Friday, July 14, 2006

The Complete Story of the Worst Birthday Ever

I should have known that my dangerous cats-and-books lifestyle would catch up with me eventually. Here's what happened: Yesterday morning, I was awakened by the sound of a cat up on the headboard of my bed doing... something. I don't know what, exactly; it sounded like he was chewing on some papers up there. After a minute or two, I muzzily raised my face to see what the hell he was up to and yell at him to cut it out... And at the exact instant I did so, the large, heavy book I'd left there after last night's bedtime reading came plummeting down at me, and one corner hit me, hard, in the left eye. May I just say: Ow.

Once the initial surge of agonizing pain had passed and I was able to note with relief that at least I could still see, I stumbled into the bathroom to assess the damage. This was not as easy as you might think. To begin with, my eyes are bad enough, even without having suffered major trauma, that in order to examine my own eye without the distorting effect of my glasses in the way, I have to be within about two inches of the mirror. This can make it slightly difficult to answer big-picture questions like, "Is there any swelling?" (I won't keep you in suspense: there wasn't.) Things were further complicated by the fact that the light in there seemed uncomfortably bright, long after I would have expected my eyes to adapt after emerging from the dimness of the bedroom... which in itself should have been a clue that something was wrong. Adding to all of this was the fact that I happen to have the world's biggest eye squick. Even thinking the words "eye" and "injury" in the same sentence makes me feel kind of woozy, and I had an interesting moment where I realized that, no, those little black dots moving in my visual field were not symptoms of injury, they were signs that I was in immediate danger of fainting and should really go and lie down for a moment.

Then, just to add injury to injury, when I got up again without taking the time to dress and staggered into the computer room to google on "eye injury" (as one does), I walked directly into a bookcase -- doubtless due to the fact that I had a hand over my injured eye -- and bruised a sensitive part of my anatomy. Sigh.

Anyway, the visual inspection (pun semi-intended) was actually pretty reassuring: I could still see as well as usual, not that that's saying much, and there wasn't any blood gushing out of my eye or anything. But both google and the sundry medical books I happen to own were pretty insistent about the fact that eye injuries ought not to be shrugged off, which certainly tallied with the urgings of common sense. Plus, even though I was not blind, gushing blood, or still in terrible pain, the light sensitivity, the bloodshot spots in my eyeball, and the fact that I did have this annoying feeling of the kind you get when there's something stuck under your eyelid all convinced me that I hadn't exactly escaped without injury. So I went to the emergency room.

The folks in the emergency room, of course, told me that, yep, I'd scratched the shit out of my eye. Well, that's the translation into layman's terms. What the guy actually said was, "Holy cow, that's a lot of corneal abrasion!" Which made me feel all kinds of reassured. Anwyay, between long periods of apparently forgetting I existed, they gave me all kinds of eye drops, and flashed lights in my face, and gave me an eye-chart test (which I don't think I exactly passed, given that my vision doesn't quite correct to 20-20, but I guess I did well enough). Then they told me they were going to give me an eyepatch, which I thought might be cool and piratical, but which turned out to be a dorky-looking white pad, with an optional (but useful) Ace bandage over it which covered half my head and made me look as if I'd just gone nine rounds with a rhinoceros. Then they told me to go home and go to bed.

"But I just got up!" I said. "And I'm supposed to go to work at--"

"No. We'll write you a note." And, I'll tell ya, that was a serious "no." I haven't heard a "no" like that since I moved out of my mother's house. "Go home and go to bed," she said. And then, almost offhandedly, "Don't read or watch TV. It'll make the eye move." What? NOOOOOOOO! Talk about my own personal hell! But she was right... For once, pain was behaving itself and performing exactly the function it's supposed to perform: if I didn't move the eye, it didn't hurt. If I did, boy did I feel it. And as it generally did start fluttering if I tried to read for more than a minute or two at most, I actually found it reasonably easy to obey medical advice.

So, that's what I did on my 35th birthday. I got poked in the eye, I went to the emergency room, then I lay in a darkened room all day with my eyes shut. And may I just say: thank all that is good in the universe that I had a shedload of podcasts on my iPod that I hadn't gotten around to listening to yet. Remind me to go and make a donation to Escape Pod. I'm fairly certain it was responsible for saving my sanity.

Anyway, they told me these things usually heal up in 24 hours, that I could take the eye patch off then, and to see a doctor if it wasn't better. Fortunately, it was, indeed, noticeably better when I woke up this morning. The pain-on-movement had been replaced with a mildly annoying itching, and I was actually having trouble keeping the eye closed under the patch when the night before it had wanted nothing more than to stay happily shut.

So, I now have my depth perception back. Yay! As well as the pain, the light-sensitivity thing is also gone. There is still a slight something-in-my-eye feeling, but it's definitely better than it was, so unless it gets worse for some reason, I think I'm going to go in to work today, rather than to the doctor.

Thanks to all who sent "Happy Birthday"s and other good wishes, and here's hoping all of you had a better day than I did!


  1. Wow. I guess it's nothing but light, soft, paperbacks for bedtime reading from now on...

    Sorry your birthday sucked so much, but glad your eye's doing better.

  2. Nah, I'm just gonna be much, much more careful about placement. :)

    Thanks for the sympathy. It really could have been a lot worse, though, I guess.

  3. So, the old saying is true. Turning 35 is better than a poke in the eye :)

    Glad you're doing better

  4. Doing both at once really sucks, though. :)

  5. Turning 60 is a poke in the arse! SO THERE!

  6. My 35th b-day last year sucked horribly too.
    Happy belated birthday Betty, all the best.

  7. Good grief, I hope they're not all like that! And thanks.