It’s funny isn’t it, how we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. It can be said of so many things… but for the past two days I’ve been without one of those I have always taken for granted. My sight. On Thursday I sat down, as usual to give Bo her lunchtime feed, she reached out for my face, as she normally does. Stroking my cheeks smiling as she pats my mouth… but one wayward finger caught my eye. The pain was instant and excruciating. Now, I know, being poked in the eye isn’t a nice feeling… and so I kept telling myself, it’s OK… it’ll pass. I kept feeding Bo, hoping she would rest those very tired eyes of hers. It wasn’t long after she dropped off to sleep that the pain became unbearable… and there began my 48 hours of darkness.
Within an hour my eye had swollen shut, and the other eye had become so sensitive to light it would barely open. Going out in sympathy perhaps? I don’t know. Whatever was happening it was scary, it was fast and it was very difficult to take care of a baby, when I was feeling my way around and relying on a dull, blurry semi-picture from one squinted eye.
By 5pm we decided it was necessary to take me to a doctor. I was hesitant. But I got on the motorbike, Bo strapped to my front, Husband in the drivers seat. I was scared. It’s one thing to ride around on a motorbike with a baby, it’s another to do it blind. I spent the first half an hour of the trip protecting Bo’s eyes from the dust and imagining terrible motorbike crashes in my mind… crashes in which I couldn’t protect my precious cargo. It was dusk and dust and mosquito’s quickly filled the air. It’s an awful time of night to drive, and even though my husbands eyes would haev been dealing with the discomfort of dust and bugs, he knew better than to complain. We reached the doctors two villages over after half an hour. It was shut. My eyes were getting worse, weeping uncontrollably and my vision was blurred. We decided to head to the next village where we knew there was another night doctor. We drove another half an hour to get there. The first doctor was too full, a sea of twenty or so motorbikes told us we would not be seen that night. So we went further in, in search of another. We found a doctor who had no other patients, go figure, but was having a rest until 7pm. We decided to wait. My eyes began clearing a little in the wait. I could see reasonably well from my good eye, but my bad eye was slightly swollen and I was only just able to force it open. I believed that by the morning everything would be fine.
The doctor had smooth, gentle hands. He examined my eye carefully, telling me to look in different directions. He told me he couldn’t see the source of the problem, that although my eye was red, it should heal quickly. I was relieved and we got on the bike and did the drive home in relative darkness. By the time we crossed the rickety bamboo bridge over the river and into our village… my eye was closing again. I knew it wasn’t good. Bo was restless and hungry and tired. I sang to her through the pain on the back of a motorbike.
I got Bo to sleep and crawled into bed myself around 9pm. The throbbing around my eye was getting more intense, but even that did nothing to hold off sleep. I woke at 11 and then again at 2 to feed Bo. After the 2am feed she was hysterical, not wanting to sleep and not wanting to be held by her daddy… very unlike her in the middle of the night. I felt like someone was drawing rough gravel across my eyeball. I felt nauseous. Bo just wanted me. Sensing my pain I suppose. I sang to her again and the second she hit my arms again she was asleep… and slept the rest of the night in the crook of my arm.
Friday was the worst. I couldn’t open my right damaged eye at all. My left eye, which had not been damaged, was not behaving as it should. It was super sensitive to light, I couldn’t see anything but a hazy blur. We photographed my eye and sent a note to my father, a doctor, for advice. He advised cold compress, tea bags, rest… we weighed up whether or not a trip to the city to visit a hospital was necessary. My whole face throbbed with pain. I was afraid, afraid of the darkness. I couldn’t play with my daughter. I couldn’t see her face, her smile, her eyes. She kept pawing at my face when she lay next to me, calling out to me. I was weak in response. I barely ate. I felt awful. I fell into a painful sleep with her in my arms.
This morning I rose early with Bo, and the pain had been lifted. The hazy cloak that I had been living in was gone. My eye, still red and swollen, opened tentatively. I breathed a sigh of relief. Light is still a bit of a problem… I’m typing this whilst wearing sunglasses (good look, I know)… But we are out of the woods.
Who would have known a tiny wayward finger could do so much damage? It certainly serves as a reminder to appreciate the things we have, the gifts we take for granted… as sensitive as I am to it, I am certainly appreciating the light, and the end of the darkness.