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The eye incident

September 15, 2010

Okay, so this past weekend was Dawn’s company’s annual “management appreciation” weekend in St. Louis.  I’ll spare the details, as that’s not important to this story.  Suffice it to say that this year’s theme was Rock Stars, and I was in an outfit looked like a really bad drag version of Dee Snider.  Didn’t think that was possible, didja?  Well, leave it to me.  Anyway, we get back to our hotel room around 12:30-12:45am, somewhere in that range.  I take my contacts out, wash off my eye makeup (don’t dwell on that- yes, I had eye makeup on, just shut up and keep reading). and eventually fall asleep.

I sleep on my stomach.  That little bit of “who gives a crap” trivia will reveal itself to be pertinent later.

So Sunday morning I wake up to a sensation in both eyes like… like… well, do you remember the scene in Psycho when Martin Balsam’s character got shot in the eye with the spear gun?  Yeah, it was like what I’m guessing that felt like, without the benefit of it going through my brain and killing me instantly like it did him in the movie.  Both eyes were on friggin’ fire and were stinging like crazy.  Not a stinging like “I had my contacts in for nine hours last night when I hadn’t worn them for about a week prior to last night” stinging, not the “I think I have makeup in my eye” stinging, but more like the “somebody poured ammonia into my eyes, lit it on fire, and then is now repeatedly sticking 12-gauge knitting needles into them” stinging.  I could not physiologically open my eyes.  I went into the bathroom and forced my eyelids open and stuck my head under the faucets of both the sink and the bathtub, to no avail.  Shortly after that, Dawn wakes up to find me holding my hands over my eyes in agony, kneeling on the floor.  Her first thought, naturally, was “The dumb ass is hungover”.  Au contraire, mon frere.

I am the type of person that, especially on long drives, MUST be driving.  I am nor ever been a very good passenger.  It’s not a “the guy always drives” thing with me in the least, it’s that I just can’t sit there.  I can’t sleep in a car, I can’t read in a car because the motion while I’m trying to read gives me a migraine, it’s just much easier on me to be driving.  So when less than 5 minutes after waking up that morning, I told Dawn she is driving home, right then she figured out something was really, REALLY wrong.

I told her what I was feeling, and she managed to pry an eye open long enough to look at it.  She said it was completely bloodshot.  So I’m fumbling around pretty much blind trying to get dressed and get stuff packed up so we can get the hell home.  I was walking into stuff, tripping on stuff, and literally playing “Marco Polo” with Dawn in the parking lot to find the car.  We finally get stuff loaded up and ready to go.  We stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast, and then begin the drive home to Springfield from Westport Plaza.  I’m in the passenger seat, writhing and whimpering in pain like the little bitch I am when I’m hurt (I have NO pain tolerance- but I’m at least man enough to admit it) and then, as is too often true to form when I’m a passenger in a vehicle, I start feeling nauseous.  Luckily, Dawn had some plastic bags still in the car from our recent trip to North Carolina, for in case Adam got carsick and horks in the car going through the mountains, like he did on our trip to Colorado in April. So I’m going back and forth between my stabby eyes and my very upset stomach, wondering to which I will succumb first.  Luckily, I never did throw up.  Even if I had, that was pretty much at the bottom of my list of concerns at the time.

We get back into Springfield around 12:30 or 12:45 Sunday afternoon, and Dawn runs me straight to the Wabash Prompt Care.  She ran home and unloaded the car and then came back and was there when I came out.  While I was in there, the doctor put some numbing drops in my eyes (after which I felt like kissing him because it finally got rid of the pain), put some staining drops in my eyes, and then took some little blacklight looking thing and hovered it over my eyes.  He said I had a large abrasion on my left eye, and then said he was going to try to see if he could contact an eye specialist.  After a while he came back in and said he was sending me to Memorial Medical Center’s ER because they were better equipped to deal with this type of eye injury.  So I’m thinking, “what the fuck have I done to myself?!” and I go stumbling out to the waiting room where I meet Dawn and tell her she is taking me to Memorial.  Before we get there, the numbing drops have worn off again, and I’m back to the stinging and inability to open my eyes with which I started the day.

