A story about glaucoma: feeling the anointing
Explore a compelling story about glaucoma, faith, and family dynamics in this deeply personal narrative. Journey through the protagonist's experiences with a glaucoma diagnosis, unconventional treatments, and dramatic religious healings, revealing insights into belief, desperation, and the human spirit.
“I had always assumed I went blind for a reason beyond human control, so what was the point in trying to overthrow the Creator's grand design?” ©bymandesigns / Adobe Stock
Feeling the anointing
“Y3 dede (make some noise), y3 dede, y3 dede….It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle! Somebody scream!!!”
“Ushers, grab the mother away…Grab her...Good...Good. Everyone calm down...Now, the last question... how many fingers am I holding?”
When I woke up today, of all the things I had thought I’d be doing, faking healing was not on my to-do list. And yet here I was- in front of a crowd of five hundred or so people with a million-dollar question to answer - knowing fully well the only way this was going to end was with me lying with my eyes wide open. Now, I imagine that you’re confused, so let me give a bit of context for how I landed in this mess in the first place: my mother is a chronic church hopper, though not by choice.
This habit of hers began after I was diagnosed with Glaucoma in 2006; the doctor told me I had about 2 weeks left to see and my left pupil had moved from the center of my eye to the corner. I ended up going partially blind a few weeks later. And while that was an interesting time (mainly due to the fact that I became the human equivalent of a badger mole), I bring it up because of how it gave members of my family newly defined job titles. My grandmother, father, and aunties became self-appointed doctors, prescribing carrot concoctions that were good for the eyes one day and sketchy yeast powders that cured blindness the next. Sometimes, they’d blame my TV-watching for my loss of vision. I would have almost believed their daily diagnoses if they had actually gone to medical school at some point in their lives. They had barely completed high school.
While the rest of my family clung to fake science during this period, my mother dove right into religion for a cure, but in her own special way. Anyone who knows my mother knows one thing for sure: when I say special, I really mean exceptionally dramatic. My mother, Sade (pronounced Sha-adey), is a woman born for drama. Her whole existence - how she walked, talked, even breathed - screamed melodramatic telenovela energy. Sis could have been starring in Nollywood movies, but instead she made the world her stage and ran with it. If that wasn’t enough, I was always a forced front-row audience member in her real-world shenanigans. I’d never forget that day outside the doctor’s office when I was sitting on the side, casually minding my business while the doctor predicted that I was going to go blind. Sade’s first reaction to the news was to dramatically grasp her chest, gasp like she was the lead in an Oscar-nominated performance before proceeding to...roll on the floor… continuously and hysterically like the poor doctor owed her money. Seven-year-old me was just puzzled, lollipop in hand, while this middle-aged woman cosplayed as a human football. Internally, I was like “Huh? I am the one going blind. Madam, chill”. But that was Sade for you, and that day in the doctor’s office wasn’t the last of my mother’s theatrics. Now combining her flair for melodrama with religious fanaticism was like adding Mentos to a bottle of Coca Cola: a mess all round. The greatest manifestation of this was when we began church hopping for a miracle, or better yet when my mother went church hopping and I just happened to be forced into the mix.
“Sade kept our church visits on the down low since she believed the more people knew of our mission, the less likely a miracle was going to happen.”
The first time Sade pulled me along, I honestly thought we were going on vacation so I was in for a big shock when the destination of our two-hour taxi ride was an open pasture with almost no housing, in the middle of nowhere. If I didn’t know Sade was my biological mother, I almost thought I was being trafficked or she was pulling an Abraham. The biblical kind. After ten minutes of awkward silence where I ran through a thousand escape plans in my head, an unknown man popped out of some shrubs and took us to a rundown mud thatched house which honestly kept worsening my trafficking suspicions. We were led indoors and the man locked the door before searching for something in the corner of the room. It definitely did not look like a good sign but my mother seemed calm so I kept my anxiety to myself. In the midst of panicking about whether my subscription to life was going to expire some time soon, the man found what he was looking for and walked towards me with a bottle of strange yellow liquid. He opened the bottle… I stilled…he poured the liquid on his palm…reached for my forehead…and then began to pray while tossing my head around until it became clear I was here to see a pastor, though I got more of a headache than a healing, if I’m being honest.
