Friday, December 01, 2006

a whole lot about my eyeballs that you probably never wanted to know

In case you were wondering, it turns out that getting two liters of saline solution dripped into your pried-open eyeballs-- *drip... drip... drip*-- at two in the morning is even less fun that it sounds.

If you can imagine such a thing.

I'd wanted a chance to hate my new optometrist since I first visited him three weeks ago and he literally wagged his elderly, wrinkled finger in my face as he lectured me on my improper lens care regimen. He also stuck the same wrinkled finger in my eye to take out my contact lenses, even as I squawked "Um, can I do that?! I hate having people touch my eyes!" Of course he didn't stop as he rasped "Young lady, I've been doing this for fifty years, I think I can manage."


If you want me to hate your guts, calling me "young lady" is a fantastic way to get the ball rolling.

He gave me a new lens cleaning solution, and I tried it for the first time on Monday night. Around lunchtime on Tuesday I noticed that things were looking decidedly fuzzy, as if my office had become the set for a Barbara Walters special. By my 3:30 meeting with my boss, her boss and all of the deans at the Education Corporation, I was on the verge of tears from the stinging pain in my eyes. I spent the meeting darting my eyes at whatever dark surfaces I could find (table! blackboard! shadow under the table! gah, not the computer screen, owowowowowow!), trying desperately not to start sobbing in front of all the VIPs. I mean, I cared about the subject matter of the meeting, but so much that I'd weep over it.

By the time I got home, it was bad. Like, "unable to see out of my right eye and can't stop crying" bad. I took out my contacts and called the friend I was supposed to shoot pool with to cancel, thinking that the whole "unable to see..." thing might hurt my game. I spent the next few hours gnashing my teeth, popping Aleve, going through two rolls of toilet paper in lieu of Kleenex and yes, crying.

When 9:00 rolled around, it got worse. My right eye had completely swollen shut, the left one was on it's way to join the right one, and I was sitting in the dark in my apartment, surrounded by a pile of snotty toilet paper and a very confused Sadie, who didn't understand why Mommy had just kicked her. I was so sensitive to light that the glow from my cell phone was incredibly painful as I called my boss to let her know that, um, I might not be in tomorrow and then called my friend B to bring me whatever anti-allergy meds she had in her apartment.

B, being the amazing friend that she is, padded right over, took one look at me and almost instantly agreed that I should go to the ER. She guided me into the car, helped me fill out the paperwork when we go to the ER and since the act of rolling my eyes was enough to send me into screaming fits of pain, she did it for me when the night clerk asked me to sign off on the forms. Because, y'know, when you CAN'T SEE ANYTHING AT ALL, that is the PERFECT time to go back and re-initial medical paperwork.

I was worried that I was overreacting by wanting to head there, but that worry was dispatched fairly quickly, right about when the ER doctor on call used the words "severe reaction" and "I'm going to get my attending." I may not know a lot about medicine, but I've watched enough episodes of Scrubs to know that the phrase "I'm going to get my attending" almost never means something good is going on.

I'm condensing for the sake of brevity; by the time the attending came, B and I had been at the ER for over three hours. The attending decided that they were going to flush out my eyes with saline solution, and I asked B to take the car and her poor tired self home before they wheeled me away to a brightly lit corner of the ER to drip fluid onto my eyeballs for ten minutes. Not surprisingly, she agreed fairly quickly.

Thus began the flushing of the eyes. They set up an IV line on my nose with a hole over each eye, and instructed me to keep my eyes open for as long as possible. Now, I am a well-reknowned wuss when it comes to pain and all medical procedures, but PEOPLE, this was Chinese water torture on my EYEBALLS. In a BRIGHTLY LIT ROOM. With EXTRA blaring in the background. Because the only way to make the procedure worse was to perform it to a soundtrack of MARK MCGRATH YAMMERING ABOUT BRITNEY SPEARS' EXPOSED LADYBITS.

At least, I thought that was the only way to make it worse until it didn't work, and they had to repeat the entire thing again an hour later.

I'm really not ready to discuss that part.

By 4 AM I'd regained enough sight to pour myself into a cab, collapse, and sleep like the dead until my alarm went off at 8:00. I managed to wake myself up enough to call the hospital's optometrist, who asked me a series of questions about my ability to focus my eyes and be exposed to light. I was somewhat bereft when I found that I was unable to do either. Actually I was incredibly fucking angry and freaked out, but doesn't "bereft" sound more polite?

Tonight is the first occasion since Tuesday evening that I've been able to look at a computer screen, watch TV or go out in the sunlight without LITERALLY blinding myself. Let me tell you, it's a darn pleasant change. I had really missed that whole "sight" thing. Plus, you cannot believe how incredibly boring being blind is, especially when the rest of you feel physically fine. Not being allowed to watch TV, use my computer or read for two days has made me so stir crazy that last night I stumbled over to an exhausted B's house to coerce her into conversation as she tried to pass out in front of the TV. Of course, I did walk into a fencepost on the way home, which I think was God's way of telling me "Um, EJ, if you can't focus your eyes then maybe you shouldn't be out and about in the world."

But on the upside, now I don't feel the least bit guilty for wishing very bad things on my optometrist.


E :) said...

Oh no! That's terrible. I hope the eyes are much better now. Bloody optometrist.

The only experiences with blindness I've ever had is when I've had my eyes tested. I have to get this solution in them which stops them from focussing. I can't see for about eight hours after each time. And once I had really bad conjunctivitis which closed my eyes over. It sucks! Thankfully never had any allergic reactions like that though.

Get well!

Hey Pretty said...

That's wretched, poor EJ. I hope you're feeling better. I had something wrong with one of my eyes once, and it totally f-ed me up for a week. My perception of reality was all off, I was convinced I was going insanse. It sucked. I feel your pain.