Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Note from Dr. Liz T.

Hi Carmen,

I admire what you are doing very much. We need more moms like you to help spread the word about early vision exams to prevent amblyopia. I have recently been doing vision screenings at my childrens' school and have found a few kids with probable amblyopia. They, like many other children have never had an eye exam. The American Optometric Association recommends the first eye exam from 6 mo to 1 year, then three years of age and then again right before entering school. After that, eye exams should occur every one to two years. While many pediatricians are doing a great job encouraging children to get an eye exam at an early age, there are so many who do not.

It is great that Preston's eye is getting better. If he is seeing 20/80 now, he is not considered legally blind. That is wonderful. Legal blindness is 20/200 with best correction. What does his doctor think his potential acuity could be?

You are an awesome mom and Preston is lucky to have you. I look forward to seeing your books and helping you promote them if you need help.

Liz (Dr. T.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beau goes to the eye specailist

Today was the day I was going to find out what was wrong with our boy Beau. We were in the waiting area and Beau was getting to see other dogs that were there for some really serious reasons and it just broke my heart when I saw a mother and daughter coming out crying.

Dogs really become part of the family and to have to put them down or know that they have some serious illness is heart breaking.

People in the waiting room were giving Beau compliments even with a bummed eye, and believe me he was loving it.

Here comes the eye specialist, he ask if this is Beau and I said yes really nervous. He introduced himself and said Beau is a good looking boy. We followed him into the exam room and asked me a few questions and put drops in his eyes and waited to see if his 3rd eye lid would go down with the drops and it did.
He said just what I thought. I asked him what and he said Beau has Horner’s Syndrome, I never have heard of it. The Doctor explained to me that Horner’s syndrome is a loss of sympathetic never supply to the eye, eyelids and muscles that dilate the pupil. The sympathetic nerves are part of the nervous system that control “automatic” body functions.
I said ok will what caused it and what can we do about it? He said that the signs associated with Horner’s syndrome are usually unilateral (one sided). They include, drooping of the upper eyelid, constriction of the pupil sinking of the eye, and elevation of the 3rd eyelid. That is exactly what Beau’s eye looks like.

He said that in most cases, the cause of Horner’s Syndrome is idiopathic, or unknown. However anything can create a disruption in the nervous pathway can cause Horner’s syndrome i.e. trauma/injury, infection and tumors. We are thinking maybe injury, he could have hit his face or playing with our other little dog Dunhill.
For most dogs, the signs associated with idiopathic Horner’s Syndrome will resolve within 6 months. They say it isn’t painful.
In some cases Horner’s Syndrome will interfere with vision because the eye is covered by the third eyelid.

We are going to wait and not do any MRI”S at the moment and hope that it will go away so we will just have to play the waiting game. I have faith he will be just fine!!
It is a little bit ironic that Beau his patching buddy is having issues with his left eye, just like in our books.
He will also get better!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Beau goes to the Vet

My Personal Journey as Preston’s Mother

Part Three

I have been so busy the last few weeks that I have neglected my blog writings.
I want to start off by telling you a little story about my dog Beau; he is a 5 year old Weimaraner. Beau is Preston’s eye patch buddy in my children’s books.

I was eating a little bit of lunch before I went to help Preston’s class with the Thursday folders.
I looked over to Beau and noticed that his left eye looked a little weird, I thought will maybe he’s just tired.
I went to Preston’s class and worked on the Thursday folders, when I was done with them I went to run some errands.
I picked up Preston after school at 2:45 pm.
When we got home I ran over to Beau to take a look at his eye to see if it was any different. It definitely was, for the worse! So I called my Vet’s office and she was not in but said I could come in and see a different vet, of course I said yes.
Beau’s eye was red and droopy.

The stand in Vet said she wasn’t sure what was wrong said it could be conjunctivitis which means pink eye. She told us to put a cone on his head and prescribed antibiotics and an eye cream.
Beau’s eye did not get any better so I took him back to the vet’s on Monday andBeau got to see his regular vet.
She said that it looks like he could have nerve damage, or could be caused by a tumor. That is why his left eye is dropping and 3rd eyelid is covering half his eye and told us we should take him in to see an eye specialist and to take him off the antibiotics.