That shady first visit opened up a new reality for me. One where my mother would take me to churches and I’d go no question asked. By the time I was ten, I’d been to more churches than the number of years I’d spent on Earth. I’d also built a routine for how our church-cations would go: my mother would first find a charismatic pastor on TV. She’d watch this pastor’s station for a few weeks to see if they were legit (her scam radar was broken for sure because she always ended up picking the sketchiest people). Then, she'd plan a secret out-of-town “trip” with me where I’d drop everything (including school) and follow her. Sade kept our church visits on the down low since she believed the more people knew of our mission, the less likely a miracle was going to happen. We’d show up to a dingy, remote settlement built by the pastor for people coming from all over the country for a miracle. Staying in these settlements often lasted a week. My lot during that time was to stay quiet, line up, get shoved around during prayer, and leave before the next person in line was towed to the pastor. If I got healed during the session - which had never happened - it was expected that I’d come with my mother a day or two later to give my testimony, but usually not within the same-day’s service. This was what I grew to expect of all my church visits until the day we went to a church that didn’t play fair.
“For a few seconds after that slam, I couldn’t tell if an eclipse of the sun happened or if I had temporarily lost the ability to hear or see. All I knew was that I was going to go totally blind first, before anything else, by the time this healing ended.”
Right off the bat, I should have known this church would be different by how disorganized the services were. Instead of a fixed structure of preaching, healing, and testimony past churches used, services in this place were more open-ended. The first two days of sermon consisted of very short Bible teachings that would end suddenly because the pastor received a “vision”. With extra pizzazz, he would reveal his received prophecy to the crowd for someone who fit the description to show up for prayers. His visions were often vague enough to always have someone fit the bill. Vision tellings were also accompanied by a hype man who screamed and made sound effects with the microphone to drum up the atmosphere. By the fourth day, it was clear to me that this “Man of God” probably decided service by throwing a random pair of dice when he woke up.
On the sixth day, however, the pastor decided to spice things up with an out-of-the-blue healing session for the sick. So, those with any form of disease were arranged to the front of the church auditorium for prayers to begin. My enthusiastic mother who had been waiting for this moment pushed me to the stage where I lined up with other sickly looking people. The pastor began to lay his hands on each person starting from one end of the line. In half an hour, it was soon my turn and I prepared myself for the usual shoving and a bit of screaming before I got to return to my seat. I knew the drill well enough. Or at least I thought I did. The pastor approached, his sweaty hand speeding for my eyes. And then, a moist whack strong enough to move mountains was all I felt.
For a few seconds after that slam, I couldn’t tell if an eclipse of the sun happened or if I had temporarily lost the ability to hear or see. All I knew was that I was going to go totally blind first, before anything else, by the time this healing ended. I wasn’t given enough time to prepare myself or recover my senses before another slap hit me. At this point, it was clear that whatever was happening was uncharted territory and I had to deal with it. I struggled to open my eyes so I could be prepared for any sudden attacks. An usher removed my glasses, leaving my face with ample surface area for future slaps to hit home more. When my hearing returned, the first thing my ears registered were screams of “Be healed in the name of Jesus! Out in the name of Jesus!”. After every scream came a slap. This time, I knew better than to stand still waiting for a beating.
The next few minutes were a repeated cycle of dodging, “Out in the name of JesusI”, and ushers rushing to hold me down so my healing went more smoothly. To the outside world, it probably looked like whatever demon was supposed to be causing my partial blindness was being exorcised while I was twisting and writhing away. So, the pastor applied more strength to the slaps. It was tiny me against two ushers and a screaming pastor and I had already decided after a few minutes that the battle was no longer mine to fight.
In the middle of my existential crisis, an usher shoved a microphone in my face. The pastor’s voice rang throughout the auditorium, “Can you see?” And on the inside, I fought the urge to scream “No I cannot! Thank you very much for asking, considering how you slapped my remaining eyesight away.” Instead, I opted for staying silent. The microphone went away and the slaps continued. Of course with more intense “Out in the name of Jesus!” Then the mic made a return. “Can you see?” Nobody had to tell me twice this time. I responded enthusiastically. “YES! YES!” The designated hype man started to scream in reply to my answer, “Y3 dede! Y3 dede! Y3 dede!” In between the applause from the church, cheering, and the drummer going ham on the drums in celebration, the pastor asked a follow-up question: what is the color of my shirt? This was a much quicker one to answer. My eyesight was bad but not terrible enough to not see color, even without my glasses. I squinted for a bit. “Red?” The cheers returned, letting me know I had answered correctly.
