Earlier this week I woke up and my right eye felt like someone had been taking a nail file to it while I was sleeping. As the day progressed it got worse and by the evening I was pretty much holding my eye closed while I was out with friends because the bright light was making it feel like someone was punching the back of my eye from inside my skull. I thought I would sleep on it and it would heal itself.
Nope. Basically woke up with a tear soaked pillow. Ok, not really, but tears running steadily down the one side of my face. ANY light I looked into made my eye throb. I tried to look at my phone but even that caused achy pains inside my head and tears in my eyes. Walked outside into the early overcast morning with my sunglasses on cuz otherwise I’d just be squinting and tripping over things. Naturally the girls were wondering why I was wearing my sunglasses at 7am. I told them my eye was paining and showed them the bright red mess inside my eye. And repeatedly they responded with giggles. Uh…thanks? So compassionate.
I went to the clinic nearby as soon as it opened. I walked there with one eye closed, without my contacts in or glasses on because it was too painful to go without sunglasses. I learned that with one eye your depth perception is off. Which is inconvenient when the walk to the clinic involves scaling a small rocky formation and over a few precariously placed rocks in a small polluted creek. I didn’t fall in, thankfully, but I did look slightly drunk and off balance probably to the 10 kids I encountered. Whoops.
At the clinic the Dr. didn’t even look in my eye. Said it was a bacterial infection and gave me 3 medicines and then (I found out later) charged me 4x the normal rate. Being dubious of all the medicines I just started using the eye drops and my eye is on the mend.
But, for an entire day I couldn’t really look at a computer without pain. I couldn’t focus my eyes to read or to write for more than 2 minutes. I couldn’t focus on the beads without a headache. And certain things I couldn’t do because I had to keep my sunglasses on until dusk. A couple of times I wondered (because you never know what germs and ailments and other crazy things are lurking around) what if this was serious and I was going to lose my vision and then, omg!, what would I do if I couldn’t see or read or paint or bead?! The crazy would pass, I knew I was being ridiculous, but it did make me ponder. People who don’t have the things I take for granted. Even living so close to extreme poverty I still take so much for granted.
My vision is returning to normal which is a huge relief. I still can’t wear my contacts, and need to wear sunglasses when I go out, so that means no glasses. But I ventured to the market today and going to the market in a blurry world is less scary than I thought it would be. I feel like there is probably some lesson in that, but I’m not thinking that deeply at the moment.
And this long story about my wonky eye was supposed to be a segue into keeping vision for my life and work here. So, uh, segue.
It’s been a rough last two weeks or so with the girls. They’ve been tough. I need a break (I’m taking a long weekend away for Thanksgiving next week. Yes!) But, there have been moments of sweet goodness that help me keep on and not throw in the towel. Like, there is a 5 year old who is super oppositional defiant and tells me at least once a week that God is going to curse me. This is in response to things like me not letting her in the dorm when she’s not supposed to be there or making her go eat her lunch or taking needles that she’s found. One morning this week when I was on duty she came next to me and laid her head in my lap and had a doze. So she may hate me most of the time, but she feels safe with me! This feels like a victory some how.
Another girl who is one of the most demanding, rude, and wounded children I’ve ever encountered asked me for help with her beading project and not only said please, also said THANK YOU completely unprompted after I helped her. I was so excited I may have given her a hug and scared her a little bit with my enthusiasm.
Yesterday I was getting the girls to sign for their money for the ones who’d had items purchased. They were talking about the money they were accumulating in their savings and one of the girls said, “Auntie, you should keep some of our money.” I thought she meant I should hold on to it for them, which I’m already doing. Then she explained that I should keep some of the money from the things they’re selling because I taught them and because I am selling it for them. My heart was warmed and there may have been another over enthusiastic hug from me and another slightly alarmed child.
Thankful for recovering vision in my eye and enough small encouragements to help keep my vision for life in Juba strong.