Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Brown Eyes

Today I witnessed something truly incredible. One of my patients had come several months ago to the Africa Mercy for a tumour on her jaw to be removed. At that time we were able to replace her jaw with a metal plate and remove the whole tumour. She was very thankful, but also asked about her left eye which was scarred, blind and eyelid mostly closed.  She said something had happened to it when she was two years old and it had been scarred like that ever since. Unfortunately we had to say sorry, there was nothing we could do to help.
A few days ago this young lady returned to the ward for follow up surgery; a bone graft from her hip to the metal plate in her jaw to strengthen it.
This morning as the doctors and I did the morning rounds, one doctor suggested that we could ask the current eye surgeon take a look at her eye, just in case there was something we could do. A few hours later this surgeon came in to see her. Much to our amazement and delight, he said he could probably find a prosthetic eye for her!
So this afternoon I took her down to the eye room and to find her an eye!
She sat in the green, dental-like chair, gripping my hand, ready for whatever came. On the first trial the prosthesis was two big, causing my poor patient much pain- my arm felt the squeezes- as her eye poured tears. So the eye surgeon removed it and looked for a smaller match. He had a box of glass eyes, ready and waiting for patients like her. We just had to find one that fit!
The second prosthesis slipped into her eye with little discomfort. After a few squeezes of the eyelids to see that it would stay in place, it was a perfect fit and match to her other eye!
The next step was one that would change her life forever- looking in the mirror. As soon as it was placed in front of her face, it lit up with amazement. The tears began to freely fall. She looked up at me, still clinging with her arms wrapped around my waist, with two beautiful brown eyes. Two beautiful brown eyes for the first time in 21 years.  Her face said, I can't believe it's real! I can't believe this just happened.
She clung to me, from that green chair, no longer from pain but from the joy bubbling out from within. She stayed there a few minutes looking up at me and then down at the mirror, a permanent smile weaved across her face, joy sparkling from her eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Trying to put myself in her place -- the joy in finally having a whole appearance that matches the inside of how she feels. Incredible!! What a moment for her, and for you to be able to share with her.



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