To patch or not to patch II – return to the orthoptist

I am spoiling you with the continued frequency of updates this year although I was secretly hoping to write a few more as March is traditionally a busy month with birthdays for the boys of Team Bagnall and Mothers’ Day.  In addition, to those known events there have a couple of other significant events that I am sure you will find of interest.

As the astute among you will deduce from the title of this update one of the biggest Bagnall related news stories since Ezra’s birthday is Amélie’s return to the orthoptist.  For those of you that have not been following the story, Amélie has been diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye) and began patch therapy in January.  Patch therapy works by covering the good eye, thereby denying the brain information from this source and thus forcing it to interpret the more jumbled information from the weaker eye.  So for the last eight weeks Amélie has had to wear a patch over her right eye for two hours a day to see if the denial of the good eye would train the brain to use both eyes equally.

Amélie had taken to this treatment very well, always ensuring that she wore her eye patch when she returned home from school, even setting a timer for two hours using our Echo Dot, herself.  Once the two hours were up, she would take the patch off at add it to her chart.  She did have a wobble about a fortnight ago.  She got herself upset saying that she did not want to wear the patch any longer and she did not want to wear glasses.  Both Lucinda and I are bespectacled so it was easy to comfort her about having to wear glasses, plus we spoke to her about wearing contact lenses when she was older.  We asked if anyone at school had been mocking her for wearing glasses and she assured us that they hadn’t but with neither of her siblings requiring corrective lenses she does feel a little different.  The patches we told her were only temporary until her brain began to use the eye.  This, put her at ease and all three of us hoped that March’s review would mean no more patches.

Lucinda, took Amélie and she ran through the same tests as she did back in January.  The orthopist was pleased that Amélie had been so diligent in wearing her patches however, it had not worked as well as they had hoped.  Indeed, there had been little improvement since the beginning of January, nevertheless, it is not yet time to give up with patch therapy.  And so, Amélie has been given another 8 weeks worth of patches to wear for a 50% increase in time each day.  This is a bit of squeeze after school so as soon as she gets in, the first task is to put a patch on and set the timer for three hours.  We wait with bated breath until May to see if there is any further improvement – you will be the first to know.

Amélie has not been alone with issues with her eyes.  As you may recall, at the beginning of the month I had to arrange an appointment to see an opththalmologist as I was suffering from adenoviral keratoconjunctivitis.  After a course of steroid eyedrops and antibiotics I was due to see him the day after Amélie’s appointment, for what I hoped would be a discharge with a clean bill of health.  Life isn’t always that simple.  He examined my eyes and was concerned that the infection had still not cleared up completely.  While examining my eyes, he pulled down my lower eyelid and with a disposable plastic tool began scraping my eyeball.  Yes, scraping my eyeball.  And yes, it was as uncomfortable as it sounds.  He wasn’t just doing this for sadistic pleasure, but because during the healing process my lower eyelid had begun to create a membrane between the eyelid and the eyeball.  If left untreated then it could become a very serious matter, so although unpleasant to the point of vomitous, the couple of minutes of discomfort were preferable.  However, it does mean that I was prescribed further steroid eyedrops and more uncomfortably steroid cream that needed to be rubbed in my eyeballs at night.  I have a whole new appreciation of my eyes.

With the Easter holidays looming on the horizon, it was that time of the term for a parents’ evening.  Although both girls are at the same school they are on two separate bases, hence one has to time the appointments accordingly to ensure enough time for the five minute walk down the alleyway.

Since we had no one to babysit, Lucinda stayed at home with the Baguettes while I headed to school.  Both girls received glowing reports and both we extremely positive in class and made a contribution to each lesson.  There was room for improvement (isn’t there for all of us) for both girls and strangely both tied to confidence.  Éowyn is over-confident and this over-confidence leads her to making silly mistakes by assuming she knows the question.  Amélie, on the other hand, needs to raise her confidence levels.  Whereas Éowyn will assume she knows what to do and doesn’t; Amélie knows what to do but assumes she doesn’t.  At least this is positive feedback that we can help with and try to temper those innate reactions.

