Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Eyes Have it

Hello All!

I am writing this blog post from the Airport in Brussels, Belgium. You might not have been expecting that... neither was eye. So here is what happened:

A few months ago, I started having vision problems in my right eye. I lost much of my visual acuity, more so than my usual extreme near-sightedness (I wear contact lenses). I thought maybe it was just an irritation or a scratch on my eye. It caused me some headaches from squinting all the time, and made some tasks difficult, but I've been able to manage alright.

Then, a few weeks ago, my left eye stated to experience similar symptoms. This got me worried. If my left eye deteriorates like my right eye, I will not be able to drive, read, teach school, or do a host of other things. It was time to go to the eye doc. I went down to Mutengene (a town nearby) where there was an opthalmogist/retinal specialist. I figured he would give me some eyedrops and I would be back up and running in a week or two.

Well, things didn't exactly go according to plan. Instead, after examining my eyes, the doctor told me that I have a retinal detachment in my right eye, and possibly in the left eye as well. This can happen to those who are extremely short-sighted (like me) and a stigmatism (which I have) also increases the likelihood. The doctor said I need to get retinal surgery as soon as possible to stop the deterioration and hopefully restore some of what I've lost.

I was a little shellshocked- from thinking it was a mild infection to hearing that I needed retinal surgery or I could completely lose my vision. I wasn't willing to schedule the surgeon for the next day, as they wanted me to, without talking to some people first.

I consulted with an eye surgeon in the US, explaining my symptoms and the doctor's diagnosis. He concurred that it sounded like retinal detachment. He also suggested that I NOT do surgery in Africa, as it is a very delicate and potentially life-altering surgery. Even in the United States, it sounds like complications are common. This advice, of not getting surgery in Cameroon, was echoed by many, both Cameroonians and others. Medical care in Cameroon leaves something to be desired. My only options then were to just live with my condition, which wasn't advised, as the longer the detachment persists, the more likely the damage becomes worse and irreversible, or else travel to the US for an emergency treatment.

Losing my eyesight would SIGNIFICANTLY impact our ministry in Cameroon, so I made the decision to go to the United States for consultation and consequent treatment.

My consultation book from the eye doc. He recommended creating an encircling band around the detachment to keep it from spreading and to try and reattach it. We will see what they do. 
This was a difficult move, as we are just now down with our first month of school, things have been really progressing, and it wouldn't be possible for my family to come with me for the time being... as Brittney is still teaching the Learning to Read class and Brian and Jael Harris, our coworkers, will be returning in 10 days.

So here I am, on my way to the States. We covet your prayers, as it is a little tough not really knowing how long the treatment and recovery will take and when I will be able to return. If recovery is expected to take a couple of months, my family will need to join me and we will go ahead and do our furlough that we were planning to take in February next year. If I can be done and get back in a month or less, I will just go back. We will hopefully know more in a few days. Please be praying specifically:

1- That I can get good treatment and have a full recovery. Talking to some who have experienced retinal detachment, it is a little frightening. One woman shared that she is not able to fly anymore without her eyes becoming detached again. This would be devastating. Others have said that I might not be able to continue lifting weights... which is a big part of our ministry. I think I would cry if that happened... but in everything God will be praised. Please be praying though. Who knows, it might be a simple matter that is easily resolved.

2- We don't really know how much this will end up costing. We are hoping that insurance will help cover much of the costs, but some expenses, such as plane tickets, were not yet saved for... we were planning on February-March instead of October. Please pray that God will supply.
3- My presence will be missed, but I believe that with the Lord's help, the work will go on. Especially pray for Brittney, as she will be teaching and handling the kids all by herself. Pray for special strength and energy for her. Also pray for all the saints in Cameroon that will need to step up and fill my shoes. I have great confidence in George, Abel, and the others, but their workload is definitely increasing.
4- I am seriously disappointed to not be there when Brian and Jael get back. We have sweet fellowship and partnership with our coworkers, and they have many adjustments to make as they continue to settle into Cameroon, now with a baby as well. Pray for God's strength, wisdom and guidance as they MAY need to fill Brittney and my shoes for several months if we end up needing to take our whole family to the States for our deputations.
I will miss every aspect of our ministry here, but especially teaching my morning devotions to these school kids. I know they will be in capable, loving hands and God will watch over them. 

A lot on this amazing woman's shoulders, but with God, all things are possible. Please keep her in your prayers. Thankfully, she's got her sweet kids to keep her comfort and 
Comfort and reassure her. :D 
Thanks once again for your continued prayer and support. As Brittney said, our life is sometimes crazy and can be intimidating at times. I think though of Paul, who suffered from eye problems, and yet still made a tremendous impact and pray that God can similarly use me no matter the outcome. Thanks all and we will keep you posted as we know more!


  1. God be with you, bro and your family. May you get the best each time and every time. We love you!

  2. Praying for you as well as the family.

  3. praying for a successful surgery and recovery. your family and ministry are in the prayers of the church in Accra always!