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Elmo’s Teary World

posted Sunday July 6th, 2008

By the end of our Fourth of July celebration last night, Sophie’s face was streaked with red tears, the Elmos face painted on each of her cheeks running down her face.

She couldn’t have been happier.

“Oh, what’s wrong with your little girl?” people ask in the mall or at the grocery store. “Why is she sad?” (Translation: What mean thing did you do to your kid, lady?)

“Nothing,” I always say. Sometimes if I’m feeling magnanimous, I’ll explain. Except for her heart, Sophie’s not afflicted with the serious health problems that can come along with Down syndrome. (Not yet, at least, knock wood.) But she does have very tiny openings, including her tear ducts, which have been blocked forever and refuse any amount of medical Roto-Rootering done to try to open them up.

The third out-patient surgery actually involved placing teeny tiny tubes in her ducts; even that didn’t work. And when the surgeon admitted there’s a chance Sophie will grow out of it some day, we decided to skip any more ioptional procedures that involve general anesthetic.

So Sophie’s eyes are generally teary, if not goopy. It bothers everyone but her, apparently. It does impact the effectiveness of face painting.

That didn’t phase Sophie one bit last night. She still demanded an Elmo on each cheek and when the balloon lady Vera (scrub nurse by day, balloon lady by night) fashioned her the most amazing rubber Elmo any of us had ever seen, she was on cloud nine — even without fireworks, which are apparently too much of a fire hazaard in woodsy, P.C. Flagstaff.

The sparkler on Annabelle’s cheek didn’t fare so well, either, come to think of it. So it’s good we’re going back tonight for more face painting. I hope Vera’s there.

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2 Responses to “Elmo’s Teary World”

  1. I just came across your blog – Sophie is adorable! My daughter has Ds and will be 5 in a couple weeks. She had the eye probing done for blocked tear ducts, but it didn’t completely help either. It cleared up for awhile, but sometimes she still gets the runny eyes, and we get the questions about why is she crying too. That is a great looking Elmo!

  2. Amy,

    The blog is brilliant. You write beautifully and heartbreakingly about the epiphanies, joys and trials of having a special needs kid. You know from my blog that I have an autistic daughter (thanks for the post, by the way! It – of course – made me weepy). She doesn’t have problems with tear ducts, but she does cry and scream at the drop of a hat if thwarted or startled and this can lead to odd looks in the grocery store and even the occasional friendly query to her from passers-by to see if she’s alright. (I suppose I’d take a closer look at a grown man seemingly making a little girl cry, too, though.) I always feel obligated to explain that she’s non-verbal and only understands a limited range of what’s said to her. That’s the part I dislike the most: I get looks of pity, or incomprehension or even skepticism. I’m always torn between the need to soothe her or distract her to get her calm again, and the need to tell our life story to complete strangers so they’ll stop looking at us (me) like we’re doing something wrong.

    Thanks, again, for the comment on my blog and leaving a link back to here. This is a wonderful site.

    Kurt, Tate & Aria

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