Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WARNING: Eyeballs and Metal Objects Do Not Go Together

I've been told I have an eye for detail. Well, recently I took that to a whole new level.

This past Friday, I was walking down 36th Street toward my office building. It was some time in the afternoon, and I had just picked up lunch -- Taco Bell in fact -- and, to be quite honest, was pretty excited about the prospect of consuming it upon my return to work. A couple blocks away from my office, I felt something in my left eye. I blinked a few times to try to get it out. That didn't work, so I lightly tugged at my eyelashes, hoping to force out whatever was intruding. That didn't work either, but the pain wasn't that bad...more of a nuisance really. I went into my office and flushed my eye with warm water. Didn't go away. I flushed it again, same result. Oh well, I figured it would just clear up soon enough. Taco Bell time!!

By the time I'd finished lunch, my eye was in a miserable amount of pain and discomfort. I asked around my office to see if anyone had any eye drops, but the only thing available was contact lense solution. Good enough I guess. The moment liquid touched membrane however, I felt as though someone had jabbed a pin into my eye! Needless to say, the last couple of hours at work were pretty unbearable, as 99 percent of my job is done in front of a computer screen.

On the way home from work, my eye was so sensitive that I could barely keep it open. Any wind or light would instantly make it tear up. I couldn't read on the subway ride home either and could only stand with my eyes closed, trying not to look as though I was crying. Falling asleep that night took forever due to the stabbing pain I felt every time I closed my eyes. Finally, I fell asleep from exhaustion, only to wake up in the early morning with the same stabbing pain. As Saturday turned into Sunday, the pain lessened, and I had hoped that one more day would produce a full recovery. On Monday morning, I woke up and felt no pain. I blinked several times and announced to my wife Tara that I was healed. As I made my way over to the closet, the pain suddenly came shooting back into my eye. I briefly looked around my bedroom for miniature snipers, and finding none, I called the eye doctor.

I was a little on edge as to why my eye wasn't healing after three days, so Tara graciously agreed to come with me to the eye doctor. When I got there, I told the doctor that I was pretty sure I'd gotten out whatever was in there after numerous amounts of warm water flushing and eye drops over the weekend. Surely, I thought -- as did the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- "tis but a scratch!" The doctor put my head in front of this big weird eye-viewing gadget, took one look at my eye and said, "Oh yeah, there's something in there...looks like a metallic object of some kind, and it's starting to rust."

Now, I appreciate and respect the work that doctors do, and yes, I came to this person so that I could find out why my eye was in such pain, but allow me a moment of some friggin' honesty here! If I was able to pick the doctor's precise reaction upon first glancing into my eye, those exact words would most likely be at or near the very bottom of the list. In fact, I don't think they'd make the list. They would be banned from any possibility of making the list!!

Naturally, I followed up this most intriguing declaration by asking how this foreign object was to be removed from its happy little nesting place. "We just take it out." came the easy-as-pie reply. Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I have learned that one doesn't just take things out of the eye as one might, for example, take something out of one's hair or perhaps out of the fridge. I asked, hoping against hope, if this removal procedure was to be accomplished through the aid of some sort of powerful eye drops. The reply rang hollow in my ears: "No, we have to go in and scrape it out."

I looked over at my wife and thanked her for being there. Yes boys, this is yet another classic example of why women are the tougher gender.

Three minutes later, the moment of truth arrived. The doctor numbed my eye, darkened the room, had me rest my chin and forehead on the aforementioned eye-viewing device, and went in with her little spear. Heart pounding through my chest. Breath coming in short little gasps. Why did I have to get Taco Bell that previous Friday?!

But you know what? I didn't feel a thing. And thankfully, due to the bright light shining directly into my left eye, I really didn't see a thing either. All I could do was stare at a specific point on the wall with my right eye until the doctor was done about a minute later. But what a long minute it was! I was then given antibiotic eye drops, told to go home and rest, and to come back the next morning to be evaluated.

When I went back in on Tuesday morning, my eye felt a heck of a lot better and I was ready for a quick check-in-check-out procedure.

If only life were that easy.

The doctor told me that a small "rust ring" had come to the surface of my eye -- something she had anticipated -- and said that she wanted to just go ahead and remove it. Lovely! Well, thankfully round two of eye vs. medical spear went just as smoothly as round one the previous day. Sitting in front of a computer for the rest of the day at work was a bit of a drag and caused my eye to feel a bit tense, but after going home and resting my eyes, I felt a lot better.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with my eye feeling 100 percent better. I went in for my follow-up-to-the-follow-up appointment and was given a clean bill of health. I was told there was a tiny trace fragment left, but that it wouldn't cause any problems. Plus, people live with bullets and all sorts of fragments in their bodies, so why not a little rusty metal in the eye? Should be something fun to tell the grandkids.

I hope we've all learned the moral of this story: don't walk an extra two blocks to Taco Bell when there's a perfectly good food truck in front of your office!