When we got home I was really worried and called and made an appointment for the next day. Preston asked me if Beau was going to wear an eye patch like him.
It happens to be the same eye as Preston’s weak eye, the left one. I told Preston we will see when we take him in the morning.

Beau goes to the eye specialist

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Comment from Richard F.

A Comment from Richard F.

Richard is the director of development in the Rocky Mountain Region, of “Foundation Fighting Blindness”. I thought his words were very kind and, I decided to write it in my journal. His comment goes like this.

Carmen,I can tell that your blog is very personal and insightful to what it is like for Preston, you and your family. That's great! This will give others of visually challenged children an opportunity to see what it is like and how they can be empowered and rise above these challenges. Life goes on!Could you send me an outline or summary of your book and what it will cover and maybe even an excerpt from the book to read?That way I can get a flavor of how you write and your perspective.

Thanks for being a light in the darkness!


Shortly after his comment was posted on my blog, I became a board member of the Foundation.
I had attended a chapter meeting in the early summer time, and had so much respect for the people and the Doctor that I had meet. They are working so hard to make a difference.
I am honored to be on the board! I know that it does not directly deal with my son Preston’s eye issues, but it is still low vision and blindness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Preston’s Grandmother Mimi

I just wanted to acknowledge Preston’s Grandmother Becky. We call her Mimi; she is my husband’s mother.
Mimi has been one of Preston’s strongest supporters and cheerleaders. Mimi sends Preston care packages as an incentive for him to patch everyday. She has been sending him packages for almost four years, right from the start! She truly does love her grandson!
I wanted to say Thank you for loving him so much and wanting him to get better!

When I first told Becky about my idea writing children’s books, and why I wanted to write them. It was because; I really want to help Preston and other children with the challenges and low vision. She was so happy for me and thought that it was a great Idea to write the Patch Land Books.

Becky wanted to let me know that her support was there in whatever it was that I needed to get started, as a children’s book author. I was very excited to hear the enthusiasm in her voice over the phone that it brought little tears I have to say. I could tell that she knew how important this is to me, to get these books out in print and start to bring awareness about Amplyopia and low vision, and also to help the children use the books as a patching tool.

Becky Lives in Indiana and comes to see us in Colorado as much as possible. She bought some mountain property, and we go there in the summer time and camp. Preston loves it there, because there is so much to do. I was able to bring some real life experiences into the book of Patch Land because of Mimi! Once my books are in print you will be able to read the stories and see how much fun Preston has on his adventures.

I could go on and on, I just wanted to make sure that people know she was a big part of putting all this together!
Thanks again Mimi we love ya!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Preston Starts 2nd Grade!

Preston Starts 2nd Grade!

Preston started 2nd grade a little while ago, and he really likes his teacher Ms. Dey. She is a perfect match for Preston as an educator and person. She understands Preston’s personality and challenges and makes sure he gets the help that he needs. He does struggle a little bit with his reading so he gets the help that he needs a couple of times a week. During class time, he will have to leave for awhile, all to help him get to the reading level that he needs to be at. When he is done he will come back to class and join the rest of his classmates.
I have Preston read to me in the evenings as much as possible. He has shown improvement since he has started 2nd grade and that makes me so happy! I just hope with time he can get to the reading level he needs to be at. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
It is hard to figure out if he is having issues seeing the words or not, when he is reading in evening with his glasses on he puts the book right up to his face very close.
Preston will be going to see his eye Doctor the 1st week of Jan. before he tracks back on to school so, I will find out than and we will go from there. What ever it is we need to do we will.
I will keep you all posted on that!
Preston started 2nd grade a little while ago, and he really likes his teacher Ms. Dey. She is a perfect match for Preston as an educator and person. She understands Preston’s personality and challenges and makes sure he gets the help that he needs. He does struggle a little bit with his reading so he gets the help that he needs a couple of times a week. During class time, he will have to leave for awhile, all to help him get to the reading level that he needs to be at. When he is done he will come back to class and join the rest of his classmates.
I have Preston read to me in the evenings as much as possible. He has shown improvement since he has started 2nd grade and that makes me so happy! I just hope with time he can get to the reading level he needs to be at. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
It is hard to figure out if he is having issues seeing the words or not, when he is reading in evening with his glasses on he puts the book right up to his face very close.
Preston will be going to see his eye Doctor the 1st week of Jan. before he tracks back on to school so, I will find out than and we will go from there. What ever it is we need to do we will.
I will keep you all posted on that!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Review From A Great Friend!

