Tuesday, February 7, 2012

When an eye exam is not just an eye exam

A long day, Valerie sits down and tells me about the few patients she saw this morning before leaving for Bible study.  She promised to see no more than two...a third was walking up, but lived close enough they could come instead tomorrow (she is not scheduled to see any patients on Tuesdays.) 

Soon...a 26 year old woman made her way in the crowd...with a huge, huge black eye.

Patient number 3. 

Yes...huge should be there twice...Valerie repeated the word with emphasis describing it to me. 

At first she tip toed around the reason and instead Valerie asked her basic questions about health, about how long ago she got the black eye, if everything else with her vision/eyes was normal, making sure there was no other damage, etc. 

But it was indeed spousal abuse. Her husband is from Teguc, but she is from Santa Barbara. 

When Valerie asked her to read the letters on the chart came the next big surprise...."oh no, I have never been able to see well, I can't see any of those."

26 years old...never had an eye exam, and turns out she is a -13.00 in her right eye and -9.00 in her left.  For those that don't speak optometry lingo...she couldn't read the big E on the chart....in other words, she needs glasses...desperately.  Corrected...she will be 20/40. 

She was...pleasantly surprised to be able to get glasses.  That is putting it mildly.  We will be able to get the lenses for her from another ministry in the US that helps us with such cases (www.godseyes.biz)

Valerie prayed for her about her living situation, and beyond.  She is staying with someone in her husband's family right now, but is preparing to head back to Santa Barbara...with their two young kids, to get away from him. 

The clinic work...is not just an easy "exam process" for the doctors, staff or patients.  I am not sure I can really describe what it is like to walk into that situation day after day.  The only weak analogy that comes to mind as I sit here to write is like walking into the ocean.

As you walk along the shore, get your feet wet, venture in...you see the beauty, how it all comes together, the clear water.  But if you let your eyes wander or stop paying attention...it will knock you around fairly quick. 

I pray God continues to guide the staff and volunteers at the clinic, strengthening them from the waves that can bring focus to what they are doing, but be overwhelming also.  Peace, His words, His actions....for His glory.