My nine-year-old son is the center of my universe. This is the story of his childhood as it unfolds. Please read the first post, "Why I started this blog," to know more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I'm stopping the posts on this blog after last night. A lot happened that shouldn't have. But it did. I will post updates on Munchkin's Coats condition. And I will reply to anyone who wants to know more about Coats and cryo and laser and vitrectomy. (He's recovering quite well, thank God.)

The centre of my universe - the raison d'etre for this blog - well, let's just say the axis has shifted, leaving me with wounds that are raw and bleeding. It's a long story, but we're probably just on living through chapter 2. Some day, when I have the strength, I will restart the non-Coats part of this blog. Until then ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Swelling scare

It's the one thing I was dreading...the most natural instinctive action first thing in the morning is to rub your eye - especially one that's had ointment kohl-ed into it the previous night. For all my hawkeyed monitoring, I couldn't grab the kiddo's hand in time to stop a solitary rub of his eyelid (yes, the one that had been operated on). An hour later, the eyelid was swollen and I was panicking.

His doctor was going to be in surgery today, but his assistant asked us to bring the kid along by 2 pm anyway. When we go there, we learnt that the surgeon was going to be delayed because two unexpected cases had come in. We finally met another surgeon, who said - bless him - that the eye was 90% healed and that swelling could be expected. It was likely a result of that one rub in the morning, but that was nothing to worry about. Phew!

The doctor who saw him also allowed him an hour of TV every day, in bursts of 30 minutes each. But that wasn't enough for the kid - he was still fixated on getting a Lego set.

It's well nigh impossible to find a choice of Lego sets in Bangalore. And Lego doesn't ship to India so you can't buy the stuff online either. Most sets are imported and therefore really expensive. He has an old one of mine he plays with, courtesy my mother who has the of preserving stuff like new. And we've managed to buy a few smaller vehicle kits (an ambulance and a race car) every now and then without breaking the bank. But now he's been wanting another set which is way beyond any reasonable price for a set of plastic pieces, no matter how legendary they are. Don't get me wrong - I'm a great fan of Lego - but this is just getting to be a bit much. The hospital visit meant I got into the office only by 3.30pm and left by 8.30pm. By that time, all the shops were downing shutters. I thought I'd convinced him on the phone about the delay to tomorrow, but even as I'm writing this, he's sulking - and looking quite like he's going to throw a tantrum - about having to wait 23 hours for a Lego set, instead of the 6-7 hours he'd imagined. Talk about wanting instant gratification... (to add to which my cold and cough is now so bad that my voice is cracked and the pain is just about bearable with a couple of painkillers!)

Anyway, I'm just glad the swelling was nothing to be scared of. Now to go manage the tantrum before it turns into a full blown epic battle.... sigh.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Life in the aftermath of a vitrectomy

Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic here, what with the over-the-top post title. But really, it does seem that way. Let me take a step back, though and continue from where I left off.

Last Tuesday night, a couple of hours after he went to sleep, Munchkin woke up and started throwing up every hour or so. From around 1.30 am to around 6.45 am. There was nothing to do but reschedule the surgery. So I called up the hospital around 7.30 am and told them about it. They're really well organized and an hour later, the surgeon's assistant - the chap who manages all the appointments and other scheduling - called up to check on what had happened.

Our pediatrician prescribed a syrup which seemed to work miracles and the little fellow was fine all through Wednesday and Thursday. I can only hazard that he was Which is more than I can say for myself. Walking the kind of tightrope I do isn't easy and any little shove - such as pre-surgery jitters compounded by a stressful, sleepless night - is enough send me hurtling into an abyss. So while we had managed to reschedule the vitrectomy for Friday, I was down with fever, nausea, giddiness, and extreme anxiety by Wednesday night. But I digress...

