As you may know, I’m crazy. Sometimes people don’t seem to really understand just how crazy I am. I regularly face fears that are horrifying to me, and no one appreciates it because they can’t understand what’s so scary in the first place. Or maybe because I laugh and joke about it all, so they think I’m ok.
Last September I did something terrifying and no one even noticed. I got dressed up to go to a wedding. Wait. That makes it sound like going to a wedding is terrifying. It usually isn’t. But getting dressed up for this wedding was a bit terrifying for me. Not just because I chose killer red high heels and then had to keep wearing them all night – because those shoes are just freaking amazing and being pregnant and enormous was no excuse for sacrificing style, and I certainly don’t believe in taking off my shoes for dancing. It’s important to commit to shoes like that. It’s also important to remember that once you take them off, it’s almost impossible to get them back on – so suck it up and keep them on until you get home.
Sorry. I got distracted. This post was not intended to be a lecture on how to wear shoes with a cocktail dress. But if you’ve learned something, so be it.
No – the reason it was terrifying to get dressed up for this wedding was because I did it properly – curls, makeup, the works. (When I feel terrible, I often go to more effort to look stunning. It never EVER actually makes me feel better, but I keep trying all the same). And for me “the works” means ditching the glasses and wearing … contact lenses. Some of you may cringe at the very thought of contact lenses. Putting something in your eye – on purpose? WTF? And other, less squeamish types who’ve actually done it before will think “Whatever. Contact lenses aren’t scary, you crazy woman” – and not too long ago I would have agreed with you.
I wore contact lenses every weekend for about 10 years. So not scary. After awhile you don’t even think about it. They’re so freaking convenient – you can wear sunglasses, you can see properly to apply your makeup, you can actually wear eyeshadow because it doesn’t look ridiculous the way it does behind your glasses, you don’t have to keep cleaning them with a soft cloth, you don’t have to worry about breaking them. If one does get dropped – doesn’t matter. It barely cost a thing, so you just get another. No big deal at all.
Until one day … a little over a year ago I was at a party where I was wearing my contact lenses and may have been behaving quite badly – but I assure you, that was due to the fuckload of alcohol I imbibed and had nothing to do with the contact lenses. It was a hot night. We didn’t sleep all night. I ended up swimming alone in the pool sometime around dawn. I may even have fallen asleep in the pool but I won’t say that definitely occurred because no one has ever proven that. Then I got out of the pool and went to bed for half an hour or so … and at no point during this whole night did I take out my contact lenses. I woke up hot, dehydrated, hungover – with dry, sticky eyes. I tried to pull out my contact lenses and one of them was stuck.
That happens, you know. When your eyes dry out – from heat, dehydration, alcohol, pool chemicals, whatever – the lenses stick. Unfortunately, this one really stuck. When we got home, I tried bathing my eyes in water, saline, contact lens solution, anything I could think of. Brad and my brothers tried to get the contact lens out. They tried to pull it out, wash it out, rub my eyelid until it folded. Nothing worked. After several hours, my eyeball was swollen, red and felt like it had been punched from all the handling. We couldn’t even see the damned lens anymore, I was so bloodshot. I had a pounding headache that started in the back of my eyes and moved sharply through the rest of my head. And that fucking contact lens was still stuck in my eye. The boys started talking about taking me to the doctor. They were contemplating whether it would need surgery. I was freaking the fuck out.
I cried desperately, from fear and pain. But even that didn’t dislodge the contact lens. It only made my headache worse. Eventually I gave in. I agreed to see the doctor – despite my terror at the thought of them sticking things in my eye to remove the lens – or possibly not being able to stick things in my eye to remove the lens. What if it had melted to my eye? What if they couldn’t do anythng about it? What if I went blind? But first – I needed to rest. I sensibly pointed out that no doctor would even be able to see the lens until my eye was less irritated – so I went to sleep with an ice pack over my face and had hideous nightmares about people poking my eyes out.
When I woke up, I went and looked in the mirror, and I looked the same. My eye was still terribly bloodshot and I still had a headache and I felt bleak and miserable. I got in the shower and vainly tried one last time to blast the contact lens out with the water. And then suddenly I realised I couldn’t read anymore. The contact lens was gone. It must have dislodged itself and fallen out. The relief was immense … but so was the wariness. Where did it go? I couldn’t find it in the bed. Maybe I washed it down the drain? But why didn’t I feel it slip out when I was in the shower?
After that, the madness began. Because I couldn’t find that contact lens, because I didn’t know where it had gone, I started to wonder whether it had gone into the back of my head. What if it slipped behind my eyeball while I was sleeping and was still there, in my skull? What if it got lodged in my brain and rotted and formed a tumour? Over the next few days, I became convinced that something terrible was going on. I had nightmares. I was afraid to speak about it. I wanted to confess my fears to my brothers or Brad, so they could assure me that they were just silly fancies. But I was afraid they might agree that these were genuine possibilities and make me go to the doctor and the doctor would cut open my head. I went completely insane. I lived in my mind, stuck in this mad fear, and it slowly occurred to me that I really was mentally unsound.
I don’t even remember how that fear began to abate. I think Jeff found me crying one day and I confessed all the crazy thoughts to him and he reassured me that I was ok. I do recall going to an optometrist for an eye test and finding that everything was fine, although I don’t remember telling the optometrist about my horrid ordeal, or the madness that followed. The horror is still here now.
But recently, I faced that terror – and wore contact lenses to a wedding. I kept eye drops in my purse and applied them every hour. I didn’t drink alcohol. I didn’t go swimming, or fall asleep with the lenses in – and I took them out the moment we left the reception, because it’s important to quit while you’re ahead.
Even facing fears has to have its limits, you know.
I want to say something hilarious now, but honestly, I have nothing. This is one of those stories that I may never laugh at. Unless you come up with a funny side for me. Pretty please?