Meet Noah. We originally met Noah and his family through our social media network, and since then they’ve become our patients and friends. When we asked his mother Kerry (a lovely local food blogger on www.secretdiarymom.blog) if she would be open to contributing his story to our Children’s Vision Month Project, she didn’t hesitate for a second. Here is her family’s story in her own words:
I walked into my obstetrician’s office on a cold February afternoon with a knot in my stomach. The day marked almost 36 weeks into the pregnancy. As my doctor explained to me that they needed to induce my labor that evening, my eyes blurred with tears and my heart filled with fear. It wasn’t that early, but we had been for an ultrasound the day before, and we knew he was still very tiny, 5 lbs. of tiny baby that needed to come into the world early to save my life. I had pre-eclampsia, and my liver was producing toxic enzymes that were becoming dangerous to my health.
Three days later after an agonizing induction, Noah Arthur Wilcox was born. 5 lbs. 10 oz. 19 inches long. He came into the world to a full NICU team ready to step in, but despite being early and tiny, he was healthy enough to go home the next day. From that day on Noah didn’t follow the curve of growth or behaviors for his age. He stood up and walked at 8 months old, he always seemed to understand us, and he had this crazy sense of humour. He was a constant delight in our house. His health started to decline quite rapidly around the age of 2 ½. After a large amount of testing and about a year’s worth of fighting, we finally had him properly diagnosed with celiac disease.
His health was getting better every day at that point. However, I still felt like there was something that we were missing. He was in preschool and could never remember anyone’s name. He was really grabby with toys and had no interest in really learning or reading. But yet everyone around kept commenting how bright he was and what a delight Noah was to have in class. I kept thinking I think he’s fooling you, and I’d laugh to myself thinking he’s fooling all of us. But what is he hiding?
We changed preschools when Noah was around age 3 ½. When we enrolled, they asked if he had had an eye exam yet. He hadn’t been yet, and it’s free in Alberta for kids so why would I hesitate? I called my optometrist and booked him in. He did all the standard testing and at the end said “I’m not 100% sure, because it’s hard to tell with kids this age, but I think he’s extremely farsighted. Have you noticed any signs?” Had I noticed any signs? I sat there stunned a little, just like the day I was told he was coming into the world and thought to myself “YOU SAW ALL THE SIGNS!!”. I saw all the signs, but I was so focused on what was going on inside of him I didn’t take him for a quick eye appointment. It turned out Noah was extremely farsighted, to the point where they would consider him to have “low vision”.
The day Noah got his first pair of glasses he had an instant smile on his face. I couldn’t figure out if he was just excited about his new look or if he was just happy to be away from his baby brother for all these appointments. I strapped him into his car seat as I always did and the grin on his face was so huge. “Noah what are you so happy about?” I asked him. He said, “I can see your face mom.” I paused and realized that he couldn’t see my face close up for the first 3 ½ years of his life. He didn’t even really know what I looked like. Tears streaming down my face, I hugged him so hard and apologized over and over. I felt so horrible that we didn’t catch it sooner.
I know now that we intervened at such a critical time and had we waited any longer his behavior would have started to have been impacted. This year we were asked to join the team at My Optometrist Calgary. It’s been a bit of a transformation year for Noah. Dr. Ryan was able to really supercharge his prescription and get Noah reading. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Danielle, Dr. Ryan, and their team.
Noah loves his glasses, and when I asked him what he would tell himself at 3 ½ about wearing glasses, he said “Glasses are cool. They get dirty so clean them every day. If you break them tell your mom, she can fix them. Glasses make me unique, and now I can read. Reading is important to play video games, so you need to learn how to do this for when you are 13 and mom finally lets you play the older games.”
Eye Exams are covered by Alberta Health Care to the age of 18. Don’t wait until they are in school and having trouble, get those peepers checked early! It’s never too early when it comes to vision.