Thursday, September 23, 2010

A new look

So - some of you who know me on Facebook have probably already seen the pictures but for those of you who haven't I wanted to share some big news!

I would like to pre-apologize because there is nothing in this post about Bob - this post is all about Darrell and his eyes. Or new eyes is more like it because Darrell got prosthetics!

So, for those of you who don't know, Darrell has had multiple surgeries since he was very young and due to this he has suffered some trauma to them. They have become flat and shrunken over the years and it causes him some discomfort from time to time. Also, due to the loss of volume his lids are now too big for what he has left. So they often don't close correctly and they don't lubricate his eyes completely when he blinks. He also will not go out without his sunglasses on because he knows his eyes are misshapen as well as his right eye cocking off to the right.

Because of his uncomfortableness with his eyes physically and the visual aesthetic we decided to start looking for some solutions. We came across Scleral Shells and decided those were the way to go. Scleral Shells are a type of prosthetic that allows the eye to remain where it is (other prosthetics require the eye to be removed) and it will sit on top of it under his eye lids. It is a large acrylic cover for the front of his eye. Almost like a giant, solid, hard contact lens.

So, you may be wondering what lead to the initial decision to look into prosthetics. Well, it all started when Mother's day came about and Darrell decided to give his mom some photos of himself. So, we went out to a pretty church and decided to use their huge stone wall as our background. All was going well until I told Darrell that his pictures would be much better if he wasn't wearing his sunglasses. I wanted them to be more personal and sunglasses just don't give you that. Well, he resisted at first because he was embarrassed but I told him they were for his mom and she loves him just like he is so he took them off and we had a great time with Darrell making funny faces and having fun with it. We gave her the pics and she loved them of course! However the fact that he was reluctant to take off his sunglasses really bothered me because if you can't be yourself in front of your family then who can you be yourself in front of? That got us looking into the prosthetics - Darrell was ready to run with the idea from the start.

Before: These are pictures from the Mother's Day Photoshoot - you can see how Darrell's eyes aren't rounded anymore and more flat on the front. He also has no irises - his right one was removed when he was 13 and the other was removed in 2007.
Click to play this Smilebox collage
Click to play the slideshow! 

So, after a consultation  and demo fitting with Dr. Wenske, and Ocularist that works here Darrell was all set to get them the very next day - however complications ensued like they always do. First he needed the go-ahead from his cornea specialist as well as a way to pay for them because custom made prosthetics that fit into your eyeballs perfectly are not cheap! When insurance turned down the request we turned to D.A.R.S. or the Texas Department of Assistive Rehabilitative Services - they did agree to pay due to the discomfort it was causing Darrell. However they wouldn't be able to do so until September - well its September and we got em!

So, he had his first appointment on Tuesday where the doctor took a mold of his eyes by using the same process that dentists use to take molds of your teeth. So yes, he pretty much squirted this goopey stuff into Darrell's eyes and let it set there for a minute or two until it was hard, took it out and had an impression of Darrell's eye. After that he was able to make the body of the prosthetic and he spent the next 2 hours running back and forth adjusting them and making sure the pupils would line up correctly when Darrell looked straight forward. There is a bit of more coolness in this part because Darrell's right eye looks off to the far right when he's looking straight forward so instead of lining the artificial pupil and iris up with Darrell's natural one he made him one that lined up with the other one when he looked forward. So after those few hours he had another patient to attend to so told us to come back later and we could watch him paint the irises. So we did. We went back and watched how he used powdered acrylic paints (the same that nail salons use to give you acrylic nails) and map pencils. Then we were told to come back on Thursday and he would have them ready.

The Process: These are pictures of the procedure. There are pictures of the doctor injecting the goop in his eyes, the doctors paint/coloring work station and Darrell with the blank prosthetics in, those are just white and made him look kind of crazy haha.
Click to play this Smilebox collage

So, its thursday so we went back and got them - when Darrell first put them in the right one was very off. Darrell looked like he was looking up and a bit to the center while his left eye looked straight ahead. So the doctor had to take it out and go and adjust it. He did this a few times  until it was good so that left Darrell's left eye lids a bit swollen when we left. I still think that iris looks a bit off but it has gotten better since the swelling has gone down. The doctor said he wasn't going to worry too much yet about the aesthetics of it. He's focusing more on comfort at the moment. Once Darrell gets comfortable with them and his eye sockets adjust we'll go back and he'll make more adjustments to get them looking perfect. The whole process will take up to about 6 months because every time they get adjusted Darrell will have to get used to it and perhaps get adjusted again. But he should be done by 6 months.

The Prosthetics! Various pictures of Darrell with his brand new bright blue eyes! Theres one from the car, a few from home and a few from the sushi place we ate at for lunch!
Click to play this Smilebox collage

Here are the prosthetics in Darrell's hand

His left one is much bigger than the right, you can't really tell but its much thicker. 

If you would like to see more pictures and captions of the whole process feel free to visit my facebook album by following the link below.


Tabatha said...

They look great!!!

Wendy said...

That is so wonderful! It's just incredible how real they look to think that he painted them! I'm also amazed that they will move with his eyes. Just so neat.

Ro said...

They actually move with his eyes??? Wow!!! Sooooo cool!!

Are his eyes really blue?

I'm so happy for him!

Natalie said...

Yup - because his real eyes are behind them all the muscle control and everything is still there so they just sit on top and move when he moves his eyes around.

His eyes are not naturally blue - they are naturally a very dark brown. In all the pictures I have seen they look black but I never saw them in person - it actually makes him look more white haha. I told him he needs to go get tan because around his eyes is all white from his shades.

Carrie and Waffle said...

thats awesome. The eyes in his hand is a bit freaky but who cares, he looks happy. It is great to see a close up pic of him, without his sunglasses, Waffle thinks he's a hottie! :)

Hobbes Dogs said...

That's very cool - and they look great!

Raiser Erin said...

Oh my goodness. this is so cool! They look wonderful and the process is just amazing! I mean, wow! I'm just speechless. I'm amazed.