That may sound negative and it isn’t.  They are both performing well above average and their personal development has been above average, so they are heading in the right direction and they are learning things that I am sure we never learn at their age (or, indeed, with regards to some of the things – at any age).  The school also encourages other forms of learning.  Cheryl Moskowitz a poet, visited the school.  Each child was encouraged to write a poem for her visit and then four children from each class were picked, based on their poem to spend some time with her in a private classroom to talk poetry.

Both Éowyn and Amélie were among the children picked from their respective classes. Éowyn’s can be seen in the photo below and reads thus:

I love cake,
I love to bake it and make it
With my mum.
I take a slice,
Now I am in heaven.
My name is Kevan
And I love cake;
Because it tastes so good
Sometimes I stuff it in my coat-hood

Amélie’s was about an Orangutan, but I am sure you will gather that from the descriptive poet below (I have taken the liberty to correct any ‘unusual’ spellings):

He is swinging in the branches in the tree top
He is cheeky and chatty like a chatterbox
Speedily through the trees he swings
Fuzzy fur and an old man’s face
Long, bendy arms like a branch
He likes to swing in the breeze

Both have a wonderful gift for rhyme and rhythm – well they must have because a published poet thinks so!

To add to a busy couple of weeks, I have had a birthday.  For my birthday and to thanks me for feeding his cat while he was away my friend Alistair bought Lucinda and me tickets to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for a showing of ‘The Princess Bride‘.   The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films and one of the reasons that Lucinda and I met.  You may, or may not, know that Lucinda and I met via an internet dating site long before it was fashionable.  One of the reasons I contacted Lucinda, on that fateful day, was that she has listed ‘The Princess Bride’ as one of her favourite films.  It was meant to be.  The rest they say is history.  Lucinda even walked into the marriage ceremony to a piece of music from the film score and I have the phrase ‘As you wish‘ engraved on the inside of my wedding ring.

Interestingly, neither of us had seen the film at the cinema so this 30th anniversary screening was an opportunity not to miss.  With the Baguettes’ cousin, Lauren, babysitting, we headed into London.  The film did not disappoint and neither did the original trailers beforehand.  ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘; ‘Robocop‘; ‘Batteries Not Included‘ and ‘Raising Arizona‘ are classic films in their own right.  In fact, 1987 was a good year for films!

Less than 10 hours after returning from Leicester Square we headed back, this time with the Baguettes for a day trip to London.  We had been given tickets to the London Transport Museum and it seemed a good opportunity.  The London Transport Museum was a fascinating place, however the Baguettes were maybe a little young to fully appreciate it.  They enjoyed the play areas but were not too enamoured with Mommy and Daddy reading all the information plaques.  We grabbed a bite to eat after the museum and then had planned on a boat trip down the Thames.  However, it was starting to get late and we didn’t want tired Baguettes so we showed them Leicester Square.   However, our plans for showing them Trafalgar Square, Admiralty Arch, The Mall and Buckingham Palace were foiled by the St Patrick’s Day concert in Trafalgar Square so we wandered back to the South Bank, showed them the Houses of Parliament across the river (a couple of days before the attack) before heading back to Waterloo station and home.

A day off on my birthday was my last for seven days (the glamour of working in television) this included Mothers’ Day.  So, although I could help the children with the presents and making Lucinda a cup of tea in bed, I had to leave early entrusting the care of their mum to the Baguettes.  Unfortunately, the Baguettes did not adhere to the traditions of Mothering Sunday and instead of making the day special for their mater constantly bickered and wound each other up to the point that Lucinda told them all off.  However, instead of improving their behaviour they continued with greater puissance, culminating in Amélie (yes, Amélie!) writing Lucinda a letter telling Lucinda how much she disliked her and how she would like a new mommy!  You can imagine the noise Lucinda’s heart made as it broke.  Lucinda made Amélie read it to her before packing them all off to bed and weeping in the dark. Not the best of days for me to be working until late.  There is a lot of making up to do.

Before I leave you a quick ‘Welcome to the World’ to George Folkbert Blaisse and congratulations to Alex and Lorna; you have to share your birthday with me and Vera Lynn!

Peace and Love


P.S. This is posted the day after the new £1 coin is released and the day that the UK formally invoked Article 50 and thereby formally notified the E.U. of our intention to leave the union.  Whichever side of the fence you sit the latter is probably the biggest political decision that this generation will see and its repercussions, for good or ill, will echo for decades to come.