It was meant to be a quick trip to the eye doctor. Leon had missed his annual school eye exam because of headaches. So we were instructed to visit a clinic.
I wasn’t even planning on staying—just dropping Leon off on the way to work. (For those not in Japan, this is common).
But Leon was behind on math (because of the aforementioned headaches) and I could help him in the waiting room.
Leon kept being called back into see the doctor. Finally I went up to the receptionist and said, “I have to leave for work. Is that OK?”
We were rushed into the back for a consultation with the doctor.
The look of panic and incredulity on his face struck fear in me. He was sweating. “You CAN’T leave. This could be a BIG PROBLEM. We need to do more test NOW.”
Wow. The doctor really needs to work on how he breaks news to patients.
But I had to rush to work. 3 new kindergarten kids and their eager Moms were coming at 4’30 for a trial lesson. I called Dave (thank goodness he answered) and told him to come. And left Leon. All in a panic myself by now.
Dave and Leon had 2 more hours of tests at the doctors and a laborious bike ride home (Leon’s eyes had been dilated). They were asked lots of questions about him hitting his head as a child (all the time… in addition to a bike accident and a big fall off the jungle gym) and if he’s bullied at school (he’s not; in fact he’s quite popular).
We were told to come back on the Saturday for more tests.
The following morning, Leon couldn’t see. He could read the day before and now he couldn’t.
We called the doctor and he said come straight in. We took too long getting there and they called asking where we were (not a good sign). The doctor rushed Leon in the back—took 1 look at him and said get him to the big hospital.
Rushed to the big hospital and were there the whole day doing lots and lots of tests. Most of which he failed. (couldn’t see below the 3rd line down on the eye chart even with lenses put in / couldn’t see when the light stopped or began strobing). Questioned about stress in his life and the headaches (we assumed they were weather related because he had them last year at the same time). Had an MRI.
At the end of the day, the doctors said “You have an appointment at Saitama Children’s Hospital to see a pediatric specialist who can help with kids like Leon. We’ll send all the data we’ve gathered today and a reference letter (6 pages long).” (kids like Leon??? What does that mean?) They still couldn’t tell us what was wrong with Leon. They wanted the 3rd hospital to do more tests and then tell us.
By now, we’re fearing the worst.
Leon was thinking this is what you need to go through to get glasses. Did you have to do all this too Mom? Do you have to do this every time? NO. This is NOT normal.
More tests and questioning at Saitama Children’s Hospital.
Finally! We’re told that Leon is FINE. He doesn’t have a brain tumor or brain damage or eye damage or going blind....... BUT he does need glasses! He's severely far - sighted. (So this IS what you need to get glasses if you’re Leon Long).
*** The reasons we were red flagged and it WAS necessary to do all the tests to check there were no more serious problems was:
# 1. Even with lenses, Leon can’t get to ‘perfect vision”. The nearest he can get is 0.4. (I've been looking this up, but can't find any more information)
# 2. He’d been off school the week before for 5 days with headaches.
# 3. His eyesight changed overnight. He COULD read on the Wednesday and since then he hasn’t been able to. (This is rare but CAN happen if your eyes have been compensating for awhile and then they just give up).
All of those things ARE strange and rare and DO warrant further tests.
Luckily we live in a country where health care is free for those under 18, or we’d be bankrupt now.
So far this year (since April), Leon’s missed 7 days of school. And missed the annual school dental exam.
Please let our visit to the dentist be straightforward.
I will make sure to have no commitments that day though.
Have you had any health scares?