On Friday morning, we were at the hospital a little after 8 and even though he wasn't the youngest there that day, he was taken in first, around 9.15 am. The next hour was probably the longest of my life, and when the surgeon came out to tell us that the procedure had gone well, I felt like I'd begun to breathe again. And when the little fellow back - moaning and delirious as usual - I was ready to both laugh and cry.

The next few hours were peaceful - the anesthetist seemed to have sedated him before sending him back and we were spared the extreme theatrics of April. By 3pm, he was sipping juice and did so through to 5.30pm, insisting he wasn't hungry (the nurse said that was natural because he had been given drips). In between, he also told us that the chief anethesiologist had given him a bit of a scolding because he'd been howling that he didn't want the surgery. The anesthesiologist knows him because he's been going back for procedures since 2007.

The surgeon let us go home that evening, even though he'd said earlier that we might have had to stay at the hospital overnight. He's a slightly reticent fellow, so when he said: "He (my son) cried quite a bit before the surgery," I knew he must have created one heck of a racket.

We had to go back very early the next morning to get his bandage removed. That's when I discovered that they'd trimmed his lashes. (They'd grow back, the surgeon assured us.) There was no swelling, though. He also showed us the single suture they'd put in - it looked like a pinhead. Even though the vitrectomy would normally have been suture-less, they'd put one in because the 'sclera' in children is rather thin. I can't exactly explain that here, but based on whatever I've read, it made sense.

Munchkin was sleep through most of Saturday as well, but come Sunday, he was back to his recent, bratty self. (Long story, that, and not one worth telling here.) In the meantime, I managed to get myself a bad head cold and on Monday morning, I got myself a crick in my side. And I have to go in to work for a few hours each day.

The challenges - and I don't use that word lightly - are many to implement. No television, no reading, no bending forward, or sleeping on your back (the last two are really important because otherwise, the air bubble they've inserted will touch the lense and could induce a cataract - and that's really not something we want!), no playing outside, no going outside at all, in fact ... not easy to impose on a hyperactive eight-year-old.

More updates in a few days ...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vitrectomy due

The laser and cryo (very little) that Munchkin had on 7 April did nothing for the membrane. So the doctor wants to go ahead with the vitrectomy (scheduled for 12 May). The good news is that they have some new equipment - finer needles, more accurate readings/images, etc. Which means that the scarring will be minimal and recovery should be faster.

I'm still pretty terrified because this is an actual surgery and not a 'procedure' involving laser and cryo beams. I've no idea what to expect with regard to scarring or how long he will be in pain. The doc says Munchkin will need to stay home for a week at least. (Which is fine because his school re-opens for the new year only on 2nd June) and should recover fully a week after that. Thing is, despite asking the doctor a lot of questions, I still have no idea what to anticipate during the recovery period.

I'm also nervous about the post-op 'emergence delirium' - which was pretty bad in April and was compounded by the fact that the little fellow had been ultra-cranky in the weeks before the procedure, throwing tantrums at the drop of a hat (and this was even before he knew he had to have another round of laser/cryo).

And this wasn't made any easier by the fact that the summer in Bangalore has been particularly hot this year. Normally, whenever it gets really hot (35 degC), it rains in the afternoon and things are more bearable for the next few days. This year, the much-awaited showers have been playing hide and seek and are pretty scant when they do deign to make an appearance. And Munchkin's room faced West, taking the full brunt of the sun at noon and for three hours after that. It never mattered before that the ward wasn't air-conditioned (indeed, in the '80s, most Bangaloreans didn't even need fans for half the year). This time, I'd like to ask for us to be in the ward on the other side. We have to stay there overnight, too - and that's not something I'm ready to even think about or plan for right now.

Right now, it's just praying, praying, praying that everything goes well, that there are no complications during or after the surgery, no nasty scar tissue forming later to warrant any furthe procedures, no return of the membrane, nothing! He's been through too much, my little Munchkin. I have no idea what good is going to come of this but I still believe that something good comes of everything we are made to endure. I keep the faith.