How I Broke My Eyeball

7 years ago

I should probably tell you right now that this story is going to be a little bit gross. If you have eyes, and I assume you do, the odds are fairly high that you are going to squinch them shut quite suddenly while reading it, not unlike a man who flinches and subconsciously reaches protectively for his testicles whenever he stumbles across the word "castration." This story has to do with eyes you see, my eyes in particular, and people have sort of a thing about eyes. I have less of a thing about eyes than most -- willingly sticking your finger into them twice a day to add and remove contacts will do that, I guess -- so it's only fair that I warn you, here and now, that maybe you don't want to be eating that bunch of grapes while you read this. Or that bowl of cherry tomatoes.

So one night, I took my contact lenses out while getting ready for bed. Nothing unusual there, but almost immediately after removing the right one, I felt like I had something in my eye. I blinked and blinked, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and still ... ow. It felt like a speck of dust or a fleck of mascara, and so I flushed and flushed and flushed my eye with cold water, periodically peeking up from the faucet to see if the feeling had gone. It didn't go. I flushed some more, flushed for a good twenty minutes probably, and then I consulted Google to see if flushing was actually the right thing to do. It was. So I flushed some more.

Nothing was happening. My eye was now killing me. You know how it is when you've got something stuck in your eye? It feels like a golf ball lodged in there, and half the pain comes from the panic that you can't get it out. Maybe I need to cry, I thought, flush it out the natural way.  So I got into bed, tipped my head back, and tried putting a few drops of those fake tears in my eye. Then I tried thinking of something really sad. "Want to me to to pinch you?" asked Sean, helpfully. "I bet that'll make you cry."

I declined. I put some more drops in. The feeling persisted. "What the hell do I do?" I asked Sean. "Go to the emergency room?" I thought about walking into the emergency room, past the people with the broken legs and the bloody noses, crying to the receptionist that I had something in my eye. I decided not to go to the emergency room. I decided to try to go to sleep instead. All night, I dreamed that something was in my eye, waking up periodically to discover that yep, what do you know, there still was.

In the morning, nothing had changed. What the hell? I thought. I must have some sort of unsinkable BATTLESHIP in my eye. I consulted Dr. Google. Then I consulted his associate, Dr. Twitter. If you've ever wondered whether there's anything more medically unreliable than consulting Dr. Google, I'm here to tell you that yes, consulting Dr. Twitter is that thing. "Eh, you probably got whatever it was out and now it's just scratched," said Dr. Twitter. "Keep flushing with water, wear your glasses, and it'll heal on its own."

Awesome, I thought. But then Dr. Twitter changed his mind. "OH MY GOD, GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW," he bellowed. "THIS SAME THING HAPPENED TO MY FRIEND AND NOW SHE'S BLIND."

It went on like that for an hour or so, half of Twitter all laissez-faire and unconcerned, the other half gloomily predicting my imminent loss of sight.

I wonder if I should go to the eye doctor, I thought. And then: But I don't have an eye doctor.

I did a half-hearted search on Yelp and found one a few blocks from me. She had fifteen 5-star ratings. Good enough for me, I thought. I picked up my phone. I set it back down again. How much will this cost? I thought. Eh, I don't need to go. I'm sure it'll be fine. My eye bugged me all afternoon. I blinked. I flushed. I tried to ignore it.

At three o'clock, my vision started to go blurry. You know, I thought, standing up. I think I will now make an executive decision not to go blind.

There are some things you don't mess around with, I have since decided. Eyes are one. Hearts are another. Your finger hurts? Eh, sure, wait it out. Your eye? Don't take any chances. Don't be a hero.

I called the doctor, who was incredibly kind, and said she could take a look if I dropped by at 5:30pm, when the office closed. I showed up at 5:30pm, convinced I would be laughed out of town for hypochondria, and was taken into the back, where questions were asked, my eye was examined, and the doctor, very matter-of-factedly, proclaimed "Yep, I can see something. I can definitely see something. A very large something, in fact."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well," she said, from behind the enormous machine she was currently using to peer into my brain. "Let's talk about it."

Internet, you know when your skin gets really, really dry? Like, so dry that it starts to blister and crack? My eyeball was that dry. My eyeball had been that dry for a long time, in fact -- for several weeks, actually -- and my contact lens was plastered to it. PLASTERED. So when I pulled my contact lens out of that eye -- that dry, dry eye with all those blistery bits of dry eyeball -- my eye did not like that one bit.


Well, that probably isn't the technical way of putting it. I just sort of irritated all the dry spots, really, so much that they formed one big, nasty, dry, blistery, rough spot on my cornea, which is why it hurt like hell. Basically, my eye needed some chapstick. Or, like, a really good exfoliating treament. Actually, what my eye really needed, said the doctor, was a week without contact lenses, eye drops six to eight times a day, and a follow-up appointment in the morning and a week later. (Sadly, no eyepatch. I know, I was really crossing my fingers too.)  

By the way, remember how I was worried about how much the whole appointment would cost? Remember how it was one of the things that kept me from going? Well, it cost $35. Yep, just $35 -- which included both times I saw the doctor -- and that was without insurance (she didn't take the kind I had). She saw me after-hours, spent at least 45 minutes with me, and was one of the kindest doctors I've ever come across. Sometimes it's the best feeling in the world to find a doctor like that.

After three days, eye was already feeling a whole lot better. My follow-up appointment revealed that my poor cracked eyeball was healing nicely. Apparently, however, the pattern of the dry bits on my corneas is in keeping with a person who SLEEPS WITH THEIR EYES A LITTLE BIT OPEN, which I found to be one of the creepiest things I've ever heard. At the same time, though, I can't help but be just a little bit proud of myself for it: I mean, does that sound like a skill or what? Mark my words, it's going straight on my resume. Hey, never hurts to set yourself apart.


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