Sunday, August 03, 2008

"Jeepers, creepers...

...where'd you get those peepers?" Jeepers Creepers by Louis Armstrong.

So I had an adventure this week. First of all, my new contacts came in (yay!) so I went to pick them up on Tuesday, but as it was a busy day, I didn't have time to bother switching to them yet. I first wore them on Wednesday as I finished up a report for work. It neared three digits (temperature-wise) and yet the cat was ridiculously friendly all day, and sat between my keyboard and me for hours, just panting and sweating (or whatever the cat equivalent to sweat is--just sweating through her little paws, I guess) and being a general nuisance. But she is a doll, and I was leaving soon for school, so I let her stay, and I turned the AC on full blast at us, and I petted her.

That night I went to study with Big Bear at Starbucks, then came home and promptly went to bed to be all set for a day of heavy-duty packing and saying goodbyes to people--and picking up my glasses which I learned were ready to be picked up. It would be nice to be all set so I can relax and just hang out with the family and some friends on Friday, and then just pop out of the driveway Saturday morning. Ha. "The best-laid plans of mice and men..."

So I wake up around 2am and feel like I'm having an allergic reaction to something, which isn't unusual as seasons change. I took an allergy medicine pill, drank some water, blew my nose, and went back to sleep. (As a sidenote--there is simply nothing even remotely in the least romantic about allergies. I can't think of a less attractive attribute than allergies. But I digress.)

Mom woke me up around nine the next morning with the question, "Have you seen the cat this morning?" I say no and she makes noises like she'd like me to help look for her. The cat, that is. So, I arose and noticed that there was a burning, itching, painful sensation in my eyes, and I couldn't really open them. I staggered around for a while, vaguely stuffing my head under beds and behind couches looking for the cat (which I couldn't see) until I finally collapsed in the big green chair in tears because I finally woke up enough to realize I hurt--and worse than that, I couldn't see.

Mom appeared blurrily (in my left eye) and asked what was wrong, and began to comfort me, "It's ok, we'll find the cat." But I wept harder and explained that there was a more selfish reason for my tears, and I told her I couldn't see and my eyes hurt. She had me go wash my eyes out and then she gave me some allergy eye drops (my, how they burned!) and told me to lie down for a while. I did, and every time a light came on my eyes simply burned and throbbed and felt like they were being gouged out. We finally decided (after a phone consultation with Daddy and two friends) that I should go to see someone about my eyes. I watched through a squinted left eye and a tightly-clamped-shut right eye (still seeping many tears, rather involuntarily) as my Mom called the eye doctor and learned that they couldn't possibly see me till at least three that afternoon. She calmly told the receptionist she would take me to the ER before then, and they upped the time to noon. They compromised with Urgent Care, and my eye doctor herself got on the line and asked Mom to bring me by after Urgent Care so she could see if it was something to do with my new contacts or something, and also to pick up my glasses.

So, with eyes closed as much as possible, wearing my ancient glasses (that look something like a mix between Barry Goldwater and a mad scientist and are about a quarter of the strength I actually need) I limped, on my mother's strong arm, into urgent care, where the receptionist calmed all our fears with the soothing necessity of paperwork. I sat in my chair with my eyes closed imagining how life would feel blind, and thinking of the dent this would doubtless put in my career. My great-aunt had once spent a year in a dark room because that was the only way she could keep from going blind. My grandparents both had various eye surgeries--it wasn't looking good (so to speak). I thought of the saying, "boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" and imagined that multiplied by girls who are completely blind. The future seemed bleak, and my reverie was (thankfully!) interrupted by my mother requesting such information as my date-of-birth, social security number, cell number, and other vital statistics required by the medical profession. I am ashamed to say the rest of that eternal five-minutes waiting for the Urgent Care nurse was spent in the black depths of despair.

She finally came and led me to the back, making me pause on the scale, then seating me on first one examining table, then to a more private room, then back out to have a vision test.

"I can't see," I explained, my eyes scrunched shut, her leading me by the hand to a mark on the floor twenty feet from the little vision test sign.

"Uh, huh," she said. "Stand here." She walked over to the sign and pointed at some ridiculously tiny letters near the bottom of the poster. "Close your right eye."

It was already closed tightly, thanks.

I forced my left eye open, since I knew that that was really what she meant, and tried desperately to read the sign. Both because of the pain of opening my eye and because I was wearing glasses that dated back to the time of Herod the Great, I was unable to read more than the third line down.