Dear Carmen,

It is 6:33 am as I read your Blogs about this incredible journey little Preston You, and Yorkk have been on, I can barely contain myself as I am tearing up cause I love you all so much, The Doctors who made those incorrect diagnosis should be ashamed of they're incompetence, but sweetheart let me tell you that your writing of these Patchland books are a gift from GOD, Many Great things are born out of trials and I thank The Most High GOD that our Preston is showing improvement in his eyes (Hallelujah). Carmen this is my observations in reading your writings, first of all you are an Author whom writes children's books, not a writer of children's books.

Love You and I am very proud of you keep up the good work
Former NFL Defensive Linesman

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Summer time fun!

My Personal Journey Part 2

Preston loves the summer time like any other child, because they get to play. NO school! Unfortunately for Preston he has to still continue to patch. We have to get creative sometimes because he is a very active child. He skate boards, rides his dirt bike, rides his regular bike, and those are just some of the things that he enjoys doing that are unsafe for him to patch and do. When he plays his video games that is a great time for him to patch. His eye really has to work hard and that is great! The Doctor recommends that, how fun! And he can play that with his father. I love that because they get the father son bonding time.
He also loves to swim, and he can not wear his patch while swimming, and by the time he gets home he is so tired. when he patches it makes it difficult for him to see even the TV. I try to make him wear it in the morning before we leave and in the car going, he will give me a good fight sometimes, and I feel bad and so I sometimes say okay Preston, but when we get home you need to patch, and that doesn’t always happen. I get so mad at myself I just have to remind him and me the reason I make him patch is because I love him!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Forward letter from Dr. DeSantis

Amblyopia is the leading cause of blindness in children. It is one hundred percent treatable with early detection and intervention. Successful intervention often depends on patching or occlusion of the better eye. By bringing awareness, understanding, and community support for amblyopia and its treatment, Carmen Swick’s books will hopefully help children to accept their own patches or encourage support of one another to patch faithfully when necessary, thus helping to improve amblyopia outcomes. I applaud Ms. Swick’s efforts to this end and congratulate her son Preston for being an inspiration to his mother and to children who are faced with amblyopia themselves or in a friend or family member.

Dr. Diana DeSantis

Friday, October 17, 2008

East Coast Aunt Sandy

I want to say that I decided to post this email as part of my blog instead of in the comment spot. My Aunt Sandy had wrote me this email. I just wanted to post it and let all of you have a chance to read it. She is a very warm kind person and it shows through her kind words. I have not heard or spoken to her in such a long time to long! She heard about Preston's eye issues through my blog. This email just made me want to get my book into print soon as possible! There are other children and adults that have to patch that have not been diagnosed with Ambloypia. Low vision can happen in so many differnt ways. I will make sure that when my books get published that Aaron gets a copy of Patch Land. Here is the email below.

