This morning it is about 7:30 the house is quiet and the sun is out. Both unusual occurrences for 7:30 on a Sunday morning. Last night Massy had its big city wide celebration and we capped our night off with amazing fireworks that started after 11:00 last night and lasted about 30 minutes. Started so late because the sun doesn’t set here till about 10:00. But honestly the best fireworks I have ever seen in person. Set to music and absolutely incredible. If you visit France and are privileged enough to attend the fireworks one thing you should know is that the fireworks are a very proper event. Like going to a movie or musical performance. The French quietly listen and watch and then clap at the end. We had to tell our kiddos, we were sitting with several American families, to be quiet. They like typical American kids, were oohing and aahing, squealing at their favorites. We were quite the scene at the beginning but by the end of the first number they had settled themselves in.
So I am sitting here on my little porch caramel latte in hand, not Exchange Bank quality but an okay substitute, because I want to share with your how God has answered a prayer for our family. As many of you know, from reading my other blog posts the last six weeks have bit more difficult for me. This morning I can say God has given me such a gift that I don’t want to be anywhere else. I guess I will start at the beginning.
Ever since Hannah has started school she has struggled. Reading was difficult writing was extremely difficult. Every time we would meet with one of her teachers they would express concern about her usually saying her fine motor skills were a little slow to develop. They would tell us it takes time and they weren’t really that bad. She was even evaluated by the schools occupational therapist. The OT saw that there was a problem but it wasn’t significant enough to qualify for any extra help. She made some suggestions. One of the nice things typically about schools in the States is that if you don’t fit into the box that’s okay they will make a new box for you. So Hannah got some extra toys to play with and a fancy pencil. We started her in piano lessons thinking it would build finger strength. We believed the school – and if you have every tried to read Tony’s handwriting we weren’t surprised that her writing was terrible. We resigned ourselves to the fact that she probably wouldn’t be a surgeon.
Anyway our move to France – when we moved to France Hannah had to immediately learn cursive. We were all surprised by this as this was skill kids learn at the end of second grade and in third grade. In France kids don’t really learn to print, at least not in our school. Again we had to have the talk with Hannah’s teacher about her motor skills. Within a month of starting school here her teacher was saying there is problem and we need to get it checked out. We said yeah we know, but let’s give her some time. Shortly after this I started a language swap with Hannah’s teacher and just about every week I would be asked about what we were doing at home to help her fine motor skills – was she peeling carrots, cutting food, coloring, playing with play-dough. Yep, we were encouraging all those things. So this last month the teacher really started pushing me to have Hannah see a specialist because next year Hannah will have the majority of her day in the classroom with the other French student. She was concerned that Hannah would not be able to keep up because it takes her so long to write, when she gets it done its messy, also France starts kids on geometry in elementary school and Hannah wouldn’t be able to do that because it is very precise. In France you need to fit the box. They don’t really make a new box for each kid. Okay, time to start addressing the problem.
On what we thought was a completely unrelated subject, about 6 weeks ago Hannah started complaining about her eyes. She had a similar complaint about a year ago and we took her to the optometrist and she checked out fine. But we figured it’s been a year we should have her checked again. This time, there is a problem. A problem so significant that Tony can see during the exam that one of her eyes isn’t tracking with the other. The doctor says see the specialist. Okay we set up 12 appointments with the specialist.
So now we are thinking fine motor problem and eye problem. ARGH we are going to spend the whole summer hauling her around to therapy appointments. Okay, if that’s what we have to do that’s what we have to do. So we start searching for France’s version of an occupational therapist. Low and behold none in our area. In fact it will take an hour via public transportation to get to one. ARG again – I sent an e-mail to a recommended pediatrician at the American Hospital and he refers me to an OT there that works with kids. An hour and half commute each way but worth it since the person would be English speaking. Also, our professor at school says she has a friend from Africa who is coming who is an OT and she is sure she will evaluate her. Good we have a plan and will get two opinions. We will find out if there is really a problem with these fine motor skills. I was content and sure God had provided us with these two individuals and I was at peace, we were going to be waiting a few weeks but no big deal. I was sure this was an answer to prayer as I was struggling because so many details seemed out of my control.
Now the answer to prayer, her name is Becky, she has been a student at our language school who I know in passing. Each Friday, the school offers 1 hour long seminars on culture or French life style. This past week one of the seminars was one the French medical system. Ok God, another gift from you. If I am going to navigate this system I might as well learn a little about what’s coming. Seminar not what I was expecting, in fact I was like this isn’t useful to me at all. Anyway I was sitting next to Becky, and after the bell rang, and I turned off the French side of my brain I heard the prof say to Becky ergotherapist (the French word for OT). I lean over and whisper, in English(which I was promptly reprimand for), “Did she say ergotherapist?” Becky, “Yep.” Me, “Why?” Becky, “Because I am one.” WHAT!!!!
I ask Becky to take a look at Hannah and she says sure but I usually work with the elderly. I am like whatever, your right here, you can give me your opinion. So I bring Hannah over, she does some coloring, tries to draw a line. Within 5 minutes, Becky starts focusing on her eyes. What? How did she catch that, we are dealing with a fine motor skill problem here. I tell her we are starting with an eye specialist the next day. Becky’s conclusion; Hannah is functioning really well and has compensated greatly for a problem that she has had for a while. Becky is pretty sure it’s an eye problem not a fine motor skill issue. I found out last night from my friend who is a doctor, who even after hearing about Hannah’s eye problem couldn’t see it with the test she does in the clinic, that God placed Becky in our lives. Becky’s work with the elderly, was with stroke patients, a lot of them that had the same vision problem as Hannah has. Most OT’s wouldn’t have picked that up as quickly as she did. But because of God’s mighty hand, she was placed in our lives so we wouldn’t have to go through of a frustrating summer of OT when most of the problem is her eyes.
Yesterday afternoon, Hannah started with the eye specialist. There is a problem, a rather significant problem since she is almost 8 and we are just catching it. Hannah sees double of anything within 3 feet of her. The eye doctor confirmed what Becky told us. Hannah has a lot of hard work ahead of her. She has made so many adjustments to her life and has developed some bad habits to accommodate this problem. Did you know, she always tilts her head to one side? I didn’t till yesterday. It is actually difficult for her to hold her head up straight because she has spent so long tilting it to one side so that her dominate eye could do more of the work. The reality is Hannah may need some OT in the future to relearn some things that she missed because she has been dealing with this eye problem for so long. But God in his faithfulness sent us to France so that we would be forced to deal with the issue. He sent us to the right eye doctor, who caught it. He sent us Becky, who knew about fine motor skills and eyes. Today I am praising God for being right where he wants me.
Pray for Hannah. Pray for her complete healing. Pray for her as she does therapy. She needs to teach her eyes to be a team. 20 minutes a day of working a bunch of muscles that don’t want to work. Pray that she does not become discouraged. Pray for Tony and I as we need to encourage her and perhaps force her to do her therapy. Help us to gentle but persistent.
Alright that was rather lengthy. Thank you to all who pray so faithfully for our family. Thank you for praying that I would be encouraged because I have been. I am off to study – finals start this week.