It later dawned on me that I had written about my fear a few years ago. I’ve updated the article and sharing it here with you.
When my son Ben was a very poorly child before he turned 1 year old, I took him to his doctors many times. Various doctors told me he had a cold, a virus infection, a winter bug. Nothing serious.
His GPs must have thought I was an irritating new mother. I speak English with an accent, and I couldn’t form sentences properly when I’m nervous. My English wasn’t as fluent 10 years ago. I told the doctor – “Look, he is losing weight; he stops crawling; he is losing interest. There must be something very wrong about this baby.”
One day Ben’s left eye was suddenly swollen. I took him to his GP again. This old, experienced doctor cast a glance, and told me confidently that the bulging eye was an ‘oriental eye feature’.
Two weeks after this ‘oriental eye feature’ statement, Ben was rushed into a children cancer ward called Piam Brown ward in Southampton, and they found a tumour sitting just behind his eye pressing on his nerve.
I lived with years of fear of Ben losing his sight. We were warned his vision would be ‘compromised’.
One day, I asked the consultant blatantly, “Tell me in plain English please. Does ‘compromised’ mean, blind?” She paused and explained in medical terms, ‘Yes, he COULD be…’. She found it hard to utter the word ‘blind’. She preferred a more evasive and elegant term, ‘compromised’.
Luckily Ben escaped any significant impairment, thanks to a year of chemotherapy treatment.
When Ben was receiving treatment, a lot of people were also adding their comments on my list of fear.
A concerned friend said, “It’s very bad to pump so much toxin into a baby. It’s not good for his long-term health.” Another worried relative asked, “Would chemotherapy affect his fertility?” We’re talking about a 13 month-old baby here.
Years later, Ben developed a habit of squint, and he would perform cross eyes to entertain people. I took him to his ophthalmologist with worry. I asked for Ben’s ‘cross eyes’ corrected.
The ophthalmologist joked with Ben. “Wow, cross eyes! That’s a gift! Not everybody can do that!”
The specialist later reassured me that there was nothing wrong with Ben’s eyes. Ben was merely exploring his body. Performing cross-eyes was the kind of thing that some kids do.
He was indeed right. Ben was fed up with playing cross-eyes after a while. From then on, I see Ben as a gifted child.
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