Earlier this week I told you that I was out sick, though that wasn’t entirely accurate. I did spend almost all of Monday in and out of no less than three – three! – medical offices, but I wasn’t really sick. Not the “cough cough” “wheeze wheeze” variety, anyway.
It all started last week, when I noticed that my right eye was feeling irritated. I asked my best friend if you can get allergies in just one eye, because best friends are the people you’re allowed to ask dumb questions without fear of being made fun of. She said no, and I just kept on rubbing at it.
It must be Maine, I figured. My body’s just not used to the great outdoors.
On Sunday, I FaceTimed my family back in Wisconsin and mentioned that my eye was still hurting.
“You have to go to the doctor!” my loving and loud family shouted back at me, nearly in unison.
Ugh, fine. Grumble grumble.
I haven’t seen an eye doctor in ..oh, four years? Eight maybe? It’s been awhile. But I did get a vision test recently for a new pair of driving glasses, so I called them.
“Do you do medical eye exams for, like…eyes that hurt?” (der-r-r-r)
They said sure. I went. She dropped drops in my eyes and fiddled with that monster eyeball microscope-thing.
“Yep, you’ve got a piece of plastic in your eye.”
Plastic? In my eyeball?
“Yes, on your cornea. Probably just debris that blew in. It looks like it’s made it to the second layer…”
And then she said a few big doctor words about eyeball levels that I really wasn’t listening to as I imagined a tiny discarded Mountain Dew bottle lodged under my eyelid.
She sent me to another eye center, whose ophthalmologist was working out of the Manhattan office that day, so by the time a doctor scraped – yes SCRAPED – the shard of plastic off my eye with a sterile needle, I’d been to three offices in two boroughs, all in one day.
When I finally got home, I changed into sweatpants, half-watched an episode of Scandal (half-watched thanks to two still-blurry-from-the-drops eyes) and then pushed myself to get back to work. I had lost an entire day with all my running around trying to keep my dumb vision from deserting me.
And then? Then I started bawling. I called my mom. I curled up on my bed. I hid under my covers. I felt completely, utterly spent. In that moment, I just wanted to live somewhere where receiving medical care doesn’t require an unlimited metrocard. To have a normal job with normal benefits, like FSA accounts and reasonable co-pays.
Sometimes life’s not easy; everyone has those klkdfjsklfj moments. I found it interesting, though, that I didn’t break down til I was home, that I was sporting grungy clothes when I finally, totally lost it. I’d started the day out with back-to-back meetings, figuring I’d work in a quick eye appointment at lunch and be on to answering emails by 2pm. I’d dressed for the day in a simple LBD (little black dress), big necklace and bigger heels. I felt great…apart from an eyeball that had recently gotten a side gig as a trash collector.
Clothes can be armor. When you are dressed to take on the world, you do it with more ease, with a better sense of humor. I certainly wouldn’t have been in the mood to joke with the 50-year old man, a stranger from Long Island slicing plastic sediment from my retina if I’d been in “pity me” pants and a schlubby sweatshirt.
Of course, there’s a time and place for schlubbing out…and it’s almost always at home on your couch, or in your bed. If you want the world to take you seriously, and trick yourself into holding on just a few more hours, dress the part. As Olivia Pope & Associates would say, it pays to be a “gladiator in a suit.”