Abby, Long Reach HS, Class of 2020
A new baby girl struggles with her eyesight, instilling fear in the hearts of many.
A normal birth I thought. My first daughter I thought. At that moment I was ready for my beautiful flower to blossom. I thought there would be no complications. That she would just come and I would be the happiest mother on Earth, I was wrong. During the painful and unbearable birth the doctor noticed that she wasn’t coming out. Pain, shock and worry surrounded my mind like a crowded train, and I was in the middle trying to find a seat with the answer I needed. The doctor acted with urgency to get her out. Eventually, she was able to get out. The answer I was looking for was finally found. The umbilical was wrapped around her neck three times. But how? All that mattered to me in that moment was that she was finally here. I gave birth to my first daughter. “Her eyes are big and blue,” the Doctor said. I was a little confused; blue eyes aren't usually common in African American kids. The doctor said everything was fine after she checked everything, so we went home to start our new lives with our newborn baby girl.
Three months later, on a normal sunny day, when I was giving my daughter a bath, I noticed that her eyes had turned from crystal blue to paper white and she wouldn't stop screaming and crying uncontrollably. My husband and I were so confused and worried since we didn't think something like this was possible. We rushed her to the hospital, where they told us they, too, had never seen something like this. They sent us to the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to see the only doctor in the state at the time that specialized in this kind of condition. He told us that her eye pressure was 96 in one eye and 94 in the other, which is very high since the regular eye pressure is 20/20.
The doctor said that he needed to perform emergency surgery.
I was so scared! She’s only three months old! What if something goes wrong? What if she doesn't make it out alive? All the worry and panic I felt three months ago started running back, and I was running away from it trying to keep a positive outlook. The surgery took a couple of hours. During those hours my husband and I spent the whole time praying that our daughter would be okay. We fasted, we worried, we called family members, asking them to pray for her recovery along with us. We felt vulnerable. We couldn't do anything as parents to help her in the situation she was in. We couldn't go into the room to hold her hand during the surgery. We couldn't give her applesauce to make her feel better. We couldn't hold her to make her feel loved.
We couldn't do anything but keep our hopes alive and pray.
Afterwards, the doctor told us that she had made it, her eye color had gone back to normal, she was calm and that she would be okay. Relief and happiness washed over us both. She continued to have surgery for four more years, until the doctor decided not to, because the medical team was having a hard time waking her up from the anesthetic that they put her under. So the doctor wanted to see her once every year to check upon her eye pressure and make sure that it remains normal.
Today, even though I have to wear glasses, put in two eyedrops twice a day and visit the hospital once each year, I'm happy. Everything could have been much worse. I could have had brain damage, or I could have never made it all together -- but I did make it. I'm alive and I'm okay, and that's what I'm most thankful for.
Bill Barnes, HCPSS Chief Academic Officer
Growing up in poverty and experiencing abuse, Bill was driven to be an educator by the powerful words of his mother.
Living with Diabetes
Rachel, Wilde Lake HS, Class of 2020
A simple kindergarten check-up changed Rachel's life forever. Managing Type 1 Diabetes has resulted in greater self-discipline and tremendous persistance.
A Painful Friendship
Tosin, Long Reach HS, Class of 2020
Tosin struggles with lifelong injury caused by somebody she liked very much.