We get to MMC, and as soon as I got checked in, some nice woman I obviously never saw put more numbing drops in my eyes and we go wait in a dark triage room instead of the waiting room with the sun and the bright fluorescent lights.  They took pity on me, I guess.  About 15-20 minutes later, they take me to an exam room in the ER, where three different people wound up taking my vitals and/or asking the same questions.  Oh, how I love hospital procedures. One chick came in and asked, “is there anything I can do for you?”, to which I snapped back, “yeah, you can fix my goddamned eyes”.  She left in a hurry, strangely enough.

So we’re waiting, and we’re waiting, and we’re waiting… AND we’re WAITING.  Finally I said to Dawn, “why don’t you go get the boys from your mom’s, and I’ll call you when I’m done here”.  Ian had piano lessons at 4:30 and, having worked at St. John’s for many years, and also knowing what my friend Kelly’s mom went through waiting in MMC’s ER, and what MY mom went through waiting in St. John’s ER, I was figuring I could be there a while, especially since my eye issue probably wasn’t real high on the ER’s list of things to work on, judging from the poor little child that was just wailing in a room not too far from mine,  Poor little guy.  Anyway, so Dawn left, and about maybe a half hour later or so, the doctor comes in (I know- I was shocked too) and puts more drops in my eyes (I almost kissed her too- and she was hot!), and got her little magic disco light out.  She tells me I have a massive abrasion on my RIGHT eye (note that the guy at Prompt Care said my left eye) and had “four smaller ones” on my left eye.  So she leaves and I go back to lying on the gurney, waiting for the drops to wear off so I can go back to my pain.  So after what could have been anywhere from 45 minutes to, say, maybe 19 hours later (my concept of time was skewed at that moment), she comes back in and tells me that my eye doctor wants to see me at 6:00–not tomorrow morning, but 6:00.  PM.  That night.  Sunday.  And it was about 4:50 or so by that time.  Said he was driving back from Lincoln, IL to have me meet him at his office (which is closed on Sundays).

Did I mention I have the most awesomest eye doctor ever?

In the mean time, he wanted me to have my right eye dilated before I left the ER, and then to have me put this specific solution in both eyes every 5 minutes until I meet him at his office.  So I call Dawn, she’s going to take the boys to my brother’s house after Ian’s piano lesson and then come get me.  A little while later we’re off to the eye doctor’s office (Prairie Eye Center over by Schnucks at Montvale).  So he takes me in, puts another slew of drops into my eyes, shines a bunch of lights into my eyes, and discovered that both eyes have equally sized round abrasions on them.  He had Dawn look at them; she said they looked about the size of a pencil eraser.  His main concern was whether or not they were ulcers, so he wanted me to come back the next morning at 8:00am (normal business hours) so the cornea specialist can look at them if need be, pending how the night goes.  In the mean time, he gave me a handful of 5 or 5 more drops (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, dilators, you name it) and gave a specific rotation how they needed to be administered, every hours, all night long.  Yes, I said ALL NIGHT LONG.

So we get home, and Dawn writes out a schedule of which drop to give at which time.  Naturally, I can’t read the damned bottles, so she has to get up and give me these drops every hour.  So she set a 60-minute timer on the iPhone, and after a while, it became a game to her to see how fast she could get up, get me the eyedrops, reset the timer, and get back to bed.  I think she said her best time was 90 seconds or so.

So Monday morning rolls around, neither of us have really slept at all, and Dawn said my eyes were both really, REALLY swollen.  I felt like I had gotten kicked in the eyes.  Hard.  By something that kicks really really hard.  Dawn’s mom came over about 7:30 to finish getting the boys ready for school and on the bus, and Dawn and I head off back to the eye doctor.

So Dr. B is checking my eyes again, and said that the abrasions are starting to heal a little bit.  So he decides he wants to put bandage contact lenses on them to try to help speed the process.  He puts them in (after a few gallons more drops), and then starts asking questions about what went on the night before this happened.  Was I wearing mt contacts?  For how long?  When was the last time I wore them before that?  When did I open that pair?  Then he asked the magic question:  Had I been drinking that night?

