This story first appeared in Mayo Clinic Magazine.
The first thing the Arndts want you to know about them is their strong faith in God. They say it’s gotten them through some very tough times — mother Tara’s two bouts of cancer (one melanoma, one Hodgkin lymphoma); daughter Kelly’s head wound that sent her to the emergency room in an ambulance; and daughter Madison’s fight with H1N1 flu, which had killed several children in their home state of Minnesota that year.
They knew their faith would see them through another trial two years ago, but Mom and Dad were worried. Doctors at Mayo Clinic noticed lesions on Madison’s eye, and the 11-year-old’s vision was getting worse. Her sight had never been great — she’d gotten her first eyeglasses at age 4, starting with a +3 prescription. Then at age 6, local doctors saw scarring on both eyes and referred her to Mayo.
In the years between 6 and 11, Mayo Clinic worked with Madison and her parents, and Madison’s vision remained fairly stable. But these new lesions worried Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist Jose S. Pulido, M.D., as did the inflammation in her eyes.
Mayo Clinic doctors placed a steroid implant, but soon Madison had headaches and blurry vision. Her eye pressures were extremely high at 43 (normal eye pressure ranges from 12 to 22), which Dr. Pulido relieved through a prescription of four eyedrops and a pill. And even though Dr. Pulido was doing everything he and colleagues could to control Madison’s symptoms, the future frightened her family.
“We worried about the unknown,” Tara says. “That was the scary part — is she going to go blind? As a parent, you just want to know what’s wrong. Let’s get this fixed.”