Last Wednesday, I decided to pat myself on the back for having had an interview. So, I went to visit my good friend, YC, for some tennis (lessons) and pool time. We played a little tennis, which really more or less involved me hitting the balls so inaccurately and missing everything she shot at me, that we spent more time picking up balls than really hitting them. But either way you look at it, it’s still a good work out. Haha! Which was really the whole point of the tennis endeavor.
After that, we went to the Stanford Shopping Center and bought sandwiches from La Baguette. Yum! She, then made us some delicious pina coladas (almost virgin) and we decided to head to the tempting, sparkling, deliciously cold pool.
However, the day didn’t quite end the way it gloriously started. In fact, by 3 in the morning, I was sporting this schmancy little bracelet around my arm.
You see, I was diagnosed with Chemical Keratitis. Apparently, those are chemical burns to the corneas. Ooooh…it’s not as BAD as it sounds, especially once you’ve got the right anesthetic eye-numbing drops and vicoden in your system.
But before that, well it’s pretty much like a slow burn in your eyes.
First, it feels like your contacts are rolling up or getting wrinkled in your eye. So you rub your eyelid over your eye to adjust. This doesn’t help. Then, it feels like your contacts are TOO DRY. So you put in eye drops. Visine, Bausch & Lomb, whatever brand eye drops you have handy in your purse or car or jacket pockets…anything…this doesn’t help either.
Then your eyes start to ooze. Yeah, nasty. It’s like eye crud when you wake up, except…uh oozy and slimy. You wipe it off and try more eye drops.
Pretty soon, your vision starts to blur and it becomes a REAL EFFORT to keep your eyelids open. So, you say good night to whomever you were chatting or texting with, they comment that it’s inordinately early (it’s only midnight after all), and you reply with, “My eyes fucking hurt. I need to sleep this off.”
Only, the sweet oblivion of sleep doesn’t take you away from the pain. Instead you toss and turn, you squint, you wiggle your nose, you rub your eyes, you shove your face into your pillow, you pretty much do anything to distract from the growing burning sensation.
You get the fantastic idea (which really turned out to be pretty useful later) to grab an ice pack from the freezer and press it over your eyes. There is maybe a 30 second period of relief before the burning resumes. You arrange and re-arrange the ice pack for about an hour. You sigh over the 30 second pleasure of numbness and grumble over the returning pain.
Pretty soon though, the cold isn’t doing anything for the BURNING in your eyes. You get so desperate that you rush to the bathroom turn the tap on to the coldest it would go and literally pour water into your open eyes. There is momentary relief, but again, it doesn’t last. You keep thinking that you just need to flush whatever is in your eye out. Your head is almost under the faucet you’re trying SO HARD to get more water into your wide open eyes.
It doesn’t work.
Finally, it’s 2 in the morning, it’s been almost 12 hours since you first dunked your head into the pool and opened your eyes to chlorinated water, and you’re on your knees on the bathroom floor and you can’t even cry because your tear ducts are apparently swollen. So instead, your making these pathetic little whimpering-whining noises–the kind that draws your dog over to you to whimper along.
Not to mention that you’re doing all of this in darkness because dear God light hurts. It hurts so bad. There is no sadder picture to be painted.
You finally get off your butt and just face that maybe you gotta go to the hospital. You can barely open your eyes at this point, and what little slit of an opening you can muster is all blurry and incredibly painful.
You nudge your mom awake, and you say, “Mommy (because Mommy is pretty much the greatest indicator that you’re in major pain), if this gets any worse, I might need to go to the ER.”
She stares incredulously, “How much worse does it need to be???”
Apparently, my eyes are puffed out of their sockets, my nose is clogged cuz whatever muscles are attached to my eyes are probably swollen too. My lower lip quivers, “It hurts…”
So finally, off to Kaiser we go. Thank God that it’s only 3 miles down the road. Not so much that my mom and her lack of sense of direction was driving. She kept asking me whether the signs said “ER” or “Entrance” or whatever. I had to remind her that I was practically blind. It was pretty comical, the way we turned around and around, made U-turns, and got into restricted driveways, and ambulance wells before finally getting into the ER. What would have taken 10 minutes probably took 30. The blind leading the blind, pretty much.
In the end, the docs looked at my eyes, declared that my corneas were burned from chlorine, that the chlorine had bonded with my contacts and I should have taken them off right away. That it was surprising I lasted this long when most people would have wound up in the ER by 9pm. That all my rubbing has caused an ulcer (scratch) in my left cornea which has caused the chlorine to infect that even more. That light hurts because it forces my corneas to contract and when they’re burned and swollen, that hurts. The doctor drops some anesthetic eye-numbing drops into my eyes and for the first time in about 5 hours, my eyelids do not fight me to open my eyes.
I get Vicoden and some fancy eye drops that I must put on every 4 hours. I was sent home and the rest is history.
Today, exactly one week later, 3 Vicoden pills (I still have 27 in my bottle, want some? Haha! JK!), lots of eye drops later…I have successfully reintroduced a pair of contacts into my eyes again. No knee-buckling pain, eye burning, or any such painful sensations at all.