The Eyes Have It

I had a bit ocropped eyesf a scare this past week. The week in general was not great. My husband was away visiting his brother who had had open heart surgery. The DC area experienced one of its “wintry mixes” which means complete and utter chaos on the highways, multiple car pileups in multiple locations, and either a two-hour delay at school or no school at all. I woke up on Monday with a stomach virus and a fever which meant no school for me, two-hour delay or not. I returned to school on Wednesday, feeling poorly still, to give mid-term exams to 8th graders. On Thursday, my “bad” knee was acting up, and to make matters worse, I kept thinking I could see a dark spot on my nose, as though I had dry erase marker on there. On Friday morning, things escalated. I called the eye doctor at my earliest chance.

Friday morning things seemed somewhat blurry in my right eye. I kept cleaning my glasses and rubbing my eye, to no avail. Then I began to see things floating in and out of my peripheral vision in my right eye. Dark, black, feathery things. The eye doctor’s tech said I needed to come in right away, that my eye doctor was leaving at 2:30, and put me on hold for the doctor. This can’t be good was all I could think. The doctor came on and asked what time I could get there. I explained that I was a teacher and that the school day ended at 3:00 pm. I told him I could leave right at 3:00. He said he would wait for me. While nice of him to wait, I took that as a sign that it was some kind of serious problem. A co-worker assured me that she has those “floaters” all the time and that it was nothing serious. I still wasn’t sure, and steadfastly refused to “google” it for fear of seeing something horrifying on the internet.

Long story short, it was not horrifyingly bad news but it would need to be monitored for five to six weeks to ensure that something really bad did not develop. So, I let out a big sigh and tried to calm down. It did make me think about my eyes and their history, however.

My eyes have an interesting history to say the least. When I was six years old, a boy punched me in the left eye by accident, or so my “baby book” recounts. I believe he and another boy were fighting over crayons and I got in the way. Wham! I had to wear an eye patch for several weeks and see an eye specialist in New Orleans until the injury healed.

In high school, I was having trouble reading the board and sometimes my left eye would cross when I was tired or had been reading too long. The eye doctor attributed this to repeated kidney infections with accompanying high fever I had had as a young child and prescribed my first pair of eyeglasses.

During junior year of college the fraternity I served as “little sister” sent me a vase of roses. One of my suitemates bumped my arm holding the vase while I was leaning over to smell them and a piece of the fern in the vase went up under my eye lid and scratched my cornea. The next morning my eye was so swollen I couldn’t open it. My suitemate took me to the health clinic on campus who called my parents immediately to come and take me to the eye doctor. The scratch on my cornea was infected, so along with ointments, eye drops, and antibiotics, another patch! Argh, ship ahoy, mate!

Eventually I migrated to contact lenses and boy, did I love them. My vision was so much better and of course, I felt that I looked better without the glasses. I took great care in cleaning them and monitored my wearing times closely. But, my eye problems did not stop there. While on my very first visit to New York City, I had an interesting encounter with the steel tip of an umbrella. Not just any umbrella, mind you, but the umbrella of Maria Shriver. My friend, Ann, and I were walking down the streets of New York in the rain after a full day of sightseeing, heading back to the apartment we were staying at to change for dinner. It was rush hour and the sidewalks were jammed with people bustling about. Visibility was poor due to the rain and dark skies. The clump of people in front of me stopped short and I didn’t. And, that’s when Maria Shriver’s umbrella poked me in the eye. I screamed and she turned around and when I saw it was her, I screamed again. I had my hand over my eye and she grabbed at it to see if I was bleeding or if maybe my eyeball was missing or something. I assured her I was fine and we parted ways. It was a bit “bloodshot” the next morning but otherwise okay. Later the next day Ann and I were walking up the steps of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to take a look at the lobby and down the steps came Maria Shriver. She actually recognized me and stopped to ask how my eye was.

Marriage, two children, and a very demanding job all followed, and with that, a bit of carelessness in the care and wearing of the contact lenses. One day, I just couldn’t get them in, it simply hurt too much. The eye doctor said that repeatedly wearing contacts too long each day had left little scars on my cornea under my upper eye lids. No more contact lenses for you, he said. I was devastated. It’s my own fault, of course, but I hate wearing glasses, and now there is nothing I can do about it.

Since then the little scars on my cornea have been diagnosed as something slightly different, nodules that will eventually have to be removed. The bottom line is that those nodules and their location eliminate my chance at vision correction via laser surgery. I’m not sure if I would be brave enough for laser surgery, but I don’t like having the option stripped away from me.

Naturally you can imagine my distress this week when I have yet another eye condition to add to my list. No one wants to lose their eyesight, but for someone who reads as much as I do, and who teaches language arts with all those papers to grade, I am thankful this episode wasn’t more serious. My eyeglasses are dreadfully expensive with my three different prescriptions to correct my vision, and they are uncomfortable to wear 24/7, but I am counting my blessings this weekend nonetheless.

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