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13 August 2011

ER Visit

Last night was pretty damn unpleasant.

I've been having a bit of trouble with my left eye recently; it spent a week or so feeling sort of scratchy and irritated, and when it finally started actually hurting and doing occasional unsettling spasm-like things, I decided it was time to go to the doctor. That didn't help much.

It's been better and worse in a seemingly random off-and-on way, and though it was bothering me quite a bit most of the day yesterday, I managed to read a few articles, toss up a couple of blog posts, and read an entire novella (The Life Cycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang; it was a Hugo nominee, and dealt with a lot of interesting ethical concepts that were compelling enough to keep me reading despite not being very character-driven at all, which is my usual preference- so it gets a recommendation, and you can read it online, just follow that link back there). I did all that while rubbing my eye and grumbling quite a lot, and ended up putting in four doses of eye drops, which is substantial given my absurd phobia about anything touching, messing with, or getting near my eye.

About the last hour or so of the day, it started getting markedly worse, so that by the time my boss called to tell me to transfer the phone lines to him and head home a few minutes early- an extra half-hour of relatively cool Friday afternoon, especially with Greg already home for the day, is something to be excited about- I could barely open my eye wide enough to hit the right buttons for the phone transfer, and the locking-up process took me longer than it should have because I was stumbling around half-blind; it hurt too much to open my left eye and felt too weird keeping one eye closed and working with the other. Finally, I called Greg and asked him to come get me because I didn't think I could see well enough to drive. He determined, probably correctly, that that meant I needed to be taken to the Emergency Room rather than home.

That in itself was an odd experience; I spent four or five separate nights at the ER with an Army wife friend and her kids while the guys were deployed this past year, and it felt a little weird being there without her. I texted and told her that, and was half-tempted to ask her to meet us at Denny's for pancakes afterward just for old times' sake. I spent most of the wait time alternately dreading what was to come and sleeping on Greg's shoulder while he read a Neon Genesis Evangelion / Warhammer 40K crossover fanfic (no kidding) on his phone.

I have an absolutely ridiculous but very solid phobia about things touching or getting close to my eyes. It's bad enough that I can't even watch someone pull down their lower eyelid to show me how to put drops in, or adjust their contacts, let alone do those things myself. I can stand in the middle of a dark highway with a total stranger bleeding all over me, or pull a putrescent corpse out of a manure-filled stock pond, no problem, but a simple thing like putting in eye drops or sitting still through an eye exam is completely beyond me.

The first doctor who came in was fairly young, and he seemed like a nice enough and competent enough guy, but he quickly got frustrated with my wild flailing every time he got near my eye. Getting the numbing drops in so he could look at it with the painfully bright light took fifteen minutes or so and multiple tries, and then when he wanted to put some kind of dye on the inside of my lower eyelid (drops of orange fluid on the end of something that looked more like a litmus strip) I wouldn't let him get close enough to try, and every time I tried I couldn't pull my eyelid down far enough and just ended up with orange streaks down my face. I know it was a very simple task and I should have been able to do it, but... there's that thing I have about eyes, and it really was a very crappy experience. He finally left, and a few minutes later we were joined by an older doctor, who had evidently been called in on difficult-patient detail.

His name was Dr. Bass, which makes him the third one of those I've met (I met Institute of Nautical Archaeology founder Dr. George Bass as a grad student, and Body Farm founder Dr. Bill Bass at the opening of a similar facility at Texas State University a few years ago). Heaven forbid that I ever produce offspring, but if I do I'm changing its surname to Bass, because that apparently guarantees success. Then again, sometimes success means having to deal with the crazy lady in the ER in the middle of the night, so maybe it's a mixed blessing.

This guy was much more patient and understanding, and managed to get the eye drops in with much less unpleasantness by having me lay down and close my eyes; the trick then is to drop them onto the closed eyelid and then open the eye very slowly. Worked like a charm, though it turns out I don't do to well at being restrained, either. It took him and Greg both holding me down to pull up my top eyelid and look under it to see if I had somehow gotten something stuck there. That really sucked.

Greg was amazing, though. He sat there and held my hand and talked me through it, and hugged me afterward and reassured me that I did well and everything would be okay and there were chocolate chip pancakes in my future. I think without him they either would have had to knock me out or send me home untreated, most likely the latter.

The end result of all that is that they still have no idea what's actually wrong with my eye, but Dr. Bass sent me home with some antibiotic ointment to try (more icky phobia-challenging things, but he says if I just rub at my closed eye like I normally do when it's irritated, that'll get enough in to do the job; he was very reassuring about it) and a referral to an opthamologist for whatever day I can get in next week.

I came home last night feeling pretty rattled by the whole experience and still mostly unable to open or use my left eye- it felt a lot worse after that numbing stuff wore off- but with some gentle prodding from Greg and his help in getting the laptop set up, I managed to blunder through my Challenge writing; I was touch-typing with my eyes closed, so the end results were pretty messy, and it was all stream-of-consciousness babbling instead of any work on my story, but that's what the site claims those "morning pages" are actually supposed to be in the first place, so I guess I can let myself do that for one night. I had a good excuse, I think.

After that, I pretty much literally passed out, so pancakes didn't happen until this morning. I woke up feeling like absolute shit, but breakfast helped tremendously, though we still came home and both took a nap.

My eye is giving me little twinges now, so if I'm smart I'll quit here and have some tea and throw another dose of that ointment at it. Not that I'm ever that smart.


  1. Feel better Fins' eye! And go you for listening to Greg and the doctor, and go Greg for getting you to go to the doctor! Sorry we missed y'all last weekend.

  2. I'm getting better about my problem that runs along the same lines - watching someone put in contacts now has the horrified fascination of regarding an impending train wreck: my stomach flips over, my respiration heightens, and I feel like I'll pass out or puke, but I just can't stand to look away all the same; instead of the squirmy "DEAR GOD NO I CAN'T LOOK DON'T MAKE ME DON'T MAKE ME AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" reaction that it USED to have. Three years (almost) of putting eyedrops into someone else's eye up to four times a day for sometimes as long as a month as part of one's job sort of helps get one over these fears. That said, I can still totally sympathise. And Greg was totally, awesomely, wonderfully patient with you - I think he and Meg must have some similar genetic makeup to them, because he sounds a lot like her in that respect.
    That said, here's best wishes from both of us that your eye gets better soon!




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