Having a child with a medical condition can be challenging for any parent, especially if it has a considerable impact on their life. But one mum is pulling out all the stops to make sure her son’s happiness isn’t limited just because his eyesight is. Here’s their story.
In 2014, Hannah Beauchamp (25) found out that her son Samuel would have to start wearing a patch over his right eye. Aged 3 at the time, he’d been diagnosed with a moderate amblyopia – or lazy eye – and a left convergent squint, meaning the sight in his left eye was quite poor compared to that of his right.
She said: “Samuel’s eye sometimes wanders, and goes in to the corner, and will have to be corrected cosmetically, which hopefully we can do sooner rather than later.”
The mum-of-two, who is originally from Rotherham, now lives in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, where she works part-time at a school. It was when they moved that Hannah first decided to help Samuel really embrace his patch.
She said: “Before we moved, we had been provided with a box of 50 colourful patches each time we visited the hospital – there were 5 different designs and 10 of each.
“He loved the dog design but hated the tractors, so getting him to wear his patch was always an issue.
“Our new hospital gave us three boxes of plain patches, and Samuel really wasn’t happy, so I asked the nurse there and then if we could draw on them and she told us we could do what we like.”
It was this simple conversation that sparked a very important journey for both Hannah and her son. Since then, she has used her creativity to draw a different design on Samuel’s patch each day.
She said: “My main reasoning behind it was to make the whole process more fun for him. If he had a better attitude towards wearing them then surely it could only do good.”
She also admitted that her own experience of having to wear a patch as a child influenced her decision.
“My father used to buy transfers and I remember him scratching them on to my patches with 2p coins,” she said. “I was always more excited to wear my patch on those days so I thought I would give it a go with Samuel.”
With hundreds of designs now under her belt, Hannah admitted that the drawings which have been showcased on Samuel’s patch could not have been more varied. Whilst some relate to the time of year, such as the Easter and Christmas holidays, others are inspired by Samuel’s favourite books and films. Characters have included Spider Man, The Gruffalo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Peter Rabbit, The Incredible Hulk, and an endless list of Disney favourites. The pair have also marked events such as Diwali, Chinese New Year and Armistice Day.
Although these all sound like mature and intelligent ideas, most likely from an adult, Hannah says it is in fact Samuel who chooses what he would like on his patch.
She said: “He comes up with some wonderfully bizarre ideas. The whole idea was so that Samuel could have more input, because I wanted to make the whole process more fun for him.
“His twin brother Isaac is also very good about Samuel’s patch. Sometimes they stick their heads together to come up with ideas, and sometimes Samuel will even have designs on his patch that are dedicated to his brother.”
But it’s not just his brother who is fascinated by, and supportive of, the patches; Hannah says it’s quite the talking point with their friends too.
“Everyone is so supportive,” she said. “All of Samuel’s friends run up to him in the playground before school to see what today’s design will be.
“The mums and dads are equally as excited and really make a fuss of him, which is great for Samuel as it really helps to boost his confidence – he really loves to wear his patch now.
“Strangers and neighbours we pass on the way to school will also comment on Samuel’s patch. It’s so wonderful to see how a comment made in five seconds or so can make such a huge difference to Samuel and his attitude.”
But what does Samuel have to say about his patch?
“I love the drawings on my patches because they’re beautiful and they make me feel happy,” he said.
“My favourite thing about Mummy drawing on my patches is that I get to choose whatever I like to go on them. I liked my Trolls patches the best because mummy drew Branch and Poppy, they’re my favourite characters in Trolls. When I put my patch on in the morning Mummy put music from the film on and we danced around the house. It was fantastic fun!
“Wearing my patch makes me feel like Mummy is still with me when I go to school, that makes me feel happy.”
Since starting to wear his patch over three years ago, Samuel’s sight has improved dramatically. At their most recent visit to the hospital in March of this year, they were told that there’s now very little difference in his left eye and his right eye. But what’s in store for the future of Samuel’s patch?
Hannah said: “I will always draw on Samuel’s patches, as it’s not only something that helps to improve both Samuel’s attitude and his eyesight, but it is also an activity that allows us to bond.
“Having a child with a medical condition can be really hard, especially when they’re refusing to cooperate with you or they’re too young to understand that you’re doing what you’re doing to help them.
“The fact that I’ve managed to find something that helps Samuel so much is great – he’s happy to wear his patch now and the last time we visited the hospital they told us that we won’t have to patch for much longer.
“Job done – though, I can’t pretend I won’t miss it!”
To read more about Hannah and Samuel’s story, you can visit their blog by clicking here.
All photos: Hannah Beauchamp.