When we found out that our son would have to have strabismus surgery, my husband and I were both in a state of shock. I’m not the kind of person who can step into any situation without conducting thorough research. The good, the bad, I have to know all of it. Especially when it concerns our son.

I searched the internet over and found maybe a handful of helpful, current articles from parents whose children underwent strabismus surgery, so I thought this article may be helpful to someone! 

This is going to be a long, detailed post. I’ve included headings so you can scroll as you please.

I’ll start at the beginning, with his diagnosis.

Diagnosis


The process with our ophthalmologist began when my son was 21 months old.

We had noticed his right eye kept crossing in. Several people (not-so-lovingly) would point it out to us, just in case we didn’t notice. “Hey, guys, uhm, do y’all know his eye is crossed?” Hmmmm. The things people say to parents. Seriously, more than one person said this to us.

My husband thought maybe he was trying to be funny and was crossing his eye on purpose. Sometimes I even wondered too, undoubtedly because neither of us wanted anything to be wrong with our baby. My “motherly instinct” kicked in, and I decided to see his pediatrician about it. Our pediatrician was quick to refer us to an ophthalmologist.

At our first appointment

Dr. Ranelle diagnosed him with strabismic amblyopia and monocular esotropia in his right eye, as well as astigmatism and hypermetropia in both eyes.

In other words, that all just means that he has very poor vision when he is trying to look at things up close, and the muscles in his right eye are particularly weak. His brain was starting to shut off the pathways to that eye. We were given a strong prescription for glasses and instructions to make him wear these everyday. Most importantly, the doctor told us that the glasses should help his right eye to get stronger and hopefully stay straight.

First of all, have you ever tried to put STRONG, coke bottle looking glasses on an almost two-year-old?!?

Let me save you my whining and just tell you, it’s HARD, y’all. It tested my sanity & emotions daily.  

Second Appointment

We were informed that the glasses didn’t work, which we expected. What we didn’t expect was that the ophthalmologist believed strabismus surgery was our only option. Beforehand, we had been told that drops or patches may be our next step, so this news was just that, news. And it wasn’t the news we wanted. I remember this appointment being the worst in terms of the way our son was behaving. He was a maniac. As soon as she told us we needed surgery, my mind was racing. I had to get out of the exam room with Tripp so that my husband could understand what the doctor was telling us. We left that day with a surgery date on the calendar and our stress levels through the roof.

Surgery Day

We were instructed that we couldn’t give our son any food or liquids after midnight the night before. His surgery was scheduled for 11 a.m. so we were worried that he’d be super thirsty and hungry.

The morning of surgery he (thankfully) slept later than normal, and we kept him distracted until we got him into his car seat. He may have asked for milk once but that was it!

Texas Pediatric Surgery Center

We got to the surgery center and checked in. We only had to wait about five minutes before they called us back. This is the part where Tripp started getting restless. We had to sit in our pre-surgery cubicle for what felt like an hour. They asked us questions and we met his anesthesiologist. She eventually brought him a nose spray sedative that made him a little loopy. I can’t lie, this part was entertaining! He was petting my hair and giggling. That settled my worried-mama- heart a tiny bit.

Waiting on Anesthesiologist

Once the sedative was in full effect, a nurse came and carried him back to the operation room. At first, he giggled when she held him, then they turned the corner away from us he lost it. That sound shattered my heart. We were led back to the waiting room. Then, about 40 minutes later we were being called into a consultation room to speak with the doctor. She told us the surgery was a complete success and she was very happy with the results.

Waking Up from Anesthesia

This was the part we were most worried about. We’d heard horror stories of kids waking up and freaking out. I was thankful that we’d been warned, because that is exactly how Tripp woke up. They let him wake up a bit before bringing us to his bed, but he was still not having it. He cried nonstop until they let us leave, which was about a 30-45-minute wait to get discharged. He let me hold him, but he was frustrated with his I.V. and kept trying to rip it off. He was SO thirsty, the nurse brought him some apple juice and he chugged it. We actually ended up taking it away so he wouldn’t get sick to his stomach.

Recovery

They had taped a thick patch over his eye and told us to keep it on preferably 24 hours if he’d let us. We were also given drops to put in his eye to keep it clean. We were told to rotate Advil and Motrin so keep the pain away. A cold compress was recommended as well, but he didn’t care for that.

On the one-hour drive home, he slept the entire time. We went through the Chick-fil-a drive-through because he kept saying he was hungry. We were hesitant to let him fill his belly, but he had some grilled nuggets, waffle fries, and jello. That night my sweet cousin brought us spaghetti and brownies and we all loved it! Not having to cook after such an emotionally draining day was amazing.

The day after surgery

Major concerns about surgery

My personal FAQ section:

(Q) My first major concern was definitely the use of anesthesia on my one-year-old. Would his body be able to handle it?

(A) He did fine with the anesthesia. Waking up from it was scary, though.

(Q)How would he be when he was waking up from the surgery?

(A) He was disoriented, starving, thirsty, and from what I could tell, in pain.  

New Glasses

(Q) Would this surgery even fix his right eye?

(A) 4 months later and his prescription has been reduced by half, and his eye is still straight!

(Q)How long will it take him to recover?

(A)He was playing the evening of the surgery! About a week later he was pretty much back to normal. His eye was bloodshot for several weeks, though.

(Q)Are they going to let me hold him until they take him back for surgery?
(A)Not exactly. They administered the sedative and carried him back while he was still awake. This part was not my favorite.