Hi Carmen,
So sorry to hear about the trying times you and Yorkk have had to endear with your super trooper Preston. It must be very hard for you as parents to be forced to try and make progress while knowing it is creating pain and discomfort. I am sure you are on top of this and your little guy will overcome this bump in the road. It is great that he is given the opportunity to carry on with all of his activities right along with the rest of his friends. It is most important that you continue to search out the best pediatric doctors. It sounds like you have found a good match for Preston and research confirms if this diagnosis is treated before the age of 10 the results are very favorable-so hang in there!
Our little guy in Connecticut (Aaron) has also endured eye complications. He had a very bad eye injury when he was 4yrs old and now he is 6yrs and had 4 surgery's and the Doctors have decided it is the best it will be. He caught his eye on a hanger in the children's dept of Old Navy and it completely ripped his eye lid off--this involved surgery to reattach muscle, repair tear ducts, and of course many days of patch's and drops. He also is a super trooper and proving to be another resilient amazing young man. He will never have 20/20 in fact he is at 20/80 like Preston was. Well you be sure to patch if that is recommend by your new doctor. I am sure it is tough but it sounds like he has a wonderful Mom and Dad that will be cheering him on every step of the way.
I cant wait to read your books, It sounds like great therapy and a terrific idea!
Love Aunt Sandy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Read to Dr. DeSantis

I read one of my books Patch Land to Dr. DeSantis, and she loved it. I also read her a letter of what I wanted to accomplish by writing these books. She liked what I was trying to do with the books, the concept of being able to use it as a tool for children struggling to patch and bring awareness to Amplyopia, or for any child having to patch for other medical reasons, and for the ones that don’t have to patch, it would educate people at the same time. Patch Land books are wonderful books full of adventures and problem solving. A child gets to escape for awhile how wonderful is that!

The forward letter for the books

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Doctor DeSantis Excited!

Doctor Desantis was so excited to tell us that there was a small improvement the last couple of visits. She said it might not be a big improvement but like she says we will take it. I just gave her a big hug! It was so nice to finally hear those words. I had told Dr. DeSantis about my books while ago, and at one appointment I brought my books with me and asked her if I could read one of them to her and If I could also really quick read her what I wanted to accomplish by writing these books. The wonderful Doctor and person that she is said yes. I was really excited and nervous at the same time.

Reading the Books to Dr. DeSantis

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Preston was showing a little improvement

I wrote in my books that Preston started to show improvement and he really did! I was so happy to hear such wonderful news From Doctor DeSantis at one of his eye appointments, And to know that by writing these children’s books Patch Land have contributed a little to that. I loved the fact that Preston was able to use it as one of his a tools to patch.

The Doctor was very excited!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reading to Preston's 1st grade class

I did go to Preston’s class that following week. I read to the children in small groups, for two days that week. They gave me there feed back, and I answered question’s for them. Than I started too notice they were able to understand why Preston had to patch and wear glasses. I could see that Preston had some self confidents when the children told him how cool that his mother wrote books about him and that they really liked his dog Beau in the books. It was also nice to see that the children could not wait to see what was going to happen next. Some of the children also asked Preston some questions, and you could see Preston’s face just light up! He was no longer embarrassed, and at that point I realized I needed to get these books published and out there for people to read, and hopefully be able to help many other children with low vision, and for the children that don’t have low vision, That it would help them understand why there are children out there in the world that do, and at the same time enjoy these wonderful adventure books.

“The books really did help Preston”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Personal Journey as Preston's Mom

I started writing the books and noticed Preston really took an interest to it. He was the main character and loved the whole process with me. He told his teacher all about the books. Preston’s teacher had asked me if I would like to come in to his 1st grade class and read the Patch Land books to the children. Of course I said yes! That it would be such a great opportunity for me to get feed back from the children, and see if I needed to revise the books a little bit more, because as we know they will tell you the truth if you want to hear it or not.

