Strange times these – somewhere in Mayheya Pradesh on a tiger safari, I developed an irritation in my left eye, nothing serious or so I thought. Some minor headaches, redness and it kind of died down after a few days. Then in Agra (Taj Mahal) it popped up again – figured I’d get it checked out in Delhi perhaps, not many other options I was in the mind to explore.
3 or 4 days later we reached Delhi, excited to be in a big city for the first time in almost 2 months, we checked into a nicer hotel intent on re-stocking supplies and reacquainting ourselves with some creature comforts. Second day in though and my eye starts going nuts; full-on migraines whenever I am exposed to the sun or bright lights and the redness spread to my right eye as well. Tricky situation really – an acute light sensitivity is no way to operate in a strange city and I was forced to confine myself to the recesses of a dark Delhi hotel room – windows covered, lights off.
After a day of no improvement, we tracked down an ophthalmologist at the Apollo Hospital in Delhi. Just getting there, a 40 minute rickshaw ride through hectic traffic with me mostly blind; head wrapped up in protective sunglasses and a scarf was an interesting adventure in itself. But thankfully the trepidation I had about dealing with hospitals in India was quickly balanced out by a professional, cheap, but confusingly efficient process. In a country of more than a billion people, I guess you should expect hospitals to operate on overdrive. Mild Conjunctivitis was the quick diagnosis though – a bagful of drugs was subscribed and I was away.
A day later though and nothing had changed, the doc told me otherwise, so I waited it out – hiding in my dark hotel room; saved from craziness by the strange comfort of being able to listen to the test cricket back in Australia live on TV (it still hurt to watch). Megumi had to sate her tourist limbo with some free range roaming of the coffee shops around Pharganj and occasionally fetching me some food. 2 more days & things had actually somehow gotten worse, pressure was building up now so back to hospital we went. A new Doc, lots more tests and a different diagnosis. This time it was Uveitis – a lot more serious apparently as it required twice the handful of drugs. Thankfully this time though the drugs took affect immediately and by the next day I could interact with the world again (sunglasses firmly in place of course) and start catching up on our Delhi explorations – albeit with cloudy vision from the drugs and sporting one freaky engorged, dilated pupil.
Since then I have been enjoying a different kind of India and terrorising the locals with my wild, deranged, pupil look. Most people don’t really notice what it is about me – but the beggars, touts & sadhu’s are now all keeping their distance. On closer study no-one wants to deal with the ‘half deranged, high foreign guy’, whose left eye is slightly crazier than theirs and can’t seem to focus.
The infection, you see is a bit of a mystery. They are not sure how you get it and no-one seems to know how long it lasts – 8-10 weeks, 1 year? Google for once has been unable to provide any real clarity in the form of self diagnosis? All I do know is that I need to keep taking these steroid eye drops 6 times a day and if I stop it will likely reappear. For the moment though, I am quite enjoying it. Having a little more personal space in India is quite the luxury and combined with an enforced, extended break from using the computer (sorry all), there is actually some upside, truth be told. Perhaps there is a divine purpose here after all….. 😉