Having the clogged tear ducts was rough on Phoebe. We would have to gently wipe away with dried crust with a wet, warm cotton ball multiple times a day. Because of the constant crusting and wiping her eyes were always puffy and red. Her eyes would get so sore that she would cry and fight us every time we went to clean her eyes. We also had to be careful to not get the DOC band wet because it could cause a rash or infection on her skin.
When Phoebe turned 1, her eyes had not cleared up. We were referred to a pediatric eye specialist in Morristown to discuss our options. During that visit, the doctor determined that she did in fact need surgery to unclog the ducts, and that the sooner we did it the better the chances would be that this would completely correct the issue. (The older the child is when this surgery is done, the greater the chance is of recurrence). We scheduled the surgery for the first Friday in December. Phoebe would be 13 1/2 months old.
The day of surgery we woke up at 5 am and began the drive to the outpatient surgical site. Phoebe was so innocent, calm and happy, not aware of what was going on at all. I on the other hand was a complete nervous wreck. My sweet little baby was going to be put under anesthesia. The doctor had explained the surgery to me, and I knew they weren't going to cut into her, but nonetheless, it was a frightening experience.
For the surgery they were going to put her under general anesthesia, put a catheter into her tear duct, go into the lacrimal duct and inflate the catheter to enlarge it. Once it was enlarged, they would deflate the catheter balloon and remove it. They were going to have to do this to both eyes.
When it was her turn to surgery I brought her back to the pre-op area, put on the sterile outfit they gave me so I could carry her into the operating room. That walk down the hallway felt long and terrifying. I did not know what the room was going to be like, if she was going to be scared, how much pain she was going to be and if she was going to be ok and back in my arms again soon. Once in the operating room they told me to lay her on the table so they could put the mask on her face to help her fall asleep. Phoebe began to scream and cry immediately. They told me this was good, cause it would help her fall asleep faster because she was breathing in more of the anesthesia. That did not help to comfort me at all. She slowly closed her eyes and then her head turned to the side. She was under. They let me give her a kiss on the cheek and I left the room. The walk back to the waiting room was harder and longer than when I brought her into the OR. With tears streaming down my face I just kept praying that I did the right thing and that she would be ok.
45 minutes after the surgery began, the doctor came to get me from the waiting room. The operation was a complete success and Phoebe did wonderful. She said she was going to be coming out of the anesthesia soon and that I was allowed to be back there while I waited for her to wake up. We would need to make an appointment with her to have a post-op visit in two weeks, but she was very confident that they surgery corrected the issue.
I grabbed all of my stuff and rushed back to be with my baby girl, and I began to hear her cry. She was waking up, and she was sore and scared. I dropped my belongings on the floor, crawled into the bed with her and held her tight. It took a while for Phoebe to calm down and realize that it was going to be ok, but the whole time she clung to my clothes so tight her knuckles were white. She wasn't letting me go, and I wasn't about to let her go. Once her pain was managed, and she started to drink and eat they discharged us to go home.
At our follow up visit two weeks later we received great news! The surgery was 100% successful. She didn't have red swollen eyes anymore and there was no more crusting!
Phoebe's first year was turbulent and scary at many points, but we had survived. She fought every battle that she faced and she won. We prayed that this would be the end of the medical issues!
Photo: Swollen eyes the week before surgery