This routine of the two-hour trip to St. Louis continued. In the summer, it would often mean a trip to Columbia first, also two hours away but in a different direction. My mother never liked Hannibal. She was right, but we lived there. She would prefer we bring the children to her.
Grandma was very good to the kids while they were in Columbia. The routine on most hot summer days was a late breakfast of pancakes. Dressed in their bathing suits they’d pile into her car and go to Oakland Pool. For a few cents, they’d enjoy the pleasures of summer at a city pool. Sometimes she would have to hunt for them, other times they were ready, when she’d come to get them to take them home for the evening. Before they arrived at the trailer, they would stop at a hamburger place. The place was shaped in an A frame and sold hamburgers for 50 cents. A bag full of burgers for sun baked chlorinated kids made for a wonderful summer.
I had quit my job at the Mental Health Center in order to keep up with the medical appointments. Money was very tight. My husband found out that they were not going to renew his contract after that year. The future was very shaking. About that time, my husband was put on a medication that made him sullen, grouchy, and depressed. Nevertheless, I was so glad he was still with us.
Our next trip to St. Louis was one of the worst. They decided that since they couldn’t control the glaucoma with surgery or medication, they wanted to know how much vision he actually had. He was still an infant. Obviously he couldn’t read the eye chart.
Through the maze of a large medical complex, we meandered to Jewish Hospital adjacent to the Children’s hospital and Barnes. I was shown into a small dark room where electrodes were placed all over our small son’s head. I was to hold him facing out on my lap. Lights were blinked and flashed to determine the activity in his brain related to vision. It was like something out of a horror movie. He didn’t like the procedure. For the most part, it was inconclusive.
The doctors continued to be puzzled. They came and photographed his eye. They probed and questioned. Again, he would go under anesthesia and we would wait. Special medications were prescribed. There were more questions than answers.
We talked a lot about healing. I had always believed God could and would heal. I had grown up watching healing evangelists on television. I went to a Pentecostal church. We were big into healing. My husband, although not a Christian, also believed in healing.
We were going to a more compassionate church. They prayed. They offered concern. I would have him anointed with oil at every opportunity. I prayed.
Someone suggested we take him to another hospital. I had full confidence in our doctor but when you are this desperate, you consider everything. A friend had a plastic credit type card. It said “City of Faith Hospital.” The woman had been a donor to Oral Roberts and supported the building of this hospital that once stood on the grounds of Oral Roberts University. They combined prayer with state of the art medical practices. We packed up and went.
We saw an ophthalmologist there. He was a retina specialist. He also did an exam under anesthesia. The hospital and its staff were wonderful and amazing. A prayer partner followed us around with every procedure. The medical staff were always willing to pray with us. A cab took us to another facility for another one of the tests with electrodes and flashing lights.
They found out nothing more than the doctor in St. Louis. Appreciative of the care and support, still our trip resulted in nothing more.
I wondered, was I capable of successfully raising a vision impaired, perhaps blind, son.
He was several months old now. He didn’t track with his eyes. His eyes did jerk back and forth, a condition called nystagmus. He didn’t grab for toys. He would smile. Some days I thought he could see. Other days I wondered.