Back at the beginning of May, the Bird took a swipe at my left eyeball with her little birdie talon, ripping off a nice, solid chunk of my cornea and leaving me in some serious pain.  It was a rough couple of days, especially because Chris was away for the week on business, but my family and friends pitched in to help with the baby and to allow me to heal. 

I figured I was done with this issue.

“You may want to be careful about recurrence, Kerri.  With this kind of injury, it does happen.”  My eye doctor warned me, handing me a small tube of eye goop stuff.  “This is Muro 128.  Pull down your lower eyelid and smear this in there.  It will help keep your eye coated while you sleep.”

(Oh eyeball injuries.  You make me feel old, because if you Google “Muro 128,” you’ll see that this product is targeted at the 60+ crowd.  Throw in a few tennis balls for my walker and I’m ready for my debut at the bingo hall.)

I used the stuff, but it wasn’t enough to protect me from San Diego’s desire to blind me.  I don’t know if the air conditioning was super-intense, or if the air was beyond dry, or if it was some perfect storm of eye effery, but on Friday morning, I woke up with my eye the size of a baseball and the cornea so ripped and red that you could barely see the blue of my iris.  

“Oh you pesky little whippersnapper,” I said.  Verbatim.  Didn’t throw in any curse words.  Nope.

I knew the cornea abrasion was back, with a vengeance, but I had no idea how bad it was going to be to manage this condition while traveling.  Something about hotel air and climate control measures taken by conference rooms (plus all that recycled airplane air on the flight from RI to CA) made for a very ripe string-cheesing.  And also impeded healing.  So on Friday, I spent the morning sitting on the floor of my hotel bathroom with the lights off and the air conditioning off, talking with my eye doctor in RI and hoping to have a prescription for numbing drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or a glass eyeball called in. 

In efforts to truncate this tale, I ended up missing the last morning of the Roche Summit.  I also missed the entire ADA Scientific Sessions conference.  I spent early Friday afternoon in the care of my wonderful d-friends and then holed up in my second hotel for the rest of the day.  (It was a nice hotel, too, from what I smelled of it.)  Hours on end of trying to sleep, waking up with that feeling of razorblades in my eye, and trying to reschedule my flight.  The pain was one thing, but the inconvenience of not being able to see made me very nervous.  I couldn’t see my meter results, my CGM graph, or the readout on my pump clearly at all, making me paranoid about managing my diabetes.  Total chaos.  I ended up finding a flight to get me out on Saturday afternoon, and it wasn’t until Monday morning that I had my vision mostly restored in my left eye.

Oh, but that flight home from CA.  

Like I told a few of my friends already, the airplane travel made my cornea go from “bad” to “holy tumultuous clustereff.”  Those little airplane personal fan things that spew out a ton of recycled air onto each passenger?  Completely dried out my eye on the flight from San Diego to my connection in Phoenix, so that I was in so much pain I could barely stand when I had to switch flights in Arizona. 

Thank God for the woman who sat next to me from AZ to RI.  Since I was wearing sunglasses on the plane, cupping my eye, and being escorted by the flight attendants to my seat, I think it was clear that I was damaged goods.

“What happened to your eye?”  she asked, taking out her knitting.

“Corneal abrasion.  Nasty one.”

“I have this eye cover – would you like it?”  She pulled out one of those diva sleep mask-looking things and handed it to me.  It was black, and sort of velvety, and smelled as if it hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time.  

But I slapped it right over my eyes with vigor.  “Thank you.  THANK you,” I said.  The mask perfectly protected my eye from being accessed by the bursts of cool, dry air.  Once we were in the air, I plugged in my headphones and sat there for five hours straight, in my own, personal sensory deprivation chamber.  And when the flight attendant walked me off the plane at midnight and into the care of my husband, I looked like a sloppy starlet at the end of her game, with my diva mask perched on my forehead and my sunglasses over my eyes, one hand up to shield my eye from the florescent lights of the airport.

“Oh my poor girl,” said Chris, taking my carry-on off my shoulder and grabbing my arm.  

“No pictures, dah-link,” I replied, so relieved to be home.

Note to all parents of small children:  For the love of God, please cut your child’s nails.  Like every day.