When two disabilities collide…

Olivia was born with two disabilities:

1 – Persistent Fetal Vasculature which has caused near blindness in her right eye requiring her to wear a contact lens and patch daily

2 – Life threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs and wheat – resulting in strict avoidance of anything that may contain, contains or has come in contact with those ingredients, for fear of an anaphylactic reaction.

These two disabilities are pretty separate entaties. Both serious in their own way but also completely their own thing. Until today!

Olivia has been squinting her eye a lot these past couple days. At first, we thought she was squinting her eye because her contact was bothering her. But even when we took her contact lens out, she would still squint her eye. She even got to the point where she would say “momma”, get my attention, point to her Nemo eye and sign all done for me to take the contact out. So, we decided to take her in to see the lens doctor today – just to be safe. With everything Olivia has gone through concerning her eye, we never wait and see – we always get her checked out. Due to the nature of her condition, we are constantly on the look out for retinal detachment and Glaucoma – two issues that are fairly common for people with PFV. Anything out of the norm warrants a doctor visit.

When we got there, the doctor took a look at her eyes and was shocked at how well behaved and amazing Olivia was. She sat there, completely still, as the doctor shined a super bright light into her eyes. Since Olivia did so well, the doctor was even able to pull her up to a machine to check under her eyelid – there is no better compliment than someone saying “there is no way this little girl is only 18 months old!”

When she took a look under her eye, she saw little bumps that had formed due to….you guessed it…ALLERGIES. Because of all of the allergens and heightened pollen count outside, Olivia’s eyes developed these bumps that are making it uncomfortable to have her contact in. We were prescribed some allergy drops and a new cleaning routine for her contact lens. When we know the pollen count is high or during a change of season, the world we see a lot more Olivia in cute glasses so her eye has time to breath.

During the appointment, I said to the doctor that I can’t believe it’s allergies of all things. Now she has seasonal allergies affecting her eye on top of her food allergies! That’s when the doctor explained that Olivia suffers from something call atopy which is a “genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases”. Atopy is “associated with heightened immune responses to common allergens, especially inhaled allergens and food allergens” (AAAI). She explained that kids like Olivia are just more susceptible to allergies affecting them in more ways that one.

So, today was the day that both of her disabilities collided into one. But whichever we are dealing with on that given day, there is one thing I know for certain. My warrior daughter is going to show up with a smile on her face, a snack in one hand, her ‘baby’ in the other and a high pitched “HI” coming out of her mouth. She is the happiest, most resilient kid I’ve ever known and I am proud to navigate these uncharted waters with her. So even with a new contact lens cleaning routine, new eye drops and glasses a few more days a week, we will continue to just keep patching.

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