Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An EYE for an EYE

Well, it’s been a little quiet on the blog front this month. Part of that is because I haven’t been able to see. Literally.  Several weeks ago I went to bed….like I do every night.  When I woke up I could feel that my left eye felt dry and was a little sensitive to the light. This isn’t the first time this has happened so I didn’t think much of it and headed off to work.  As the day progressed, my eye started getting worse and worse.  It didn’t help that that day, of all days, when I was now struggling to keep my eye open due to the light sensitivity that I had the worst. Labor. Patient. Ever. 

Now I’ve never been in labor.  So there’s no way that I can fully empathize with the pain that you ladies are going through. And Sierra Leonean pregnant women, I’m with you! When you’re crying in pain and the men around you tell you you just have to “bear” the pain, I want to slug them right along with you. But this particular woman took the cake for most dramatic labor to date.  At one point I walked in the labor room and she was STANDING on the labor bed (which is much higher than a normal bed AND HAS WHEELS!! Even if they’re locked, they still move a little).  Up to that point I’d been the picture of compassion and patience  so I think it startled her when I very sternly and loudly said: YOU SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW!!  She was on her best behavior. For about three minutes.  Then
it was back to screaming, pulling IV’s out, etc. 

And my eye! My stupid eye was getting worse and worse.  I was working a double shift that day and by the time the OR team got there for this patients c-section (she wouldn’t stop pushing so everything got really swollen and the baby started getting in trouble) I could barely see.  One of my beloved friends who’s always looking out for me called the night shift nurse to come early and as soon as I caught the baby, I went home. 
Attractive.....I know
The next morning I woke up and couldn’t open my eye. Thank you Jesus we have a new doctor that had arrived the week before and as soon as he saw me he said that I had an ulcer on my cornea.  When we were discussing treatment options, he told me that if I was in his ER in the States, he would send me straight to an ophthalmologist.  Well, not so much an option here.  He started me on some antibiotic ointment and we decided we’d watch it.  One of the kickers was that my friend was getting married in a few days and I REALLY wanted to be there for it! Since I didn’t know any ophthalmologists in Freetown, I decided to just stay in my village and see. My mom wasn’t thrilled about that. :) 

I was putting the ointment in for a day or so and went to see the doctor’s wife to talk about a little bridal shindig for my friend.  The doctor happened to be there and when he saw my eye he was….concerned. Apparently it looked way worse. I couldn’t really tell because I literally couldn’t open the eye, which made it really hard to open my other eye so had basically sat on my couch for the last day, listening to movies.  When he asked me to count his fingers, I couldn’t. I could see his hand waving, but my vision was bad enough that I couldn’t distinguish how many fingers he was holding up. Shoot. I’d thought it was because of the ointment I was putting in, but apparently not.  Now it seemed like it might be a little more serious. 

Fortunately I have some great friends and a great God!  My in country director e-mailed an ophthalmologist that used to work here but has since returned to the UK.  He ended up calling me that night and after discussing everything with him put me on an antibiotic regimen of eye drops every 30 minutes for 2 days.  Then I decreased it a little bit. He also gave me the name of an ophthalmologist from the States who was working in Freetown!!  I did the drops as prescribed, got to see my friend get married, and then headed down to Freetown to see the eye guy. 

When I saw him that morning, he said that I was pretty lucky. Apparently these things can ulcerate and perforate the eye (put a hole in it) within 48 hours. Ummm….scary.  He said that it had headed that way, but that it was starting to heal.  Unfortunately it’s going to take months to fully heal and he said I may never get all of my vision back.  Right now my vision in my left eye is about what it is when I’m not wearing my glasses.  But I’m SO thankful for how things turned out!! It’s been several weeks now and my eye still bothers me, especially in the bright sun, but it could have been so much worse!!  And I was so blessed to have my awesome roommate Valentina who was there to take care of Marie when I was sitting on the couch like a lump for several days.  Vale, you're awesome....and missed!!!! :)

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