I just did a recent article for Midweek about pink eye.  Feel free to check it out – I just talk about prevention and treatment of conjunctivitis.  But, that’s not the topic of this post.  The Midweek writer’s first question to me was “What got you interested in pediatric ophthalmology?”.   I’m lucky enough that this question is such a non-brainer.  Is there anything better than restoring sight to a child? Complex surgery or a simple pair of glasses – both are so important in the developing vision of children.  That question made me think about one of our my first patients here in Hawaii.  I worked for a year after my fellowship as an attending at Boston Children’s Hospital. but there I was surrounded by senior physicians.  If I needed help on a case, or advice, they were there to assist.  When I moved out here with my husband 6 years ago, it was, honestly a bit terrifying.  I had lost my safety net and I had to build a practice from the ground up, somehow convincing parents that despite looking young and inexperienced, that I actually was a capable surgeon.

Niko was just a 6 year old boy when he came into see me my first month practicing at Honolulu Eye Clinic.

He had previously been living in California and had recently moved to Hawaii.  His mom had noted that he squinted a lot.   Niko was a smart little boy, but he had real trouble with the eye chart.  When I dilated his eyes, I discovered cataractsin both eyes.  A lot of people are often surprised that children and even babies can get cataracts.  It’s obviously much more rare than in adults, but it does occur.   I met with Niko and his sweet mom, Louise and told them that we should schedule surgery for Niko.

Marking Niko's eye for surgery in the pre-op area

This is what Niko’s mom wrote about her experience:

We first found out about a vision problem when Nikolas and I were reunited in Hawaii after a year of separation due to an illness of mine. He spent kindergarten year in San Jose California with my parents and siblings while I received treatment.While in San Jose he complained about not being able to see the board at school towards the end of the school year. When I picked him up and brought him back to Hawaii I decided to take him for a complete physical and suggested to the clinic physician for an eye exam as well.  They tested his eyes and we discovered that he couldn’t read most of the letters. The optometrist doing the exam referred us to Dr. Wong. He said that Niko may have cataracts. I was shocked and worried because he had just turned 6 yrs old.
 
Dr. Wong and her staff were so warm and welcoming. Even before we stepped into the clinic, I had already spoken to her on the phone several times. She told me about herself and her experience that gave me such relief to have found someone that can help my sons condition.  She performed surgery first on the right eye about 4 wks later and the left eye another 4 wks after that. The surgeries went well and Niko mentioned that everything so much brighter than before on the way to school a few days after. I was moved to tears of joy.
He now wears bifocal glasses that he loves and thrives in school. He is always excited to see Dr. Wong and her loving staff for regular check ups. He even mentioned to me several times that when he grows up he wants to become an eye doctor just like Dr. Wong so he can also help others see better.
 

Niko gave me this card.  Six years later, I still keep this card at my house.

After surgery, Niko’s first words to me were “I  can finally see the clock in school!”  His vision improved to 20/20 in each eye.

Each time he came for his post-operative visit, Niko would show off his latest dance moves for my staff.  I mean, seriously, is there anything better than getting that letter from a Mom or this card from a six year old?  He got cute bifocal glasses which he proudly wore all the time.

And, now 6 years later, Niko is an aspiring actor and model!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know pediatric ophthalmology is not one of the “sexy” subspecialties of ophthalmology.  Everyone wants to do Cornea or Cataract with all the fun laser cataract machines or Retina with the cool new macular degeneration drugs that are coming out.  But, peds/strabismus has its HUGE rewards and I for one, cannot think of anything else I’d rather do.

 

 

 

I realize I haven’t written many posts about being a Mom and so I thought it’s about time I did.  I’m not going to lie – juggling 3 kids younger than 5 years old, work and being a wife is challenging.  But, I actually think because of my new found commitment   obsession with being organized, our family is actually able to survive.  I love being an ophthalmologist, I would never give it up in a million years.  But, being a mother and wife are very important to me as well.  To do all of it, I have became extremely organized and have a million checklists for it all. I thought I’d share some of those tips with you.  My favorite blog for tips and tricks is www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.  I started reading this blog when I was expecting Arya.  The author of this blog has 3 boys and at the time, I wasn’t sure if Arya was going to be a boy or a girl and I could very easily relate to her need to tame the clutter.  Now, I don’t have the time or energy to spend hours making beautiful labels for everything as many mommy blogs out there do.  I need a system in place to make my life easier, that’s it.  So, here they are, things that have helped me stay organized and allowed us to function as a family.

 

1. Getting Ready in the Morning

Any mom knows this can be extremely tough.  Get yourself dressed, get the kids all packed and ready to go so that you’re not late for work.  My oldest son thrives on routine and schedules (actually I think all kids do), so I made this checklist for him, borrowed from here.  He’s 5 years old, so he’s really old enough to be helping get himself ready for school.  Heck, by the time I was 11 years old, I had to pack my own lunch the night before school!  And, he loves this list.  I laminated it so he can check it off with a dry erase marker.  Often, he will tell me if I’ve done something out of order (I mentioned he loves routine, right?).

Morning Routine

In addition, I have checklists for what goes into each child’s backpack.  I created this because my husband always wanted to help during the morning dash, but he was always asking me “What do I need to pack for them?”  If I have to tell him, then I can just do it myself, so instead I made checklists.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If they have activities for the day, I have checklists for those bags too – swim bag, karate, etc.  I won’t bore you with those.  But, everything is packed and ready to go the night before.

2.  Mail/clutter

I hate mail.  I’m not sure why, but I just can’t stand going through junk mail and paying bills.  I pay the bills at the office just fine, but home bills are another story.  To curb all the mail/bills/multitude of artwork my children bring home from school, I created a filing system.  I basically scoured pinterest and did a combination of things that worked for us.  All mail/art goes into the gold tray when I walk in the door.  Then, I sort it into this wall hanging unit which is set up in our office nook.  It seems to work – haven’t lost bills so far!

 

 

3.  Toys (Clean-up)

I realized I was spending about an hour a each night cleaning up toys, organizing, etc and like Norma Ray, I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore.  The boys are in preschool and at school, they clean up their toys beautifully, so why not at home?  I love baskets for toys and now all the baskets have labels on them, so the boys know where everything goes.

4.  Meals

I think this is probably the most difficult to do for working Moms.  My kids want to eat at 5:30 pm, they’re starving by then.  So, I need to have as much of the prep work done before I get home so that I can cook in a flash.  To stay organized, I use this meal planner – laminated cards with the recipes on one side and a list of the ingredients on the back and reference number for where the recipe is (Pinterest, particular recipe book, all recipes.com.  I sit down every Sunday and plan out the week, then I can just flip over the card and write out my shopping list from the ingredients).  I have color coded the cards – gray = crockpot, blue = pasta, green = grill, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I painted a magnetic board with chalkboard paint and hung it in my kitchen.  I have a little magnet chalkboard container in which I keep the meal cards.

So, those are just a few of my organizational systems.  My house certainly is not a well oiled machine.  There are days where we feel like we barely keep it together, but these things help us juggle it all!

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