Good health is a revelation

When I took my son in for his first routine eye exam, I had no idea he needed glasses. Neither did he. He seemed fine, wasn’t running into things, was reading fine in school, but nonetheless the optometrist suggested glasses. OK, I said, let’s give it a shot.

One week later, his glasses arrived and we went into the office to pick them up. He picked them up dubiously, slid them over the bridge of his nose, and stood there for a moment, blinking as the refracted light hit his retina in new and improved ways.


He spun, slowly, taking it all in. His lips twitched, burbling with something important. When he could no longer hold it in, he opened his mouth and shouted, “I CAN SEEEEEE!!!!”

Boy did I feel like a horrible mom as the assorted clients turned to see this blind boy get his sight back.


Later that week I was sharing this story with a friend. As we were talking, her daughter picked up my kid’s glasses and put them on just for fun to see how weird things looked.

She came over and tugged on her mom’s sleeves. “Hey mom. Things look pretty good with these things on. I think I can’t see too well.” Then I felt less bad. It happens to us all.

We thought things were fine, my kid thought things were fine, and then someone with tools I didn’t have access to and the ability to evaluate things said, “Actually, life can be even better.” And it was.

I think of this all the time when people say, “Oh, Buster’s doing fine, he doesn’t need an exam or meds or anything.” To a client’s eye, he is fine. His gait is the same it’s always been. But I can pick up things they don’t, that slight crunchy feeling in the knee, a stiffness when I extend the leg. It took some doing, but we convinced that lab’s owner to try some Rimadyl.

Or the dachshund who came in for a routine dental. “He’s fine,” the owner reported. “He eats kind of slow but he’s been that way since we adopted him two years ago.” When we opened his mouth, the fetid odor of eight rotting teeth hit my nostrils, teeth held in by tartar more than by tissue at that point. It took some doing, but we convinced the owner to let us remove them.

In both cases, we got a call about a week later to marvel about this new dog in the house. “He’s like a puppy again! I can’t believe his energy! Who IS this dog?” Like my son spinning around in the optometrist office, they had a problem they didn’t even realize existed lifted from their shoulders, and got to experience something better for the first time.

In the year since their last eye exam, both kids seem to be perfectly fine, but I took them in dutifully anyway. Both of them need new prescriptions. This time, I don’t feel so bad. Big things we notice- small ones? Not always.

It isn’t my job to evaluate such things in my kids, or to be able to recognize the more subtle signs of something needing help. All I need to do is get them to someone who can, on a regular basis. Next stop: orthodontist. Lord help us all.

Just a little reminder to everyone that there is a reason we recommend yearly (twice yearly, for older pets) checkups at the vet. We’ll probably find things you weren’t aware of, and that’s OK. That’s what we’re here for! Every pet deserves the revelation of improved health. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed: Blog, Health, Mother of the Year, Musings Tagged: , ,
  • Michelle S

    Fantastic post, Dr. V.!

    • Thank you Michelle!

  • JaneK

    thanks for the reminder written in such an entertaining way…. you do have a knack!
    I am a pediatric PT and couldn’t agree with you more. I recently had a mom call me and tell me that her child is now walking so does she still need to bring him in for a follow-up. Based on what I saw with my first visit with him, I said yes. I explained that there is walking and then there is walking in the correct way. Fortunately, she was the kind of mom who appreciates the input and she brought him. Also, I hear over and over again: I never noticed that or I would have never thought of that. To which I reply: if you did, then I wouldn’t have a job ๐Ÿ™‚
    thanks for being such a wonderful advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves

    • Oh, you’ll appreciate this story then! My mother is a pediatric RN so she knows all the milestones by heart. My older sister was an early bloomer with everything, but when I was two I wasn’t walking yet. My mom was sure I had hip dysplasia or something so she begged them to do a workup. Turns out my sister (who was 10 by then) loved carrying me around so I’d work it for a free ride. “She’s lazy,” the orthopod said. “Stop picking her up.” Guess it worked because I walk fine now ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JaneK

        haha! yes, that is a great story! and a very familiar one, too! but look at you now… hiking mountains, travelling the globe….. now I have another “re-assuring story” to tell my hyper-paranoid moms when their kids are really ok ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sue W.

    You mean I *can’t* solve all my problems using the internet?
    Thank you, again, for a great post.