Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blinded by the Light and Toddler Fingers

In case of eye injury:
Step 1 - create a makeshift eye patch out of pajama pants
Step 2 - take a selfie and send it to everyone so people
will feel sorry for you
Step 3 - seek medical attention
     There’s nothing anyone can tell you to prepare you for being a parent. Still, a heads up about the frequency and severity of eye pokes from little fingers or toys would have been good. I’ve been brought to fetal position by a baby fingernail to the eye enough that it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to adopt protective eyewear as an everyday accessory. Usually the poke hurts like hell for an hour, there’s some sensitivity for 24 hours and life goes on. This time was different. Tuesday night after Jake had left for some sort of outdoor woodsy hiking fishing manventure, the kids and I were cuddled on the couch watching a movie, when Edie suddenly began wildly flailing her arms about some toddler crisis and my open eyeball was violently swiped with a freshly cut fingernail. I screamed, terrifying the dog and children as I fell to the floor clutching my eye as if my eyeball would rocket out of my skull if I moved my hands. As I continued to feel the searing pain balled on the floor I calmed down enough to let out an unconvincing “it’s okay honey, mama’s fine.” I waited for my words to become true but man, it hurt. After 30 minutes I got up from the floor but it still hurt. It hurt all night but became seriously worse after I drove Holden to school the next exceptionally bright and sunny morning.

     Following the drive I pretty much went blind, but was fortunate to be in the best possible place for it to happen (besides an eye clinic which would have been ideal). I could write a book about how much I love my son’s preschool but on this day I became more thankful than ever for the environment of support fostered by our co-operative preschool (at the co-op there’s one teacher and parents take turns volunteering so we all work together and are invested together in the program and in one another’s kids, it rocks). Mamas immediately surrounded me asking what was wrong and how they could help. The drive messed up my already messed up eye enough that it became too painful to open either eye. You may not have noticed, but your eyes move together, so any movement in my good eye caused my right eye to move, resulting in horrific stabbing pain. I remember saying in all seriousness that I'd rather be in labor. I was too stunned to really know what I needed but before I could figure it out sweet mama friends had ushered Holden into class, adopted Edie into the toddler class for the day, volunteered to drive the kids back from school, babysit in the afternoon, made a plan to bring me dinner that night, and then I was being walked to someone’s car to drive me to the doctor. Without hesitation those mamas took me from overwhelmed and vulnerable to wrapped up in a big community hug of unconditional support. 
Here they are, threateningly wielding their weapons. No one is safe.
      Jake didn’t have any cell service and was hours away anyway so I had to rely on a lot of people and while it was an uncomfortable feeling it also made me feel hardcore #blessed to have so many caring people in my life who I didn’t have to feel bad about leaning on. Feeling completely helpless with 2 kids was terrifying, plus there was the significant pain, anxiety about permanent damage, a head cold piled into the mix, and the fact that I was supposed to be getting on a plane for a long-anticipated girl’s weekend away (still bitter about canceling that). Sometimes you need a lot of shitty stuff to amplify your appreciation for the overflowing cornucopia of goodnesses all around you. Without detailing minutiae, Jake got home that night and spent the next few days shuttling me around to opthalmology appointments and doing everything for me and our semi freaked out kids. Turns out Edie punctured and ripped off nearly the entire top layer of my cornea. It took 3 nerve-racking, trying days to see any improvement, and today, 5 days later, is the first time I can see out of both eyes with minimal pain. I’m elated! Vision is the best! 

The perfect opportunity to
experiment with new looks.
     Life without sight did give me insight into a few things (in-sight lol). Vulnerability and gratitude dominated the experience. It was intensely distressing for me to ask for help but people are so strong and kind and generous, and accepting help is just another way to accept love that people are truly happy to give, even to me! Even to you! When I started to let go of the guilt in accepting help I was able to feel all the love around me and was filled with an eagerness to get better just to pay it forward. The other cool side effect was a sort of calm that filled me during what was essentially sensory deprivation. I never realized how distracting vision is from our other badass senses. After the initial shock and anxiety of not having sight as a tool you can embrace the other stuff and the lack of distraction was actually really peaceful. When my husband finally came home I was able to really hear the butter and gravel in his voice and experiencing the familiar sound in a new way made my heart so happy. I felt my daughter’s cool squishy cheek pressed against mine and my son’s sturdy little arms wrapped around me in a way I wasn’t able to when I was looking past their hugs at whatever else was going on in the room. Even eating was more pleasurable...until I wasn’t hungry any more, which happened much sooner without eyes than it does when I’m staring at my phone, mindlessly shoveling food into my mouth until I feel physical pain. At its best, temporary blindness was like an extended meditation session for me, forcing me to really be in my body and experience that being-ness. Also, I was able to test out the theory that if you do something enough times you can do it blind. I can load the dishwasher blind, I can change a diaper blind, I can feed the dog blind, I can almost make coffee blind but forgot the lid and flooded the counter with coffee grounds and water.

     If I had to choose one takeaway it’s to open your eyes and look at all the color and compassion and love around you, then take the time to close your eyes and feel it too.

 Oh, and wear safety goggles while interacting with children of age 2 months - 3 years.

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