The Day I Went to Read Patch Land To Preston’s Class

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Race for the cure 2008

Race for the Cure 2008

Today was a very special day! Sunday Oct. 5 Race for the cure. I wanted to add something different to my personal journey. I support the
My mom passed away several years ago from breast cancer. I feel that we were cheated from a wonderful mother, and a grandmother that my children and nieces have never had a chance to meet. I miss her very much! She was a very kind and warm hearted person.
My mother even on her last days here on this earth would wake up with a smile and say please don’t be sad because that will make me sad! She was a very strong person she suffered with the horrible disease Cancer. One day she left us to be in a much better place where she would no longer suffer. I was happy that she was no longer suffering and in pain but, in a very selfish way that did not stop me from painfully missing her and wanting her to be here with us!
I started to write down my feelings and would also write some poems after she had passed away; I guess that is how I would deal with my pain. Years later that is how I am dealing with my son’s eye issues and also to make a difference in this world. I guess what I am saying I never thought that I would be writing children’s books. Looking back and remembering how I use to stay up at night and cry and write at the same time was a wonderful way to release my pain. I am doing the same thing now with my son Preston and also helping other children deal with there low vision. I have lost what I wrote about my mom so many years ago, but it is still in my heart.
This year I decided to put a team together in the memory of my mother. My mother’s name was Paquita, so I decided to call our team
“Paquita’s Earth Angles”. I am now a team captain. We had 18 people that joined my team; some have walked before some have never walked for the cure. I was so happy walking with so many people on our team. For my first year of putting a team together not to bad. It was a wonderful feeling! I am so grateful for everyone that was out there today and not just my team members, we were all there for the same purpose to find a cure for breast cancer. Today was a day of people from all walks of life, different political views all that was set aside to raise money to help stop this horrible disease, breast cancer! I wanted to thank my team so much for getting up early and getting pledges, and hopefully next year we will even do better!. If you see our team out there next year please say hi! I guess it is time to rest my tired feet till next time.
Good Night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My personal Journey as Prestons mom

Preston had to start patching his good eye so we could make his weak eye stronger. Unfortunately he could not see since his vision was so poor with corrective lenses it was a 20/80 in his left eye. It was a struggle everyday for him to patch. We tried everything to get him to patch.
We went back to see Dr. Desantis and she had informed us that his eye was not getting better and we need to work on this so the next visit we deicide to dilate his eye every other night.
He had just started Kindergarten and it was a good thing that he is a sharp young boy. He was having a little bit of difficulty seeing the letters poor guy.
After a year of dilating his eye and not seeing any real progress I told the Doctor we did not want to dilate his eye anymore it was interfering with his learning and no real progress she agreed.
So we ordered these really cool new eye patches that don’t stick to his eye lashes. We did incentives so he would patch. He would have to patch for a certain amount of time before we would give him a prize. My mother-law is wonderful, Her support and love, She sends him a care package and he gets new goodies to patch for and she writes him a note with each package giving him words of encouragement.
We are still not seeing the improvement we need I would catch him peeking when he would patch. I felt it was still a struggle and only seeing very little improvement.
My heart would drop every time we went back to see his Doctor and we would hear the words that there was not much improvement.
We knew he had to put allot more effort into patching and keep it going strong. Patching does work! you just have to make sure that he is not cheating and peeking. While we were hearing the not so good news I thought
I would ask the doctor if he was a little legally blind in his left eye she said not a little but he is legally blind in his left that is why we need to really work on it. If he were ever to hurt his other eye he would never be able to drive unless we could get the other eye stronger. I did not want to hear that and now I was really determined to do something else for Preston. On our way home it hit me I am going to write a children’s book on this topic and see if I can help Preston and other children through this process and bring awareness to Amblyopia. It is the # one cause in blindness in children if undetected.

This is when my journey started writing children’s books!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I let a few month’s go by with hearing the same thing from Preston that he could not see and on top of all of it, she wanted him to patch his eye, what a disaster! One day I decided to call my husband and said that I had a bad feeling about Preston’s diagnoses and my husband said that he also agreed with me, he also said that if I felt so strongly about this than let’s take him in to someone else.
I asked for a referral to another eye doctor from one of Preston’s Pediatricians and they gave me the same doctor that my sister in-law had recommended. That is when I made an appointment and Yorkk and I took Preston in to see Dr. Desantis.
What my husband and I were getting ready to hear just broke our hearts. She had informed my husband and me that Preston had been on the wrong prescription for six months. I looked at my husband and just wanted to cry but Preston was in the room at the time. My Husband Yorkk had asked her if it could have done harm to his vision, she responded yes. It is very crucial that he had the right prescription for his eyes at this age. Here we are as parents wanting to protect our children and make things better, Will I felt like I just had failed my little guy.

