messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Luke Gets Contacts

At one point I was laughing so hard that I was crying. Then of course, it deteriorated into real crying, for Luke at least, and I had to retreat into “Remain calm, be patient, be stable for him” mode.

Luke got glasses about a year ago, and he’s worn them, um, maybe six or seven times. When he doesn’t forget them, he loses them. When he does remember them, he breaks them. It all adds up to a lot more finding and fixing than actual wearing. So we went to the optometrist and asked him what he thought about contact lenses for a nine-year old. He said, sure, he was old enough.

Before the exam, the doctor asked if Luke was on any medications. I told him that he was on Zoloft and Intuniv. I didn’t mind telling him. I felt like it would probably explain some of the behaviors he would be witness to in the next few minutes. Yes, my hunch was right. As the doctor had him look at the eye charts, Luke began with his questions and observations galore: “I can’t see what that is. Are they letters? I can’t see any of those letters. Is that a P? No an H? Wait, a J? I still can’t see, even though those letters are bigger. They are just blurry blobs to me. These are like wearing my glasses right? Are there any bigger letters? Is that the biggest letter? I’m glad I can see that because we are running out of letters. That is an E. That is very easy to tell that is an E. At least I can see that E. I really do need glasses.”

It got better. The doctor told him that he could try contacts, and he was going to put them in for Luke the first time. To which Luke replied, “No, I don’t think I’m comfortable with that. I don’t want you putting your fingers into my eyes.” I got a surprised look from the doc, but I just smiled and stayed quiet. I’ve learned to let the professionals take care of things until they can’t. Then I step in. I don’t want to step in too early though.

The doctor was great. He said he understood but that it would be much easier for Luke if he did it the first time and showed Luke how to do it. “Alright then,” Luke gave in. What occurred next seemed strangely familiar. Both because I have seen Luke act like this before and because it was like I was watching reruns of Will Farrell skits. Before the doctor even put the contact in Luke’s eye, Luke was saying, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.” When the plastic hit the cornea: “OOOOOOWWW! Ow! Ow! Ooooh, oh, oh that hurts. That hurts! That’s hurting my eye. Oh it really hurts.”
Doc: “Can you open your eye so that I can’t take a look?”
Luke: “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t open my eye. Wait. I can open my eye. Oh wow. I can see. Oh my gosh. When I came in here I couldn’t see, and now I can see everything and I’m not wearing glasses. I’m wearing contacts. It’s in my eye. I can see everything. Now I can read all the letters on that chart. I can read even the small letters.”
Me (stifling laughter): “Luke, I’m sorry I’m laughing. I know that hurt. It’s just that you sounded like you were being pierced through the heart with a sword.”
Luke: “Mom it really hurt.”
Doc (stifling laughter): “Okay let’s put the contact in the other eye.”
Luke: “We have to do that again?”

This time Luke began yelling before the doctor even had the contact on his finger. The doc and I were trying not to laugh. I know this may sound cruel, like I am a horrible mother, but Luke was actually doing quite well. I think any mother would have been laughing.
Doc: “Luke, I don’t even have the contact on my finger. I just want to help you open your eyelids really wide. You have strong eyelids, and I can’t keep them open all the way.”
Luke: “Okay. Okay, it’s just that this is going to hurt.”
The doc was great again: “This is all mental Luke. If you think you can do this, it will work. If you think you can’t, it will make it much harder. Just try to relax.”
As the doctor put the contact in Luke’s right eye, Luke let out another bamboo-under-the fingernails wail and continued with his Will Farrell monologue, “Ow that really hurts. That hurts this eye too. But I can see. I can see. This is amazing…” Has he been watching too much Curious George (Man with the Yellow Hat) and Megamind?

So we survived that but had to move on to “Contact Training” with the assistant. That’s when things began to deteriorate. He was trying so hard to get his contacts out, but he just kept closing his eyes or sliding them around on the surface until they irritated his eyelids. He tried several times and then started crying, “I just can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” I went and calmed him down. The doctor suggested numbing drops. They put those in and we got some more Will Farrell action: “Oh that stings. I need a tissue. Can I get a tissue? Oh, oh, that stings. Oh, my eye is numb. I can’t feel it when I poke it…”
Assistant: “Don’t poke your eye. Don’t rub too hard with the tissue or you’ll get lint in your eye.”

We tried again, but it still didn’t work and Luke ended up in tears again. At this point, I had switched over to survival mode and wasn’t laughing anymore. I was trying to calm him down, and cheer him on. Finally the doctor suggested we give Luke extended-wear contacts that he could wear over the weekend. Then he can go back in on Monday and try again. We hope he’ll be so excited about being able to see, that he’ll be willing to try some more contact training. He liked the extended-wear idea. And was happy as a clam as we left. I called his Dad to share and tell him he had missed out on a classic Luke day.


  1. Wow, this is a great post. I was dying reading it. Hope the contacts work out eventually.

  2. I have a twin boy with OCD/anxiety disorder.Shares alot of the same traits.Your story is awesome and I feel the frustration on an everyday level.Some better then others!I would not trade it for the world! :)

  3. I'm certainly not detracting from the ADHD portion of the story, but thought it might help you to know we had the same contact-inserting/removing experience with our daughter who isn't ADHD, but definitely has some of the compulsions of a gifted child. I can't tell you how long we sat at the doctor's office before she was finally successful, and the tears were over. Your post made me chuckle all over again at the memory.