No More Tears?


Bean is having a tear duct probe surgery on Wednesday. The tear duct on her right eye has been partially blocked since she was born, and it’s really not uncommon at all. In fact, both of Monkey’s tear ducts were partially blocked when she was born and they didn’t open up until she was almost three months old.

But despite my painstaking efforts to massage the corner of Bean’s eye every day, her duct remains stubbornly narrow. It has improved since she was first born when it would get very crusty, especially after a night’s sleep, but it hasn’t completely opened.

Finally, at Bean’s one-year well check appointment her doctor advised that if the duct hadn’t opened on its own by the time she was a year old, there was a very low probability that it ever would, and referred us to an ophthalmologist.

The ophthalmologist agreed with the girls’ pediatrician, and advised that while we could take a “wait and see” approach, the longer we waited the less likely a “simple” probe of her duct would work, and the more likely he would need to do a more invasive procedure like put a tube in her tear duct (which obviously would have to come out at some point, meaning there would be two procedures).


So we opted for the probe surgery sooner rather than later. Thankfully the blocked duct hasn’t caused any eye infections, but she pretty much has a tear streaking down her cheek at all times.

I feel like the ophthalmologist and the surgery center have prepared me pretty well for the procedure — basically the doctor will pass a tiny, blunt metal wire through her tear duct to open it. It should only take about 20 minutes, she shouldn’t experience any pain after the procedure, and it has an 85-95% success rate in children who are one-year-old or younger (Bean is 14 months, so those are pretty much her odds of success).


She’ll have to undergo general anesthesia, which you know, carries risks, up to and including death. And that kind of freaks me out.

I know, I know. That’s a little dramatic, but she’s still so little and she’s my baby.

This tear duct probe is apparently one of the most minor of minor surgical procedures. However, even the girls’ pediatrician acknowledged that it’s not a “minor procedure” when it’s your kid. She admitted that when her son required eight stitches last month she nearly fainted — and this is a woman who’s stitched MANY kids, just never had to go through it with one of her own.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the anesthesiologist, but from what the ophthalmologist said, this won’t require a very deep sedation (nothing intravenous, only some gas), which reduces the risks of anesthesia — it still doesn’t eliminate the chance of death though.

So yeah, I’m a little nervous. Sue me!

I’m guessing there are lots of you who have experienced this with your young children. Especially because I’m sure having tubes placed in a baby’s ears requires general anesthesia and it seems like I know many people who have had that done. Right??

So how did you deal with it? Any tips? How did your baby/toddler react? The surgery center nurse advised me to bring along a nuk (so glad we haven’t gotten rid of that yet!) and her lovey and blanket which she can bring into surgery with her. (OMG, just the thought of them wheeling my crying, screaming baby away while she clutches her lovey and blanket brings me to tears now. Ah!)

The nurse said that we can be with her in the recovery room within 15 minutes of her waking up (they’ll just need to check her vitals and stuff first). She also warned me that it’s not unusual for babies to be difficult to console because waking up from the anesthesia is disorienting, plus they’re upset over being separated from you.

So, I guess I’m most nervous about the anesthesia and having to watch them wheel her away. Thank God the procedure is only 20 minutes. For those of you parents who have gone through far, far worse with your kids in hospitals and having surgeries (and I know at least a couple), feel free to tell me to suck it up and quit being overindulgent.

I’m appreciative of any advice and prayers.

(P.S. In case you’re wondering, we should know in about a week if the procedure was successful. If not, then we’ll probably have to schedule the tube surgery at Children’s Hospital. I’m praying that this first procedure is successful!!)


About Jen

On the Night You Were Born is my attempt to chronicle my joys and frustrations of parenthood. I’m fairly new to the mommy blogosphere, and I read some brilliantly-funny mom blogs, so I hope to be half as witty, insightful, and I won’t say inspiring. The only thing I hope to inspire is for my 4k kid to cut the sass and my 2.5-year-old to stop being disruptive at bedtime. Alas, they both come with time.

4 responses »

  1. I know it is rather unsettling now, but try to concentrate on how relieved you will be when it is over. Plus, there should be little recovery discomfort for her…at least compared to an ACL repair or some similar procedure, which could be in her future. Just think of how fortunate we are to live in a time in history when such things can be repaired. We will be thinking of you. Lots of love.

  2. I’m a worry wort too but I try to make myself feel better by thinking of the risks associated with just riding in a car or choking on lunch. Life is filled with hazards and somehow, we continue to thrive.

    Thinking of all of you…

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