"T-D-Z" I said.

"Huh uh," she said, and gestured lower on the sign.

"I can't see those--they're totally blurry. These are old glasses," I tried to explain.

"Well, read the highest line you can," she said.

"T-D-Z," I said again.

"No!" she told me, and pointed to the middle letter.

"T-O-Z?" I said.

"That's right!" she seemed immensely relieved. "Now close your left eye."

I knew her real goal was for me to open my right eye, but that seemed very close to impossible. I struggled for a second and blinked open, vaguely catching sight of something that could've been an "E"

"E," I said.

She laughed, "Ha, now seriously."

I blinked again.

"Uh," I said. She seemed to be waiting for something.

"F-P?" I guessed hopefully. That's usually next in the sequence. She sighed heavily and led me back to the examining table in the little private room.

"Good thing someone drove you," she observed, closing the door.

I sat on the table in the little back room and my Mom sat in the chair with her book. She chortled at something in the story and began to read aloud to distract me. About eight chapters later (or maybe it was just ten minutes) the doctor came in. He paused dramatically in the doorway.

"Your eyes suck," he said blandly, and came into the room. My Mother eyed him coldly, and I squinted vaguely.

"Ummmm." I said.

"So, either your glasses really suck or you've suffered acute trauma to your cornea," he settled himself in the swivel chair with his clipboard and pen at the ready, looking at me expectantly.

"My glasses are really old," I said, "but I--"

"So you probably ought to go see an ophthalmologist soon, huh?" he said.

"Well, I usually wear contacts, but--"

"And why aren't you wearing them now?" he interrupted.

"Because my eyes hurt." I said. He seemed to be waiting again. I began to explain, "I think I scratched my eye or got an allergic reaction to something because--"

"Basically," he interrupted again, clearly bored by my narrative, "you're eyes suck, and you've injured one. Where do you go to work?"

"Uhhh," I said. I told I was a student explained about PHC and that it was a new little evangelical (but non-denominational) school and he asked a few questions but never really let me answer any.

"I went to St. John's," he said, and launched into a diatribe about the virtues and vices of that college and it's main campus and the branch in Santa Fe (I put my hand over my right eye as a hint), and then how his major there did not help him get into medical school (I began rubbing my temples), so he had to go to school again for biology to get a science degree (I took my glasses off pointedly) before he could go to medical school. He began describing his medical thesis on cell mutation as my eye, throbbing and burning, began adding a new sort of zinging sensation to the mix. I sort of mumbled something to try to redirect the topic back to my eye, and my mom began to say something beginning, "My daughter..."

"So!" he completed, "Let's have a look at this eye of yours." He pointed to my mom's chair. "I'll need her there," he said to my mom, "You can sit there," he pointed at the examination table. She stood by the wall instead. He set me in the chair and spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to arrange the eye examination machine so I could get my chin into the chin holder and he messed with the focus and the height and the color of light it used, and I sat there with my eye clamped shut while he fiddled. Finally he walked over to the counter and pulled out a little dropper of something. "This'll seep into any abrasions and make it light up like an Elvis poster," he said, gesturing to me to lean my head back so he could stick it in my eye. I did, and I forced my eye open. He dropped it in, and a tower of flame the size of the former Soviet Union shot out of my eye and through the back of my head. Tears began pouring down my cheeks and a sob caught in my throat at the pain.

"This might sting a little," he said.

Eventually he did look in my eye, and find that the right eye had a "pretty deep" corneal abrasion and "several little scratches" off to the side. He thought it was either from my contacts "though, it's odd that it'd be right on the cornea if it's your contacts" or from getting something under my contact or sleeping with something scratchy in my eye.

I went to my eye doctor and she agreed with his assessment of the situation (only it took her about two seconds to look in my eye, and she checked my contacts and said they don't have any rough edges, so it must've been something else) and she told me to not wear my contacts for a week. So, I won't. And I picked up my lovely new glasses, which are red-framed ("the manipulator," according to their label).

So, to finish the story, we never did find the cat. I'm really really afraid she passed away. The trauma of that day kept me from properly adjusting my mind to it yet--I still keep hoping daddy will call and tell us she came home. My eyes are going to be fine, though they're still light sensitive, and I'm on my way back to school.

That's all for today, folks...

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