Remembering the day’s of telling Preston you have to wear your glasses he would cry and say no mom I can’t see it is foggy, Will me not knowing at that time that it was doing him more harm than good to wear his glasses was just a horrible feeling.
Speaking with Dr. Desantis was such a different experience from our first doctor. She was wonderful was abouslutey how it should have been, she answered our questions and concerns and was very patient to educate us with Preston’s low vision issues and what we needed to do to turn this around. The doctor had explained to us that Preston has Amblyopia, accommodating estropia and Animestropia, just writing this down it is so hard and heart breaking.
I am tearing up because I knew that we had a long and tuff journey ahead of us, but I was determined has a mother that this is not about me or my husband and we needed to do what ever it took to help our son get better. So I had to turn those horrible feelings into a positive feeling and let Preston know he would get better!

Here we are the next phase with Preston’s challenge!

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Personal Journey as Preston's Mom

Raising a child with low vision.

Hello my name is Carmen Swick, Preston’s mother and book author of Patch Land Adventures hopefully to be published here in the near future. I wanted to share with you my personal journey that has brought me to this point and has inspired me to write these children’s books.
let me start by saying I never thought of my son Preston as having a handicap, but a challenge instead. Preston goes out there and always puts in 100%, and has never complained that he could not do something because of his eye sight. As a matter of fact he does great at whatever he tries to do. Here are a few examples of what Preston does - he play’s football, soccer, skate boards, skies, and loves to go dirt biking.
This is why I say we look at low vision, amblyopia, as a challenge.

I want to take you back a few years when Preston was just a little guy I used to wonder about his left eye. It would turn in a bit. I asked his pediatrician on a different couple of appointments what his thoughts were he said not to worry about it he was young.
I would like to take you back a few years when Preston was just a little guy I used to wonder about his left eye. It would turn in a bit. I had asked his pediatrician about my concern on couple of his appointments what his thoughts were about it, he said not to worry about it that he was young.

Well, my father-in-law asked me about his eye, he is a veterinarian by trade, and I explained to him what the doctor had told me. He oh really, ok and that he would not bring it up again, but to please to keep an eye on it.

On another occasion, my sister-in-law said that she was concerned about his eye as well. I told her the same thing that the doctor said he was not concerned about it. Michele at that time was going to school to learn how to assist an eye surgeon. Michele asked me if I would mind if she could just do her own testing on him, I said, “Of course, please do.” Preston was three years old at that time, will she came back to me and said I really would like you to take him into a pedetrian eye doctor; she said that he did not respond like he should have, I said ok that I would.
I went home that day and looked at the list of doctors on our insurance plan.

My husband Yorkk and I took him in to a doctor up the street. She said he had allot of eye issues and of course we were very upset. And that he needs to be wearing glasses now so we need to buy a pair of glasses for him. we were a little over whelmed so we tried asking her questions and she responded as if we were questioning her about the diagnoses and her intelligence,that was not our intension at all! but the fact is we were just trying to educate our self’s to help Preston better to coupe with his low vision and other eye issues she had mentioned. We went ahead and did what the doctor told us to do and ordered Preston his first pair of eye glasses.

We went home and after a couple of weeks I went to pick up his glasses and when he put them on he complained that they were foggy,I called and the doctor said not to worry he needs to get use to them they were a very strong prescription.

I took Preston to Pre-school a couple times a week, one of his little friends there, his mother is an eye doctor and I explained to her about my visit and concerns with Preston’s visit to the Eye Doctor and she asked me to bring Preston’s eye prescription to her so she could take a look at it. When she did take a look at it, she said to me that it did not make sense.
I also spoke with my sister in-law over the phone, I read the prescription to her and she said the same thing, that it does not make any sense.

This was just the beginning of our journey....

Our dog Beau

Our dog Beau
Preston's eye patch buddy

Preston and his eye Doctor

Preston and his eye Doctor
Eye Exam

Preston and Beau Eye Patching

Preston and Beau Eye Patching
Eye Patch Buddies