Monday, February 18, 2013

Eye brigade #1 in Talanga

I really enjoyed taking this picture. We have our only scheduled eye team this year, from ICO (Illinois College of Optometry) specifically from the FCO (Fellowship of Christian Optometrists) chapter at the school. Valerie is still recuperating at home, so that makes me...gulp...sort of in charge of the students for the week, although she did make her first trip out of the house on Sunday when they arrived to thank them, welcome them, and go over what the week will hold. Our first brigade was today in Talanga. Having the medical brigade there last month, and the broadcast via Channel 15 seems to have increased interest in the eye brigade, because we went way over the 150 patients we promised we could see..a total of 216 by the end of the day. I was a tad busy all day...and was quite busy enough just trying to help in the brigade, but also had to deal with more governmental red tape and problems clearing the latest clothing container out of customs. Ugh...pray that will happen quickly and without further delays, as just for container charges for being late we are going to owe possibly up to $2,000. 

But, I would rather talk about that picture. This little girl did not have glasses before today. She is ten years old, and when I asked how she does in school...even with an indicted 20/100 uncorrected vision, she was getting 90-95% in her grades. She was very polite, very patient while I searched for glasses...and when we found these....a big instant smile. And a bigger smile when she got to see her picture on my phone. Note her outfit...many people, especially those that come from rural areas, wear the very best outfit they have to come to this roving brigade. It is just an eye exam and some used some perhaps, but to many that came today...this was a big deal.
A big deal to get glasses....or to also get some answers. This little girl’s mom was very worried about her blepharospasm (in this case, her eyes would just squint and shut probably once every ten seconds or so.) Mom also wondered if she needed glasses. I got another picture of this little model with her very cool new glasses (if only all the used glasses we have were so stylish!) and got to talk quite a bit with Mom about her concerns, what might be possible causes, and what they should do.

We also saw extremely advanced pterygiums, some seemingly very wrongly botched cataract surgeries (including one on a child with congenital cataracts who was not operated until she was 12) and one man with a chemical burn on his eye. We were able to give instruction, some solutions, some suggestions...but for a few there were no human options to fix what was wrong. There was prayer, and intercession....for the patients and more than a few times for some glasses to just appear that we needed and could not find.

We got a call before we were on our way back about our friend Jorge, who had a foreign body in his right eye (he was welding...without any eye protection...never a good idea.)  Rachel from the group got to remove her first foreign body after we got back. 

Jorge was very grateful. 

The process of removing foreign quite foreign the first time you do it.  The eye's ability to heal is quite remarkable in spite of being poked and prodded with a needle to pry out a very tiny piece of metal. 

Without the clinic and what Valerie does, there are not always good options out the patient in Talanga we saw who had a foreign body for over three weeks.  The pain is quite severe, and to have it for three weeks is not a pleasant thought.  Hopefully he can get to our clinic this week so we can properly remove doing so in brigade settings are less than ideal with the equipment we have on hand. 

I was so excited to see all the students so eager to help every patient the best they could.  I got called over to give some advice to one student only to find her looking so hard to find the perfect prescription that she had not just the three different possibilities we usually suggest...but instead at least eight different possibilities!  That is going the extra mile for sure. 

My personal favorite levity moment of the day was giving a rural farmer the sunglasses he really needed to protect him and his pteryguims from the sunlight and when he puts them on he says increduously "these are too dark!  Do you have any clear sunglasses?"  

This does not adequately show you the massive movement that was going around the inside...and outside!...of the building throughout the day, but just as things were getting started in the morning. 

It was great to see (for us...probably not easily visible in this picture however) that with a small donation for some materials in January that the Church quickly sprang to action to finish all the stucco work on the interior of the Church building!  The next step with another small donation for supplies they want to start to finish and fix up the bathroom, which has been more of a temporary setup since before the building was even finished. 

Off to bed for me....another big brigade day tomorrow!

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