a whole new light

eyezI blinked. I blinked again. Each time I blinked, searing pain ripped across my right eye.

Something’s not right.

It’d been going on for months. Every morning I’d wake with red, painful eyes—my right eye worse than my left. I’d quit wearing contacts weeks ago, but these days the redness wasn’t clearing up like it used to . . . and drops weren’t helping.

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sick day

It’s been a challenging last few days, to tell you the truth.

About four months ago, I started having eye pain. I am far-sided—very far-sided—and have worn contacts since I was 12 or 13. Usually, I have no problem with my contacts—I take them out at night and do everything I’m supposed to—but suddenly my eyes were red and glassy. My right eye was worse than my left.

Two months later, I saw a doctor.

He said I had contact-caused micro-wounds on my right eye—both eyes, actually—and told me no contacts for two weeks. He gave me an antibiotic drop for the daytime and a moisturizing ointment to use at night.

I did as I was told. And I got better.

Or so I thought.

Two weeks ago, the pain began again. This time it was worse than ever. I stopped wearing my contacts and increased the moisture to my eyes. To no effect. Over the weekend, I talked to an ophthalmologist friend from home, and, following his advice, left work early on Monday to go back to the doctor. Bad news. I had another, bigger wound on my right eye, this time right in the center. If it made it all the way through the epithelium or scarred, I could suffer vision loss—for life.

I was scared. But I was more scared because, even after receiving medication, my eye didn’t seem to be getting any better. With every blink, shooting pain seared across my eye, and it was worse at night, when my eye lacked the oxygen it needed to heal. I talked to my ophthalmologist friend again, and he, too, was worried. The treatment I was receiving here was not the same as would have been prescribed at home.

Nothing here is the same as it is at home.

I saw the doctor again yesterday, and I will see him again tomorrow. And, even though it is impossible to take time off here (we have no subs), I took today off. Part of my treatment now is a goopy, gooey, blurry ointment that feels like cement and looks like snot; I am supposed to apply this every few hours. A lot of fun that’s going to be tomorrow when I have to go back to work. (I work with 9- to 13-year-olds.)

But what can I do?

What else can I really do?