Mom frustrated as son battles rare eye condition
Georgeina Flemmings was at her wits’ end. Realising her best may not be enough for her two-year-old son Jahmier Lynch, who had been diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, she resorted to seeking information via a popular opinion-based social media page on how to put him up for adoption so someone could provide the life she believes her baby truly deserves.
Congenital glaucoma is a rare condition that occurs in babies and young children that may have been inherited or caused by incorrect development of the eye’s drainage system before birth. This results in increased intraocular pressure which damages the optic nerve, and symptoms present as enlarged eyes, cloudiness of the cornea and photosensitivity.
Flemmings told OBSERVER ONLINE that Jahmier was diagnosed with the condition at four-months-old when she saw that his eyes continuously run water. She said his eyes had not started to change at the time.
“When we were at home with him and we bring him outside he wouldn’t open his eyes in the light and he would keep his eyes closed for most of the day. They would run water very often so we kind of realised that there was something off so we brought him to the doctor,” Flemmings disclosed.
“At first I was kind of surprised because I don’t really know anything about glaucoma so it was kind of shocking for me. So I started to do some research and that’s when I realised that it was something that could actually make him lose his sight. It was more frightening for me so it took a toll,” the worried young mother said about her son’s diagnosis.
When an OBSERVER ONLINE team visited the small family at their home in Sandy Bay, Free Town in Clarendon, we were met by a vibrant, outspoken toddler who kept us entertained and active as we spoke on the verandah.
This behaviour, Flemmings said, is typical for Jahmier on a good day, but when his eyes start to hurt, it can be stressful as she feels helpless to put her baby at ease.
“It’s really stressing especially because sometimes when the eyes start to pain him and they become swollen he gets really irritated and he behaves outrageous at times because it makes him upset. Being two-years-old he doesn’t know how to handle the pain so he just acts out and that’s stressing,” she said.
The good news is, this happy toddler can have a normal life- with his eyesight intact- through surgery. But first he has to have an evaluation under anesthesia so the doctor can determine the extent of the damage to Jahmier’s optic nerve. The cost of the evaluation is $225,000— a figure Flemmings cannot start to comprehend how to acquire as she is already struggling with the cost of the prescribed eye drop treatments on her small security officer’s salary.
“At first we got some eye drops that we normally use but over a period of time the eye drops would change. They were suggesting surgery at one point but bringing him to the children’s hospital for over a year they kept putting him off saying they got an emergency and stuff like that so the evaluation under anesthesia was never done so we don’t really know how far the damage is,” Flemmings said.
“Just the regular treatment alone is pretty strenuous because one eye drop will cost over $3,000 and he is using three eye drops right now—sometimes he uses four— and when he gets the new prescription and I have to throw out those and fill again, it costs money,” she added.
As for Jahmier’s father, she explained that while he helps out with the two-year-old’s basic needs, he does not assist with the medical expenses.
The stresses of daily life and the realisation that she may not be able to help her son lead Flemmings down the path of feeling inadequate and she started to wonder if someone else could do a better job of giving her very smart two-year-old a good life.
“For the past couple of months, it has become strenuous on me because from birth, it’s only me so going to work in Kingston at nights, coming off in the morning and knowing that I have to go back the following night, sometimes I don’t sleep for the entire day. I just have to come home, take care of him and then I have to leave again to go to work,” Flemmings explained.
“Everything got to me the other day so I thought maybe if I got somebody who can actually give him the care and attention that he needs, because if you take your eyes off of him for one second there is trouble in the house. The routine of coming from work tired, and— being a two-year-old— he is going to give trouble and with the eye when he cries; sometimes I don’t know what to do when him start acting out. And I cannot afford the treatment for the eyes,” the frustrated mom explained.
Flemmings is adamant though that she does not want to give Jahmier up for adoption, but she does need some help to give him a better life, where he can be his full adventurous self, without having to feel around to find his way.
She told OBSERVER ONLINE that she also believes that Jahmier’s sight is getting worse based on observations.
“I would like the evaluation under anesthesia to be done on him and if it requires surgery I would also like the surgery to be done because his eye sight is getting worse from what I am seeing at home. From four-months-old to two-years-old now [his eyes] are totally different. Because he knows the house, [since] this is where he was raised he will move around by himself. But say I am ready to go on the road and I step off the verandah he is calling to me and I need to hold his hand because I need to lead him out,” Flemmings said.
“I don’t [want to give him up]. After carrying him for nine months, growing him, the laughter, the fun, the bond and everything that is there. The stress is just overbearing sometimes but I don’t want to give him up. If I could just get the help that I need to get everything under control and get the pressure off his eye,” she added.
Flemmings has taken steps to fund the evaluation procedure as she took out insurance when she started her job. This however may not be enough so she started a crowdfunding site with Real Helping Hands where people can donate towards Jahmier’s evaluation and possible surgery. The donation target on the crowdfunding site is US$10,000 (J$1.5 million).
Donations towards Jahmier’s evaluation and surgery can be made at https://realhelpinghands.com/campaign/fundraiser-for-2-year-old-jahmier-lynch-suffering-from-congenital-glaucoma/ or through Flemmings’ bank account: Georgeina Flemmings, Scotia Bank Liguanea Branch, Account number 000-846-862.