Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bad News Delivered Well

Our move to the Nutty Forest coincided with my need for an annual eye exam. I had been to a health fair in the area and got the name of a good doctor who was also a specialist in glaucoma. (The Nutty Papa needs a specialist for this.) When I went to see him, I was so pleased. He was so friendly and thorough. And as we got to talking, the funniest thing happened. We were visiting about churches and our kids and homeschooling and he said, "I think you and my wife would really get along. Why don't you give her a call sometime?" Since I enjoyed visiting with him, I thought I'd give it a try. I gave her a call a few days later and what do ya know... he was right. She and I were both interested in many of the same things. We had big boys the same age. Her second was as old as the Doodlebug. And visiting with her really made me feel like I connected with another grown up... and lets face it, when you stay home all day with your kids, that's a blessing! We are good friends now and its been fun watching our families grow together.

Well, I have been neglecting my eyes for too long and decided I'd go again. This time, I took Chojuk and The Snugglebug, because they are old enough and my friend, the eye doctor, has told me repeatedly to get them in. We went yesterday. Everything went as I figured it would. I blinked too much for the puff test... the kids were too afraid to get the puff test... and my friend, the eye doctor, told me Chojuk failed his color test. This came as no surprise to me.

I learned my boys would be color blind in 9th grade science. We were studying genetics and the topic of color blindness came around. Seems color blind men pass their colorblindness on to their daughters who then pass it on to their sons. I remember praying that day for my future sons. "Please Lord, let this skip my boys."

In college, I learned there was a glimmer of hope. A science teacher there said that for me to have color blind sons, my husband would also have to be a carrier of the gene. That became a date question... "So... anyone in your family color blind?" I was pleased to hear, when I asked The Nutty Papa, that he knew of no color blindness in his family.

Over the years, I began to forget about this little issue until I got pregnant. With Chojuk, I knew he was a boy before I met him, and the color blindness issue reared it's ugly head again. I had many conversations about it with my Dad, the color blind man, and he assured me that it wasn't a big problem to live with. It wasn't like he saw black where he should have seen red and green. he saw brown... or different shades of brown. Like this: One of the first things I taught Chojuk was his colors. We worked on them daily when he was a baby. He even knew how to sign the colors. I began to feel more confident that this gene had skipped him. But I kept having boys. Now with 3, I was fairy certain that someone would have it.

Turns out I was right. Chojuk and the Snugglebug did the dot test yesterday. You know the one. What number do you see?

This is one with the number 2 in it. For those of us with normal color vision, we see the number 2. If you are color blind, or color deficient as my friend the eye doctor said, you see either the circle in the middle or on the right. Well, Chojuk didn't see the 2. We tested the Snugglebug in the office, but he wasn't sure what he was looking for. My friend the eye doctor said Chojuk was definitely color deficient. The Snugglebug... not so sure.

So I asked the Mommy questions: What does this mean? What do I do? How do we cope? And my friend the eye doctor looked at Chojuk and said, "Well, this means that when you are a grown up, there are going to be some things you won't be able to do. For example, you will never be able to pack someone's parachute. You have to be able to line the colors of the chute up to pack it in the bag. You won't be able to do that." And we all laughed. Who cares about that?!? He also said flying was probably out. Most pilots are required to see color. I knew that already too. That's my Dad's story. He didn't realize he was color blind until he was up in a plane being tested for landing. The tester said, "Land over there where the red lights are." And my Dad said, "Which ones are the red ones?" Daddy says next he heard cuss words he'd never heard before. Needless to say, that ended his flying career.

Chojuk is doing great. My friend the eye doctor said, "Chojuk, you just see colors different than other people. No big deal." And so it wasn't. I'm sure Chojuk is going to get tired of me asking him, "What color is this?" But he's not at all phased. Don't you live kids!!

I came home and started reading. And I came across a test for kids. So I asked Chojuk about it. He failed that one too. The Snugglebug, who is a curious fellow, came over to see what we were doing. So I asked... What do you see here?

I see a circle, a star, and a square.

Good. (That's what everyone sees. This is the tester page.)

What about here?

I see a square.
You don't see a circle?


OK... how about here?

I see a circle there.

How about a square?


OK... last one. What do you see here?

Nothing. I don't see anything.

Do you see a boat?

Nope. But I'd like to see a puppy.

Sorry honey, no puppy. Just a boat.

So I guess that answers the question about my Snugglebug.

I am so thankful for my friend the eye doctor and my Dad. If it had been anyone else who had delivered the news, I think I'd be overwhelmed with sadness. My friend the eye doctor was so positive and wonderful about it, it really feels like no big deal. Like he'd said, "He has third eye growing out of the back of his head. No big deal. Now he can see coming and going!" And my Dad, who has been patient over the years with all my questions, and who mostly laughs about it, has taught me that color blindness isn't the end of the world. He has even taught me to find the humor in it, and other struggles in life. God always puts the right people in your path.

1 comment:

Trish said...

Dad sent me a text message about this last night. It said "Tera called, guess how is color blind? Blane." I texted back and asked if Blaine has similar problems spelling! You are right not to worry about could be much worse!! Love your blog, you are doing great!!!