Thursday, September 1, 2016


In case you missed the story so far:

August 22, 2007: Something about his eyes
August 23, 2007: Whispers and gut feelings
August 23, 2007: Homecoming

August 24, 2007: It's 5:30 am on Friday. It's still dark, but the first rays of sun are trying to peek out over the houses in our little neighborhood. I'm sitting on the floor in the living room with my back leaning against the couch, holding the boy with the big, beautiful, cloudy eyes. I'm crying, but feeling hopeful that our son, who was just diagnosed with pediatric glaucoma, will meet the doctor today who will help him see. It all feels like a big mistake.

My wife is making her tea, and we are preparing to leave for Boston in a couple hours. Plans have been made. My wife's parents have taken the day off work to stay in Albany with our 2 year-old daughter, and we would take the 3 day-old boy with the cloudy eyes to Boston.

The sun comes up, the in-laws arrive, my daughter is fed, and we fasten the boy into his car seat. I drive, and my wife, who is still moving a bit gingerly from the birth 3 days earlier, rides next to me. As we drive, my wife makes a few calls to our insurance company and the boy's pediatrician. We need letters of medical necessity. Of course.

After one call to the pediatrician, she flips her phone closed. "What'd he say?" I ask.

She replies, shaking her head, "Glaucoma. What a drag." What a drag. We chuckle a bit at this statement. The pediatrician is a great guy, and an awesome doctor. He takes incredible care of our children. But at that time, at that moment in his professional career, he must have been at a loss for words. What a drag. To this day, my wife and I sometimes mutter, "Glaucoma. What a drag." It's true. The boy got a shit deal so far in his young life. It's a drag.

We drive and stop to nurse, and we stop to change diapers, and we drive. We arrive in Boston, and we find the building where Dr. Walton practices pediatric ophthalmology. It's a high rise apartment complex with professional offices in the lobby and mezzanine. We ask the guy at the front desk in the lobby where we're going. He directs us to the second floor. Suite 201. We walk down the hall to a basic tan door with a name placard next to it. "Dr. David Walton." We turn the handle.

It's locked.

The doctor who is to save our son's sight is not there. We wait. We return to the lobby and ask the man what is going on. He makes a few calls. We sit in the lobby. The boy nurses. We change his diaper. We do what normal young parents do.

We wait.

Finally, after an hour or so we are told the doctor has arrived. We head back up to suite 201 and walk in. Dr. Walton is the only one there. He is a tall man, early 70's. Nothing flashy. Simple solid shirt, tie, dark pants. Belt matches the shoes. Slightly unkempt, but he is not the doctor who worries about his appearance. In time we learn he worries about his patients.

He asks what we are doing there, a confused look on his face. There's been a mistake. It's all a big mistake. When the appointment was made, my wife thought it was for Friday, and Dr. Walton thought it was for Saturday. Someone made a mistake, but it doesn't matter who. We learn that Dr. Walton performs surgery on Friday mornings, and that's where he was. He was not expecting us, but he invites us in and we fill out the paperwork that goes with any medical visit.

The office is small. A 10-foot hallway leads to a reception area on the right and then opens up to a waiting area with a few doctor's office-type chairs in it. There is a shelf with toys. Books with New England themes sit on the table. Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The walls are adorned with snapshots of children who have glasses, patches, and smiles. Papers with crayon drawings are taped next to the photos. These children are Dr. Walton's patients. Dr. Walton's children. We sit and write while the doctor is at the reception desk managing things that doctors manage.

The office is atypical of a medical office. Usually there are receptionists and medical technicians and mid level providers buzzing around. Not here. No receptionist. The phone rings, and the doctor answers it. Nothing flashy. No extra personnel. Just the doctor and us. We finish the paperwork and Dr. Walton invites us to join him in a room just off the waiting area.

The doctor will see you now.

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