When Harry was born without his left eye I was devastated. Professionals assured me that medical science was making advances all the time and would create something that looked incredible. But I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want medical intervention. I wanted the two eyes that mother nature owed my boy and anything else was a poor imitation. I was angry and lost.
Over the years I came to terms with the reality that we would be spending many years trying to give Harry what he had been born without. He has had many operations to create a socket and skin grafts from the inside of his mouth to create a ‘wet socket’ lining. For a while, Harry had a pea green mould in his eye socket (long story!) but eventually the day came to collect his prosthetic eye.
I expected a round ball – think ping pong ball with some sharpie art work – to pop into his socket but it’s actually shaped more like a guitar plectrum. Its wider by his nose and tapers to the corner. The detail is incredible.
Fitting the eye felt so weird at first. Let’s face it, sliding some glass into a hole in your child’s face is never going to feel natural. But in no time at all, we were used to popping it in, taking it out and Harry was tolerating the process.
Over the past 3 years since the eye arrived there has been more than one occasion where it’s been the source of amusement and entertainment. For your viewing pleasure, here are a few.
A call from school
I was at the butchers a few years ago when Harrys school called. They told me that his eye was edging its way out and wondered what the best thing to do was. I explained that if they pressed on the inside of his eye near the nose then his eye would pop right out. This was a pretty standard conversation for me but from the look on the woman’s face who was serving me, it’s not one she heard often. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes were wide until I explained, between laughing, that Harry had a false eye. I wasn’t laughing when I got home and realised she’d been so distracted that she’d not packed half of my order!
A wandering eye
It wasn’t uncommon for Harry to come home with his eye in a pot. One day he came back with his socket open and after checking his school bag and realising that the eye wasn’t there I began to worry. I asked his Dad if he had sent him to school with the eye in, which he had. I asked the after-school club if they had seen it, which they hadn’t. Hmmmm. I text the chaperone on his mini bus but she said she couldn’t remember seeing him with it in. After a status on Facebook laughing about the fact that we were an eye down, a parent of one of Harrys mini bus companions said she remembered seeing it on the floor of the bus. Sure enough, the next day, the chaperone retrieved the eye from the floor at the back of the bus and it was sterilised and returned. My son officially has a wandering eye!
Net the eye!
More recently, Harry’s high school called me concerned that his ear was coming off! (that’s another story. Click here to learn more about my very own Mr potato heads prosthetic ear!). As if that didn’t sound hilarious enough, she told me how the week before, while the class had been swimming, one of the pupils noticed that Harry’s eye had fallen out. Cut to the class being evacuated and the net which is usually reserved for floaters being used to hunt and capture the eye. Never a dull moment!
Excuse me waiter…there’s an eye in my pizza.
While visiting my best friend and her family for dinner recently we were all chatting over pizza when we heard a little clink. Yep, his eye had fallen out and was now sitting on his plate next to his food. He was absolutely oblivious to the fact that his eye was missing but loved the raised energy levels in the room as we laughed and I took a quick photograph to capture the moment.
And not forgetting the numerous occasions where I have got the boys ready for their day at school or a day out, bundled them into the car and then realised 5 minutes into our journey that his eye was still sitting in boiled water in an egg cup / shot glass / beaker in the kitchen!
In the next few weeks we will be visiting Harrys consultants to discuss the next steps with his surgery and eye. He’s had a slight growth spurt which means that his eye is falling out more often. In the world of prosthetic body parts, a few millimetres can make a huge difference so there is more change ahead. But I don’t fear or resent medical science anymore. I am grateful for the incredible talents and techniques that are helping my boy live his life.
I think I’ll keep the original eye as a memento of our journey so far. Not many mums can say “I’m keeping an eye on you!” and mean it literally but this mum can!
The future doesn’t scare me anymore, in fact eye can’t wait! Do you see what I did there? I’ll get my coat!
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I remember a friend at school having a false eye, and my nephew has one, but I’ve never seen either out of the socket! I love your humour, the swimming pool story was hilarious!
Haha theres never a dull moment thats for sure! C x
I love how you see the humour in this. I howled at the call from the school and the woman in the shop. You and your son are true inspirations x
Thanks so much Renee! Her face was an absolute picture haha Cx
I’d never seen a photo of a prosthetic eye up close before- the detail is amazing!
Fantastic isnt it. I was so impressed when I first saw it Cx
What a gorgeous post! I love how you approach your situation with such grace and humour. It’s how I hope I would react too! I’m sure it has a huge influence on how Charlie sees himself. X
I really do hope so. If I only teach my boys to laugh their way through life and to always know that they are enough then I’ll be happy Cx
Oh I always pictured a prosthetic eye to look like a ping-pong ball too – it’s hard to look at the shape of it and imagine it looking an eye but once it’s in, I would never have guessed it wasn’t a real eye.
Loved the stories – I keep picturing the face of the woman in the butcher’s and laughing!