At this point, I was feeling fairly untouchable. It seemed like I had single handedly managed to lie my way out of a beating-healing and it felt like the world was truly an oyster, my oyster. Who were Megamind, the Joker, and Lex Luthor in front of my genius? My mother ran towards the stage, wrapping me in a suffocating hug, but I honestly didn't mind because my brain was floating on clouds of relief, excitement, and a whole lot of ego. If my life were a movie, I think this would have been the part where the theme music played while I heroically walked off into the sunset like the main character. Except I had forgotten with my life being a comedy, there was no way I should have expected any moment of coolness.
“I had always assumed I went blind for a reason beyond human control, so what was the point in trying to overthrow the Creator's grand design?”
The pastor humbled me pretty quickly with the next question: how many fingers am I holding? I heard this sentence and I knew the gig was up. Context alert: the best my vision goes is being able to recognize color. While with my glasses I can do things like count or read, I still rely on being super close to things to be able to see them a bit clearly. And now this “Man of God” standing a far, far distance from me was asking me to count his fingers…without my glasses? That would have been the true miracle. I desperately prayed for the ground to swallow me while I thought of what to say, but considering how firm the floor was, my wish wasn't going to happen anytime soon. I'd already gone too far enough to turn back, so I decided to give the next answer my best attempt: by lying obviously. The choice now was to pick a number between one and five that felt like it could be the right one. Which number sounded like it could be the number? Number one didn't feel cool enough. Two was close enough but was it the winning number? It didn't feel like it. Three? Three! The more I said three in my head, the more it just felt, like it made sense. Three, three, three. I went for three.
The church was silent for what felt like an eternity. Time ticked slowly in between me panicking as to whether I had messed up big time. Five hundred or so people not making a sound while I sweated like a pig going to the slaughter. And then, the loudest screams I've ever heard filled the church. My guess was right. I don't remember much after, probably because I blacked out after all the pressure I had been under. When I finally recovered, my mother and I were standing at the bus station some hours later, waiting for boarding time. In the period I had been mentally absent, she had managed to call all the millions of relatives we had to announce that I had regained my ability to see. A part of me wanted to tell her that I hadn't, but I also wasn't ready for that conversation (and the possible beating I'd get for lying) just yet. I figured she'd find out later anyways when she was calm enough to realize I was still blind as a bat.
Our bus started boarding soon after and set off, aggressively overtaking other vehicles on the highway. Even though I could barely see past my fingers (Sade refused to give me back my glasses), I looked out of the open window at the blur of vehicles we passed by. Each vehicle reminded me of myself: slow and moving at my pace on the road called life only to be hurried out of my lane by bigger, more aggressive road occupants - in this case, my mother. And how it was always Go, go, go! with no space for my input when it came to our dynamic. Go to this church, go see this pastor, go get your healing. Never Price, go at your own speed. Do you want to go to this church? Or the most important of all questions, Do you even want a healing? And to be fair, I didn't. I had always assumed I went blind for a reason beyond human control, so what was the point in trying to overthrow the Creator's grand design? My mother never agreed with my views on faith, and though I'd always muddled along to each service because I had no choice, faking a healing this time was the straw that broke the camel's back. And the straws had certainly piled up over the years. I never wanted to show up at any religious establishment Sade picked ever again. Right as I was in my feelings, Drake-style, my mother cut my musings short.
"What does the billboard outside say?"
"I don't know, the bus was too fast."
"Okay. What about the next one?"
"Maa, I'm tired. I want to sleep."
Granted, it had been a long and eventful day, but was I truly sleepy? No. Was I going to stay awake to quicken the process of my mother finding out I couldn't see? Also no. I leaned on the bus window and closed my eyes in preparation for my pretend nap. The bus kept swerving and swooshing, making it hard to keep up my fake sleeping, especially with each knock of my head on the window as the driver switched lanes. The same head recovering from a post-healing headache. "It would be nice if I never have to sit in one of these buses again", I thought. And if wishes were horses, I'd own a stable. Two months later, we were on a similar bus on our way to the next church.
This article - A story about glaucoma: feeling the anointing - was previously published on WellSpringsWord and is republished here with the author's kind permission.