I love living in PNG! I love the villages and the kids! I love bringing medicine to remote areas, but life isn’t always that great…
I mostly tend to write about all the good things I see, hear and like, but I do realize that I’m giving you a biased perspective. So this post won’t be as happy and full of life. It’ll be a glimpse of what happened to me on IPHC outreach this year.
So the first time it happened, I was in Popondetta, meeting with the Provincial Health Office, and trying to sort out the details of our upcoming and urgent patrol to respond to a Pertussis (Whooping Cough) outbreak. My right eye was irritated, even painful… not pleasant, I thought I just had to get my contacts out! I put my sunglasses on as soon as I could, and it felt better, but I definitely slept the whole way home. In the evening I removed my contacts and tried to wash out my eye… but nothing took the pain away.
I thought the next morning would be better… but unfortunately not. I woke up with a massive pain in my eye. I looked for my phone to see the time but the brightness of the screen was just too much to handle! I had to wear my sunglasses, in the dark, to look at my phone or to use my torch! By daylight I had to hide in the dark and wear sunglasses. We decided that it’d be better for me not to go to clinic that day. Naomi (my other staff) took our team to clinic. I felt so useless! I was thinking… I have only one day to get better, because I cannot not go on patrol! I slept all day and all night… and was better the next day :)
Had it been finished… I would have forgotten about it and enjoyed the rest of outreach. But NO! It happened three more times!
The worst of all was when we were in Kokoda! Kokoda is my place, and my dream! I feel drawn to bring medicine to remote areas and I love to hike. So to be sick and completely useless when it’s all happening was just too much to bear.
I had a really rough day. I woke up with pain under my eyelid and feared the worse! I turned off my alarm and winced in pain at the sight of the light. I tried to find my sunglasses and walked to the toilet. Tested my eye out a bit. I was supposed to go to the market at 6am, but Naomi saw that I was wearing my sunglasses. I was determined to make it to the market and back to prove myself that I could bear it and see despite my extreme photosensitivity and excruciating pain. But Naomi saw right through me, sent me to bed and went to the market for me. I prayed so hard that my eye would get better in the hour, but it didn’t. By the time Naomi came back, I couldn’t even open my left eye without causing pain to my right. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere at all that day.
I went to bed curled into a ball and cried. I hadn’t cried in a while (well, not true, since the last time my eye acted up..!) This time though, it wasn’t as much from the physical pain, but from the emotional wreck that I was not being able to do what I knew I was meant to do! My heart ached to go but was trapped inside the house and this momentary blindness crippled me inside out.