Danielle Crull runs her own practice as an optician. Located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, she routinely sees some of the smallest patients who have the biggest needs. You see, she specializes in helping babies and toddlers, as well as other young children, who have severe eye issues. Many of them who come to her office were born with such serious congenital issues that their vision has been compromised. Even for the fortunate ones who have an opportunity to achieve relatively normal vision, the entire experience of gong to the doctor can be extremely traumatic. That fact is true for a lot of people, but even more so for these young patients. In addition to their age, the majority of them have already undergone countless surgeries and other treatments for their vision problems. To make matters even more challenging, a number of them have additional congenital abnormalities, meaning that they are often shuffled from one doctor appointment to the next. Undergoing this many appointments can be challenging for an adult to handle. Imagine what it feels like to be a child who isn’t even old enough to go to school yet. Fortunately, Crull’s patients have something going for them that most people can only dream of – Truffles the cat.
Taking the Fear Out of Going to the Eye Doctor
Truffles is not just any cat. She was rescued by Crull about four years ago when the eye specialist was out for a walk in the woods. She found the cat, lost and in need of care, so she took her in. The two became fast friends and they have been helping each other ever since. That fact alone would make Truffles special, but there’s more. The fluffy little cat goes to work with Crull. She often senses when one of Crull’s patients is especially nervous and comes out of the back so she can provide the type of comfort that only comes with unconditional love. There is something else that makes Truffles special. She likes to wear her own glasses. According to Crull, she has more than twenty pairs of glasses, some of them with patches over one side. This is not just a gimmick. Crull says that she will come out and ask for the glasses to be placed on her, almost always in the presence of a scared child who is struggling with the idea of wearing glasses themselves. Crull says that if it weren’t for Truffles, many of her patients would not be able to cope with their appointments, not to mention the treatments that they are often forced to endure.
There is no doubt that Truffles the cat has become synonymous with Crull’s office. In fact, she has helped countless numbers of young patients find the courage to get through whatever challenges might be facing them. She often comes strolling through the office in glasses that make her look like she just came from an Elton John concert, and she rocks those glasses just as well as he does. When the children see this sweet kitty wearing glasses, they are often inspired to try on their own. Crull says that even the kids who are the most afraid seem to immediately calm down when they find out that Truffles is there. As a matter of fact, the special cat has gained so much popularity that she now has her very own website. The website tells her story and often intertwines the stories of young children who have been helped by Truffles (with their permission, of course). There are pictures of her showcasing a number of different pairs of glasses. The website even has a store where people can purchase merchandise. All of this has a purpose that goes far beyond Crull’s office. She and Truffles have been working in conjunction with some of the patients in order to raise both money and awareness for various eye conditions. The majority of the money from the website, as well as additional funds that are raised with various fundraisers throughout the year, are donated to a regional hospital in the area that specializes in both eye diseases and other congenital defects that many of these same children struggle with. According to Crull, a number of her own patients were helped by this same hospital. That makes her and the families of her patients feel intensely connected to the hospital. As such, they work hard to raise as much money as possible throughout the year in order to support the hospital’s efforts.
Spreading the Word
Truffles has become so popular that she even has her very own presence on YouTube. Crull jokingly comments that you really know you’ve made it when you start getting views on YouTube. All joking aside, she is immensely grateful for this special little cat who seems to know when children need a little extra help. She says that she has spent more than half an hour trying to comfort children in her office in the past, to no avail. However, those same children catch sight of Truffles, and they stop crying and start laughing. Truffles even wears special glasses with a patch over one side to help make children who have to wear patches feel more comfortable. All the while, the two of them are also raising awareness for the condition that is treated in this manner, amblyopia. Crull says it’s important to raise awareness about the condition because it can often be corrected with patches when children are still young. However, if they don’t receive treatment early on, surgery may be the only option to correct the condition. Crull says that Truffles has completely changed the way she practices, all for the better. She loves seeing children light up when Truffles walks into the room. Even more, she loves how Truffles instinctively knows when to make one of her special appearances, not to mention the genuinely touching relationships she has developed with many of Crull’s patients.