Yesterday was Emma's follow up appointment with the eye doctor. First the good news: Emma's vision is better. Last month she was seeing 20/60 with her glasses on. Yesterday, 20/25 with glasses off. And the lines have straightened out. Things don't look so wavy or squished.
The bad news: Emma's eye is continuing to degenerate or dystrophy depending on which doctor you're talking to. This doctor, Dr. Carver, says that she can't have macular degeneration because degeneration is, by definition, an age related falling apart. You can't have age related falling apart when you are 11. So, he calls her condition Macular Dystrophy.
The image showed more fluid under her retina and more weakening and holes in upper layers of her retina or macula or something on the picture that wasn't there last time.
Dr. Carver didn't really mince any words. She would need shots every 4-6 weeks until.... Until. Until some researcher somewhere comes up with a better treatment. Which could be a while.
You remember, of course, how much Emma LOVES shots, right? Only this time she knew exactly what was happening. So she freaked out in advance. She was sobbing and shaking so hard that Dr. Carver literally couldn't put the Novocain in her eye. He suggested just putting in the injection of the real medicine, but warned that it would be a bit tender.
Finally, I sent the doctor out to give Emma some time to calm down. She cycled through hysteria and calmness followed by more hysteria. As luck would have it, a seventh grade girl named Alexa was shadowing her...mother (?) that day. This is the same blonde woman who brought Emma the chocolate last time. So she came in to talk to Emma with Alexa in tow. They realized that they both attended Cherry Hill in the gifted program and visited about Emma's teacher and some of Alexa's former classmates who Emma knew.
Then they came back in with chocolate chip cookies. And bribed Emma with a whole plate of cookies to take home to the younger siblings. Most of the way through her second giant chocolate chip cookie, Dr. Carver came in and Emma was able to get through the Novocain injection--which is the worst part. Then I read to her a silly book that I checked out from the library and she got through the injection. She didn't black out in her eye and we were able to get out quickly.
As we were setting up her next appointment, another woman from billing looked up and saw us.
"How are you?" she asked with concern.
"Fine," I said, smiling, "except that we're here."
The billing woman is the mother of one of Emma's classmates and she came with us on a field trip last year. She knew exactly how devastating a diagnosis like Emma's is. Of course, without knowing that Emma is already half blind. So, it's slightly worse than she thinks, but she, at least, had proper reverence for what Emma is up against.
And perhaps she'll keep Emma in her thoughts and prayers. Which can't hurt.