The initial cause: a rogue fingernail attached to a cute baby
The recurring issue: repeated corneal tearing
The reason for the repeats: diabetes
The original eyeball issue came up seven years ago, when Birdy was about nine months old and she unwittingly scraped her thumbnail against my right eye, ripping off a small shred of my epithelium layer. This was pretty frigging painful and took over a week to fully heal.
Only it didn’t fully heal. Because once you rip this epithelium layer, it remains compromised and potentially affected by things like bright light, dry air, and overnight eyeball dryness. I use this Muro 128 gel in my eye every night to help keep my eyelid from adhering to my epithelium. (This is a weird process, kind of like putting lip gloss from one of those little petri dish pots onto your lips, only in this case I’m taking glossy gel from a small tube and smearing it along my eyeball.) It’s gloopy and makes my vision blurry, but nine times out of ten, my eyeball stays in one piece.
Except there are those one out of ten times. A few times since the original injury, my eye has re-ripped. These moments suck and the pain is stupid but they were happening once every two or three years, so in the grand scheme, it was functional. Except it happened this year in February, and again on Friday morning, so that’s kind of bullshit and way too frequent. This is not a functional, work-through-it sort of injury. This eyeball thing pulls me out of life for a day or two at a time, unable to see or drive or effectively dose insulin or parent anyone. It’s pretty incapacitating, and also pretty painful.
As noted yesterday, I saw my local ophthalmologist on Friday and he was able to put a bandage contact on my eye to help speed healing and minimize pain. (This was a brilliant move and I owe him a ton because I ended up with the flu on Friday night and it would have been infinitely worse if I wasn’t able to sleep that illness off due to eyeball pain. Props to my smart doctor and his magical contact lens.) Also on Friday, my doctor determined that this issue was in part related to dry eye, which I’ve apparently developed, and it’s a common side dish often served with diabetes. Looks like this non-diabetes eyeball injury has rolled around in my islets for a spell.
“Your eye becomes dry, especially overnight, and that epithelium tears again,” he said. “But we have a few options, aside from the Muro gel. You can also have punctal plugs put in, which block the holes that drain your tears from your eyes, helping keep the eye from getting too dry.”
(I was thankful the word “moist” never made it into that sentence.)
Which is how I ended up with a bandage contact, punctal plugs, preservative free eye drops, and steroid drops for my eye. And also a renewed respect for the millions of nerves in my eyeball region. (Note to self: ye olde eyeball was expected to heal fully by the end of the weekend, but the illness and completely dirtbag blood sugars impeded healing by several days. Take care of your blood sugars when you’re trying to heal. Turns out that threat was not idle.)
This morning, the eye doctor took a look at my cornea again and determined that the tear was almost fully healed, so he took off the bandage contact (while my son wiggled, sang, and “helped” from my lap). I hope this is the beginning of the end for all that eyeball stuff, because wearing sunglasses indoors makes me look like this guy and I think it’s starting to freak my kids out.