Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Suddenly I See!

It feels like a lot has happened since I last blogged! It will take a few posts to catch up on all the stories... but if I keep delaying the writing, it will just take longer. This first post is about not flying... but not to worry, some flying posts will follow as soon as I download the pictures!

December is always a very busy month-- for everyone, I'm sure-- but is especially so because I make a lot of cookies. So I was really looking forward to our Christmas trip. Because of the gift of an additional holiday, we were hoping to fly down to Hilton Head for a quiet weekend before flying over to my parents for Christmas night, and on to other relatives after that. But it wasn't just the bad weather that kept us in town and on the ground.

The Wednesday before Christmas, I had a stinging sensation all day in one eye-- I thought maybe some dust from the construction on our house had gotten in my eye. A reasonable conclusion because I am very allergic to dust. The next morning, all seemed fine, so I put in my contacts as usual. By an hour or so later, as I drove to work, I noticed that my sunglasses seemed fogged over... so I took them off to clean them... and discovered that it wasn't my sunglasses! Everything was that fogged over... like flying with about 2-3 mile visibility! When I got to work, I tried taking out the contacts and cleaning them-- and even without the contacts, my eyes were cloudy. I attended a few meetings-- all the while my vision getting worse (yes, I know it was dumb!).

Finally, after the end of my second meeting, and realizing that I could no longer read, I decided it was time to take action. So I postponed the next meeting and headed to the eye doctor. Luckily, I caught him right before he left for lunch. After looking at my eyes for about 45 seconds, he sat up straight with a look of surprise and ordered me to take out the contacts... now! So I took them out and asked what was going on. Then he took another look at my eyes, and then told me that I had a chemical burn on both of my corneas. This was scary news... especially to a pilot.

Let me stop and say here that I know that my eyes are important for a lot more than just flying-- especially since I don't fly for a living. But at that moment in time, I couldn't let myself imagine losing my sight completely-- that was too horrible... so flying was the thing I thought of.

He put some drops in my eyes and asked if I was feeling any pain. I wasn't-- maybe just a little tiredness, like after your eyes have been dilated, but no real pain. Again, he seemed surprised. What he didn't tell me was that I would feel pain, and lots of it-- some of the most intense pain I've ever felt! After getting a prescription for some antibiotics (thank you, K, for filling it for me!) and a very surreal and careful drive home, the pain started to set in. I lost complete sight for about 12 hours, and then couldn't keep both eyes open for about 18 more hours. Finally- after about 30 hours, I was able to stand light again. And then by the next morning, my eyes felt normal, though I sure wasn't in a hurry to put in my contacts again!

The ending to this story? My eyes are now just about back to normal. By 48 hours after the trip to the doc, my vision was almost back to normal (almost 20/20 with glasses). By Christmas Day, I finished the antibiotics. By New Year's Day, I was allowed to wear contacts again for short amounts of time (less than 8 hours). By next week, I should be able to wear contacts like normal.

What was the cause? I still am not completely sure-- though most likely, I had something on my hands that transferred to my eyes when I put contacts in or took them out. It could have been hand lotion, some Vick's vapor rub I used one night, or even the peppermint oil in the peppermint marshmallows I made one night. (Apparently all of those substances get into your pores and don't always come out with a simple washing.) All I know is-- I'm telling everyone I know-- if you wear contacts, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before putting them in or out... and think about what you've had on your hands! Your sight is too important!


Teller said...

Wow, that sounds miserable...made my eyes water just reading it! Glad you got to feeling better relatively quickly. Now you've got me nervous about my eyes, though.

DC Flyboy said...

Scary! Glad you are feeling better. By the way, I had a chance to sit in the right seat of your plane during some GPS approaches a couple of weeks back - thanks for making it available!