Thanks Debbie, I know its weird isnt it. Looks fab though. And yes, her face was an absolute picture! Cx
A little clink a the plate was hilarious! I love your humour. 🙂 x
Laughter is always the best medicine and absolutely vital with our life! Haha C x
Great stories, they did make me smile. I’ve never seen a prosthetic eye so had no idea what one would look like. I’m sure it keeps everyone on their toes keeping tabs on the wandering eye! (pun intended)
Hahaha it definitely does! Glad you enjoyed the blog Cx
I always imagined a false eye to be round also, I always remember telling a story of a nans eye falling out down the bus on a trip to the seaside. What amazing advancement’s they are making all the time. A great post thank you for sharing x
Oh your poor Nan! I hope she retrieved it before she got on with her day 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to read the blog Cx
I love this! What an amazing little man hoj have there! Xx
Hes a superstar! Thanks loads x
Loved reading these!! Your lighthearted attitude is so wonderful and I’m sure family life is never dull!!! What a beautiful boy you have. You must be fit to burst with pride xxx
Thanks so much! I am definitely proud, every single day. Also, exhausted, frustrated, amused and inspired but always proud 🙂 Cx
Anything that has to do with eyes freaks me out and at first I wasn’t sure about reading this post. I’m glad I did though. The part about being in the butchers had me giggling. I can just imagine the horror on th ladies face.
Hahaha you’d not enjoy popping the eye in then! And yes, her face was hilarious. It still makes me laugh now! Cx
My son wears a prosthetic eye, having lost his right eye to retinoblastoma when he was 21 months old. His early prosthetics never fit very well as he was too young to sit still for the oculist to take an impression of the socket. However, once he was around 8 or 9 years old, he was able to sit still with a mass of moulding compound in the socket – similar to the material they use when taking a dental impression – for the half hour or so needed for the compound to set. This resulted in a prosthetic eye contoured to all the little bumps and dents in the socket, and which therefore fit very well. After a year or so of growth the prosthetic would start to fit less well and he would have to go back to the oculist for adjustments. Fast forward to now, my son is 30 and he’s been wearing the same eye for several years. He will probably need a new one in the next couple of years but it’s been years since he had any major issues with an ill-fitting prosthetic. So hang in there, it will get easier.
That sounds just like the material that was used for Harry. It was bright green (you know, because we needed more attention to be drawn to us! haha) He has just had a bit of a growth spurt so as you say the prosthesis needs adjusting again so that it fits better. Its amazing what medical science can do isnt it. And getting better all the time! Great to hear it all gets easier though. Many thanks Fiona! C x
My son had an eye removed due to cancer (retinoblastoma) when he was 10 weeks old. The surgeon placed an implant in the socket to keep the shape as he grew, to keep the eyelids from sinking in and give some support to his artificial eye, which is a shell that fits over the front of the implant but under the eyelids so they open and close as normal. Cleaning his socket and artificial eye was a daily task he learned to do, like brushing his teeth, but these days (he’s now 24 years old!) he rarely needs to do it. He’s now on his 8th eye!
We have so many stories like yours… mostly funny to us but shocking to bystanders… like the poor old lady behind us in the supermarket queue, who physically wobbled and nearly fell over when my son accidentally dislodged his eye with a finger whilst sitting in the trollet and sucking his thumb and it clattered to the floor!
My sister-in-law was very squeamish about it and if he visited her she used to prefer him to be without his eye just in case it fell out! And one day we left it in a tissue on the bathroom windowsill to dry overnight after washing. My (ever-tidy!) husband flushed it down the toilet so we had to confess to the hospital that we needed a new one asap as we weren’t prepared to go snorkeling in the septic tank to try and find it!
You really do have to see the humour in these situations or you’d go insane! Keep up your great work! I was going to bed over two hours ago but found your blog and now can’t stop reading it!!
Oh Sally, your stories made me laugh out loud too! You definitely do need a sense of humour with life like ours.It definitely helps to keep the madness at bay! I loved ‘snorkeling in the septic tank!’ C x
I had a friend at school who had a false eye and she often used to take it out and leave it on her desk! I became a nurse, and the one area I didn’t like having to deal with was eyes – open heart surgery, no worries, but eyes………
Hahaha I love that. I wonder if its still your school friends party trick now? C x
I have love reading the different comments. I have had an artificial eye for 3 months and it keep falling even after I have a re-fit, reading have helped me to relax. Will somebody please tell me that I will get over and through this. Am I still in process. My doc say I have to heal
Give it time but dont be afraid to speak up if it still doesnt feel right ! Good luck C x
This is such an awesome story!! I’m a 56 yr old female (former Accountant). I have to have my left eye removed at Duke University in a few weeks. At first it scared the crap out of me but now I’m okay!! You are such a great Parent to teach your son to see the humor in it and laugh!! I never saw the humor in mine growing up but now I smile and keep on kicking and living life!!! Great story and your energy jumps off the page!!! Love it!!!
Thanks Carole! I hope all goes well for you in a few weeks C x
I had a detached retina a few years ago and was told I ran a very serious risk of losing the sight in that eye. I can honestly say it was the most terrifying thing ever, far worse than being rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. Reading how Harry and you all just get on with life and laugh about these moments is so humbling and encouraging. Thank you for taking the time to share your story.
Thanks so much for reading the blog Trevor. I hope your sight recovered! Cx