In a previous blog, we’ve talked about the various reactions kids have to their artificial eyes, from those who accept having their eye handled to those who really resist anyone touching it. When we see kids, our aim is to always make the experience non-threatening and normal by calmly going through the motions, not making a big thing of what we’re doing. Sometimes, a bit of gentle restraint is necessary, until the child realises there is nothing to fear.
But sometimes, nothing can calm a distraught child.
A three-year-old girl was brought to see us a couple of weeks ago because her conformer shell had fallen out. Her eye had been removed the week before, and we were only too aware that her socket was in the very early stages of healing. Anticipating some resistance – she’d had a lot of doctors and nurses giving her eyedrops and checking the socket regularly – we brought in a couple of kids, aged two and four, to act as role models. The little girl came in with her grandfather who also had an artificial eye, so we thought we had a perfect set-up.
There wasn’t much room in our office which was crammed with three kids, their parents and a grandparent. We showed the little girl how easily the other two kids accepted having their artificial eyes removed, cleaned and put back in again. Then we cleaned her grandfather’s eye. But when it came to trying to replace her conformer shell, we didn’t stand a chance. Whether it was a case of information overload or her socket was just too sensitive, she wasn’t about to let us put the shell back in.
With the socket in the early stages of healing, there was no way we were going to jeopardise the important healing process. Instead, we took the little girl along to Princess Margaret Hospital for help. We were seen immediately, taken to meet an anaesthetist who gave her some strawberry-scented gas which made her drowsy. Within five minutes, the shell had been replaced. And not long after that, the little girl was awake and running around again. She even gave me a big hug when she and her grandfather left.
It’s rare to have to resort to this technique, but we chose it for a good reason. In other situations, there are many things we can try. Sometimes, seeking the help from a psychologist can be the best solution, as we showed in Helping Kids Make Friends With Their New Eyes
We’re always interested to hear your stories about how you helped your child accept his/her artificial eye. What advice do you have for other parents? Feel free to pass on your comments here.