Board Blog

Board Blog

This blog is written by various COS board members for the members of the society.  You must have an active membership to access the entire article.

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We have all seen them. The patient that could be diagnosed from across the office. Intensely red swollen eyes, profuse tearing, light sensitivity, obviously uncomfortable, ratty tissue or washcloth in their hand constantly dabbing the eyes. They look miserable, and you do not want what they have. Last month we had a number of these patients in our office and despite our usual precautions I became the patient. It started with an irritation and a little redness, but within a few days I felt like those patients looked. I had epidemic keratoconjunctivitis with poor vision, intense chemosis, injection and bilateral limbus-to-limbus corneal infiltrates. Severe. Painful. When my colleagues saw me the exam was met with a uniform “Whoa!”. I had to cancel surgery and clinic and isolate myself from the ones I loved.

I began to experience what it was like to be a patient. One that was incapacitated, helpless, humiliated, and humbled. It was difficult to relinquish control to others who were now giving me advice rather than others seeking mine. I had to set aside my own position and be comfortable in my new one as a patient. Trust. Obey. Pray.

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I've been fortunate to have modeled to me over the years by numerous COS members the practice of praying with patients.  I recall talking with COS member Glen Brindley about this matter one year at an annual meeting.  He said in his early career that it was a rather foreign concept at the time until he heard the founder of COS, J. Lawton Smith, speaking about it at a conference.  Excitedly the next meeting, he reported to J. Lawton that after hearing him speak, he went home and prayed for his patients.  For J. Lawton that answer was not good enough, "You must pray with your patients, not for," he exclaimed.

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We were blessed to have the Ziadat family from Amman, Jordan present in our Portland meeting this year.  Several members got an extra blessing as Dr. Ziadat came to visit their clinics after the meeting.  Recently, I asked Dr. Ziadat to share about the real situation with refugees in his area.  He has shared the following account: 

According to the UNHCR Refugee Agency there are about 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Jordan half of them are actively registered to the agency.  About 60,000 of them live in Azraq camp in the middle of Jordanian desert.  Over half are children. They live in tents and shelters with no electricity or running water. 

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Also in Jordan there are about 200,000 refugees from Iraq and most of them live in Amman and not in camps as they are more capable to afford to live in an expensive capital city. 15% are Christian refugees living in clusters in or around churches getting regular material aid and all kinds of help from local churches.

There are also several thousands of refugees coming from Sudan, Libya and Yemen.

Refugees in Jordan comprises about 30% of the population and make a great strain on the economy, the health care system, the educational institutions, water and electricity supplies. They compete with Jordanians for jobs and have caused a rise in house rental costs. 

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COS Member, Dr. Lowell Gess is a 95 year old ophthalmologist who has served in Sierre Leone for his career at the Kissy Eye Hospital.  We recently have had the privilege of hearing him speak in person to the society at the 2016 AAO prayer breakfast.  Dr. Gess is an inspiration to me in so many ways.  In particular, it has been impressive to see how he has recently traveled multiple times back to Sierre Leone during the ebola crisis in order to support the clinic and staff that he worked with despite the dangers.  In terms of thinking through the real dangers present traveling to Sierre Leone during this dangerous time, he related that he wasn't concerned about these dangers.  He was much more concerned about how he could support those working there in being present and in praying with them.

Here is a picture of Dr. Gess praying for and with his colleagues in Sierre Leone.

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Please enjoy this wonderful video created by Renaud Duval about one of his recent trips to visit Sierre Leone.

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I don't have their picture but I do have their story.

Last week at the hospital in Cotonou, Benin in west Africa we had scheduled 5 patients for cataract surgery.  We don't schedule many because they are just not set up to handle more than a few a day.  This is usually pretty frustrating to me.  But not that day.

Kim runs a small team of day workers from Cotonou who prepare patients for having cataract surgery.  They usually educate about what will happen, what they must do (like hold still!), and what will happen after surgery.  One of the team is a local pastor and that day, he decided he must share his story of following Jesus with these 5 patients.  

 

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