category title in the list to your right. For those unfamiliar with blogs and their layout, the posts are in reverse date order - once you've clicked on that category, scroll down to the last post on the page as your starting point and read them in reverse order. Hope it's of help, or at least of interest, to somebody.