Sunday, March 18, 2012

An eye for an eye and everyone shall be blind

The house looks like it has been broken into by a junkie. First aid kits in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are strewn across the floor, cupboards are wide open and draws pulled out in the hunt for a fast fix. Plastic wrappers and empty canisters are spread haphazardly from one end of the house to the other, while puddles of strange liquids mingle with crumbs of chocolate on the lounge room floor…

Yesterday I nearly blinded myself. Who knew a daily task as simple as putting contact lenses in after a morning shower could turn so deadly? OK, well maybe not “deadly” as such… but it was excruciatingly painful and incredibly scary.

In a traumatic turn of events I managed to bleach my eyeball with un-neutralised hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution. As soon as I shoved the first lens into my eye it felt as if I’d had boiling water thrown into my face. A terrified scream rose up through my throat as I desperately tried to splash fresh water on my eye and keep it open wide enough to retrieve the lens which had suctioned perfectly onto my eyeball. I fell to the floor and grabbed at my face, screaming and crying hysterically. The pain was agonising. I couldn’t even swear! I just moaned and squawked until I could get the lens out, while attempts to soothe the burn with cold water were fruitless.

ST had left at dawn to help muster at his parent’s place, so I phoned my parents in Queensland, thinking mum, a nurse, would know the next step. Mum and Dad phoned ST’s parents but there was no answer. Mum then called the poisons information hotline, who said I should get to a doctor to see if any permanent damage was done.

“Who else is nearby that could come to you or get a hold of ST?” Mum asked. I gave her the numbers of all my neighbours and anyone I could think of who had a Royal Flying Doctor medical chest, and Dad set about calling everyone in the area… no one answered.

I was still holding my head under the cold tap and crying in pain between phone calls to Mum. Knowing that our tap water is dam water, Mum suggested I use rainwater to clean my eye properly. Staggering into the kitchen, pots and pans crashed across the floor as I tried to find a container to decant some rainwater into to bathe my face. Water splashed along the table and I dropped my towel to clean it up… realising for the first time that I still hadn’t dressed from my shower.

“Do you have any eye drops or saline solution?” Mum asked through the phone.

I tipped the contents of every medical kit and toiletries bag onto the ground and came up with nothing. Everything was a blur. I couldn’t tell bandages from alcohol swabs or saline solution from cough medicine. I was carrying a saucepan of rainwater around with me through the house, dipping my head in at every chance, spilling water over every surface.

Mum rang the Royal Flying Doctor Service who told her to tell me to call them. I rang the Broken Hill base and burst into fresh tears as the gently spoken Doctor tried to calm me over the phone.

“You will be OK Bessie. It’s OK, you will be OK. Don’t worry…” he placated. “Do you have a Flying Doctor medical chest?”

“No! I don’t have one and I’ve tried ringing all my neighbours who do have them and no one is answering…” a frog climbed up my throat and began wailing in pain.

“OK, do you have any eye drops at all, anything you usually use for your contacts or for dry eyes?"

“I thought I did but I can’t find them! I’ve looked everywhere and I don’t know whether I’ve just used them all and run out, or put them somewhere I can’t remember…”

“OK, don’t worry. As long as you have rinsed it with water for at least 20 minutes it will eventually stop hurting. What you need to do is keep it moist. It shouldn’t cause any permanent damage, but it would be good if you could find some eye drops, or get some things from an RFDS kit…”

Explaining that ST was out mustering at a property which had a kit, the Doctor reassured me that it would be fine to get him to bring them home with him at the end of the day. But the pain was so great, I wanted relief immediately. I phoned his parent’s place again and left a message… dressed clumsily and lay back on the couch with an ice pack pressed to my eye.

In a last ditch effort I continued the blind search for some eye drops. Success! Behind a year’s worth of skin lotions in the bathroom! Reclining on the couch I emptied half a dozen of those miniature eye drop packets onto my face; none of the liquid made it into my eye. I curled up again with the ice pack held firm into the eye socket.

By lunch time I was feeling well enough to stand up and find my glasses. Perching them sideways, I could now see out of my left eye, while my right was too sore to open. Shuffling into the bedroom, I grabbed my fluffy “hangover” mask (a decorative version of those sleeping eye mask things they hand out on international flights), fashioning it to make an eye patch, and then moved my doona and pillows into the lounge room where I set myself up with as much junk food I could muster.

With limited eye-sight TV and reading were off the cards. High on chocolate and lemonade, and wanting to make the most of my remaining functioning faculties, I grabbed the phone book and rang my grandma and a girlfriend for a chat to fill in time until ST called back. He never called… I rang every hour… no one answered…. “They must have taken smoko and lunch out into the paddock and still be mustering,” I thought.

I tried my neighbours again with no luck, and then decided to try the neighbours on the other side of ST’s parent’s place. Their number wasn’t in the phone book, so I started ringing total strangers in the same area to see if they knew the phone number… no one answered!!! I was beginning to think I was the only person left in the Western Division of New South Wales!

Concerned that ST would leave for home without getting any of my phone messages, I left a final effort message on his dad’s mobile. It was a stretch considering mobile coverage is very limited, but relief ran through me when ST finally rang back at around 7pm – only 11 hours since the incident! Major eye roll!! They had only just got the messages and he was on his way home immediately with the necessary creams and potions from the RFDS kit.

With my sugar high wearing off but my eye-patch still firmly in place, I embraced my inner pirate, mixing a G&T and settling back into my nest on the couch, ready to act ASAP (As Sick As Possible) when ST walked in the door. He arrived bearing medicine and apologetic kisses.

We returned to the scene of the crime – the bathroom – where ST held my head down over the edge of the bath and forced my painfully bloodshot eye open to apply the necessary drops and ointments. Fastening a proper eye patch he’d brought home from the RFDS kit, we sat down to bacon and eggs for dinner, “So, what did you do today, Bess?” ST asked…

1 comment:

  1. This afternoon I took a rest from school preparation to read a blog about my lovely friend getting peroxided in the eye, nearly blinded in fact...gazing out of my suburban Brisbane window, the humidity eases and a storm breeze kisses my far away are friends when we read about their first aid through digital media, I the writing Bessie!