You are here
Andrea goes blind in the blink of an eye
Four days after walking out of a vehicular accident unhurt, 17-year-old Andrea Nicholas went blind. It was the last thing Nicholas’ mother, Althea Pascall-Nicholas, a former journalist, expected.
On December 29, 2012, Pascall-Nicholas received a phone call that the private taxi that her daughter was travelling in had collided with another vehicle at Morvant Junction. “No mother wants to hear that their child was involved in a head-on collision,” said Pascall-Nicholas of Simeon Street, Cumana, last Thursday, close to tears.
Pascall-Nicholas said her fears were eventually relieved when she was told her child and the two other passengers had walked out of the car without a scratch. Within hours of the accident, however, Nicholas, a graduate of the Keshorn Walcott Secondary School, who had high hopes of pursuing a minor in music at the University of the Southern Caribbean, St Joseph, started to complain of head, neck, chest and back pains.
Realising that something was wrong, Pascall-Nicholas took her daughter to the Toco Health Facility where she was given an injection. “The pain did not go entirely...it just subsided.”
On January 2, the family was awakened by Nicholas’ piercing screams. “That’s when we discovered that Andrea had suddenly lost her vision. It was hard to believe that one minute she had her sight and then in the blink of an eye it was gone. The incident has turned the family upside down.”
Pascall-Nicholas said she returned to the Toco Health Facility but was referred to the Sangre Grande Hospital, where several CT scans showed that nothing was wrong. At the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), MRI scans taken at the neurology department also showed there was no swelling or bleeding in the brain. Nicholas was eventually referred to the ophthalmology department, where she was seen by four doctors who could not detect what was causing the blindness.
Dissatisfied with the hospital’s diagnosis, the Cumana Seventh-Day Adventist Church, of which the family are members, pitched in and paid for Nicholas’ X-ray at a private facility in Arima. The X-ray revealed there was compression of the neck bones. The church also raised funds for the teenager to see a private neurosurgeon who recommended that she get a visual evoked potential (VEP) test done at the EWMSC to help determine what may be causing the changes in her vision.
However, when Pascall-Nicholas, a mother of five, returned to the EWMSC, she was told that the machine, the only one in the country, had not been functioning. Pascall-Nicholas said while millions of dollars were being spent on elections and contracts “our healthcare system leaves much to be desired. For a country that is so rich in natural resources it’s a shame that people still have to suffer for proper healthcare. This is unacceptable.” Pascall-Nicholas said villagers, friends, family, non-governmental organisations and the church had gone all out to raise funds to send her daughter abroad for medical attention.
Nicholas: God is probably testing my faith
Though Andrea still can’t find her way around their humble home, she lives with the hope that one day she will see again. “I am not going to give up. God is probably testing my faith. One thing for sure, it has brought our family and community closer together,” she said.
Khan in the dark... Govt to buy new machine soon
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan on Tuesday said nobody told him the machine was not in working order. “I suggest that you call chairman (Shehenaz) Mohammed. Something has to be done about this.” Mohammed, the chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority, admitted that the machine had not been working for the past two years. “These things did not happen under my time,” she added.
She said tenders had gone out, evaluated and approved for the purchase of a new machine. Mohammed said the new machine including other pieces of the equipment is costing $1.4 million. She said she would raise the issue at Tuesday’s board meeting with the hope of rectifying the problem as soon as possible.
What is a visual evoked potential? (VEP)
A visual evoked potential is an evoked potential caused by a visual stimulus, such as an alternating checkerboard pattern on a computer screen. Responses are recorded from electrodes that are placed on the back of your head and are observed as a reading on an electroencephalogram (EEG). These responses usually originate from the occipital cortex, the area of the brain involved in receiving and interpreting visual signals.
When is the VEP used?
A doctor may recommend that you go for a VEP test when you are experiencing changes in your vision that can be due to problems along the pathways of certain nerves. Some of these symptoms may include:
• loss of vision (this can be painful or non-painful)
• double vision
• blurred vision
• flashing lights
• alterations in colour vision
• weakness of the eyes, arms or legs.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.