Okay, folks.  To hear Dawn tell the story, you’d have thought I was pissing-on-myself, punching-a-cop, wasted drunk.  The TRUTH is that I had five beers, spaced out over the span of time from 12:30pm until about 10:45pm, not to mention a full lunch and dinner during that span as well.  So yes, I was impaired, but I was not as drunk as certain people may try to convince you I was.  Anyway, bottom line was, I was impaired from alcohol intake, yes.  This meant that my body’s ability to react to certain things was diminished.

Okay, so who remembers the who-gives-a-crap trivia?  That’s right- I’m a stomach sleeper.  I TOLD you that was going to come into play later.

Dr. B’s theory is that, since I am a stomach sleeper, I must have at some point during the night opened my eyes, and pressed them against the pillow.  Well, since I was “impaired” (drunk, shnockered, shitfaced, whatever descriptor you feel you must use), my body was not able to realize that my bare eyes were touching the pillow.  They then must have dried to the pillow, then when I moved again… RRRRIIIIIIIIPPPPP!!  I must have torn the outer layer of my corneas off where they touched the pillow, thus creating the abrasions.  But now here’s the thing- I have woken myself up several times before- naturally, since I wasn’t “wasted” on those nights- because my eyes had opened and my eyeballs brushed against the pillow.  After this little incident, I’m scared to death to go to sleep now.  I don’t sleep well on my back and my hips hurt too much to sleep on my sides.  So I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to do to sleep now.

Anyway, so that night I had to do the antibiotic drops every FOUR hours around the clock (still better than every hour), and we’d reevaluate the next day.  I went to the doctor again yesterday (Tuesday), and he said that the abrasions are healing, just not as quickly as he had hoped.  So he wants me to continue the antibiotic drops (just four times a day and, thankfully, not around the clock), and to come back and see him again tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:45.  He says since it’s not healing as quickly as he wanted, he wants to stay on top of it until it does.  So I may be visiting him every day this week and part of next week, for all I know.

Right now, I’m guessing that in the time between Prompt Care on Sunday and this very moment, I bet I’ve taken well over two hundred eye drops.  I’ll also estimate that my vision is at about 70-75% of what it was before this happened.  The big thing right now is light sensitivity.  Holy CRAP, bright light is killer.  Even now that my eyes really aren’t dilated anymore, the light is still my enemy.  Sunlight, fluorescent lights, even the light from the television bothers me sometimes.  Sometimes it’s so bad I get dizzy (shut up, smart asses).  It’s taken me literally all freakin’ day, off and on, to type this story.  Dr. B. said that the light sensitivity is going to take a while to reduce significantly.  I’m thinking, oh, that’s just emmeffing fantastic.  Dawn is having Tommy John surgery a week from Thursday, and I need to be able to take care of her.  I can’t well do that if I can’t friggin’ see.

Anyway, that’s basically a GIANT long-winded nutshell version of what has happened to me in the last 2-3 days.  I appreciate any well wishes, kind words, thoughts, and prayers that have already been sent, and I will say thank you in advance any others that may come in the future.

I also want to apologize to the unnamed clerk in the ER whose head I chewed off at the shoulder when she asked if she could do anything for me.  I want to say thank you to Dr. Richey at MMC ER, especially for when she called me personally yesterday wanting to know how it turned out and how I’m doing.  And I want to say a big, BIG thank you to the greatest eye doctor in the world, Dr. Blumthal.  Thank you SO much for everything, and for going above and beyond, as the tired cliché goes.  And I’m as bummed as you are that we forgot to get pictures of the abrasions Sunday night for a case file.  :^)

And finally, thanks to any and all of you that lasted through this entire story.  Tolstoy ain’t got nothin’ on me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. SpringfieldZebra permalink
    September 15, 2010 8:55 am


    What a horrendous story, Johann. Get well soon, my man.

    And if you need any help, re., Dawn’s surgery, please call on me. Hey, I owe her big time from the help she gave me after my spinal surgery 12 years ago.

    • September 17, 2010 3:20 pm

      Thanks, Zeeb, but now that I can see again, I think we’ll be okay.

      Provided that, between now and then, I don’t staple my jejunum to a roof joist or something.

      • SpringfieldZebra permalink
        September 18, 2010 7:05 am


  2. November 14, 2010 1:28 pm

    eye doctors are specially helpful whenever you have some eye problems ~`;

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