Late Wednesday afternoon, I woke up from a nap, put in my contacts, and felt something under my left eyelid. For the life of me, I couldn’t get it out. Rolling the eyelid didn’t work. Moving the contact around in hopes of dislodging the offending lash or particle didn’t work. Eye rinse didn’t work. Shower didn’t work. Holding my eyeball open under the faucet didn’t work. Nothing worked, but I found that leaving my contact in reduced the irritation slightly. I assumed that meant that there was a particle, a lash, or a scratch or a scar on my eyelid, and that my contact blocked it from touching my eyeball directly. I was sort-of-right.
I’ve had a broken toe, a twice-broken finger, deep gashes on my hands from art-class accidents with paper cutters and linoleum knives, and all kinds of aggravating aches and pains and tweaks from 30 years of soccer. I’ve sliced my tongue on a broken tooth. I’ve had boiling water poured on me, which grafted my shirt to my skin. I burned my hands on a wood stove, badly enough that I couldn’t use them for weeks and my three-year-old handprints are still on that stove. I’ve suffered acid burns. I’ve suffered caustic burns. I’ve had concussions. I’ve been stabbed*. I’ve been shot**. I was nearly suffocated by an out-of-control tugger while nearly being impaled on the axle of a giant spool of cloth behind me. And yet none of those pains matched that induced by whatever-it-was under my eyelid that I just couldn’t get out.
It was the most maddening sensation I’ve ever felt. I couldn’t get to sleep. I felt like Poe’s narrator and the old man with the vulture eye, and if I could have made it stop by dismembering myself and nailing myself under the floorboards, I would’ve.
Okay, that might be overstating it… but I did sterilize the ice cream scoop in case worse came to worst. Twas a shame I’d be losing my good eye.
I think I managed to get two hours of sleep that night, and woke up with my eye virtually sealed shut. I drove to school the next day, which was foolish– not the school part, but the driving part. Good thing everyone got out of my way in time. As soon as I got to work, I knocked on every door in the science wing, looking for an emergency eye wash. It helped a teensy bit. I suffered mightily throughout the day, high-tailed it to the eye doctor after work, prayed that I’d get there before the doctors went home, and practiced cursing them out if they left before I arrived.
The doctor put some stuff in my eye, had a look under a bluish light, and told me I had a corneal abrasion. Whatever relief the contact lens provided was due to the lens protecting the abrasion from the eyelid. He dilated my pupil and put some drops in my eye, which eased the pain tremendously. He wrote me a prescription for antibiotic drops to be administered hourly, and told me to check back the next day and the day after that.
Departing his office with virtually no pain in my eye was bliss, until I got outside. I’ve had my eyes dilated before, but apparently not like this. Right (normal) eye: blue, peaceful skies after a storm had cleared. Left (treated) eye: Hiroshima.
I slept like a log that night and woke up refreshed. Checked my eyeball in the mirror, and found that it was still dilated. Not nearly as red as it had been, and essentially pain-free, but freakishly dilated. That afternoon, the doctor assured me that that was normal.
Two more visits to the doctor, and everything appears to be all set. My pupils are normal again, and my eye feels fine, though not quite totally normal: I still have to magnify the text on this page to read it. I can’t wait for them to invent functioning prosthetic eyes, so if this ever happens again I can just pluck out my old eyeballs and implant new ones.
* On accident. With an X-ACTO knife.
** Not really.